Saturday, May 21, 2011

Learning Fail

My second grader requested help with her homework recently. That usually just means she wants someone to listen to her talk through it. I was happy to do that.

Then she told me she wanted to do each of the four math story problems using a different strategy so that she would get a good grade. I couldn't hear her read the first story problem to me because I was so distracted by that comment.

After talking through all of the problems she ended up using two different strategies, one of them three times. I tried to explain to her that the reason her teacher has taught them a variety of strategies is so that they have options and can use whatever works best for them. I'm not sure she believed me.

We see all of her tests and talk with her about homework and school. I try to ensure that our conversations focus on what she has learned and the process rather than the grade but she's clearly getting another message somewhere. It causes me pain that my seven-year-old is losing the joy of learning. She's still got ten years before she graduates from high school. What will those years do to her?


Fern said...

I can quite see where she could have got that from, had she gone to my school. We were endlessly told we had to do things different ways (lots of sheets where we had to work out all the questions twice, using different methods). The idea was supposedly like you said, to make sure that we could all find a method that worked for us, but then we were forced to use methods that didn't make sense to us or didn't work as well as others so it was a complete waste of time.

Sarah said...

That's rough! Don't worry too much though: you are giving her the right message and I'm sure your influence will carry more weight than her teachers!!! Hopefully, though, she will be blessed with teachers who care about the learning instead of the end result :)

Jenny said...

Fern, Interesting. I make my students share different strategies for problems and we try them together, but I work hard to be sure they understand that they can use whatever strategy they want. I hope they're getting that message!

Sarah, I actually love the teacher she has this year and she is a phenomenal teacher of math. I don't know if this message is coming from her (it could be, I'm sure it's a message I sent much too often in my early years of teaching) or not but we will sure be working hard to counter it.