influence of Friedrich Froebel
numbers in color
In 1952 George Cuisenaire published "Les Nombres en Couleurs" (Numbers in Colour). He was a Belgian primary school teacher who used the colored rods for teaching arithmetic.
Friedrich Froebel had originally developed a set of wooden building blocks which he used at Keilhau for children to learn about mathematics. The original Froebel set was based on a one inch cube and ranged in length from one to twelve inches, The Education of Man 1826. Georges Cuisenaire used a smaller unit cube (1 cm or about 0.375 inches) and a different color for each lengths.
Caleb Gattegno met Cuisenaire in 1953 and helped to make his work better known. Gattegno realized not only that the rods provide an algebraic model for the study of mathematics at all levels but also that they are means for learners to investigate mathematics for themselves. He also noticed how much precise language was generated through the students' discussion of the rods.
For many years Dr. Caleb Gattegno had been a leading figure in the movement to bring improvements to mathematics teaching at the primary and secondary school levels. He realised that the rods provided teachers with a means for making the lesson a personal investigation of mathematics for every child. This was why Froebel had originally developed these blocks at Keilhau.
Dr. Gattegno lectured in many countries to teachers wishing to know more about these rods. His work with children convinced him and others wherever he went that all have a latent ability which, in classroom situations where the rods are used and where teaching is learner centred, can yield truly remarkable results. And it was this experience and this technique of subordinating teaching to learning which Dr. Gattegno subsequently crystallised in his textbook series Mathematics with Numbers in Colour.
Mathematics as a reference
A constructive and personal approach
As the learners explore a mathematical situation, teachers observe them and lead the class, always ready to modify their pedagogical actions, based on what the learners are doing, what they are saying, their hesitations and errors, their understandings and misunderstandings, their attitudes and various reactions. Thanks to such constant, formative assessment and by paying attention to each learner, teachers can accompany their students and guide them step by step towards new insights.
I like to learn by touching or doing things with my hands
The Cuisenaire Company in Reading, England, distributes the Cuisenaire Rods
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