Diary of a Dad | What’s Maths Got to Do With It?

My youngest is in her last year of primary school. I came back home this evening to find her on my mac.
She noted I was looking at the screen to she what she was doing on my account (she has her own account) and promptly decided to reassure me that she was just looking at past Key Stage 2 SATS papers for maths and verbal reasoning. (I swear this child has been on this planet before).Earlier my eldest was doing some revision for her GCSE physics. Her teacher and I are both convinced that she should be flying through her course with nothing short of A’s. She has such a clear grasp of logic and when she applies herself her reasoning powers force me to ensure that I am up to speed. I am not getting embarrassed by my daughter. Too much pride at stake. I digress. My eldest was looking at the formula for Boyle’s law and in particular how such a formula could help explain why scuba divers don’t fart.  p_1 V_1 = p_2 V_2. \, for those who are asking. She wanted clarity on how to work out the equation if V2 was an unknown quantity.

OK moment of honesty. My initial attempts at explaining elementary algebra had this effect of making the film over her eyes glaze somewhat. So then I thought it would be better to start showing with examples (some weird ones I would rather not confess to online) and numbers to help her understand how to work out the missing values in that equation. She got it. Demonstrated so too. Job done. Dad of the year trophy should be winging it’s way to me.

What’s Maths Got to Do With It
It really got me thinking as to how we as parents and educators can make Maths (and English) really relevant to this generation of youngsters. Granted there are always going to be some students who hate the two because it has been shoved down their throat as the only compulsory subjects they HAVE to study in school until they start to choose further education. Yet at the heart of future adult spoken and written communication, personal financial management and decision making are Maths and English. How we gonna make it funky for them??

The logic of maths informs the sciences, it lends itself to spatial awareness in the arts, is part of the subconcious mind which helps in decision making in sports. Mastering and appreciating the English language helps us to construct coherent sentences (in Queen Standards English and slang) so that we understand each other. It also helps us to learn other languages from the discipline and rules that shape grammar, and given so many exams, job applications and other such tests require the capabilities to string a sentence together, these core subjects are the passport to future success at work and play.Just last night as my wife and daughters decided to play taboo this hit home with such force.

My youngest trying not to say the words on her card bellowed
” Dad, a sentence can be a command, statement or what?”
“Question” I guessed with all the hope I could muster.
“Good Dad” she replied.
We lost that game against my eldest and my wife, but that’s not the point.

What it reminded me was that English and Maths are so rich and so fundamental to effective communication.
Not just for future career prospects and prosperity but just getting a clear message across with minimum fuss.

As an educator I realise this is something that each year I may even take for granted when visiting schools to deliver learning and study skills workshops. Yet it is so fundamental and needs repeating often and with passion.

As parents we do our children well to empower them with these fundamentals in harmony with our schools. Tis an amazing gift to pass on.

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