Sunday, 21 July 2013



For the past five weeks I've been attending a maths class at Jack's school. The purpose of this class is two fold. First: to give parents an idea of what math techniques the kids are being taught in school and how they are being taught them. Second: to help parents brush up on their maths as well, it's a practical skill after all, and encourage them to enrol on a math course at their local college.

Now, I don't suggle with math, not only have I been knee deep in advanced calculus and trigonometry for the last three years, but I've always been good at math. I only struggle when the math involves being written down. I like math. I like it because of the solidarity, the right answer is the right answer, it's not down to any interpretation.

I enrolled for this class knowing that the way that I was taught math in school was very different to the way Jack was being taught. I thought that it would be good for the future when I will undoubtedly need to help Jack with his math homework. With an overview if how he's been taught I should be more equipped to help him. Also the kids got to join us for the last half hour of the class, when Jack heard about this he was pretty insistent.

The class was good over all, I spent most of the class whizzing through the work and then helping the others, or giving brief lectures on things like the Monty Hall problem. What struck me most is that Jack is being taught techniques that I used to get into trouble for doing. Number bonds, for instance, I became quite notorious in my class for using number bonds to do math in my head, though I didn't know it at the time, it was just how I did it. In 7th grade I got bumped ahead into pre-algebra (9th grade) only to fail it spectacularly and get pushed back into the math class that was for the slow 8th graders. Number bonds, place values, and other similar techniques are the main cause for this failure. I could do the math in my head, but they wanted it on paper. If I did it on paper I got it wrong or got lost.

Now a days schools in Britain have realised the value of being able to do math in your head and are trying to teach it from as early an age as possible. All the written techniques that I was taught are not taught until year 6 or later. Some of them, like touch points, aren't even taught anymore.

Throughout the course I learned all of the terms and techniques that he's going to be taught over the next six years and already I can see their use. Jack and are regularly doing little math problems and it's changed a lot lately now that I can encourage him to use what he's been taught, we're a lot more productive and it's one more thing that we can do and enjoy together.

1 comment:

  1. Derek, I think you might need a good slice of humble pie.
    No, I'm just kidding with you. You are great at math.