Monday, 11 March 2013

Dear Mathematics, why the hell are you back?

You have all been with me ever since I started writing about my boys when they were in wet diapers. You have been with me when I was up all night, tending to my new born N in one hand and V( all of 19 months himself) in the other.

Time has progressed and these two nuisances have grown up to become 'too responsible' and 'too big' for everything thats going around them. The troubles have become from worrying about their potty training to now teaching them real time school subjects. I know it will sound very cliched but trust me it DOES seem like yesterday when on my last day of school, I threw my bag on the bed and announced to Mom- "I am finally done with NCERT"! Economics Hons happened, MBA happened but nothing seemed more difficult than the silly school examinations where we were competing like mad dogs for a bone! Hence for someone like me who had promised herself to stay away from school books, having two sons in back to back classes is the worst obstacle in a otherwise happy day to day life.

Just last evening, V reminded me that in my over excitement of spending time with his father over the weekend, I had forgotten his crucial Mathematics homework. To give you a little background on my friendship with this subject- I hate it and it hates me back too! Yes even at V's tiny level- I hate it! Having married a normal student of Maths who not only scored well in it but also loved it, we have decided that I will never let my anxiety rub off on our kids. The truth is, Saurabh and his Mom (a banker) simply CANNOT understand how someone does not like Maths. I have shown them statistics which show that I am NORMAL. 

Now before you start judging me, I must tell you that these days education is not how we had it. V and N have learnt all alphabets and words through a method called Phonetics (I did not have it in DPS) and this enables a five year old to spell difficult words like- 'Through', 'Shrill', "Dinosaur", "Ghastly", 'Thrust' etc etc. Similarly in Maths, its not simple counting, addition and subtraction. They have "methods" which they systematically follow and everyday they come back home and first teach me the method and then we begin their homework.

Anyways, so V sat me down to finish his homework and a seemingly harmless subtraction related excercise awaited us. Within minutes, I was struggling how I can make him do his reverse counting on his limited number of fingers with a problem that asked: What is 23-15! I was sweating on my forehead and my little baby was doubting my post graduation. I too was doubting it after a while so I asked him- "How has Ma'am taught you this?"

V understood that his mother wont be of much help so he gestured a "wait" from his palm and started putting his fingers up and down, scribbling on his sheet, tapping his fingers on his head and wrote the correct answer. I looked at the process and asked- "What did you do?". He replied: "Dont worry Ma. I will manage" and went on with other similar answers. On hearing my animated 'Wows' and 'Goooood', Saurabh joined us like a principal of the school, quietly observed the method his son was applying and left satisfied with the progress! 

This episode ascertains my belief in the following:
  1. You either love Maths or you dont- you are born with it. Its genetic!
  2. I still do not like Maths! I am trying not to let V and N know about this but for how long will I be able to hide?
  3. A day is not far when Saurabh will stop trusting me with his son 's progress in school. However he knows he cannot do without me too!
  4. The "new" methods of teaching should be first taught to the parents of my generation. The algebra my Dad taught me was the same that he was taught!
  5. In today's age its just not me teaching my kids everything, often its them teaching me newer and easier ways of doing things I have always done the harder way.

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