Tuesday, January 13, 2009


First off, I begin this post at four-something a.m, so if it rambles or makes no sense we'll blame it on that. Agreed? (Even though very early morning is when I usually feel Quite The Thing.)

Let's see if I can make sense of this, now.

I was talking to my friend (my very gentle and smart friend) the other day. I was telling her that I was somewhat freaking about Math. Math, of all things!
Trevelyn's not doing any math. Trevelyn is not practicing any math. I'm worried about his math skills.
Now me being Me, I started to add things to it in my head. Things that didn't belong.
Things like "He's watching too much cartoon network!" "And playing so many games on cartoon network!" And even the dreaded "he can't possibly be learning anything!" :)
(lol - I'm an idiot, sometimes.)

So as I was talking to my friend, and admitting that I could logically see that he wasn't just watching cartoons (I do have OLM, after all), I was still somewhat panicking.
And I even said to her... "I know that he can learn seven or eight or even ten years of (school) math in a couple of months, but still!...."
(Further evidence of my obtuseness and refusal to see reason.)

Now let me even say here that one; Trev had a love affair with Cartoon Network about a year and a half ago. It lasted for about six weeks. And though I fretted and bit my nails about it, I didn't interfere. And guess what? After it was over, he turned off the television, looked up, and had a whooooole bunch of new vocabulary words, interests, and things he wanted to learn about.
Things I never would have thought to bring up, as they're not a part of my not-quite-still-thirty something-years of education.
And the second variable to this that my logical (and unschooling believing) mind tells me is that he had a long boycott of Cartoon Network (entirely his own idea, I had no opinion on the matter) not too long ago, and is just soaking it up because it's become interesting again.

As I was talking with my friend, I mentioned that I was really bothered that we didn't have our Math 1-2 game anymore. It was a huge hit with both Trev and I - a really fun game, and it taught concepts in a way that he easily understood. Fractions? Not a problem. Tens and hundreds? Check!
The last time we went to play this game, it wouldn't work. I uninstalled it, and fiddled with it, (both on mylaptop, and on the Vista desktop - where it had worked before, both), to no avail. So I assumed the disc was scratched or ruined. And I decided the other day (a day or two before my conversation with my friend) to try again. But I can't find it. Did it get broken, and we threw it away?

So since we love it - Trev really does, too - I was of a mind to replace it. And that's when the wigginess started to escalate. He doesn't wanna play JumpStart! (there is Math there, you know [rolls eyes at herself]) he's not doing things that I can cross of my Academia List! Which only exists in my Fearful imagination.
I also mentioned to her that I couldn't find his Star Wars Clone Wars leapster game. Which happens to be math-based. Which he also loves.

So, Gentle Friends... besides the fact that I'm mad (You're Quite Mad, you know, we like to say around here) we can conclude that the answer is always the same for me.... Resources.
When I look at it logically (I've finally come to the place where I can do that) and I ask myself "Do you want to make Trevelyn do math?" The answer is "Of course not."
Carried further:
Why not?
What would be the point?
Do you want him to want to do math, then?
Not particularly.
Why not?
And the now very logical and smart Me says "Because Math is just a part of the growing process. Making sense of the world. As he finds it useful, and as he is curious about things, he'll come to it on his own.
So where is Your responsibility here, or what do you do now?
I can make sure that we have a new copy of Math 1-2 soon (because he loves it). And provide him with other games. And make sure that we have lots of tools and interesting manipulatives at the ready - things that intrigue, excite, and enthuse us by discovery.
I can open the doors and windows wide, point out the way to interesting places and ideas and tools, and say "There." and "Here."
Here is the world. Just for you. I'm here to help as often and as soon as you need it. I do not doubt your capability, and I shall not limit you with my own judgments and limitations.
It's all here for you. Take it as you need it.

And I can mean it, and embrace it.
And return to the magic and joy.


Stephanie Ozenne said...

I can't let a post about unschool-y math resources go by without mentioning http://www.livingmath.net/. As a hard-core math and science junkie, it has totally transformed the way I think about math (and luckily did so before I was introducing anything to Emmett). There are lists and lists of story books that have math content sorted by category under the "reader lists" tab. So when Emmett was talking about negative numbers, I could go get books (story books!) about that from the library. Etc.

Stephanie said...

Steph - Julie's been talkin' about that, too.
I'm making a mental note right now to check it out today!
Thanks mucho.

Gorgeous. said...

Gah!!! Thanks for your post! Unschooling scares me so! I totally believe in it, then I panic and thrust math upon my child!! Then I back off only to panic later and thrust math upon her again!! LOL! Luckily she's more than happy with the arrangement! I wish I had your confidence and poise! ;D

Mon said...

Enjoyed this post.

It makes me wonder if I'll have moments of panic like this. i think it's probably natural, especially of proactive parents. I mean, if we're 'unschooling' bceause it's easy and gets us off the hook, then no panic ensues. But if our child's welfare is important to us, then I imagine questioning and doubts will be part of that. No?

Heart Rockin Mama said...

I loved this post.

I don't find I have these exact worries so much. The knowledge that they are learning what they need when they need is easy for me.

My worries come more as insecurities in my mothering. I know exactly the mom I want to be.I am totally there theoretically. Sometimes I wonder if I am actually practicing what I believe with such passion.

When that happens, though, I talk to the kids about it. I ask for reminders and advice. I tell them I am trying. So far, this seems to be great.

Still, sometimes I worry!

Catonine said...

Hi Stephanie thanks for visiting my blog :-). I think that we all go through times of more intense paranoia and uncomfortablness (not a word I know lol) about how we aren't doing our best to make our kids want to learn math or science, or any other number of subjects that seem to find their weight in our minds at one time or another. I recommend Times Attack (http://www.bigbrainz.com they have a free version) and my sons latest favorite not math but problem solving is Crayon physics http://www.crayonphysics.com/

Sorry this comment got so long.


denise said...

Great post. :)

When I have a 'moment', I always remind myself that all parents have moments of doubt or worries no matter where/what/how/who/when their children are doing. It is how we humans are wired. Especially with people we love. And I think it can be healthy too, in that perhaps we think of new ideas, things to try, places to go, ideas to explore that will open up other ways for us all to learn together. And trying new things and exploring as we learn is the journey we are on, after all. And it is a good one!

My husband (the genius) always comments on how much math kids have to learn which is never ever ever ever used in their life again after school, or which isn't relevant to how people really use numbers. But, that said, money, money management, banking, budgets, economics - NOTHING taught to kids about that unless they take one crappy Home Ec class in high school, or major in something or other as a college student. Yet somehow, the topic of money/budget pretty much sells more books for adults than any other subject (other than self-help, of course). Not to mention that our economy is tanking and no one understands any of it. But I digress (as usual!). ;P