Saturday, February 8, 2014

Mastery

Those of you who know Aaron know that he loves math. And that he's good at it. Pi is his favorite number and he looks for patterns in many things. He understands fractions and percentages and many concepts that he hasn't actually learned in school yet. I don't tell you this to brag. On the contrary, I'm sort of jealous of his brain capacity. And I learn from him.

Despite that brain capacity, Aaron sometimes doesn't like to work hard. Why master math facts when he can just do them in his head? Sure it takes longer, but it will, eventually, get the job done.

Enter Mr. P., his teacher, who wants the math facts mastered to Level 5. I think Level 5 is mixed numbers 2-9, 48 of them in two minutes.

"What level are you on, Aaron?" I asked him last week.

"Uh, I still need to master Level 3 and then I can go on."

"Seriously? I know you know these, Aaron. You need to get faster. Mr. P. thinks you should have mastered them all by now."

"Oh."

"So here's what we're going to do. We're going to do flashcards for 15 minutes a night so you get quick and then take some timed tests. I'll give you a month to master Level 5 and if you do so, you can choose a new Wii game."

I was loathe to say what I said because I try not to bribe my kids. But the rule at school was that when you master Level 5, you get to have Mr. P. buy you lunch. He calls it an incentive. Bribe, incentive? Who's to say, but Mr. P. started it. (Nana nana boo boo!)

"Can Mr. P. give me a test each day?" Aaron asked.

"If we ask him and he has the time, I'm sure he will." 

I spoke with Aaron on February 2nd and gave him until March 2nd to accomplish the mission. I emailed Mr. P. on February 4th to make sure Aaron could have one test a day. Yesterday was February 7th and Aaron had mastered Level 5.

The one detail I didn't mention is that Aaron was taking his tests all wrong. Tim watched Aaron's technique and noticed that Aaron would write the answer down, pick up his pencil, then move the paper instead of simply moving his hand. Aaron wasted so much time moving the paper that he had no chance of finishing the tests.

With a little extra practice and the new found knowledge on how to actually take the test, our Little Man passed with flying colors. Doesn't this mean that the kid could do anything to which he sets his mind? Yes, I think it does. And there's a lesson to be learned here for him and for everyone else. Hard work and tips from experienced people can help you master life's little challenges. Hmmm....

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