She has been really frustrated with Algebra 2 lately. She says that it just isn't sinking in. I wish that it would come easy for her; truly, I do. I constantly get asked the question, "When are we ever going to use this stuff in life?" I am always honest with them and tell them that most people are not going to use it. But does that mean it is useless? Of course not.
I have a speech that I regularly give to my students when I get asked this question. Some who are in their third year with me know the speech by heart. I tell them honestly that they probably will never use matrices to solve systems of equations. People do use them in their jobs, but those very special people are few and far between! However, this does not mean that it is useless to them. In the "real world", employers want people working for them who are problem solvers. They are learning to be problem solvers. They are learning that when something comes along that is too hard, they don't just quit. They plug on through and find the solution.
I also think this concept can be taken a step further in teaching life skills. I care deeply for my students. I wish that algebra came easier for my sweet student that I mentioned earlier. I hate that she gets so frustrated. Last week she had a status on Facebook that said, "I am sitting here stuck on a problem in math, i thought i understood it. Ughhhh stressssing!!!!" How many times does that happen to us in life? We think we have our lives all figured out. Then something comes along, and there we sit stuck, confused, and stressed.
Well, she finally figured the problem out and made a pretty decent grade on her test. Maybe this is the greatest lesson that algebra teaches us. Life is going to have difficult moments for my dear student. She will have struggles, pain, and disappointments. But when those moments come along, maybe she can think back to algebra and remember that sometimes, she just has to keep going, even when she doesn't understand. Maybe she will remember that even though she sat there bewildered and confused as she was struggling through her homework, with hard work and help from her favorite math teacher, she eventually worked through the problem and got to the solution. That is what I want her to do with life: face it head on and not quit when problems come!
I know that years from now, most will not remember what a contrapositive is, but I hope that they do remember that once upon a time, they had a teacher who believed in them!
|Me and Hayley!|