Thursday, February 16, 2012

This is a Rant

Sometimes I just want to scream, "Why can't you just do your work and stop all the whining!" and sometimes I do.

JT doesn't enjoy doing math. He did at one point. I remember when he liked math. I remember when I'd send math problems along with him to school so he'd have something to do when the rest of the class was completing something he had already mastered. His Kindergarten teacher encouraged this and he always said he liked to do the work.

Sometime in the last three years, he has lost that love. In fact, he'd probably say math is his least favorite subject. Initially, I thought part of the problem was that he was bored. So we looked for 'fun' math. No good. Then I thought it might be the choice in curriculum, so we changed. Several times. No good. Then I found out that he didn't think it was 'fair' if he had to do work that he already thought he knew how to do. I understood that complaint. I hated it in school, too. So I would pick and choose a few problems in each lesson for him to do as proof that he understood a concept before I'd let him move on. This was not acceptable to him. I lowered the number of proof problems he had to do hoping it would be more 'fair' in his eyes. Instead, he would rush through the problems, making MANY mistakes, and then get angry when I asked him to correct his work. Now he just stares at the work until I start taking away privileges to produce results. This is NOT how I want him to learn math.

However, he loves to read ABOUT math. He read Flatland and thought it was fantastic. He recently read The Number Devil and talked about it for days. He loves to read the stories in the Life of Fred books, but don't expect to catch him working on the problems. I drop most formal math instruction for some time and deschool just in that subject? I'm sure if I provided books on the subject of math, he would devour them with relish. I don't want to drive him to hate all math. It happened to me. I was an excellent math student until I ran up against a class in 9th grade called Progressive Math. Geometry, Algebra II and a bit of Trig all in one year. I was never the same after that.

I think a step back may be in order for now; the same way we dealt with JT's problem with music instruction. Structured learning wasn't working. We stopped his piano lessons. We waited for what felt like an eternity for the spark to ignite on its own. Then one day, he was playing again because he wanted to play. I'm not sure if math can work the same way. I can't imagine suddenly feeling the urge to 'do math' the same way I might feel the urge to make music. But maybe that time will come. For now, I will pick up all the books I can related to math. I will encourage him to hang out on math websites. I will make sure he isn't forgetting what he already knows. Then, when he sees the need for the use of math on his own, he will be far more motivated to work because it will mean something to him.

Right now, it only means something to me and that might not be enough.


Cyber Momma said...

This is a proxy comment submitted via email. Apparently, my captchas are causing trouble!

Monica says:
I'm more likely to have an urge to do math than to make music. :D I've been known to hang with a friend and do Calculus problems just for fun.

Ingi Mc said...

We have exactly the same issues with DS. He will happily read Life of Fred, loved Flatland, will watch Great Courses Algebra DVDs, but sit down with me and WRITE out a few questions? Sigh.

I only set a few questions per session (I copy them out and put them in his exercise book). I only work with him (sister goes to read) and this seems to be helping. And we don't do maths every day. His "life skills" math is excellent. It's just the whining that gets to me and makes me think "I'll send you back to school if you hate this so much" (but I won't).

Cyber Momma said...

I must admit, I do occasionally say things like, "Do you realize how much math you would do in just ONE DAY if you were in a public school?!"

Today we started a new math plan. Monday is Khan Academy. Tuesday and Thursday he will read math related books. Wednesday and Friday is computer programming in place of 'regular' math. He seems to be happy with the plan. Let's see how long that lasts.