Beyond Algebra

I’m really not what I call a math person. Sometimes the mere mention of a word problem such as “If Train A leaves Chicago at three…” will make my brain freeze up like an icepop in the Arctic. My forte is words. Numbers… yeah, well, we have a love/hate relationship.

However, give me a good math book and I can usually figure things out. Especially if they have a lot of examples. I find an example that looks similar and then try to work the problem by those steps. Easy, right? Um, no. Not always.

So when it comes to home schooling, I’ve had many rough teaching and/or tutoring sessions in math. Particularly Algebra. It seems my braincells did not retain everything from high school — go figure! πŸ˜‰

We have gotten through it. We’re in round three of Algebra now with child number three. He’s having a hard time grasping a certain aspect at the moment and is getting a bit frustrated with himself. My job is to keep on going… to cajole, cheer and urge him on as needed. It’s also my job to figure out just what might do the trick to help it all click and come together.

During all the frustrations with math I’ve been asked over and over: “What good is this going to do me in life? How will I ever use this again?”

My answer? You probably won’t. But you might.

Sometimes learning is for the sake of learning, itself. In the case of Algebra — often the bain of my existence — the main thing you are learning is to think logically.

Logical thinkers have a much better chance in life as a whole. They can be rational. They can think through a process from point A to point B and actually find an answer.
They can follow those annoying directions when putting together IKEA furniture and bicycles.

So when something difficult comes along, I try to remember what I learned in Algebra class … and the lessons I’ve learned in teaching it to my own children. No, I don’t really care what X equals — but on the other hand, it does feel good to actually figure it out. To actually push myself beyond my own comfort zone.

Learning is so vital to both our minds and self-esteem. And yet, when you’re trying to solve quadratic equations, it often feels like torture. Unless you happen to be like our child #5 who seems to have gift for numbers and LOVES math! He’s a year ahead in the subject.

Yeah. He definitely gets it from his father. πŸ˜‰

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