Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Divide and Conquer

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Divide and Conquer

Article excerpt

In the interests of keeping my job, could I please request that anyone I work for in a teaching capacity doesn't read on? Thank you.

Right. Now we've got rid of them I can tell you my guilty secret. My 10-year-old has bypassed me in maths. And he's not one of those genius kids that used to crop up on John Craven's Newsround in the 1980s, clutching A-level certificates instead of an Etch A Sketch. He's just a normal, happy 10-year-old, somewhere in the middle of his maths group, with homework that I can't do.

I am proficient enough with the numbers required to run our home and finances and to meet my own business needs. For years I have clung to my grade C in GCSE maths, kidding myself that my lack of understanding is a charming slip of the brain, rather than a problem.

As my son's homework advances, he often asks me to go through it with him. We enjoy discussing English tasks, but in recent months I've had to concede that I can't help with big chunks of his maths.

He goes back to school and spends time with his teacher on the elements that he doesn't fully understand, then teaches them to me when he gets home. This gives him a certain amount of confidence, but it makes me feel like a rubbish parent. And from the perspective of my own professional practice, I know that I need to do something about it.

So I've decided that in September I'm going to enrol at a further education college to do a maths GCSE. My son is proud of me for making this commitment to something that I don't enjoy or find easy and takes comfort in the idea that I'll be starting at a new "school" at the same time as him. …

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