Mum fails the homework test
COUNT ME OUT OF THE NEWFANGLED MATHS
I’M A 41-year-old professional journalist who went to university. And I’m failing Grade 3.
This became apparent last week when my eight-yearold and I had a frustrating exchange after she asked me to help with her maths homework. I couldn’t.
You see, the strategies have changed since I was in Grade 3 – ahem – 33 years ago, and now I don’t understand the newfangled ways of doing things.
There’s no chance of my becoming one of those helicopter homework parents, because – to resurrect a phrase I have not used since whining it incessantly in Year 10 applied maths – I don’t get it.
I’m not a dunce dinosaur.
To be honest I always expected to fall behind by the time the kids got to high school. I just didn’t expect the rot to set in at Grade 1.
That’s when it became clear they do things differently at school these days.
When I was a girl you’d enter any primary school of
... I’m a a morning and the place would be awash with the singsong of classes reciting their times tables and the faint scrape of chalk on slate. No more.
Spelling, maths, technology – a lot of today’s teaching language and methods are foreign to me and many of the parents I know. I could not confidently tell you what “integrated learning” is. If my life depended on being able to explain the “jump strategy” and the “split strategy”, I’m afraid I’d be dead.
This generational disconnect is causing tears and angst in some households – and that’s among the parents. My friends report having pencils thrown at them, being mocked for their crashing ignorance and being called “grandad”.
“We haven’t learnt it that way … you’re SO OLD!”
A mum reports herself failing kindergarten when helping her boy do a project on his favourite dinosaur. “Turns out the brontosaurus is no longer classified a dinosaur … who knew? I may as well have been taught the earth is flat.”
When I asked around there was an unexpected outpouring of hatred for a seemingly innocuous Year 1 maths strategy called “friends of 10”.
“I am not a friend of 10,” was a common muttering.
Another mate gave up after playing the “I did maths at university” card with his daughter, who still insisted her way was better.
“I hate friends of 10 with the fire of a thousand suns,” he said, “which, by the way, is 10 to the power of three.”
* To be fair, the NSW Education Department has a helpful website explaining all this stuff called School A To Z (schoolatoz.nsw.edu. au). Once I have finished my knitting, I will read it.