Wednesday, May 23, 2007



So I have spent some of my morning straining MY brain cells on Year 9 maths.. and surds in particular. (I let Limpy have another day off with her hip, because she had PE Prac and Sport today. No point going just so she can sit and watch. She may as well be doing this bloody maths!)

I've learnt at least that I still have the determination to figure Maths out, even when I get it wrong in the first place. And it's usually a "Duh" thing. Go back to the chapter and you'll find it in there somewhere.

Ms 14 Minus 3 days has not that determination. She just gets stroppy, and tries to say that it is all irrational (which is what surds are!) Which kind of figures. She can be a bit like that with things in general. Irrational. Absurd even! (Yes, yes, she's a teenager.) Mind you, I am hard pressed to come up with some possible use for surds later in life, particularly when she has no intention of taking up any career involving Mathematics. Or so she thinks. Do you think telling her that it is just good for her to work her brain will work? Hmmm.. didn't think so.

So, no, I am not enjoying this Week of Maths. (And it will have to be an ongoing thing even after she 'catches up'.) Marc comes home from work, then has to pin her down, and be there to talk her through the 'duh' bits. And the 'blonde' moments. It does make me wonder how you'd teach a class full of kids ranging in ability, and speed at which they grasp mathematical concepts and procedures. He was unimpressed at how little she did yesterday during the day.

By the time she's been sent to bed, neither he nor I are much in the mood for relaxing and catching up. It's an issue I am finding even without the maths tutoring. As the kids get older they stay up later and later, and I find we are losing "our time". Perhaps others aren't so selfish about it - I know many people who think nothing of going to bed the same time as the kids - or before their partner. But I like my evening 'just us two' time. I suppose this is just another phase to get through - till we are empty nesters and rattling around the house driving each other nuts!

We will have a taste of that in the school holidays in July. We are leaving the kids at their grandparents in Sydney for a few days (after the State Age netball).. coming back home for the rest of the week, because Marc has to work, then going back down 2/3 of the way to Sydney to meet up with the kids at Marc's mum's, and to spend a couple of days with her.

I wonder how I will feel about having no kids to complain about for 3 days?!!!!

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Oh Wow - it will be like a honeymoon!!!

Tell Ms 14y-3d that one day she may have a teenager to teach the absurdities of life to!
Hmm, I wish!! Not with just driving back home, and then him going out to work for the next three days! I will have to work on the romance factor for the evenings, heh. (And having a blitz on their bedrooms maybe !!)

We have tried that tack with Ms 14y-3d in respect to why she needs to make an effort to apply herself to mental arithmetic like "How long will it take us to drive from A to B (which is about x km) if we are driving at an average of 100 kph. Her 11 year old sister has got it. The 8 year old has just about got it, and Cait is going 'DUH?' She says "Why do I need to, I can just ask you"... and she's not really interested in the notion that she might have kids herself one day who ask her the same question!!
When my kids are all gone for several days, I am in blissful heaven for about a day and 1/2, Then I get mind-numbingly bored and go shopping. Then I make SD take me out to eat (I mean, really, why cook for just 2?) Then I start twitching until everyone is back home and I have someone to yell at again.

I totally and completely admire you for doing the maths. I still count on my fingers. You, dear, are a Very Good Mother.
I was great at maths util after year 9 when they started to add all that weird shit in. I still don't understand _why_ they teach that kind of crap at High School. I mean honestly, unless you're planning on being an engineer or something what's the point? Sure give kids the grounding and then if they are good at it let them keep going, but if not then drop it and teach something interesting. Calcualtors were made for a reason.

If I had spent my High School maths classes learning a language, in extra History classes or forced physical activities, I reckon I'd be... I dunno... something better anyway. Maybe like a duck... or a lemur.

Maths was pointless, almost all the other classes I did were actually useful. So glad I dumped it in year 11 and so thankful that I actually could! At least I think I did... Or maybe I gave up at that stage and just read books in class like I did for English. I can't remember, that's when I discovered beer.
Oh Tracey. I nearly cried seeing the math colouring your post. I am maths dyslexic I am sure. My eyes went into a spin and immediately glazed over. You may as well have put up an arabic poem, it would have looked the same to me.

I totally understand what you are saying about "our time". It is precious to us as well, so enjoy your three days alone/adult time.
I'm a maths teacher by profession, actually it was the second string in my teaching bow, but seemed to be the most in demand.
I've always enjoyed algebra and mathematical logic. Surds, indices, logarithms, trig functions are all fun to play around with. It's really important to understand them if you are going to progress to calculus, the great mathematical tool that explains so much in so many disciplines.
Calculators are fine in their place, I always carried mine with me while I was working, but using them for everything can result in a situation where you don't really understand what you are doing. Often you can look at a problem and SEE the answer, no need to start keying things in.
I grew up in a pre-calculator world... I don't want to go back to it, but sometimes these tools can mean that we leave our brains behind.
We are in danger of throwing out the underpinning of our culture. The classics are all but dead in our universities, I think that we need to know and understand the 'absurdities' as well as how to key them into a calculator.
If we only concentrate on what might someday find us a job we'd be throwing out much of truth and beauty...classical music, the arts, and yes - shock horror - mathematics.
I had a number of adult students in my time at Swinburne who were really pleased to be able to have a second go at maths. Often they found that they were enjoying themselves. I think that children (particularly girls) are encouraged to think that maths is an unnecessarily difficult subject that should be dropped as soon as possible. Congratulations, Tracey for playing around with surds... hopefully your 14 year old and my 14 year old grandson will learn to enjoy it.
Sorry to rave on, I could have said a lot more about teaching methods, but decided this wasn't the time or the place.
Of course Libby! I forgot you were a maths teacher! Wish you lived close so I could send her to you for tutoring! Hah!

My husband has taught me that maths is useful in a whole heap of fields... not all career-wise. He is so "enthusiastic" about it he is in danger of turning her completely off it, just to be peverse. Mind you, by last night I was getting rather frustrated with this girl who is so self-motivated with her other subjects being so lazy with the maths. I also didn't appreciate me having to sit there for an hour nutting it out while she played on the computer. She did get a bit of a lecture about how, by Yr 11 & 12, she needed to be able to study and revise off her own bat, without us standing over her. I was never wildly enthusiastic about maths it all suddenly clicked in Year 5 with me, apparently, and I just tackled it till I got the 'eureka' moment.

So far she hasn't had to put herself 'out' with any of her other subjects.. so she doesn't know how to tackle anything that requires a bit of self-discipline.

It's a toughie knowing how to deal with it. Don't want to be too pushy, but at the same time, you don't want to see your kid throw away opportunities. I know, as Rootie has said in a post on her blog, that you can only give them the tools. I guess this is what we are trying to give her here.. the tools. (With everything else at school she has just waltzed through it all... so the only thing we have armed her with for the rest of it is genetics!

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