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Friday, December 30, 2016

Math: Friend or Foe?

Humour has become a big part of my parenting style, I swear it is the only reason I manage to not lose my temper about 20 times a day. I can manage to turn around most situations - with a joke or anecdote or just a quip - on D(11) and S(8) and avoid tantrums - theirs and mine ;).

When it comes to teaching especially, I have a tough time holding on to my patience but again with most subjects, we manage without too many explosions. I also made sure to inculcate self-study in both the kids, all the better to avoid teaching situations and let me stay in my calm bubble. The odd instance though, definitely comes up from time to time, and Math has lately become our nemesis. Weirdly enough, both the spouse and I used to love the subject when at school, but now D has got it into her head that "she's bad at Math" and nothing I say will get her out of that mode - especially when she's finding a particular topic tough.

The latest? Algebra! Don't kill me, but I actually find it fascinating, at least at the simple levels when I can actually teach it pretty well. But our early learning sessions went like this:

We are reading questions and trying to construct the equations -
D: 3 consecutive even numbers add up to 36. Find the numbers.
Me: Ok, can you tell me the equation for this now? What is the first number?
D: x
Me: Great, so what are the 2nd and 3rd numbers.
D: ... I think the numbers are 10 and...
Me: Why are you going to the answers? Tell me the equation first.
D: I don't know how.
Me: If the first number is x, what is the next. The point of algebra is to start from the equation, not to just guess at the numbers and try to find them!
D: I don't know.
Me: It's the next even number. Think.
D: I don't like Math.
Me: Try! You know this!
D: I'm bad at Math.

...A meltdown and 2 hours later, we finally go back to it, find the equation and the numbers.

And this is why I make weird faces when someone asks me why I didn't think of moving to teaching as a profession ;).

Plan for 2017: I am determined to get D proficient at Algebra, at least so that she can teach S in a couple of years and I don't have to go through a repeat of this.


  1. Ha ha ha, I am waiting to see how algebra plays out with Gy ;) And I can just picture you and D sitting at the table and this exchange taking place. Fortify yourself with some wine or something before every session. I hear it's good for your heart ;) And psst, I liked algebra too :D

    1. I love this wine idea! Will definitely remember for next time ;).. And I knew we were kindred souls, even algebra agrees!!

  2. I tell you teaching kids is crazy. Like you l prefer it when they self study. The elder son studies himself but the younger one is something else. My BP shoots up when l teach him. He did score well in the last test after giving me a splitting headache. 🙂

    Good luck with teaching Algebra. I love Maths.

    1. Thanks Rachna :) I really hope I don't have to do much of this with the younger one, don't think I can take it :P.

  3. Ha ha! I loved Maths and in Algebra, coming up with equations was my most favorite part. May be give them some analogy to understand how coming up with equations is important to get the right answer? Just thinking out loud - no experience though.
    Enjoyed reading your post, Aparna. :)

    1. Thanks so much Parul! I love the idea of analogies.. maybe we can make a game out it to see which method solves faster - with and without equations!!

  4. Anonymous6:22 AM

    Hehe. School never leaves us :) Even my son has loads of algebra this year. Best of luck with your algebra then !