As an un/homeschooler I’m often approached by potential home educators who are all about the concept of homeschooling but reticent about teaching math.
Math was my least favorite subject in school, partially because my right brain leanings are intrinsically drawn to subjects that are more…well, subjective. There are so many facets in art and history, science and of course English, but math…-grimaces… math is just math.
It was the same creative spirit which compelled me to find a way to master this wretched subject; to twist it into something beautiful, and it worked. This revelation has made me a better math instructor to my own children. At least I think so.
Of the many tools I’ve tried, the tool I find to be the most effective is practicality. How is this useful to me, how can I make math my bitch? How? By focusing on the ways math is a prerequisite to the finer things in life, I have grown to appreciate and even rely on it to enrich the things I am passionate about.
As a homeschooler or parent assisting with homework, pointing out all of the times you use math in a given day is an auspicious start to changing the face of math. This helps to dispel the, You just want to torture me and ruin my life by teaching this myth.
As you prepare meals, discuss temperature settings, timeframes and measurements. As you-or even a willing stylist are trimming errant bangs or using barber clippers emphasize the angle of the scissors/clippers and the subsequent cut. Note the way the hair falls when it is cut at a 90 degree angle versus a 30 or 45 degree angle.
When you are doing yardwork or gardening discuss square footage, perimeters, area and fractions. “Let’s take a break when we are done with this half, this third, this eighth of the yard”. When you’re filling the water bucket, carefully discuss centrifugal motion.
Math, I’ve found is an art of sorts-you have to first have your interest piqued. Every artist, creative person I know- no matter what their field of expertise can trace the pivotal moment they became entranced ; a museum, a concert hall, a book, a song, a restaurant, grandma’s quilts and on and on. And, within each of those passions lies an equation and a formula for their success.
Note: A dear friend and colleague reignited my quest for math and science mastery when I read a paper she’d written; a rebuttal to claims that Blacks are amongst the “technologically illiterate”. From time to time throughout the course of this school year, I will offer tools and support for boosting interest and acumen in math and science.
image credit: Flickr/-: pranav :-