Homework and the joys of “new” maths.

Do you know what the best part of mid term is?
No, definitely not Halloween.

What bliss.
It is now after 3pm and I am not doing homework.
When I myself went to school,
I will admit I was not really a fan of it,
and was known on many occasions to just not do it.

Maybe children are better behaved nowadays,photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/cayusa/2194119780/">Cayusa</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>
but mine would never dream of not doing their homework.
However because they are not all of genius intelligence,
this has meant at times I too have had to do homework.

I think somebody somewhere is having a laugh.
Because I who hated homework,
have over the years had ten children (not all mine),
regularly doing their homework here.

For the majority it is not an overly difficult task,
but for two of my children, who have dyslexia, it is.
I have to read, Β or supervise almost all their homework,
from start to finish.
However what has really killed me over the years,
above all else, is Maths.

I can remember as a child sitting down to do my maths homework,
or as we called it back then “my sums”.
Occasionally my mum would ask did I need help,
and if I did she would begin to “solve my problem”.

Except I would have to tell her she was wrong.
Her way was not the right way to do it.
Then she and I would get into a battle.
She would say what I was doing was ridiculous,
and try her best to show me her method.
I’d refuse to listen and she would eventually storm off,
tut tutting about the new maths.

Fast forward twenty years to my eldest child, now in her twenties.
On occasions she would need help,
Now in my day, I had been quite good at maths,
so I was only too happy to oblige.
Only to discover I could not do the simplest of calculations.

Even subtraction was not as it used to be!
Borrow one, pay one back,
had sure got a whole lot more complicated than in my day.

Eventually with effort, I learned this “new” way of doing maths.
After all she was my eldest and I wanted to do things right.

Three children later and I am cracking up.
Now the “new” methods for calculation,
which I painfully took the time to learn,
for my first then second, and also my third children have been discarded.
Once again there is a “new” way to do it.

Last week we got an explanatory page home,
describing in great detail how to do long division.

I looked at it, and groaned. Not again.
How is it possible to make something so complicated?
My daughter looked at me expectantly,
“Well mum?”.
I couldn’t lie.
“What a load of rubbish”, I said,
before realising I had spoken aloud.
She smiled, loving the fact I was so fed up.
“Yes will we just skip them?”, she said happily.
“No no no”, I said we have to try.

So I sat down and did my best to support the teacher.
I once again learned a “new” method of long division,
even more complicated than the last three.
After over 40 minutes I looked up,
to note that my daughter had left the kitchen to watch television!

I looked at my endless calculations,photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mscolly/145052885/">Marvin (PA)</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>
all completely unnecessary as far as I could see,
and I did what I should have done earlier.
I took out her homework diary,
and wrote a note saying we were having a small bit of difficulty,
and would try again the next day.

My daughter was thrilled with this result,
but I cautioned her and told her we would try again tomorrow.
Then I hung up the explanatory page in the kitchen,
hoping that I might just subconsciously absorb it.

The next morning when we got up,
I noticed the page was missing.
It had fallen down over night,
and sorrow of sorrows our young pup had eaten most of it!

I almost gave her a treat.
It would appear we both shared the same opinion on “new” maths.

photo credit: Cayusa via photopin cc
photo credit: Marvin (PA) via photopin cc

27 thoughts on “Homework and the joys of “new” maths.

  1. I didn’t mind maths until I got to secondary school and we had this horrible maths teacher who introduced me to the torture they call algebra….she would just look at me exasperated as she tried to explain it and I am sitting there saying; but they are letters, not numbers, letters belong on the alphabet not in a maths book.

    Needless to say it was a joyous five years between the two of us and we both cried tears of utter bliss to see the back of each other after the leaving cert.

    1. Somethings are just not meant to be! My daughter is so funny doing her maths. She sometimes writes down any answer she wants to not caring if it’s right or wrong. Other times she is struggling with some problem. She thinks I don’t know what she’s doing so she begins, “Mum, imagine we went to the shop and we had, em…..how much again,,,, oh ye €2.40 and we bought….one second…oh yes we bought a packet of crisps for .54c…. “. Well you get my drift, maths and her are just not exactly friends at the moment. I hope she doesn’t meet your maths teacher in her future.

  2. I have had the same experience with maths – being completely confused by the new methods used. But I’m lucky that maths is my kids’ best subject. Irish is another matte and I cannot even help them. BTW some children still don’t do their homework, I can assure you!

    1. Oh good, I’m lucky they take after their dad so! You can come over here for the Irish mine speak it fluently, and I’ll go to yours for maths.

  3. There is so much evidence that homework in the elementary grades is not only NOT helpful, it is detrimental. As I teacher, I would love nothing more than telling the kids to just go home, relax, daydream, play and have fun.
    Oddly enough, it is parents and politicians who keep us all in this crazy game of sending homework for little kids.
    And don’t get me started on the 6 ways to do multiplication or the BS of long division!
    This is why some of us refer to the “Common Corpse”!

    1. Ah I see I have hit a nerve with you. What amazes me is that we have a homework policy of so many minutes a night depending on the class the child is in yet so many parents make their child finish all homework and then lie about how long it took so their child looks good. Well my child looks like a right dunce but do I care!

      1. Good for you!! I try very hard to keep the kids to the 45 minute limit, but many of them tell me that their parents made them do it all. The thing is, I always ask, so the kids who don’t get it all done look like the smart ones to me!
        I just wish there was more sense in education, that’s all!

  4. I don’t “believe” in homework at all, a horrible infliction! I hated it too. When my son was in school, the new methods of maths had been introduced, and you are right, they have made a simple sum so bloody difficult. Your pup is wise beyond his years…

  5. Great post and I’m glad you are getting a break from homework. I remember getting straight A’s in math until the ‘Powers that Be’ came up with “New Math.” D- forever after. Good thing I was a theatre major in college. πŸ™‚

    1. I wrote this a while ago, and since then she has given up on the new maths and is silently doing things the old fashioned way. πŸ™‚

  6. Having traveled the same road with my children, my view on this – the old way of teaching math has worked F-O-R-E-V-E-R. Educations systems – don’t mess with what works.

    1. Yahoo. I agree wholeheartedly. Sometimes I think they only change it for the sake of changing it. Surely they can’t believe these new ways are less complicated.

Comments are always welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s