Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Algebra and Life

I love teaching.  I would not do anything else in the world.  I often say, "What other job in the world can you do that will make you laugh at least once every day?"  I have this one precious girl.  She was new last year.  She is vibrant and full of life.  One day she came bouncing in to class.  "Ms. Adams, I met a boy named Tree Stand."  Nothing surprises me these days.  She then said, "Yeah, his parents named him that because he was consumed in a tree stand."  I just started laughing and replied, "Darlin', don't you mean conceived?"

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!



  2. I know that teaching is your passion but have you considered the ministry? Amy, you have such a way with people and I think God has blessed you with so many special gifts. I have often wondered if you'd considered going to seminary yourself and if that would be something you could combine with your teaching somehow. I've heard you speak at church and I think you'd be a wonderful pastor. I know this must have come up before because it seems like you're meant to bring people closer to God through whatever you do. You're reaching people you don't even know with your story and strength and if you'd ever considered it before, I'd love to see that happen someday. Take care and know that you and your family are in my prayers. Stacy Mellor

  3. Stacy, you are so encouraging. Who knows what God has in my future?? I know for now, this is where I am supposed to be, but I am always open to wherever He leads me. We love your family and sure do miss seeing you!