Thursday, March 24, 2011
As we head towards the end of our 2nd grade curriculum, we've finally had a breakthough in an area we've been struggling with all year. Noah's always loved math, but he likes to think he can do it all in his head and has been very resistant to writing things down and showing his work. It's hard to argue with his theory when he still gets to the correct answer, but I finally decided to push the issue a bit. After all, he's not going to be able to do it all in his head forever. And besides, it makes me look bad when I have to write it out to check his answers!
Throughout the year, as the work got more challenging, I noticed that occasionally he'd get an answer wrong - usually the result of working too quickly and not taking the time to mark down if he was carrying or borrowing numbers. I'd reinforce the idea of working through the problem properly - and he'd proceed in his own way anyway.
To be honest, math had gotten a little tedious. Pages laden with triple-digit addition and subtraction problems do not fly by as it is, but adding in time for fixing careless errors had both of us a little frustrated. But, I tried really hard not to force my way. Instead, I continued giving him small reminders of how much easier it would be when he learned the proper process (most importantly, working the problem from right to left rather than the opposite). And one day . . . this past Monday, in fact . . . it finally worked. Something clicked, and he proceeded to tear through several workbook pages in record time with record accuracy. And he felt great about it.
Any learning breakthrough is a happy moment, but this one made me reflect on more than just being grateful for the flexibility to let him get there at his own pace. It made me realize that, when I was in school, all that mattered was getting the correct answers - when called on in class, on an exam or on standardized tests. But what I've learned in all the years since - the years that, in my opinion. have provided my "real" education - is that more times than not, the process is at least as important than the result.