Bridges

“Come on Veronica. It’s time to do Khan Academy.”

It’s summer, but I want to keep her brain working. And I know she loves math, so I want to keep her skills sharp. We’re working through the 4th grade lessons.

I know I’m not the only one who is uncomfortable with the way Common Core teaches math. We are having fun with 2-digit multiplication right now, and Sal Khan is gently and carefully teaching 3 different ways to arrive at the answer to 57×65

I can understand that when there are 28 kids in a class, one of those three ways will hopefully catch with all the kids. But I know that my daughter has quickly caught on to the way that *I* learned math, and the way I taught her when we were starting this.

So she is bored to tears when the same exact problem has to be solved two OTHER ways. Except I know that the teacher next year will require her to do homework and answer test question for all three ways.

Her mind is stimulated by the math, and not at all stimulated by the two other ways to find an answer she already knows.

HOWEVER! She does take away another lesson. What she figures out in this moment is that there are multiple ways to solve math problems. So as she waits for Sal Khan to finish his boring explanation of arriving at an answer she is already sitting on, she knows she wants in on the fun.

If HE can figure out two other ways to solve a math problem, what can SHE do?

This causes a problem for me. As she is bored with the regular answer she’s been sitting on for the whole lesson, she pokes and twists the math problem again and tries to see if there is another way to do it.

This is exhausting for all concerned. She doesn’t like being wrong and she lacks the skills to be right.

What happens is her brain starts revving so hard trying to reach for that knowledge that is out of her grasp, she forgets stuff she knows, that 5×6 = 30, not 11

And then she gets so mad at herself for forgetting what she knows she knows. She tries to solve the whole problem in one swoop in her mind.

I had to really pull her up short.

“Solve the problem in front of you!”

There was a lot of shushing, and not now, and don’t ask why happening.

Solve the problem in front of you.

“You know, Veronica, this is something I have trouble with too. You are saying in your mind ‘what if’ and ‘what if’ and ‘what if’ but we can’t solve those things before they happen. And it’s quite likely that most of them won’t happen anyway.”

Hmm. This is a good thing for me to remember. That bridge doesn’t need crossing before I come to it.

Thanks, Sal Khan.