why insist on math,grammar and all those other things no one uses any more

I have children with neurological differences. Their mom drank while pregnant. They have to work pretty darn hard just to stay even sometimes. It is frustrating for them to know something one day and have it be gone the next. Why on earth do I insist they learn algebra and geometry? Why are they learning formal grammar when their public schooled counterparts barely know the difference between an adverb and an adjective. Who goes through life diagramming sentences anyway? When is the last time you did a geometric proof in “real life”? I hear parents of neuro-typical kids making these same arguments against teaching these subjects. After all,don’t we have calculators and word processing programs that will even check your grammar? Does anyone need to memorize their math facts anymore?
Yes,they do.
You see more goes on within the brain than just learning seemingly useless knowledge. The child is building pathways in their brains. The more the brain is challenged, they more it grows. (I am obviously over simplifying.) I will use my children for examples. I will use my older thirteen year old, as he has the most challenges. At six years of age his speech was almost unintelligible. He knew some of his letters and could recognize numbers-but not the quantities they represented. He learned to read at about age eight. I spent two long years breaking down the steps of reading until they were small enough for him to grasp. Upper and lower case letters were completely different languages to him. CAT was a different word from cat. we won’t even get into print and cursive;hand written or typed. Math was just a difficult. With this son,things didn’t “click”,so much as slowly build. He didn’t see patterns. He didn’t see that different trees had differently shaped leaves. He never noticed hot or cold. There are a lot of educators who would have simply labeled my son and given up. He would have had years of ‘life skills”. I know home schoolers who advised giving up. It was very difficult finding the balance between pushing too hard and not pushing hard enough. It is still difficult to this day to find that balance.
Because of my children’s difficulties, I had to learn to look at learning differently than I did with my neuro-typical kids. Math teaches logical progression. It teaches order. If I allowed my children to uses a calculator instead of learning their math facts and applying them,whole areas of their brains would not have developed.These are areas that eventually help with other problem solving issues. My teens may never again need to prove two triangles are congruent. They will ,however, have to solve other life problems and knowing how to do it in a step-by-step manner will always apply. I can literally see how math has helped them learn to think in general. The same is true with formal grammar. It teaches them to break things down to their parts and to rebuild them into a whole. It forces them to come up with strategies to help when their brain “glitches” and they can no longer find the information they knew the day,or week before.
Is it frustrating to teach my children? Yes it is. I hate having to kick back work over an over again. I hate watching them struggle. I know it is much harder for them. Imagine diagramming a sentence when your brain keeps mixing up pronouns and adverbs? (I have two who do this) It would be easier to just let them give up and do something simple. It would be easier,but it wouldn’t be beneficial to them in the long run. My children are capable of learning. They are learning and as they mature that learning is slowly crossing over into everyday life. They no longer feel “dumb”. They are less hesitant to tackle something challenging. After all,If they can overcome high school level chemistry,they can take a to-go order and remember seating charts at work.
If my children have seen these results slogging through the hard “useless” subjects,how much more beneficial are they to a neuro-typical child?
My now nearly seventeen year old was almost twelve when he finally learned his times tables. It took three years for him to learn them – three,long,frustrating years. It isn’t the length of time it took him to learn his math facts,it is that he learned them This year he is struggling with geometric proofs. What if I would have handed him a calculator instead of forcing him to memorize? Would he have the skills or the confidence to tackle geometry?
Today my thirteen year old has forgotten how to diagram;completely forgotten.He cannot remember what a simple predicate is. He cannot even find the subject. I will break his steps back down for him. I will encourage him to look in his book for past examples. I will not do his work for him and I will not let him quit. It may take him a couple of hours,or maybe even a day or two,but he will eventually remember. When he does, there will be a few more neurons firing than there were before.
We do our children a disservice when we let them do things the easy way. They deserve the chance to stretch themselves and overcome obstacles. They deserve the true confidence that can only come from tackling something difficult and succeeding. That much I can give them.

About lenell

Wife to a very patient man and mom to 8 interesting kids via birth,marriage and adoption. Grandma to nearly 5,nearly perfect grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

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 )

Google photo

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

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s