Monday, April 15, 2013

Parent laments child's dislike for math

I came across an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal, "Our child hates math: Is it our fault?" The article highlights clearly the destructive effects that homework can have on children. I wrote the following comment to the article:

Thank you for this excellent article. It gives me the chance to make an important point. No, you should not feel guilty that your child hates math. No, you should not brush up on your own math skills. The problem here is not that you don’t know or like math. The problem is that someone outside your family is setting the agenda for what goes on in your home.
You do not tell your child’s teacher what lessons she should teach. Why is she telling you and your child what you have to do at home? It’s the homework, not the math, that is causing your child’s response. For God’s sake, she is only 7 years old.

Your child was born to a mommy and daddy who are well versed in the humanities and the arts. She could have been born to a handyman, who likes to work around the house. She could have been born to an accountant, who uses numbers every day. She’s your child and it’s your home, and she does not need her teacher disrupting your milieu, and interfering with what your family considers fun.
I was born to a “math family.” Math was fun. I majored in math in college. I began graduate studies in math before switching to psychology and, later, learning to write. My love for math started in my home. As I grew up, I had a number of teachers who inspired me to pursue things my parents did not do.

Your child’s teacher can instill an appreciation for science and math if she teaches her students with passion. They can learn everything they need to know about first and second grade math within the 6+ hours they have with her every day. They can increase their understanding and interest in these topics as they move through the grades and meet other teachers who teach subjects like science and math, with knowledge, passion, and delight. But she will not develop interests when teachers are encouraged and allowed to co-opt a setting, your home, that is outside the class.
Research does not even support that idea that homework has value for children your child’s age. And teachers are not taught in their schools of education the theory, research and practice of giving homework.

So, love your child. Make sure your home is filled with fun. And if humanities and arts are of interest to you, share those passions unabashedly with your child, without worrying at all that you should do something else.
What do you think? Please post a comment.

For more information on Dr. Goldberg's model, read other postings on this blog, visit his website, The Homework Trap, or read his book, The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers. 


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