Wednesday, 27 April 2011

But do not expect me to teach 45728

One of the sorry consequences of co-parent Daddy Dig flying away to Hong Kong is that he has left me in sole charge of the maths and science agenda of this happy home ed household.

Well you can sleep easy in your beds. At least until 3am, what with the primary science. The world is safe in my hands. So long as junior science keeps its part of the bargain and does not get too technical or use too many long words, then yes, conceptually and attitude-wise, I'm fine. And I promise not to blow up this planet with overenthusiastic use of lemon juice, an assortment of vinegars and a pot of Co-op bicarbonate.

You see, with science, I feel reasonably safe. I can have a go. I can listen to a question about rock crystal and the eyeball and not run off, pass out, or cry. With stuff I don't know, I can speculate, theorise, make stuff up, and wait to be challenged. I am that willing. Hey, I have even tried to construct a vacuum cleaner with a paper bag and a hairdryer.

But maths.

Please wake up promptly at 3.01am when I get to the maths. Someone needs to stop me going there, because the maths world is not safe to be left alone with me. Not at all. 925474849. See? Numbers are out of my control. Rudimentary calculations escape me and run about causing mayhem. Simple lines, angles, shape stuff and bits of rulers... everything becomes incoherent. School maths? Mrs Davy? I blame you both.

Now of course I do not want to pass on my problem to the children. No. In their hearing I maintain that MATHS IS FUN.

But they can sniff it out. Tiger can intuitively sense my total incomprehension, my aphasia, my utter and complete confusion when I see 5474849. She will instinctively know that her normally-trusted parent cannot answer a simple question about a circle and she will short circuit. There will be disaster, confusion and general panic.

But left alone in charge of this, I will need to think fast. I will claim to be a good educator. No, stuff that. I am the best sort of educator.

I will answer, Tiger? You are in control of the maths. Thanks to life with me you have already sussed the cost of petrol, the weight of cake, 25% off the price of a TK Maxx handbag, and how many rolls of modroc you need to build a horse.

For everything else, including 34353636, you can rummage in the pile of books I bought from the charity shop. You can do BBC Bitesize. There are websites. Lots of them. And TV programmes. You can ask the people in the home ed group. I can find you workshops, lectures, and a tutor. I will hunt down Marcus du Sautoy again if you like because he is fun and not like school or Mrs Davy. And here is a protractor. I bought it from the newsagent.

So there, this is the best form of education. One that someone else is interested in, leads for themselves, becomes enthused about, and can take complete control of at 3.01am, when I wake up screaming.


sharon said...

Yep,me too! Basic arithmetic, rudimentary algebra - okay (mostly). Advanced algebra, geometry and trigonometry? Lay me down and let me die quietly in a darkened corner. Science is pretty much the same apart from the basics of biology/botany. Physics and chemistry are closed books, written in fiendishly coded foreign tongues.

Grit said...

i don't know about you sharon, but i work hard to disguise my affliction. sometimes i am caught out. it is humiliating. i can never completely erase the memory of having to drive home with one tiny bit of carpet and then measuring it all around the room with a 6-inch ruler. i still got the answer wrong.

ladybirdcook said...

I can't do primary level maths (husband was horrified to find that I really DON'T know my times-tables) but I can do maths and science higher up the scale. Luckily, my children believe totally in the authority of daddy-is-a-proper-teacher and totally ignore me unless they want cake or money. I would definitely use your method if I had to teach them all by myself.

Gweipo said...

Dear Grit
I have discovered Jump Math. It's canadian, and it breaks math down into bite size easy to digest bits. They have great bits for the big people on games and stuff to do.
I've been supplementing my son, who at age nearly 8 had NO SENSE OF NUMBERS at all. He just didn't get numbers. No feeling for it, no understanding, not able to manipulate, frustrated, hating it.
After a week of working through his grade workbook, and doing some fun card games and jumping up and down steps he's suddenly started talking numbers. It's weird. Like the penny suddenly dropped. He's getting it.
I'm amazed. My even more numerate husband is amazed as he's working out change in shops and adding numbers to his conversations ...
google: John Mighton - the end of ignorance.
Good article about it in the NY times.
You may find yourself like math too.