It’s right there all snug as a bug in a rug next to solving algorithms, the chemistry of photosynthesis, and what age someone else’s toddler learned to drive their family car.
As long as they have their book, enough paper and I remember to duck-tape them to their chairs, they finish their lesson efficiently.
I thought I was pretty slick in high school. I made it right up through pre-calculous without ever comprehending functions. Here I am 35 years later having to teach them.
“Bekki, being a wife is a full-time job, being a mom is a full-time job. Do you really think you can take on another full-time job and teach the boys? You are talking about holding three full-time jobs. You will not be able to do them all.”
We took two minutes to write down all the things that had suddenly turned into a 500-pound gorilla and landed on his chest.
- Even though it was after 10:00 and we barely had begun school for the day.
- Even though my husband needed me to make a phone call, right now.
- Even though the younger boys were now free and wrestling.
I tried to nail Yoda’s voice but failed epically.
I then drew this nifty picture of a stick figure on the second step of a staircase.
“Isaac, if this is you walking toward finishing Algebra, What is the goal at the top of the stairs?”
- Crickets chirping in the background.
- A stray cat meowing in the back yard.
- Water dripping from somewhere upstairs.
“Wrong! Learning should never be about the grade!”
- Withhold your opinion. If I hate a subject, am confused by a subject, or see no real purpose for its existence (like balancing chemical equations), I need to bite my tongue. I am perfectly suited to be a wife, mom, homeschooler, and blogger. I love my family, love to teach, and have a passion for writing. My kids will have a uniquely different set of likes, loves, passions and abilities.
- Find the Greater good. Every dry, difficult, boring, and useless topic to me has an equally engaged, enlightened, and useful purpose to someone else in the universe. Balancing chemical equations is extremely exciting and wonderful to the biochemist researching and enveloping a cure for hormonal stupidity.
- Speak about the Purpose. Use encouraging, uplifting, positive language. Solving algebraic functions is an exercise in patience, searching for the most efficient solution, and agility. If these functions are not necessary to our future we will find ways to avoid them. If they are necessary, we need to find the most efficient way to solve them.
- Refuse to label something as a Who the Heck Cares topic for Anyone. Kids develop with different abilities at very different ages. Do not create self-fulling failures by saying things like, “I hate math”, “I think this is a waste of your time”, “ballet is for girls”.
- Be Over Prepared. Sometimes you hating a topic is a defense against not understanding it well enough to teach. If you, the teacher, hates a topic you need to over prepare before teaching it. Sometimes, Something Magical happens when you learn about something. You begin to appreciate it. Not always; sometimes.
- Do not confuse Challenging with useless. Our kids need to learn to press on, press through and conquer. They need to struggle. It’s their job to perspire, it’s our job to inspire. Victory is hollow without the struggle. The Chicago Cubs can attest to the fact that victory attained after an incredible struggle is sweeter than honey to Winnie the Pooh.
“In Algebra, efficiency and accuracy are the correct goals. There are almost always multiple ways to solve a problem. Our job is to find the one that works best for you and then allow you time to practice. Accuracy is the bullseye. Your goal needs to be to solve the problem accurately. Math is important. But not for the grade.”
“When I am baking, I need to accurately measure the salt needed for the brownie recipe. When I am buying firewood, I need to know how to accurately measure the stack to make sure I am getting a full cord of wood, and in life I need to know how to balance our budget and invest in our retirement fund so I can enjoy chocolate and coffee when I am 82-years-old.”
We are all guilty of passing on our likes, dislikes, and prejudices to our children.
They need no help from me. Plus, this world needs people who love chemistry, algebra and Brussel sprouts. Otherwise there will be too many Brussel sprouts and I may have to eat some.
If all else fails, try duct-tape.PS- If you have a great recipe for edible round green vegetables, I might be willing to try.