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We’re hearing so many good things about Charlotte Mason’s way of teaching math! Parents tell us about improved attitudes, renewed interest and excitement, plus a solid understanding of arithmetic. Min Hwang’s experience is especially encouraging. Here is her Happy Results math story.
Tears of frustration, rote memorization, tedium and dread—these were what filled our math lessons. And that was just me.
There were plastic manipulatives to lay out. There were worksheets to complete. There were lesson manuals to fumble through, word for word. I had no foresight because I did not have the big picture. I was simply dependent, day-by-day, on the scripted lesson in front of me. I was so focused on trying to follow the lesson in the book that I would spend most of the time staring at the book rather than looking at my child or noticing the tears forming in her eyes. I was a slave to the math program I had chosen, and it was the third program we had tried. So what did I do? I swung to the other end of the pendulum and tried a math program that had the computer teaching my child. I was no longer crying and fumbling through the math lesson with her because I was no longer present. She would sit alone, with her back toward me, working through each repetitive problem set before her by the computer program. This felt wrong too. Not only because she was not retaining the information, but also because there was no wonder, no joy, no point.
Something in my heart—could it have been from the Holy Spirit?—yearned for my child to see the wonders of God, His truth and His beauty in mathematics. But I had no idea how to present it to her.
Then, I came upon Mathematics: An Instrument For Living Teaching. I decided to take a month off to pray and to study this new paradigm of approaching mathematics. Within the first few pages, I came upon these words: “Charlotte’s philosophy of education does not allow separation between the intellectual and spiritual life of children. Accordingly, it is the beauty and truth of mathematics—that awakening of a sense of awe in God’s fixed laws of the universe—which allows the study of mathematics its rightful place in the curriculum” (Baburina, p.14).
This was it! I was so happy I cried.
That was a “living idea” moment for me, and I have never seen mathematics the same since. My eyes were opened to see anew the beauty and truth of God in mathematics.
As I have begun to implement this living approach with my now two school-aged children, while guided by Richele Baburina’s resources, I have been privileged to witness the growth of both children in their intellectual and moral habits, in their joy of discovery, and in their realization that mathematics is yet another way that their God is lovingly speaking and revealing Himself to them.
The method of working at each child’s pace, from the concrete to the abstract, and “drawing out from day to day new power in the child” (Home Education, p. 261) has made our math lessons a delight. My children are understanding the concepts as we move from one firm footing to the next. As with other subjects, Charlotte Mason’s approach of tapping into their innate sense of wonder is experienced. I have learned to use oral problems that engage the children’s interests, enabling them to grow their reasoning powers, rather than mindlessly filling up a multiplication worksheet. I have been encouraged to exhibit masterly inactivity that allows time for the child to discover for herself God’s amazing universal laws. There are smiles and excitement now!
Today, I witnessed each of my school-aged children joyously discover patterns in the 9 times-tables that I had not noticed myself. Each time this occurred, their eyes lit up as they realized mathematics is not man-made, but rather that they have found themselves more alive to a universe that God has made—one with absolutes! Moreover, as we adhered to short, purposeful lessons, their minds became more acute, and their habit of concentration strengthened. No more dawdling!
We have entered into a new paradigm. No longer is mathematics just another mandatory subject through which we must persevere. Richele Baburina’s math resources have helped our family to more fully grasp Charlotte Mason’s words: “[w]e are so made that truth, absolute and certain truth, is a perfect joy to us; and that is the joy that mathematics afford” (Ourselves, Book 1, p. 63).