I alternate between “you” and “your learner/ student” when I’m addressing my reader. While I do have adult students, I know that most of my students are grade-school kids and most of my clients (who pays) are their parents. However, one of my missions is for students themselves, of all ages, become more and more invested in their “math rights”, and have agency in their education. Part of what I do when I’m working with students, even grade-school kids, is WHILE teaching them math skills, I’m also teaching them about how their brain works, and what it means to be set up for success for a new layer of skills, no matter what it is they’re trying to learn. So I often think of them as my audience when I’m writing a blog post, even though I know it’s probably their parents or my fellow educators who are reading it.
If you read my blog, you know that I believe very strongly that our math education system is broken. It is more likely for it to (inadvertently) foster discouragement in a student than encouragement. It is more likely (with the best of intentions) to make a student feel dumb and confused than to feel smart and capable. If you’re a kid, and you’re having this very common and likely experience of feeling discouraged to the point of giving up, and you have no idea that you’re working within a broken system, you’re going to think there’s something wrong with you, or with your brain, or that your brain just wasn’t meant to learn this stuff. THIS IS SO NOT TRUE!!!!! Your brain WAS meant to learn this stuff. IT IS YOUR BIRTHRIGHT. Our brains think mathematically. They think logically. They just do. They think in lots of other ways too, and a well-rounded education will foster ALL of our brain’s potential ways of thinking.
To me it is heartbreaking to think of a kid who is struggling in this way and what they must be thinking about themselves. They have no way of knowing that adults, who they trust, have inadvertently set up a system that is tough to hack, that doesn’t really set them up for success. I want to SHOW that kid that when approached the right way, doing math is completely accessible to them.
If you’re reading this and wondering: if my kid works with Lacie will they become jaded and angry at the system and just learn to moan and whine that they are victims and it’s not their fault? HAHAHAHA. NO!!!! I can assure you that this is not a worry. I educate my student about this, just a little, here and there, in the background, to give them AGENCY. To encourage them to be RESPONSIBLE. To feel encouraged and inspired… and optimistic and relieved…. I DO want them to know that their math struggles are not their fault, but my approach definitely inspires relief and a renewed sense of optimism and enthusiasm about learning, more than it does anger and victimhood.
Points to ponder. Fun stuff to roll around in your head, or better: to talk about with your learner!
Talk to your child about this!! My articles themselves might not be super kid-friendly, but the subject matter is.
Learn something interesting through sharing this with your learner? Write me! I want to hear about it.