I recently subbed in a 5th grade class where two students gave a presentation about the left and right sides of the brain – how the left tends to be more logical in thinking with analysis and accuracy, and the right side is more associated as the creative part including aesthetics and feeling. Of course, the two sides of the brain work together, but most people lean slightly towards one or the other and an observer can generally make a good guess by watching a person’s personality, or in this case, academics.
That night, my 6th grade daughter came home with yet more frustration from math class.
I readily admit that math was not my forte in school, and I tend to tense up when I have to re-learn and explain it. But with some work, I can do it. I didn’t choose a profession that relies heavily on math and science skills, so I’m not in regular practice. I’m seeing some of this same resistance from my daughter already (6th grade algebra??!!), and I know it’s going to be a struggle through the rest of her years in school.
This is the same daughter who plays piano and oboe, sings constantly, and is currently in the school musical theater class. She draws and creates, loves to read, and the stories and scripts she writes are full of imagination. Ask her to remember all the things she needs for school that day, or simply why she lost her lunch card for the third time this school year, and you get a blank stare. Those are just forgettable details, in her opinion, and she doesn’t see the need to improve in that area.
So, she’s more right brained than left, I get that. What I do need to learn, though, is that to reach her I have to do it on her “brain” level. I may not be able to make math musical, but I can certainly play towards her interests to make it more acceptable to her.
I read an article recently about teachers making math interesting for students, about taking the fear out of algebra and other types of math. Granted, in our schools kids are given an enormous amount of information to process, and sometimes they aren’t mastering skills before moving on. The range of comprehension level amongst the students is vast, so catering to everyone’s individual needs is a challenge. As a support at home, I need to use my right brain and get creative, helping my daughter to embrace her left brain as she moves along the math continuum.
Subbing teaches me something new every day I do it. It’s amazing what you can learn from those who are learning at a younger – and often more curious – level.
Photo by TZA of flickr.