So I was curious to know out from my friends three things. Firstly, who understands algebra and secondly do they use it in their work and thirdly do they think it really needs to be taught in schools?
My experience of algebra was one of extreme anxiety, shame and complete, I have no idea what you are talking about-ness. For me it was like some one saying ‘Fwalaffaaneeprofdikey?’ and then someone saying ‘Fwalaffaaneeprofdikey?’ again and then them saying ‘Fwalaffaaneeprofdikey?’ but only louder and expecting me to translate it. Until the whole room went silent and I couldn’t answer, it was embarrassing. I heard a fly buzz and the teacher shouted loudly at me because I had no idea what ‘Fwalaffaaneeprofdikey?’ meant. Ok he didn’t say that word but he might as well have done, as it was all the same to me.
So I am prejudice around algebra, it makes no sense to me but I am also clever enough to know that just because I don’t get it doesn’t mean that my kids won’t. They probably won’t actually but they might and it is the ‘might’ bit that I am interested in.
Then I think about it, out of all the friends I asked only one of them, I think, actually used it in his work, seventeen replied and out of the seventeen, five of them liked it. Did they have great teachers? Or were they wired that way? Can you be wired in a certain way? I think I am wired for art, drawing, acting, creativity and flying off on waves of fantasy and story telling. I don’t think I am wired for numbers, maths, spreadsheets, physics or algebra. But how about if my journey was different, how about this, if I was a trickle of water running down Education Mountain and my stream had found the sciences, instead of the arts, would I be different? Would I have confidence in those subjects I tend to run from?
So when I think of my kids as flowing streams, I question as to whether my blocks around things create blocks for them, I hope not. I am open around alegbra and all things I don’t grasp, I will strew things their way and I believe that if they find a connection with it they will fly with it by themselves. I really think that when a spark ignites them and they are in flow the learning takes off without me. But I question, what if there was some really great teacher here to help them learn algebra? To sit with them and make the numbers, letters and symbols turn in to magic things that they can hold on to and love, instead of something that seems a bit of a chore. But I am following them and what I see is not what I expected, they do love maths, they don’t do it often but when the do it, they treat it as a game. Where as I treated it as a pain in the arse.
In truth, it seems that not many people use algebra in reality. My scripted self really struggles to say this, but I will say it anyway, even if they learn it, it is most likely that they will never use it.
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