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An appropriate challenge November 19, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, homeschooling, math, younger son.
Tags: , , ,

I’ve mentioned before that the younger son is doing math through Stanford’s EPGY program.  In order to get into the program, he had to take an exam online to see if he qualified.  Now that he’s enrolled, he gets weekly emails from his teacher talking about his progress.  Most of the time, they say something like, “Keep up the good work.”  I just tell the younger son that his math teacher is happy with his progress since he’s not real familiar with the concept of email.  (Occasionally we’ll talk about some of the concepts she thinks need a bit more explanation.)  I learned there’s a lot of other things he doesn’t quite understand…but I’ll get back to that in a moment.

Last month, he took a final exam to finish the grade he was working on.  He didn’t pass, but he didn’t bomb it, either.  He was a few points lower than the cutoff to go onto the next grade.  It was a good thing, in retrospect.

The younger boy is a Perfectionist (with a capital P!), and it kills him to not do something perfectly.  In fact, he refused to read until very recently because he couldn’t figure out all the words immediately.  He was very disappointed when he didn’t pass the math exam and had to go back and redo some of the material.  He retook the test a few days ago and got a very high grade.  The lesson learned is that ‘failure’ isn’t death and doom…just means you need a bit more practice before you can go on.  I think the practice did him some good as it seemed like he really got a better handle on things the second time around.  I also think it helped him to see he isn’t expected to understand everything the first time he sees it.  In other words, this is a good learning experience for the young perfectionist…one he would likely have not gotten in school given his grades are much higher there.

After finishing the test the second time, I showed him the email his teacher sent.  I said that it was from his teacher at Stanford.  I guess I’d never mentioned that bit before.

“My teacher is at Stanford?”

“Yeah, do you know what that is?”


“It’s a big college that made the math program you’re using.”

“I didn’t pass the test the first time.”

“No, but that’s okay because it’s a hard math program.  You just needed more practice.  You wouldn’t be able  to figure some of this stuff out unless you were pretty good at math.”

“Did you tell my teacher at Stanford that I’m good at math?”

“I’m pretty sure she knows.”

What’s kind of funny is that I don’t think he knows.  That’s good, though, because it means he’s being challenged and not repeating work he already understands.



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