By BERN MORLEY
I like to think I’m fairly switched on; that at 38 years of age I have gained some pretty serious knowledge. I mean, my part-time day job involves me crunching numbers, calculating GST and personal tax requirements and all of those extremely unexciting taxation matters that most people would rather swim through a burning vat of fat of hot oil to avoid.
Why then, when my 13-year-old daughter comes to me with her Year 8 Maths Homework, do I have absolutely no idea how to help her?
Is it just that I’ve forgotten how to? That I’ve erased every single double maths period from my mind because it is simply too painful? Or is because the work itself has changed? Or is it because in the last twenty or so years since I left school, I haven’t been faced with the problem of 3 (x-2) = 2x + 1 because no one has spoken to me in fucking RIDDLES??
This wasn’t the first time I was made to feel inadequate when it came to my children’s homework although it is certainly the first time both my husband and I have equally agreed that we have NFI what to do. And if we don’t know, how can we expect her to?
As far as English goes, it’s fairy bog standard. Not a lot has changed. The two younger boys have books they must read each night and words they need to write down, spell and learn. Maddie, the 13 year old, usually just has assignments. With these, she doesn’t struggle and rarely asks for my help. She doesn’t appear to struggle in the general Arts side of her schooling life, more so with the Maths and Science subjects.
It’s not even the scope of work that she must do outside of school hours that confounds me, it’s the volume. Often she is up until midnight. At first I thought she was simply mucking about on Facebook or talking to her friends on Skype but upon closer inspection, I realised she was working, desperately trying to finish up her work before the looming deadline. I can’t be the only one that thinks that a child of 13 having to work through until the early hours of the morning to complete a detailed report on the Digestive System is a little insane?
Tonight she came to me and asked for help with the following maths problem:
For the linear equation y = ax + b
Draw both graphs on the same Cartesian plane
State the coordinates of the point of intersection of the two straight lines
Verify that this point lies on both lines by substituting the coordinates into both equations
Yeah, no, I won’t be able to help you there I’m sorry. Even handballing this over to my husband, Mr lateral thinker, didn’t help. Either we have used up every single brain cell dedicated to such knowledge or we are both very, very stupid. Perhaps it’s a combination.
I get it, as adults, we are actually using a lot of the knowledge we learned in high school in our day to day life, we just don’t realise it. Stuff like integers and indices, fractions, geometry, linear graphs, decimals and algebra. Having said that, I’m fairly sure I haven’t had a lot of need for congruence and transformation lately.
If this is what it’s like in Year Eight, how on earth are we going to be able to assist our children in Year 12? Short answer, I doubt we will be able to.
Do you struggle with helping your child with their homework or am I just completely clueless?