Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Math Whisperer

Yesterday we established the following facts:

Fact A: There is no crying in Baseball.
Fact B: There is no slope in Music.

Today, we established one more:
Fact C: There is crying in Math, and LOTS OF IT.

Oh boy, Is there ever.

The good news is I was gifted with teacher's editions of the current math books. You know, teacher's editions that have EXAMPLES and ANSWERS worked out. I sat down for about 20 minutes and gave myself a lovely refresher course on finding slope, y-intercepts, x and y coordinates and graphing line equations. Once I had done that for myself it was on to have a one-on-one with TeenTuna.

And her miles of attitude.
And her subsequent bucket of tears.


Because I made her (yes, MADE HER) write down everything I told her. And we did it every single time for every single problem, over and over and over again because repetition is a GOOD THING when it comes to math. Writing formulas over and over reenforces what the formula is. Writing all those goofy rules helps you remember all those goofy rules. Putting a box around your answer helps you see it. Writing neatly means you don't mistake a number one for a number seven. I made her write down everything and she was LIVID.

Evidently her teachers do not ask that they show anything but the answer, which only elevates the anger she vents at her tyrannical mother, and to that I can only say, WTF? Why not? In the olden days, you were allowed to use an entire forest of paper if necessary in order to properly show your work. It was required. Don't show the work, don't get credit for the problem. And really, showing work was a good thing, because if you somehow messed up along the way, the teacher would have a prayer of following your thought process and could pinpoint exactly where you went wrong, which sometimes meant partial credit, which, YO -- that's a GOOD THING. Without showing your work, a wrong numerical answer to a math problem would be the same as writing SLOPE = SHAMPOO. Nobody will ever understand where either answer came from.

So tonight, after miles of attitude, a ten minute math-tutoring strike held by a mother who had had it with the sighing and the grumping and general bad attitude, and the subsequent bucket of tears, we resumed the task at hand. She was a little beaten down, a bit humbler, but finally ready to work. And can I just say, for the last several problems, she actually said, "No, wait. I can do this all by myself now. I know how."


That's why I do it the way I do it. And yes, even 90 minutes of 8th grade math full of tears is worth it when you hear your child say, "Let me do this. I can do it myself now because I KNOW HOW."

And when she finally crawled into bed, a half-hour late and quite tired, I gave her a hug and whispered in her ear. I told her to trust me and I would help her. I told her she worked hard. I told her no matter how confused she was or how frustrated she was, all she needed to do was relax and be polite and I'd help her until she understood. And then I told her I was proud of her.

And you know what? I think she understood.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I home educate an eight grader. I applaud you. What you did with your daughter is way more than her teacher (who gets a paycheck for something you do better) does with her and now she REALLY understands! You are teaching her such wonderful life lessons and affirming her at the same time. YOU'RE A GREAT MOTHER! I just had to tell you. I got tears in my eyes when I read this.