With almost 30 years of successfully teaching math the Math-U-See way, we’re pretty confident that there’s a little something for everyone in our program. But we’re willing to admit, we might not be for everyone; you might hate Math-U-See. We’re all about empowering our customers, not about just making the sale, so here’s a helpful list of things to consider before taking the plunge or making the switch.
If you agree with one or more of the following statements, Math-U-See just might not be your cup of tea.
12 Reasons You Will Hate Math-U-See
1) You want to figure out how to teach math concepts on your own through trial and error.
We provide complete teacher support, with videos showing how to use the manipulatives, supported by a written explanation in the Instruction Manual for each lesson. Important vocabulary is introduced and suggestions for additional practice, such as activities or games, are often provided. Maybe this seems like cheating, or maybe you think there’s nothing you can learn about how best to teach math concepts. We don’t want to step on your toes!
2) You believe students should be placed by grade level, not skill level or understanding.
We don’t align with grade levels, and we don’t try to. We believe that math builds upon itself and that fully mastering a concept before moving on to the next one creates a firm foundation of understanding that will benefit students as they progress. For example, successful mastery of fractions is essential to succeeding in algebra and higher math. If a 15-year-old student needs to back up and review, they will probably be more receptive to and less stressed about working in Epsilon: Fractions than “Fifth Grade Math.”
3) You think kids should be required to do every single page of their workbook.
Our levels include three Lesson Practice pages, focusing on the new concept, and two or three Systematic Review pages, practicing both new and previously learned concepts. If your student shows mastery of the concept, there’s no need to complete all the worksheets. We encourage you to move at your student’s pace, taking as much or as little time as needed. We provide additional practice problems for many lessons with our online Worksheet Generator.
4) You don’t mind having no idea whether your student “gets” a concept.
With our “Build it, Write it, Say it, Teach it back” method, you’ll know when your student has mastered a concept. Move to the next lesson quickly, or spend as long as you need.
5) You think math should never be fun or silly.
Our founder Steve Demme draws on his own life experiences to provide helpful tips and tricks to memorize math facts or explain concepts. Most of them, like Mr. Demme himself, are funny or silly. That’s why they’re memorable; whether you love corny jokes or you hate them, you’ll remember – and quite possibly make the vacuum sucking noise (at least mentally) every time you’re doing your 9s facts.
6) It’s enough to know how to do math problems; there’s no need to understand why you do it that way.
This comes down to the question, why do we learn math? Mr. Demme’s answer is quite simple: “To do word problems.” Which is true, so far as real-life applications are concerned. You’ll probably never be asked to do a math worksheet in your adult life. But, need to double a recipe? Want to leave an appropriate tip? Need to find the most cost-effective way to ship a birthday present to Great-Aunt Gladys? You have to know what math concept applies (“why”) before you can apply it (“how”). No one is going to be standing there telling you whether to add, subtract, multiply, or divide. (If there is, that’s maybe a little weird, don’t you think?)
7) It’s crazy expensive, what with the blocks and everything you need!
It might be tempting to skip purchasing the Integer Block Kit, but keep these things in mind. One, you’ll use the same blocks from Primer all the way through Algebra 1, so, while there is an initial investment, it will support eight or nine years of learning – not additional students coming up through the program. Two, our manipulatives are an integral part of our curriculum, because they work and form the basis of the “see” portion of Math-U-See. Current educational research supports the way we integrate our manipulatives into learning. Three, our blocks (and Instruction Manuals) have great resale value!
8) I want a curriculum that will teach my kid for me, not one where I have to do the teaching.
A common misconception about Math-U-See’s videos is that they’ll teach the entire lesson to your student. They’re actually intended to demonstrate to the instructor how to use the manipulatives and present the concept. There’s certainly no harm in students watching the videos but they’re intended to be used in connection with the Instruction Manual.
9) It’s in a weird order, so we’ll be stuck using it forever.
Math-U-See is organized differently than other math curricula, at least for the first six or seven levels, but it’s quite straight-forward in the progression. We thoroughly cover single-digit addition and subtraction, followed by multi-digit addition and subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and decimals and percents, with other concepts (like telling time or counting money, for instance) introduced where appropriate along the way. So it might be more complicated to jump in and out of other curricula in these levels, but we provide an interactive placement guide to help you determine exactly where to start. After these lower levels, our upper levels follow a pretty standard progression from pre-algebra through calculus.
10) Using manipulatives to demonstrate concepts all the way through Algebra 1 is childish and unnecessary.
Let’s get real for a minute. How many of us understood what we were actually doing when we were factoring polynomials? Watch Steve Demme demonstrate it with the blocks, and you will. And since the goal of Math-U-See is mastery, your student will use the manipulatives as much or little as needed; there’s no one right way to do it.
11) My kid isn’t a “kinesthetic learner” so the blocks are a waste of time.
With Math-U-See, concepts are introduced using the manipulatives, which enables students to “see” the concepts, first physically and then mentally as they progress to algorithms, formulas, and other symbolic representations. Research has shown that students who are able to represent problems correctly are better able to connect conceptual knowledge with procedural skill, which leads to improved performance in math.1 Which is a fancy way to say that manipulatives can lead to understanding for any kind of learning preference.
12) You think that puns are the lowest form of humor.
Well, you’ve got us on this one. If you can’t stomach puns, you’re probably going to hate Math-U-See. But if you can ignore them, we think you’ll find that Math-U-See is an engaging, flexible, effective math curriculum that will equip your student to succeed in math and build curiosity to become a lifelong learner. You never know, you may even learn to love puns…or at least forgive us for them
Want five reasons why you might like Math-U-See? Read what brought Gretchen our way!
1 Rittle-Johnson, B., Siegler, R. S., & Alibali, M. W. (June 2001). Developing conceptual understanding and procedural skill in mathematics: an iterative process. Journal of Educational Psychology, 93(2), 346-362
Have You Heard About AIM?
Accelerated Individualized Mastery (AIM) provides a new solution for struggling math students with gaps in their foundational math skills set. The AIM programs use proven Math-U-See strategies and manipulatives in combination with an accelerated approach to help students successfully master math concepts.
Lourina Mouton says
Steve, CONGRATULATIONS and THANK YOU SO MUCH on giving us Math-U-See! we are in South Africa, been homeschooling all along with your math, and my son is now busy with Algebra 2.
Wonderful program. Blessings
This is what I posted under my friends Facebook when she posted this article:
I still remember the neat tricks we learned from Steve. And Steve was the first person to help me understand sine, tangent, and all of that.
I guess it worked for (my son) Vinnie. 😁 He ended up majoring in math in college and then, as a math major, earned a full ride to MIT which doesn’t even normally cater to math majors.
I also remember Vinnie’s first grade teacher telling me that he was doing math all wrong and would *never* succeed. That’s when we pulled him out and started with MUS. It worked well for him!