The next unschooling “tools” post this week is all about math. Since we began to radical unschool I don’t like separating learning into “subjects”. I am pretty sure this is *not* what Stephanie’s posts were meant to do by the way(though If I am wrong please tell me so 🙂 ) but to be more of a “guide” of what we like or what we do sort of thing.

Well I decided to write a pre-post not just to hook up with Ordinary Life Magic this week but to also address some of family members concerns.

The word math to some people is a dirty word. Bring the subject up to my childhood best friend and she will honestly reply she hates it(still today). We both have some pretty bad memories of math classes (and teachers) we took together. We even failed some together too :).

So what does failing math courses mean to us today? Absolutely nothing.We both have managed to live in the real world doing real everyday tasks. I still can balance our families budget and I have always done our taxes. The knowledge that I have *needed* to live I’ve picked up along the way. See learning doesn’t get harder just because you get older but to get back to my original question, What is math?

Some people think math is worksheets or memorizing endless facts only to forget them later. Though some may think that, math is *really* about being able to solve a problem or what mathematicians like to call “word problems”.

All the pre-made equations like 5+7, or 35×34, or 857/ 30 are not *real* math, they are *just* pre-made equations that you practice over and over until hopefully you get it right by test time. Being honest this is something that took me awhile to understand.

Like my friend, Miss Sky is not shy about expressing her feelings about math either. This battle was actually what helped me decide to finally unschool. Miss Sky and I would go round and round about her math workbooks until one of us was in tears (TEARS). I quickly saw how *I*, me was the one causing her to hate math.

“Why do I have to do this?” She would ask over and over and all my school trained mind could say was “because, you *need* to know this!” Then one night, sadly to say after more tears, I started to question why she *did* have to do “this” (as in worksheets and workbooks). Why did she have to memorize her times tables or learn long division, and why did she “have to” learn it *now*?

Math is everywhere, there is no escaping it. I can honestly say we use it everyday. Sometimes I think we use it so much we don’t even realize we *are* doing “math”. This morning I needed to make breakfast for every member in our household (4 of us at the moment). I used math to make sure everyone got enough eggs. I didn’t stop and think “oh I just used math”, I just did it.

So if that is the case then why *should* math be a separate part of living, and if I don’t “teach” my children math how will my children ever be able to get into college?

Simple, just like my childhood best friend and I or my husband( who needs to know precise measurements to do his job daily), or my sister who has her own business, they will pick up what they need to know.

Let’s say Miss Sky *wants* to be a zoologist, then like everybody else that wants to go into that field she will learn the subjects to make that happen. She can do this several ways. She can sign up for remedial college math courses, she could get a tutor, she could find materials to help her learn these things like buy a curriculum or check out books from the library or use Kahn Academy. The difference is I am not *making*her learn them. She would do it because *she* wants to and know what else, she wouldn’t have all the negative baggage that my childhood best friend or I have about math.

Children *love* to learn.

All my girls are *very* smart individuals. Our oldest (21) is living 2000 miles away supporting herself and her boyfriend while he attends college all on their own (something she did *not* learn from school by the way).That is HUGE!

My girls have the *whole* world opened up to them not just the “school” world. My job is to help them find ways of making their dreams come true and to support them in those decisions. The rest is really up to them, but isn’t that true for everyone?

So what *does* “math” look like in our home? That will have to wait for my next post. 🙂

March 7, 2012 at 1:38 am |

I love the way you make me question how I am approaching things. We don’t mind maths around here, but we often have tears at writing time. And are the tears caused by me “making” them do worksheets they have no interest in doing? Yes!

I should know better. I know that kids fail science, maths, writing etc at school. They may have been in the class, but they didn’t necessarily “learn” anything. But yet, we can learn what we need to to live and what we want to if we are interested. I just need to be more “present” to be there to help find the answers when the questions are asked.