Life With Nine Kids

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Math & Why I Homeschool

We have this book called 50 Mathematical Ideas you Really Need to Know. It's my husbands book and it's a great little bathroom reader almost laid out like a miniature for dummies book... except for this book is not for dummies. It contains everything from probability to topology to fractals to Fermat's last theorem.
In the introduction of this book I was happy to read a true statement of mathematical faith from a homeschool (unschooling) parents eyes; "The time and pressure of school does not help either, For mathematics is a subject where there is no merit in being fast. People need time to allow the ideas to sink in."

I wish I had been granted such leisure in all areas of "math." If so, I may not had grown up with such the distaste I had for math. The drudgery of repetition and memorization killed all practical need I had for math in my life. Forbidding me to use a calculator to help me learn concepts when memorization failed me made me bitter. It also made it hard for me to use calculators as an adult! Computing is no good if you don't understand the concepts!

Real life allows for people, adult people, to explore and express their interests freely. I so wish children had this luxury. Math scared me, haunted me, pressured me. So when I fell behind (in just the forth grade) I fled from it like one would flee a burning building. Throughout my public school career I'd gain some speed, only to be left in the dust over and over again. There were times I didn't even try, but there were also many times I tried so hard I thought I was finally getting somewhere...but, just more dust appeared.

I can appreciate math for what it is now. A richer companion to arithmetic within a complex world of numbers, methods and theories. A mysterious subject I've never scratched the surface of.

Unschooling Math
So, we unschool math. We take it all painfully slow. Or not so painfully I should say. I want every concept, every number, every method to make sense to the kids. My husband backs me on this and since he's really mathematically smart (and the one with two degrees;) I trust his opinion in this unschool venture of our own regarding kids and math. So the other day for some reason (can't remember the context now) I mentioned while talking to the kids that 1/4 was half of a half. I didn't think I was heard so I repeated myself. Sage pipped in, "Yeah mom that's 25%."

Another one of those stunned homeschool/unschool moments. Simple? Yes. Third grade appropriate? I don't know, perhaps. But the stunned part is because we do basic arithmetic still. We do money and time practice. We do some conceptual stuff like multiplication, but in a small scale. All in all the boys do basic stuff. They learn from it. They explore it. It's still fun for them, and most important not drudgery. The point is math is everywhere and they say things like this and pick up "education" like this from everything! And that is why I love "unschooling" so very much.

The First Three Reasons: Why We Started Homeschooling
1. I was told Charlotte (at age 7-8) may need to be tested "LD" in spelling.
Are you kidding me? "Learning Disabled" in spelling? This is idiotic. Like, can't she just grow up and be a self proclaimed "bad speller"? Do they really need to label her so that she has a bona fide excuse that will help to get her to pass classes? Big whoop you're not a great speller, my family is full of them.
Not to mention telling her at age 7 or 8 she's "LD" is setting her up for a lifetime of I'm not good so I'll never be good or a "why try then" attitude.

2. I found out Charlotte was being pulled out of regular class for extra reading help.
The real kicker: She was being pulled out of class when the rest of the class was practicing for spelling tests. This explained how poorly she was doing in spelling! And I'm the one that had to point it out to the teacher! What's even more, I found out she was missing recess time for not finishing work. When was this work supposed to have been done? ...wait for it... while she was at extra reading help! (No Child Left Behind Program sponsored.)

3. Charlotte started coming home crying everyday. She didn't want to do homework and I wondered what in #!%& they did all day long only to have homework at night.
I was done with the nonsense. When taken out of public school she turned back into my happy go lucky bright eyed child again almost overnight. Within 2 years a kid whose teacher said she wasn't reading chapter books yet so that made her behind had read the whole entire 7 book Harry Potter series herself.

1 comment:

tansy said...

thanks for the book idea. i just got that and the 50 physics ideas you really need to know. schools do a horrible injustice of teaching math. i hated math as a kid and now as an adult, i see the real applications of it in life and wish i'd been taught differently. my hope is that i can teach it to the kids in a way that they see the use of it and enjoy it.