Seriously. I’m sure I’m not alone on this one.
My son is now 13 and an excellent student. Normally, he does his homework without any problems or help. Sometimes, he will ask us to check his answers, or ask for clarification of a question, normal stuff like that.
Aside from Pre-Algebra, that is. Math not being his strong suit, he struggles to understand the concepts, formulas, etc. Fortunately, he has Tom and me to help him out. I’m a freak of nature that actually loves to do Algebraic equations. He brings his work home, and I’m all over it. Freak. I’m aware of it. Let it go. Oh, and the teaching abilities of his teacher are in question. Mark is not alone in coming home and not having a clue what is going on. Then, when I try to explain it to him (in the way I was taught), I get the comment I dread, “That’s not the way Mr. Educator does it.” Even though, he doesn’t have a clue what Mr. Educator does do, it sure ain’t what I’m doing. (And, no, his name is not “Mr. Educator.” Duh.) Oh, and apparently, there is a THIRD method, which is what the book teaches. So, as I explained to Mark yesterday, “You can either do it my way or Mr. Educator’s way. But, you don’t know how to do it Mr. Educator’s way, and he’s not here. Your choice.” Surprise, Surprise. He went with my way.
But, that is not what this blog is really about. It’s about thinking for himself. Last night he came and asked me what Puerto Rico’s relationship is with the US. Uh, well, you see…(Look, I know Puerto Rico is a commonwealth. That’s it. And, I got that from some teaching game Mark had when he was little. I took Geography on Pass/Fail in college. You get the drift. Not my strong suit.) So, I tell him so. (Not about the college thing. I don’t want him to know there is such a thing as Pass/Fail. Not yet.) I said, “Yeah, well, you know, geography and government are not my strong suit. I really don’t know anything about it. Sorry.” He then sat there outside my room and just looked at me. I said, “What are you doing?”
Now, Tom was at a meeting, and he most likely knew enough to help Mark out, but he wasn’t there. So, I said, “Well, I told you I don’t know anything about this. I can’t help you if I don’t know anything.”
Still sitting there. “Mark, what are you going to do?”
“I don’t know what to do.”
Okay. I’m about to blow a gasket. But, instead I turn my attention to my daughter, who has been practically ignored since she got home from school because of the Pre-Algebra help session going on in our kitchen. He finally left.
Now, when I was in school, (geez, I sound like an old geezer. “In my day…”) if we didn’t know something we looked it up in the encyclopedia. (I didn’t even have a full set of encyclopedias. I had to go to the neighbor’s house to borrow hers. And, it was uphill. Both ways!) Kids have it so easy now. They can look it up on the internet. But, what killed me was that he didn’t even think to do that. He was stuck after he heard the words, “I can’t help you.”
I know I’m a near genius, and he should expect me to know all things, but once in awhile concepts slip past me, and I miss something. Seriously, this just blew my mind. Was I honestly supposed to say aloud “LOOK IT UP!”? I don’t think so. This kid is so internet-friendly, I’m surprised he bothered to even ask me.
After I took Karen to dance, I came home and asked him if he had found the answer to the question. He said, “Yeah. I looked it up in the book.” Genius.