I wouldn’t call myself in no way a nerd, and not that being a nerd is a bad thing, but I do regularly visit the website Math.com, (that’s M-A-T-H, not Match.com). On that site, you can practice math equations such as quadratics or systems and equations of all sorts. It’s something I like to do. It’s a challenge similar to completing a crossword puzzle or one of those Kudoko number puzzles. I think it’s good for the brain.
Years ago I taught basic math and basic algebra at an alternative high school for at-risk (a term they used) kids. When I was a school kid, I struggled with math from the getgo. In kindergarted, the teacher like to use peanuts as a reward for getting simple addition/subtraction problems right. If you got the problem right, you got to eat the peanuts you used to count with. I purposely got the problems wrong.
“Why are you getting all these problems wrong, Bman?” asked the teacher.
“Because I don’t like peanuts,”I replied . The teacher rolled her eyes and gave me a bunch of bottle caps to use instead of peanuts which left me quite confused. Since I didn’t want to eat those either, I continued to get problems wrong. It wasn’t long, because of my finicky appetite, that I started falling behind the rest of the class. I never really caught up either throughout my whole school career. It was by far my weakest subject. When it comes down to it, peanuts are to blame.
I didn’t start getting good at math until after college. In fact, as a college student, I was still terrible at math. I was required to take Algebra II as one of my class requirements in order to get a BA in education. The only reason I passed Algebra II was because of the flood of ’97 which closed the campus a month before finals. I would have failed the final, thus, failing the class. Instead, I walked away from Algebra II with a gentleman D-. I passed! They didn’t give out many D minuses in those day I was told.
The most important thing in my opinion about teaching math is to be able to effectively teach the “why” factor. Many of my math teachers in my school daze showed the steps of say, a two-step equation, but still I wasn’t understanding the “why”. Why do we do this and why do we do that? What does it mean? If you do not understand the “why” in math, your’e sunk. One thing I was very proud of is the fact that I could teach low-skilled alternative school kids, who needed a calculator for 12 divided by 3, and teach them linear equations with 100% understanding on their parts, (linear equations were part of the state standards so I had to teach them). I’m not bragging. They were able to do this because they understood the “why”.
Since we just had a post that related to math, I thought it would be fun to give you all a math homework assignment. No doubt for some of you it has been a long time since you’ve actually had to do any of this stuff. Just be sure to keep your eyes on your own paper!
More below the fold…