When I collected my 12 year old today, he told me that that he thought that he was starting to think mathematically. I was intrigued as to what brought about this statement so I asked him why he thought this. He said that in school today, he was throwing a ball to his friend at the back of the class, and started to think about the angle at which he would have to throw the ball to connect with his friend. I was so excited at the unexpected enthusiasm about Maths from him that I didn’t really get into the discussion about whether or not he should have been throwing balls in class!! That conversation will happen tomorrow. Anyway back to angles, he talked about how he went through various angles that would or wouldn’t work before throwing the ball. For me this is a breakthrough – despite the positive attitude towards Maths in our house and the passion that I have for the subject, I have always been very aware that this passion and enthusiasm is not shared by us all. I have always been very conscious of not forcing Maths on my children and in some ways may have pulled back too much because of this. I have often had discussions with both my son and daughter about where they use Maths in what they do, but I suppose my son particularly would have struggled with seeing it in what he does. He takes a lot of it for granted, for example money etc. and so would not see a direct link between the Maths he studies and how he uses it in what he does. Playing American football with some of his friends after school, prior to my collecting him, again got him thinking about the angle at which he should throw the ball. Now that he has made a connection between the Maths that he is studying in school and the automatic calculations we all make when throwing something, I’m hoping that it is just the start of the conversations about Maths instigated by him and not me.
To be honest I’m not sure what has brought about this change in attitude but I’m just going with the enthusiasm. In the car we had a chat about trajectories and quadratic equations, not in any formal way, but just to introduce the ideas, so that when they both come to cover these topics in Maths over the next few years, they’ll have a reference point. Over the past few weeks we have discussed how the different birds in Angry Birds have different trajectories and how you need to change the angle at which you launch the various types of birds. We’ve also been looking at some of Vi Hart’s doodling on Youtube (see my previous post here). This has led to us looking for Fibonacci spirals in lots of different places. Maybe this has given him a different view of Maths. Whatever has brought about the change I’m just grateful of the chance to talk to my own children in a fun way about Maths 🙂