Mum fails the home­work test


Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Mi­randa Mur­phy is a mother of three and a jour­nal­ist at The Aus­tralian MT DRUITT-ST MARYS STAN­DARD, Wed­nes­day, Au­gust 19, 2015

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 (schoola­ au). Once I have fin­ished my knit­ting, I will read it.

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