February 12, 2011

Want some math?  Last night we spent one hundred and sixty dollars on books for the kids.  Other than paying for guitar and ice skating classes, one hundred and sixty dollars is the cost of the kids education this year.  So far.

Most of our books come from the library, paid through our taxes.  We're in the library almost every week.  We use a suitcase on wheels to haul, store, and organize these trips.  Otherwise we would certainly be losing books, forgetting books, and accruing fees.  We live and homeschool on a shoe string budget as do almost all the homeschooling families we know.  Late fees at the library make a difference in our monthly budget.  So we manage them.

That math matters to our family.  We talk about budget, what is possible, what isn't.  Sometimes it surprises the kids; what we willingly buy, what we refuse.  It may look impenetrable to them.  Why spend Friday night in Barnes-ig-Noble (where oh where for art thou, dear independent local books store?) paying solid money answering yes yes yes you may have that book, asking did you see this one or this one?  The answer is simple: to light fires, to put tools in their hands, to demonstrate alternative gathering - always seek outside sources, children.

And it works, this fire lighting tool gathering strategy.  They pour over their books, can't wait to spend the coming days reading, learning, and trying.   Eighty per child is a pittance, of course.  (Lordy, what do they spend per child each day in school?)

Then there is the other math, school math.   I suspect my kids are behind their peers mathematically.   Not wretchedly behind, as they are aware math is a language to describe the physical world.   They can add and subtract, understand multiplication and division as grand adding and subtracting.   They know money and time, length, weight, and motion experientially if nothing else.   Unlike, for instance, Temple Grandin's graduate students to didn't know how to find the middle of a circle with a compass.  Apparently, those well schooled folks grew up learning math, not living it.  I look at the math curricula stacked in my hands, put them all back on the shelf.

I've spent several weeks caring about behindness in math.   Oh, my hypocritical dogma be damned.  I care.  I care.  I care.  I care?  Do I care?  What am I really caring about?  Why?  This is a snap shot of the conversation in my head.   I will send the kids to highschool.  Will I send the kids to highschool.  Do I care?  I care I care I care.  What am I really caring about?   This is mental math, a crazy world where dogma does not equal reality and you must land on value.   Yes, reside on values, figure out what it all equals.  Ask yourself, one more time, how do we grow smart children?

Take Back Your Education - John Gatto

Changing Education Paradigms - Sir Sexy Ken Robinson

Race To Nowhere - Kate the unschooled child all grown up

Seven Sins Of Our System Of Forced Education - Peter Gray


val said...

They can learn all the math they need to join up in high school in no time when they're about 13 or 14.

So if they're going to go, you still don't have to be concerned about it for a few more years.

A lot of math concepts are formally taught way too early--like counting money and telling time, lol. When the brain is ready, both make sense. I think a lot of math is probably mostly developmental.

There's a time and place for formal teacher and student, that has a role too sometimes, but you'll know it when you see it. This isn't it. love, Val

Katherine said...

Val, why did your kids go to high school after unschooling all that time? Just curious.

val said...

We're not true unschoolers. We do schoolish work too, less now than in the past because I trust more now.

They went to school because the oldest one was on a personal quest to see if he could do it on their terms. He had left school 5 years earlier in defeat because of dyslexia.

When I realized why he needed to go back, then it was okay. He didn't even tell them he was dyslexic, didn't want them to know.

Anyway he proved to himself what he had to and he loved high school. He had such a good time there, which baffled me who had hated high school. He has a natural ability to bring people together, and he used it there, enthusiasm contagious.

Then the second one went, and after a bit of intense early anxiety, he liked it a lot too. I think 15 is an age where an adventure outside of the house, away from the mom is a good thing from a personal growth standpoint.

This could be achieved in many other ways though. School isn't the only answer.

But anyway, we've kept on doing it because it works. If it doesn't at some point, we'll have to re-evaluate. love, Val