Tuesday, February 28, 2017


As I'm sure most of you know, I'm a big proponent of homework. Not a lot of homework, but the right homework. I think a teacher can assign a very well-thought out assignment that doesn't take too long for a child to finish, and I truly believe that homework, if done at least a couple of times a week, can help the child master skills. This goes for math and grammar especially, at least in my opinion.

Well my opinion goes against what many people--including some people at my kids' elementary school--believe. Which means the girls skated through grades 1 through 5 with minimal homework. Then, they hit middle school, where things got a bit harder, and now, they are in high school. For the most part, school isn't too bad, with the exception of math.

I know, right? The subject Tim loves, the subject I have learned to appreciate, is the subject giving the girls the most trouble. I'm actually not sure why, except that they don't LOVE math. And therefore, I wonder if the urge to learn it and do well in the course has abated. You know, if it's not easy, they don't bother.

But this semester, I see the girls putting forth more of an effort, and Talia is both going into her teacher once a week and having help from Tim in the evenings. And even with all this time and energy, she's still having some trouble.

So who is to blame--Talia or the teacher? In the past, I've almost always sided with the teacher. My child needs to adapt to all sorts of teachers and teaching styles. A lesson like that can be useful later on in life, right? But we know of one student who is also getting help from her father in the same subject (and she has the same teacher as Talia). This young lady is bright, articulate, and like Talia, has done pretty well in the past as far as math classes go. Furthermore, the teacher admitted at one point to me that some of the information she is teaching--get this--she learned in the very recent past. (As in, and I quote, "I had to learn this information to teach it.") Hmm...

And how do I feel now? Well, I'm torn, actually, and think that both sides come into play here.

So you might think my complaint has to do with the teacher or the grade that Talia is getting (I don't feel I can divulge that grade, but it's not so great). But my complaint here isn't about the grade. My observation is this: had the girls had more regular homework early on, they'd be used to doing homework every night in math. Had the girls' grades been determined by tests and not just homework, they'd be more inclined to study for the tests that now determine their grades. Had I known more about how schools worked at the upper level, I would have tried to prepare them better for what was to come.

But--and this is huge (or yuge?)--I am still placing the responsibility for their grades and learning on them. What's done is done, and even though I think the elementary and middle school could have served them better and even though I think I could have served them better, at 15, they need to know that what they produce is a product of them and their hard work. If Talia isn't doing well,she needs to take responsibility for that. Learn from the situation, and move on, hopefully applying that lesson for later.

Because it's one thing to "mess up" a bit in high school. It's a whole other thing to do that in college.

(P.S. My hope, really, is that she's learning this math so she knows how to do the math. It really isn't about the grade. I know too many people, women especially, who say, "I'm not good at math." I think those kids were never taught math the right way, and no one told them they could do it, if they tried.)

1 comment:

S.B. House said...

Math is awesome!! It was my favorite subject in high school... I saw the homework as a puzzle to solve. Of course, it did come easy to my brain. I think one of the things that hinders many people in math is they get discouraged if they don't understand right away. I think math curriculum gets rushed, and kids feel they have to understand from the first example equation shown to them. I've heard so many kids utter words of frustration and hating of mathematics after only five minutes work on a problem. If you don't instantly understand it's not for you... what an unrealistic learning expectation.