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In a few days we will be presenting a video-cast about why our Village Home school prefers to use Saxon Math as our core math curriculum. I encourage you to tune in and not only hear the mom’s perspectives about Saxon Math, but also hear from our kids and see what they have to say about it. In the meantime, I thought it might be fun to learn a little about John Saxon, the creator of this most wonderful and innovative math curriculum.
“He knew that these holes were not attributed to capacity just ignorance.”
Based upon what I have learned about John Saxon, he can be described in one word: passionate! He seemed to embody a passion for learning, teaching and achieving results. John, a West Point graduate, held three degrees in engineering. As a highly decorated U.S. Air Force pilot, he flew in combat in Korea and later became a test pilot, flying with persons who would become astronauts. After serving in Vietnam and teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy, John retired in 1970 and began teaching Algebra part-time for night classes at Oscar Rose Junior College near Norman, Oklahoma. While teaching Algebra, John noticed that many of his students did not have mastery of the basic math skills needed to learn algebra. He knew that these holes were not attributed to capacity just ignorance. Such gaps created a great deal of frustration for students, many of whom were tired from working all day prior to coming to class.
As I shared, John Saxon was passionate. He was committed to those persons learning. Having exhausted every strategy he used at the U.S. Air Force Academy, he eventually came up with a set of worksheets of problems detailing how to work out the math equations step by step with a review of the previous problems built into each day’s lesson. Genius! I guess another word that can be attributed to Mr. Saxon. John went on to write and publish his own textbooks, knowing that a sound curriculum was fundamental to achieving results in the classroom. The rest is history.
I will end by sharing another facet of John Saxon’s personality. Art Reed in his book Using John Saxon’s Math Book, a must read for every parent considering using Saxon Math in their child’s educational program (home school or otherwise) writes “John Saxon was, among other things…a storyteller.” Art Reed then proceeds to share a story John told him one night as they were sitting at Art’s mother-in-law’s kitchen table which I will shamelessly present here word for word. Art writes,
“That night in the kitchen, John told the story about when he flew the supply route from Japan to Korea –in between B-26 bombing runs—during the Korean War. He said he had not had much sleep in the preceding five days, and he was concerned that he would dose off while piloting the aircraft, so he instructed his enlisted crew chief to make sure he stayed awake.
‘I told him that whatever it took, keep me awake! I woke up the next morning and I could barely move my right arm, the pain was so intense. I looked at my right shoulder and it was a dark purple color,’ John said. ‘I learned later that day that a crew chief kept punching my shoulder every time I started to doze off – all the way from Japan to Korea! I told him, Chief, you almost broke my shoulder. So he says to me, “Kept you awake, Sir”!’.”
I hope you enjoyed reading about John Saxon as much as I enjoyed learning about him. Below are some Saxonisms I found at saxon math warrior.
Results, not methodology, should be the basis of curriculum decisions.
Creativity springs unsolicited from a well prepared mind.
Fundamental knowledge is the basis of creativity.
Creativity can be discouraged or encouraged,
but creativity cannot be taught.
Problem solving is a process of concept recognition and concept application.
Problem solving is merely the application of previously learned concepts.
The “art” of problem solving cannot be taught.
The use of productive thought patterns can be taught,
but the act of “critical thinking” cannot be taught.
Mathematics is an individual sport and is not a team sport.
Students do not detest work; they detest effort without purpose.
Beautiful explanations do not lead to understanding.
Saxon books will win every contest by an order of magnitude.
I LOVE IT!
Cherie ~ The Sage