Friday, 27 September 2013

Maths makes my head hurt!

Today I am very proud of L.  Well, I have been all week really, but today especially so.

Over the summer we spent a long time talking about which IGCSE's he felt able to tackle, which he was interested in, which would be useful, which I felt he needed, and finally which he felt he needed for his future plans.

We settled on a retake of Biology, and doing ICT and Maths this year, with more to follow.  He feels ICT looks "easy", so we may add another once we see how we go with these three.  One of the benefits of being an external candidate is that we don't actually need to decide which exams to enter him for until February next year, which gives us plenty of time to sus out how it is going, and tweak our plans accordingly.

Earlier this year (January-ish) we focused on ploughing through his biology text book.  We did do some maths - looking at handling data and recording results etc - but mostly it was biology all the way to prepare for the exams in May.

When L decided to tackle maths I was more than a little scared.  Maths is not something I am very good at - I just about scraped a C 21 years ago, and I was *very* glad to leave the frightening looking stuff behind!

We picked up a workbook from CGP that covers Edexcel's IGCSE maths.  I looked at the first page and panicked. It is straight into complex stuff!

11 x (77 / 7) + 121 - 2 x(10+1)2    (< read that 2 as squared, I can't work out how to do superscript!)

and that's one of the easier ones, because I can't find most of the symbols on this keyboard!

So, as I said, I panicked.  Then I had a long think - the options were either I pass on my illogical attitude (that I *just can't do it*) or I learn with L.  It seemed a simple choice really. I found some good videos on the Khan Academy website, prepared ahead of time, found a page on Facebook for home ed maths, gritted my teeth and got him started.  I also  know a lovely home edder who is a maths tutor - if it all went (or still manages to go) wrong I plan to smile sweetly at her and beg for help :)

We watched the first video (about BODMAS and the order of operations), talked it through, and off he went.  He didn't exactly whizz through them, but he worked steadily through the first set of ten sums, and got them all right - with the exception of needing to be shown that a squaring was outside a set of brackets, but that was a dyslexic moment rather than a not-understanding moment.  With just a little preparation both he and I now understand it :)

Today he is looking at roots as well as order of operations.  I hunted out a good explanation, we looked at it together, and now he is off working independently again - so far (4/5 of the way through the set) he is doing perfectly.

So, I am proud of L - he is grasping concepts I find tricky, he is hitting the ground running and getting his head around it all really well, he is listening to the explanations and isn't afraid to say "Hang on, I don't get that bit."  His attitude to this has really impressed me, and I'm so glad he is seeing the sense of how this stuff works.  At this rate I can't see any clouds on the horizon.

All in all, a very good start to the year from Mr L :)

1 comment:

  1. The really good thing about maths is that it is logical and there's a definite correct answer, whatever path you take to reach it. Re ICT... I suppose all the kids, these days, may consider it an 'easy' option. Some of them have never known a world without computers! :o We are sooo old now... lol x