Shared with permission from Bean, this is a different kind of article written for the GMD Newsletter…
I love grappling with everything related to mathematics education. I dream about it in all of its puzzling, perplexing, and messy glory and shortcomings. It preoccupies my every weekday-thought; who am I kidding, it also seeps into all of my weekend thoughts.
So it breaks my heart every time Bean and I sit down to do math homework and my little one cries out with frustration. This little kid, who for years has been my eager partner in #tmwyk, now dissolves into tears every time we log in to Google Classroom. I’m serious. She’s a puddle on the floor at my feet. My arms cannot begin to gather the viscous pool of disengagement and defiance spreading across the carpet at my feet. (@MathStudio_Usha says she is “her Mother’s Daughter”.) I can’t help but feel like an abysmal failure both as an educator and a mother that the love I have for learning and the joy I experience when mucking about with mathematics isn’t shared by my only child.
We sit in seething resentment, my mind spinning with all the strategies that I would normally try and wondering if I should in turn threaten, cajole, punish, surrender, my mini me into getting the worksheets done so I can feel better about it.
“Mama, I want to show you the Coronavirus tracker.”
I’m still angry and don’t give a sh_t about the tracker of this stupid disease that’s ruining my life. (See how in the midst of a global pandemic, we continue to center ourselves?)
She goes on to show me anyways; comparing the total confirmed cases in Canada to the total confirmed cases globally. (By the end of Grade 4, she only needs to be able to read, represent, compare, and order whole numbers to 10000.)
She reads, describes, and interprets the secondary data presented in this image, pausing to pose purposeful questions to ensure I understand the magnitude of the information she’s sharing.
She effortlessly toggles back and forth between the chart view and the table view in the section below, carefully reviewing the labels on the axes while drawing conclusions from the comparisons between provinces.
It took me longer than I care to admit to really hear the depth of understanding my daughter has developed for herself; the complex data she has unpacked and was now offering to me as an olive branch. A glimpse into the learning she was choosing to engage in and generously inviting me to enter.
I have no profound words of wisdom, no wonder-filled revelation about humanity. This is simply a story that I wanted to share. An experience that gave me some comfort. A reminder that we don’t need to force learning because children (and grown-ups) will learn about things that interest them when they are ready.