Wednesday, 18 May 2016

When Harry Met Sally

Okay, a very cheesy title but hopefully it caught your eye?

I recently read a fun quote on the net that said 'Dear Maths, we liked you so much better before you hooked up with the alphabet, sincerely, everyone.' You have to laugh...when Harry met Sally or Numbers met Letters sparks definitely flew for most people.

Ahhh algebra....I have to admit as a formula driven, list driven student, I loved algebra. But in today's more problem-solving driven context I'm not so sure I would have.

But that's not the point of this blog...I want to put something out there a little play devil's advocate and I dare a secondary teacher or any teacher to rise to the challenge . I would love that. A little juicy disagreement is what education needs to shake things up and get conversations going.

My daughter (Year 8) suggested recently that she knows everything she needs to know academically unless there is a specific chosen area she needs to specialise in. Granted, I think this was going a tad too far...however, it did make me think. By the end of Year 10 my son will have a good understanding of basic algebra along with all the other maths domains. He can write poetry to some degree, he knows who Shakespeare is, reads material he enjoys and can certainly put together a fine piece of argumentative/persuasive writing when he wants something. So....what now? He's not sure what he'll do when he leaves college and therein lies the problem I guess.

Here's what many people secretly think....they think he doesn't need to know too much more algebra, that he certainly doesn't need to know how to write more creatively and he definitely doesn't need to know that an hours worth of homework a night is only just the beginning for him.

What if he needs algebra later? Or trigonometry? Or decides to become a novelist....well WHEN he's decided that, can't he branch into those areas when he's ready? When he's probably more developmentally ready? Maybe for the next couple of years he should focus on problem solving, being a decent citizen, making good choices, thinking critically and logically. I don't know. I certainly don't have the answers. I hear these kinds of comments from both children and adults all the time.........Maybe, just maybe these same topics that have been compulsory for so many years need questioning. Does a young man passionate about maths and physics need to be put off education because of a compulsory English class that delves deep into thoughts and feelings? Does a budding historian need to be put off due to increasingly more complex maths concepts that will rarely be used in their lifetime?

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