Careful!

Benezet did not advocate abandoning arithmetic instruction, only the mindless drill that goes with most formal instruction. This distinction has often been neglected. Here is the editors' introduction to Benezet's paper as abridged and adapted in C.W. Hunnicutt and William J. Iverson, eds., Research in the Three R's (New York: Harper, 1958), pp. 397-400:

A great controversy in arithmetic has centered on the question "When should systematic instruction in arithmetic begin?" Superintendent Benezet heaped fuel on the flames with his famous series of articles describing a city-wide tryout of an idea. He forcefully advocated "postponement of arithmetic" to Grade 7 or at least until Grade 6, though the reader will discover that he advocated postponement only of formal arithmetic. Actually he filled the early years with "meaningful" and "significant" arithemtic experiences. This study, often misquoted, has been used to support postponement of all organized arithmetic teaching.


Benezet Centre