Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ray's Arithmetic - A Review

Ray's Arithmetic

Product: Ray's Arithmetic CD

Price: $59 (Free shipping for limited time) - 30 day guarantee

Company: Dollar Homeschool's Ecletic Education Series

Where to Purchase: Dollar Homeschool


Other Products Available:
Eclectic Education Series Set - $159
Or separately
McGuffey's Readers and EES Grammar - $39
Ray's Arithmetic - $59
Science - $39
History - $39

Brief Introduction -
Ray's Arithmetic was devolped in the 1800's. It is a complete K-12 math curriculum, beginning with primary counting and continuing through calculus. Dollar Homeschool has put all the books onto one CD in a pdf format.

In-Depth Look:
Ray's Arithmetic was used widely in schools in the 1800s and early 1900s. His aim based on the preface in one of his books was "to combine the clear explanatory methods of the French mathematicians with the practical exercises of the English and German, so that the pupil should acquire both a practical and theoretical knowledge of the subject."

The book series starts at the very beginning, assuming the child knows nothing of math facts. And it builds from there, step by step. It goes all the way to calculus. The series also throws in some "special interest" math such as bookkeeping and astronomy.

These textbooks build on the principles one at a time. The goal is "Teach one thing at a time and teach it thoroughly. " (p.4 Primary Arithmetic) The books were written during a time when many families didn't have easy access to a school or a teacher. But these were written in such a way that once a student had the basics down, he should be able to self-teach at home.

Dr. Ray emphasized speed and accuracy. To know it and know it well, instant recall. No counting fingers. To quote, "To this end the drills must be thorough, each step being repeated by the pupil until it can be taken without hesitation. No lesson is properly mastered until it can be recited as promptly as familiar lessons in reading and spelling. The primary processes in numbers may thus be mastered in the first two years of the child's school course, and the fact that this is not usually accomplished in even five years, explains the slow progress of pupils in arithmetic." ( p. 16 Manual of Arithmetic)

The manual reminds the teacher that the opposite is also true. Once the child obviously knows the process inside and out, move on. There is no need to do every single problem when your child has mastered the drills. Then it just becomes busy work. And you, as the teacher, are in the best position to decide when it has been enough.

One of the first things you will notice about the book is a whole lot of emphasis on word problems. How many parents have heard their child ask, "Why do I need to do this?" or "When will I ever use this?" With word problems, you see exactly when you will use it. The problems make it more "real", not just a bunch of abstract facts on a page.

I found the word problems very interesting and entertaining. Keep in mind they were written almost 200 hundred years ago. So they are a history lesson in themselves. Lessons on money mention a U.S. currency called the Eagle, which was equal to $10. In measurements, there was a gill; and 4 gills were equal to 1 pint. You get a peek into the life of the 1800s with word problems such as this one -

A provision dealer bought a number of ducks, at the rate of 6 for $1; and twice as many chickens at the rate of 8 for $1; by selling them at the rate of 2 chickens and 1 duck for $1/2, he gained $2 1/2: how many of each did he buy? p.138 Ray's New Intellectual Arithmetic

Other things I found humorous where the mention of things that would be considered "taboo" in today's word problems. But these things were just a normal accepted part of life then. Here are some examples -
A man and his wife can drink a keg of beer in 12 days ; when the man is away, it lasts the woman 30 days ;
in what time can the man drink it alone?


A man purchased 8 sheep, at $4 a head; 5 barrels of flour, at $3 a barrel; 4 yards of cloth at $3 a yard; and 5 ounces of opium, at $1 an ounce: how much did he spend?


In addition to the complete math curriculum, the "extra" stuff is a very nice thing to have. For example, the book on astronomy. Selim Peabody wrote this book for Ray's Arithmetic. He geared it towards the high school ages. So he tried to keep it from getting too complicated and included dozens of illustrations. To quote, "Most who study Astronomy desire an accuratge knowledge of facts and principles, but need neither for mental culture nor for practical use such a mastery of methods as should fit them to become even amateur astronomers."



Ray's Arithmetic is available for free as public domain. But you could spend hours searching, finding and combining all of these resources. And you still might not be sure that you have the complete texts.
Dollar Homeschool has done all of the work for you and conveniently placed it on a CD, for you to view and print at your convenience.

The pages have been scanned in as images, not as searchable text. So you can't use the "find" tool and you can't "copy/paste". The quality is very good, except for some of the pictures. The scan makes some of the images a little difficult to make out. For example, a page might have a picture of some birds on the top and then some word problems about the birds. But the picture is so dark, it is hard to make out how many birds are where.

This curriculum is different than the type that our family is used to. So it would take some getting used to. But I think it would be a rewarding experience once your students got the hang of it. This series successfully taught millions of children to do math and to do it well.

The series includes 38 books (12 core textbooks, answer keys, teacher editions, and several books of mathematical pursuits).

To read other crew member reviews, click here.

Disclaimer: I received the Ray's Arithmetic CD free of charge to review, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

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