Education: It’s No Big Deal, Except For When It Is

Here are a few lessons learned.

3 thoughts on “Education: It’s No Big Deal, Except For When It Is

    1. Hopefully, you find some of that advice useful.

      When I was in the Air Force, I found myself doing a job that called for a mathematician. I tracked new foreign launches and objects circling the earth. When I was an elementary school student, if someone had told me that could ever happen, I would have been in a state of shock and scared half to death. Who? Me? 😯 !!!!!!!!!!!!!

      On reflection, I now think I understand what happened. Because science fascinated me, I majored in science. When I majored in science in college, I could not avoid math, but in science classes math served a purpose. That was not true In math classes. In math classes, the teachers kept the subject so abstract its relevance baffled me. In science classes, I used math to model cause and effect relationships. When I understood that relationship, then the light went on!

      Art is for man’s sake, not its own sake. Thus, math exists as a tool for modeling reality, not to frustrate us to no purpose. If you can help your boys understand that, why math is useful, they will make the effort required to learn math.

      Here is an example of something we replaced with less expensive computer models. I suspect your boys will find it interesting.
      http://io9.com/5819472/when-the-us-army-corps-of-engineers-created-a-giant-scale-model-of-the-mississippi-river-basin/
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mississippi_River_Basin_Model
      http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2013/aug/21/piece-history-mississippi-river-basin-model/
      http://places.designobserver.com/feature/the-scale-of-nature-modeling-the-mississippi-river/25658/

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      1. I find that interesting too! 200 acres. I had no idea they used to go to such lengths.

        It’s funny you mention how teaching them the utility of math will help. In the last year, older son has begun to appreciate a sense of this—he knows that he loves machines that go, whether they be cars, tanks, airplanes. His increasing knowledge of them has shown him the need for math. This makes him more willing to work at it, which used to be a major part of the battle.

        So far into our school year, he still gets anxious if the math problem proves harder than he thought, but the fact that the problems are made up, in my handwriting, on a sheet of notebook paper, rather than part of an intimidating workbook page, seems to make it less intimidating.

        my best to you
        Lin

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