Helping My Kids with Math

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I was not a particularly good student. In fact, that is probably being generous. However, my kids don’t have a better student as a parent, so I have to do the best that I can. Today, I sat and helped my kid with geometry and basic algebra.

The Good
I am pretty good with graphs and very simple geometry. I think visually and therefore can help him understand the concepts behind the math. I used PowerPoint to draw templates that he could use in doing the work.

It started off slowly and we figured out what math happens in scaling, flipping, and moving different triangles. By the end we were humming along at a quick pace.

The Bad
I don’t get algebra. Commutative properties don’t make sense to me. It’s asking me to simplify and find meaning. It sounds philosophical, but its definitely not. X is something, Y is something. It just makes me dizzy. I find it hard to focus. I really don’t want to label people with ADHD stuff. Just because this is hard doesn’t mean you need drugs. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. I sometimes wish I was good at this sort of thing, but I wouldn’t trade my strengths to be better at math.

The Ugly
My kid is a bad student. Just like I was. He doesn’t care that his life will have more challenges because of the way he is going to do in school. He doesn’t care that an employer will take points off for going to a 3rd tier school. He doesn’t care that the quality of his education will not be top rate. I didn’t care at the time. Now I understand the trade-offs, but if I had to pass 9th grade now (as an adult), Im not sure I would do much better.

When I look at our education system, I see a one-size-fits-all model that is clearly sub-optimal. I see high education costing a quarter of a million dollars for 4 years. I see teachers who are underpaid babysitters with budgets that are continuously shrinking. Arts and Music programs are being cut while we spend ever increasing dollars on defense. We are going in the wrong direction.

Does every high school student really need to know algebra? Does every student need to know history?

Maybe.  Maybe not.  Meanwhile he just asked me if zero is a whole number. Google says yes. Must be so.



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