Sunday, May 6, 2012

Teaching and learning math from a third grader

I was blessed while tutoring math this past week when I learned an interesting concept about subtraction.  You might recall learning about carrying from a larger number while subtracting. For example you have to borrow one from the two when you are subtracting 9 from 23.  When reviewing subtraction with a young lady who seems to be dealing with far more than her far share of difficulties she envisioned borrowing this way...

"You see its kind of like a little guy going into a fight with a bigger guy, and you have to go get a bigger friend to help you out."

This illustration from my young friend was a reminder of her under appreciated creative and intellectual capability. It also prodded me to consider that those of us with great resources may be needed to the aid of those with little, and by doing so are blessed.

It is always a day brighter for me to witness the honesty and enthusiasm of the third graders I tutor in math.  I'm not convinced I've done all that much to help them become better mathematicians, but I do hope that they know there is another adult in their lives that is concerned about them and likes them even when they're struggling to pass the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA), which aren't all that comprehensive.  The MCA doesn't measure creativity, team work, compassion, etc.

Tutoring has also provides me with a means of connecting with a diverse segment of society with whom I might otherwise have very little to no contact. This in turn helps me to be a better informed citizen and hopefully a more compassionate member of society.


  1. Maths is a subject which needs practice and Homework is very essential thing for everyone and especially for beginners because it provide practice for them.So that they will not face any kind of problem in future with higher section's topics.
    math tutoring online

  2. Right. I was wishing there would be more use of flash cards on the home front. Knowing math basics is so vital for future economic awareness/literacy.