My older children all learnt maths in a formal manner, using a text book course. All three started the advanced maths course and all three dropped out partway through, complaining they hated it and were no good at maths.
So how is Charlotte learning high school maths? I would be quite happy for her to take a relaxed unschooling approach to maths, especially after observing the experiences of my first three children. In fact Charlotte did have a year or so of learning maths in this way, focussing more on games and real life experiences than worksheet problems. But a few months ago she asked me if she could return to the online maths course she used to do. Charlotte, like Imogen has decided for herself that she wants to complete the advanced maths course and she feels this is the best way of achieving that goal.
I think children need to see a reason why they should learn something in order to be successful. They might simply enjoy what they are learning or they could decide the subject is worth learning: it may prove useful. I don’t feel that the higher levels of maths are necessarily essential for a child to learn. I think back to my own maths days. I did advanced maths and I used some of it at university because I studied a Bachelor of Science. But most of it I have forgotten. I just don’t need that level of skill. Was it a waste of time learning so much maths? For me, I think the answer is no. I enjoyed learning maths. That reason alone justified me doing the course.
My three older children have not suffered because they dropped out of their maths courses. They all went on to study at university level and none of them are disadvantaged.
Imogen was successful in completing her goal because she wanted to do the course. She decided for herself she needed advanced maths, and she actually enjoyed working with John who made maths interesting for her.
And now Charlotte has decided to follow in Imogen’s footsteps. But will she still be willing to learn maths in a structured way next year or the year after? What if she comes to me and says, “Mum, I hate doing this!”? I think I would ask a few questions. Does she just not understand what she is trying to learn? Is there a better way to approach the subject? Should I ask John to tutor her?
Or is it a question of “Mum, when will I ever use all this maths?” Perhaps Charlotte, like my three oldest children, will see no use for the higher levels of maths. No problem. I will trust she has learnt what she needs to know, at least for that moment. And if in the future she finds out she needs to know more, she can always return to her studies. Her books or online course will still be sitting there quietly waiting for her. It is never too late to learn anything. Motivated to learn, I am sure she’ll catch up very quickly.
So Charlotte, my homeschooling high schooler is learning maths using a structured online course. Can I call her an unschooler? I think about this…
Unlike my first few children, Charlotte is not learning maths just because I’ve told her she has to learn it as it’s an essential of education. She really wants to learn maths, and has decided for herself how she is going to learn it. Charlotte is working independently. She is directing her own education. And I guess that fits right in with unschooling after all.
Charlotte is my unschooling high schooler and she uses an online course to learn maths…