Wednesday, August 8, 2007

On math

Math and I do not, generally get along. Sure, we begrudging siddle up to one another on necessary occasions, but by and far, we avoid one another like the plague. The truth is, Math does not like me because I manhandle its delicate logarithms. Likewise, I do not like Math because it forces me to think in meaningless, cold symbols.

I do my best to keep my children from catching the mathphobia bug. I have taught my children math through various hands-on and practical methods that don't intimidate me. We keep running totals of items in the cart at the store. We work sodoku puzzles. We cook. We estimate and measure. We play card games, like War and Pyramid Solitaire. We play board games.

When I feel like I absolutely must have some type of workbook to prove that I am a good teacher, I turn to math curricula. This past year found me reattempting Math-U-See after two years of Horizons.

Atticus has taken to these methods swimmingly. Logan has also showed no signs of anything other than pure joy at the sight of a a counting tray full of beans and index cards. Jo, however, has struggled. While she has been accessed as being "gifted" in several areas, math is not one of them. I have watched her grasp after numbers for the past four years and have wondered, all the while, if what was true for me as a child was not also true for her: perhaps she just doesn't get numbers.

The odd thing that I have been pondering is that somewhere around college--while I would never say that I am very accomplished in any sort of computation--the lightbulb most certainly went on. So, what changed? Maybe, I have been thinking, maybe I was just finally ready to learn. I did a little research, and found this article by the Bluedorns very encouraging. The theory is that many children are simply not developed enough to quickly master math skills until they are somewhere between 10 and 15 years old.

If this is true, then all my years of coaxing Jo into borrowing and multiplying and calculating area has been an utter waste of time. If this is true, then some day in the not-so-distant future--with continued exposure, of course--Jo should see the stories in those evil little number sentences. While she may never be a physicist, she should, at least, do basic computing fairly well.

Unless it's all rubbish, of course. Could be that I am simply bad at math, and my daughter is simply bad at math and my sons are simply the recipients of their father's good math gene. I really don't know. The bad thing is that I won't really know ... until it's too late.

1 comment:

Gayle said...

We have LOVED singapore math. But it only goes up through the elementary years. I've really been contemplating switching to Math-U-See for the older grades. Any chance you might do a little review?