vocabulary and hard sums

Girl2, is working hard in her last year of primary school, preparing for the selection process that forms part of the transfer to secondary school. It’s a whole family event.

Spurs Fan helps her with practise tests at the weekend, and with maths homework problems. I can do some of the maths, but not much- another fun feature of ME is the inability to manage numbers beyond very simple calculations. A page of numbers is simply a page of meaningless squiggles that I am unable to process.

I get the words: spellings, vocabulary, maths language. We can spend hours on the difference between ‘severe’ and ‘denounce’, ‘reluctant’ and ‘deficient’. ‘Immortal’ is announced with a Fame style pose, in the hope that ridiculousness and laughter will aid learning. Simply looking at unfamiliar words doesn’t do it for any of us.

The other day, my afternoon nap turned into a maths session. “Can you help me with my triangular numbers?” Triangular numbers? What on god’s earth are triangular numbers? I’ve heard of square numbers and cubed numbers, but I’ve gone through many years at school without ever having heard of triangular numbers. Do I need to know about them? Will they make my life comprehensible?

So Girl2 demonstrated her understanding of  these things by explaining them to me, telling me how to work them out and rattling off sequences, forwards and backwards. Really, I did help…

from: http://www.imagekind.com/art/stunning/tessellation/artwork-on/fine-art-prints
from: http://www.imagekind.com/art/stunning/tessellation/artwork-on/fine-art-prints

Other new words she’s teaching me: vertices, factors and tessellation. Maths has a very different language than it had in the 1970s.

My credit card bill just arrived. Do you think it’ll make sense now that I know about vertices?


16 thoughts on “vocabulary and hard sums

  1. My Grandmother’s generation were taught the three R’s. My Mother’s generation were taught a little bit more. In the sixties we primary school pupils were flying (or at least I thought we were); history, geography at a level not known by my Mother’s generation. I have absolutely no understanding of what Girl 2 is being taught. Seems way above the level of primary school teaching that I remember. I suppose it must be progress; and I suppose my Grandmother and Mother must have been flummoxed by some of the stuff I was taught in the sixties and early seventies at primary school. Although they were pretty good at basic arithmetic and my Mother certainly understood fractions. Twenty second century kids will view education today in the way we view education in the early twentieth century. The hand written word may disappear – only used in creative ventures and children may know complicated mathematical terms and how to actually apply them; but will they know the answer to a multiplication question off the top of their head in the way we would have.

  2. must be in the air – my FB today has this from another friend “How to bring you back to earth with a bump.. When your eight year old says to you in deadly seriousness…”I’m here to help you solve all your Maths Problems, Mummy”; and you know he’d actually do a better job than you.”
    Like the previous reply – YES – they are getting a better education (all round cognitive social emotional) than we did and who knows what will develop from that…

    1. A few years ago my mind was blown when one of the kids in their school had an uncle at ISS. A real live actual astronaut! We had to scour the NASA website for all the latest info and I was agog that ‘astronaut’ suddenly was a real option, something they could actually consider in life. Who knows, indeed!

  3. The new world of tomorrow …………an around the world tiny little iPhones get their wings………ignore me, am old and curmudgeon-like, not cynical just feeling left behind in some ways I guess that is the divergence of youth and those already pass prime -what goes around comes around.

  4. One of Tinson2’s subjects at college will be “Quantitative Methods”. I’ve heard the phrase before so I have must learnt it at some stage but have absolutely no memory of what it is.
    Perhaps they should bring out triangular-shaped credit cards, we might have a better understanding of where the hell all of our money has gone.

    1. it’s such a horrible set up all round. Girl2 does really well in her class work, but freaks out when doing these practise tests. I’ve come close to pulling her out of the circus, but then she’d have no chance of getting to the school she wants.

  5. I didn’t know triangular numbers by name, but I play with the idea sometimes. It started when I was a kid and wanted to make a waterfall using tin cans with two holes in the bottom. You stack them up with each layer having one less can than the one beneath it and each can pouring water into the two below it.

    Beats trainspotting at the Anorak Olympics.

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