Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Slow Schooling Algebra with Harold Jacobs

He sat and thought about it for a long time. What times x equals y? To be honest, I didn't even know the answer at first. But after a few minutes of thinking through the problem in my backward kind of way, I figured out the answer. Now the hard part. How to get my son to find the answer on his own and understand why the answer was what it was. I began by telling him what he already knew and using that process he slowly figured out the answer. So slowly in fact that I could almost see the gears in his head turning as he tried to determine why the answer was so.

As I sat next to my son who was sprawled out on our family room floor, Harold Jacobs Elementary Algebra book open in front on him, I thought about how things would be different if he were attempting to figure out this problem in a public school classroom. Granted, the teacher would explain how to determine the answer in much the same way I would, but the time needed to really let the full understanding of why the answer was what it was sink into my son's brain would not be there. With many other children needing the teacher's time and attention, and the constant push to get all of the material covered for that day, the teacher and my son would have been forced to move on.

I think my son thought about that problem for a full five minutes and during that entire time, all I could think about was how important it was to allow him the time needed to digest this important building block of Algebra before moving on to new concepts. I also thought about how how busy fast paced classrooms with their many distractions, work against real learning. Taking the time needed to connect with and understand material so that kids can fully understand their subject is what slow schooling is all about. Going at kid speed, not school speed.

1 comment:

Mrs.Rat said...

In searching for some help in using the Algebra program I found and Love your post! I too can identify with everything you said here. I also use Algebra with Harold Jacobs. :) Just yesterday I was in a room next to my son's bedroom and as he says the answer to one of his algebra questions...I knew he needed guidance...so I walk to him...lay down on the floor next to him and ask to see his work...then in view of how I did the problem the night before...I could guild him to where he went wrong....then he back-tracks and continues to find his way.... :)

I love the title "slow-schooling" for why put pressure on the process of the pace they need to absorb the learning that will take place.

You also encouraged me...for just yesterday I allowed algebra to take way too much time out of our day...thinking we just have to finish a segment of the work....(the segment took 3-4 hrs. Then thinking about it I thought what is important.... working so hard that our brains have this shut-down..and we take small breaks thinking our brain will jump-start again so we can finish the work... ~or~ take an amount of time do what we can....at his pace, and when if it takes 2+ years to finish the second half of the book...it's okay... ...more important to learn and finish in his time...then to stress and use too many hours and finish in someone's quoted time.