## Kumon method - anyone tried it?

For the discussion of math. Duh.

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someguy
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### Kumon method - anyone tried it?

Hello everyone.

I was wondering about this... a few days back I was told about this method for learning Maths and I'm intrigued now, in part because I've always 'fantasized' about acquiring proper Maths skills. What I've read on the 'Net so far veers between calling it nothing short of a miracle and making it seem like some kind of fringe cult-like thing.

So I thought I'd ask here, seeing how so many of you are into/work in/with Maths. Anyone aware of it, anyone (know someone who) used it, etc.?

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Geekthras
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

I wish I had... If only that had existed in America, I probably would have ended up in Calculus 1 in like 7th grade. (Instead, it took until 9th )
Sounds like it could have some experiment house-like issues. I know people in such Experiment schools and one of them learned how to read at age 12 and learned the times tables at age 14. Scary.
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

My wife (the all-time leading Canadian researcher for everything to do with our kids) says all she knows about it is that it's "like some weird math tutoring thing". It seems to teach at the student's own pace, which means that most kids will not do well at it, and it teaches through repetition, which means that it won't teach fundamentals, but reflexives.

Otherwise, it looks good.

someguy
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

Mighty Jalapeno wrote:My wife (the all-time leading Canadian researcher for everything to do with our kids) says all she knows about it is that it's "like some weird math tutoring thing". It seems to teach at the student's own pace, which means that most kids will not do well at it, and it teaches through repetition, which means that it won't teach fundamentals, but reflexives.

Otherwise, it looks good.

Interesting. Thank you both for your insights (gr?). I wonder whether/how well it would work on/for an adult?
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quintopia
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

I agree with Virginia Warfield. I think the Kumon Method could work well as a supplement to standard reform math, but taken as a person's only math, it would give one a skewed view of math, and deny one the ability to build a problem-solving method and a solution from intuition and basic knowledge. I don't claim any experience with the program, but I see replacing reform math with tons of drills in basic maths as being a generally Bad Thing.

the tree
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

someguy wrote:I wonder whether/how well it would work on/for an adult?
Above a certain level of wisdom, learning by repetition becomes futile, as it's well, boring and the moment your capable of independent thought you will wander off and do something more interesting.

Sly Si
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

Yeah, I did Kumon for a while and dropped out because it was way, way, way too much drill, when I clearly needed to be learning creative problem solving.

tky2101
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

Yes!

I have tried (not only tried, was tormented by it as a child), and I have to report that it was absolutely the best thing for me and for others I know who have done it, in terms of building a solid foundation in math. It was one of my college math professors who said that math, fundamentally is a language, and before you get to elegant proofs and proficiency in higher maths, you need to learn the alphabet. Kumon definitely does all of that and sharpens mental math skills to a point that is truly astounding. I am actually thinking of going back to it as a newly minted college graduate in order to hone my mental math skills for finance, which is the field I work in now. To the skeptics: give it a try; your kids might hate it, but they will thank you. When they turn 18.

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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

I used to work as a grader/paper checker for the Kumon near me, and it was the most boring experience I have ever gone through. I would not really recommend the Kumon method because they really only teach you one way to do things (which is then treated as the "correct" way), and it certainly does not foster creativity. Even though I never did the program myself, while I worked at Kumon, I noticed that most of the kids hated going there and were just looking for the correct answer in as fast a time period as possible. They didn't seem to be enjoying learning at all.
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firer
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

It seems, at least to me, that the Kumon method is pretty boring at the basic levels - just thousands of drills for you do do math quickly (and *just* quickly, nothing more). But some of my friends told me that, at pre-calculus and Calculus levels, it stops enforcing just quick memory retrieval, rather training quick *thinking*. It somewhat makes sense, because I can't imagine teaching Calculus through drilling. I mean, yeah, you have to learn a lot of techniques, but, still, Calculus requires good problem solving skills.

Well, that's what my friend told me; he told me that, if it weren't for the Kumon method, he wouldn't have the interest in math he has, and, thus, wouldn't have won a silver medal at the IMO.

I still think that he's a rare case, though.
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

All I want to say is that I read the title of this thread, and first thought "oh, kumon, you haven't?"
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reflectia
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

I was in Kumon for about a year, and I have to agree with the comments above.

That is:
- mostly repetitive drilling
---> therefore, dull
- taught only one way to do things
---> therefore, didn't encourage active problem solving

But:
- emphasis on speed
---> does help memorization of some patterns in various problems
---> led to faster solving of more complex problems
- makes for a good supplement to conventional teaching
---> because the large number of drills reinforces material already learned
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nevskey1
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

I'm also a Kumon survivor. I agree with what's been said about how boring and repetitive it is. I went from around grade 6 to 8, I think. I guess it wasn't wasted effort, because it did build the skills needed, but it's like going to basketball practice and each time working only on free-throws, or only on hooks for an hour at a time. Also, I just treated it like some dumb school stuff my parents made me do, so I just wanted to get it done and leave asap. Certainly something beneficial stayed with me, and as a supplement it may be OK, but it would be a very cruel thing to do to kids to base an entire education that way. Honestly, it's like Pavlov's experiments: Yeah, undoubtedly they do work, and extremely well when enforced with greater extremity. But still there's just something instinctively off-putting about it.

