Friday, 11 May 2012

Why bother teaching anything when they can teach themselves?

Cooking counts as maths too!
This morning my son was explaining how you could ascertain the direction with a watch and the sun.He had been reading a library book on survival skills on the way to the supermarket. I tried to show him how to do it last year in the garden but he switched off and refused to listen because it was maths! The legacy of school is that the word 'maths' builds up an insurmountable problem in my son's mind and when at school he would hide under the desk or pull the plugs from the computers out of their sockets!
My son then went on to explain that the compass is split up into angles the main pointers being 90 degrees,180 degrees,270 degrees and 360 degrees with the angles also being marked every 45 degrees. He has talked about angles before when teaching himself to skateboard so I've experienced  his way of learning maths and it never fails to surprise me that in many ways formal maths lessons are redundant. I jumped at the unexpected opportunity to explain that the angles inside a triangle added up to 180 and that the angles inside a square added up to to 360 degrees. All this he took it between a burger and a pepsi , as he tucked into his wicked zinger meal at KFC!
Maths is a subjects which at the very least would have caused his face to glaze over or at worst would have caused a meltdown if I'd broached it but because the subject interested him he had fathomed the details for himself.
Once  in the car I glanced over to find him reading about map reading skills and contour lines and once again I found that my growing faith in autonomous learning was being reinforced. The book he is reading is written for the Royal Marines and designed for adults but the content appeals to him so he's reading it!
Every day conversations are an opportunity to learn too. Only this morning my son turned to me as he was watching t.v. One of the characters in an American tv show referred to a 'test monkey'. "Oh he means a guinea pig, mum", said my son showing me he'd taken in the new idiom he had learned yesterday. Words are fascinating and we are always discussing their meaning.Seeing a lad on a mono cycle one day  resulted in a discussion  of what 'mono' meant and a competition to see how many words we could find beginning with mono. We did the same with the word 'sub' when my son asked the meaning of  subversive.
If you are teaching an oppositional child you have to 'find' the right way.It may not be conventional but your child has the benefit of one to one and you have the luxury of as much time as you need and the flexibilty to change tack if your method isn't working! Don't give up!

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