I Forgot How Much I Like Algebra….
Over the last couple of days, both of my kids, the 5th grader and the 7th grader, have had trouble with math assignments. And oddly, each involved good old algebra.
My daughter, the 7th grader was so frustrated at one point that she burst into tears. She’s usually the star student, but this time she said she felt like even though she was in class paying attention, that she must have spaced out because nothing on her homework made sense to her. I held her and let her sob.
When I first looked over her homework, I had to really stop and think. I haven’t done any algebra since college some 20 years ago. Staring into the expressions and equations, it was like an ancient language whispering hints at me and I had to delve back into her text to regain some bearings. Luckily, certain parts of the text includes some solved problems with answers, so I could check that I wasn’t totally out in left field. And then I felt the rush of figuring the puzzles out.
I sat tandem to her and began stepping her through the logic of the puzzles. It’s a different brain, doing this stuff. You have to focus on it and nothing else for awhile, because it doesn’t work like everything else.
Slowly but surely we stepped through each problem. Our pace began to pick up and soon we were racing to see who would finish first.
What began as tearful exasperation turned into an adventure, with maybe just a hint of fun for my daughter. It was a special moment for me too. Realizing and remembering how much I really did enjoy some of this and yet still remembering being frustrated with teachers who could not communicate well and being forced to learn it so quickly without a lot of time for assimilation.
I felt then and still feel now that not enough time is allowed for learning these concepts. Instead of devoting a week to some concepts, the kids are expected to get through them in a day. And it seems faster today than it was for me. I don’t know.
Why the rush to grow up?