But I also did Kaplan Score, and while easier and with games and prizes and all that, I can honestly say it was a completely unproductive, worthless waste, and I can't imagine how it could be challenging to anyone. Both approaches don't seem to work. The one emphasizes thoughtless, goose-stepping computation. The other is like Spongebob teaching math and reading. One produces robots, the other idiots. Neither really develops intelligence or critical thinking proper to a well-rounded human being.

Please pardon the rant. For some reason I've always been very opinionated about education, more than most other things.
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Poochy
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

My two cents: It sounds far too rote and repetitive. Math isn't something to be simply learned, it's something students should try to acquire as a cognitive skill. The Kumon method seems oddly similar to the mainstream teaching method used in Taiwan, which produces students that look great on paper and can regurgitate any formula or fact on command, but can't apply that knowledge worth beans.

In other words, a student who learns Calculus through the Kumon method might be able to instantly cough up any formula on command, but if you ask them to evaluate $\lim_{x\rightarrow 0^+} \frac{e^{ln(x)}}{x}$ they're liable to try l'Hospital's rule. Repeatedly. Make sure to have plenty of paper ready.
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Lycur
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

My sister tried it and it didn't do anything for her. The method itself does seem pretty worthless for actually understanding and (equally importantly) enjoying mathematics.

Cleverbeans
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

Kumon will never replace a good math curriculum, however as a supplement I found it to be extremely useful. My experience may be unique, I was one of the worst student in math until grade 7 when we began doing algebra, at which point I began to excel. By the time I got to grade 10 I was consistently the top student in my class, however there were some obvious gaps in my ability, mainly with basic arithmetic. My school added Kumon training as an addition to the regular curriculum and to everyone's surprise my initial placement was in the "C" category - lower then everyone else in my class and squarely in the middle of my times tables. So despite the fact that I easily factor quadratic equations, I was still relying heavily on my calculator to tell me what 7X8 was. Thankfully Kumon was there to fill the gap. I strongly agree with the analogy of math as a language where the fundamentals must be mastered to build a gestalt for higher degrees of abstraction, and would recommend Kumon to anyone in the US or Canada as a good addition to their studies.
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

I think it works differently for different people. For example, my brother used it and it helped him loads, because he needs to do something over and over to get the concept. But my sister either gets something or doesn't, and if she doesn't doing questions on it doesn't help her. So you have to ask yourself whether repetition is a good thing for you?
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

I did a few years of kumon and, like many kids who were forced to do things by their parents, disliked it. Now, looking back I can admit that it did improve basic arithmetic skills. I can imagine it being good for building elementary math skills but would fall off in later years (even in high school calculus for that matter) when problem solving skills are important and there are multiple ways to tackle a problem.

Claan22
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

I know a couple people who did (or do) Kumon, and they're all good at math so I guess it must work.

My mom wanted me to do it when I was in sixth grade, I declined but if I could go back I'd probably take it.

dukederek
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

I marked/supervised for Kumon for kids from 4-16 for a couple of years. I have to say, i think people are being a bit pretentious when saying it doesnt foster creativity, I'm not sure how creative one might have to be in order to work out where a function crosses an axis of a graph or what the solution to some simultaneous equations is. There is a bunch of maths that it's useful to be fluent in and requires mainly familiarity and confidence.

It seemed to me that the people doing it were either intelligent kids who's parents had far too much money and wanted to give their kids "the best opportunities possible" and kids who needed the extra help. I cant say too much for the intelligent kids, who tended to get everything right and finish promptly, but the kids who came in not too great had a marked increase over a couple of months, and while I cant say I then have experience of whether that transferred into higher school grades, their parents seemed satisfied with the results.

I would definitely say that it works well as a supplement but would suck as the only method used. Is there anywhere where it is the main method of teaching?

cleverbeans: I also rely on my calculator for times tables, anything more than 6x6 and I'm reaching for the calculator. I wish I'd learnt them properly when I was at the impressionable age most of the kids that do Kumon are, then maybe I wouldnt have made so many rediculous errors when I relied on my mental arithmetic.

Cleverbeans
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

dukederek wrote:cleverbeans: I also rely on my calculator for times tables, anything more than 6x6 and I'm reaching for the calculator. I wish I'd learnt them properly when I was at the impressionable age most of the kids that do Kumon are, then maybe I wouldnt have made so many rediculous errors when I relied on my mental arithmetic.

I actually retaught myself basic arithmetic using the Trachtenberg System after finding a book on it in my local library.
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dukederek
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### Re: Kumon method - anyone tried it?

wow, that looks really interesting. I might have to give that a try sometime