Testimonial by a UCI, Farm Elementary School Graduate, Ross Venook

"For the UCI administration, to whom it may concern:

My name is Ross Venook.  I am a freshman at Stanford University, a Woodbridge High School graduate, and a graduate of Farm School. Those are in reverse chronological order only.  Most of all, I am a student of life.  I owe this to Farm School....

...(Circle math and counting in base 4--the way to a freer, better conceptualization of mathematics in kindergarten.)  The idea of 'place value' is the most difficult concept for young children to understand, mainly because it conflicts with their only base (no pun intended) in numbers, namely sequential counting.  The base 4 counting taught me to regard ten as an arbitrary choice in the same position as other numbers in their own bases.  By separating numbers into 10s, 100s, 1000s, etc., as a method to arithmetic, I developed an early understanding of number concept.  Beyond that, counting in base 4 didn’t seem to have helped me much—until Pre-Calculus, when I began to hear the '1, 2, 3, BING' of my sixth year in my head when my teacher tried to explain to the class of high school juniors and seniors what different bases were.  She was failing where my first grade Farm School teacher [Suki] had succeeded.  Why?  Because the teachers at Farm School knew that the number 10 is not particularly special as a base, and that until we were taught otherwise (such as through rote methods taught in all public schools anywhere near Farm School), we could get past such limited thinking."

Excerpt from a letter written in the 1990s by Ross Venook in support of the Farm School.