Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pushing Buttons

I think our printer is dying. Or dead. We aren't sure yet. Last Wednesday, Sierra wanted to make a card on the computer for her friend. The computer gave an error message and I went through the usual fixes to no avail. Checked the paper feed, the ink cartridges, rechecked the paper feed, pressed the on/off and reset buttons. The buttons seem to be the problem. They have become decoration. I felt like someone waiting impatiently for the elevator during a power outage. I pushed buttons repeatedly hoping something would happen.

I feel like that sometimes when I homeschool. I remember the year I bought New Elementary Math. I had been using the Singapore Math books up to sixth grade with Marina, and New Elementary Math were the higher level books from that series. You would think I would have noticed a problem when I was still in Singapore 6A and called my mother or sister regularly because I had no idea how to do some of the problems.

But no, I carried on, blamed myself for my lack of math ability, and bought all the books for New Elementary Math. It did not matter that Marina was losing confidence and developing a dislike for mathematics. We had used this series for years and I knew it was the best math book for us. I wasn't going to give up. I would push that button until my thumb bled.

Sometimes things don't work. Sometimes things work for a time and then stop working. This is not a reflection on our abilities. The math books served a purpose for a time just as the printer did. Once they stop working, we need to be willing to let go. Sometimes we need to give up to find our way.

When I accepted that our math curriculum wasn't working, we made use of the library to find something that did work. For algebra, it meant getting both of us over our fear of higher math. I started with the book Algebra Unplugged by Ken Amdahl. This book approaches algebra from a writer's perspective. It was a beginning for us. I continue to use the library to test out math texts each year. Once we find something that works, we buy it. I wouldn't say she loves math now, but she is much more tolerant and less afraid of it.

Eventually, I will give up on the printer. But I may plug it in one more time and push the buttons a little longer. I'm a slow learner.


Anonymous said...

That's a good metaphor, and I've been there and done that (both with electronic equipment and home schooling approaches. *LOL*)

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got about HSing was that if something wasn't working -- **no matter what investment I'd made** (in time and money) -- to let it go. It's made life immeasurably easier.

B&B said...

Two things:

1) Dang girl! I want YOUR library!! Ours has nothing even remotely like an actual textbook.

2) If we lived closer, (maybe anyway) I'd loan you our Life of Fred book. It's another off the wall and fun approach to math. I bought the complete set since I have kids on all levels.

Kim said...

Three grammar programs later, and we've finally found one that is working for us. I hadn't thought of using the library to try out texts. Great idea. Best of luck with your printer!

Hall Monitor said...

For daily problems in public schools, check out Voted #1 for crazy education news.

Jane said...

I think that knowing when to give up on something that isn't working is one of the most important things homeschoolers can learn. Great post.

Evie said...

You reminded me of Homer Simpson ringing the bell of a house, except that instead of it ringing the bell, it would shock him. And he kept doing it, over and over, awaiting a different result. D'oh!

We all do this. It's part of the learning experience. Sometimes we catch on more quickly, other times, not so much!

I love your writing. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE writing that brings you back to the beginning. Ties it all up with a nice little bow!

Anonymous said...

Our printer also "died" recently. My DH tried all sorts of things to revive it. He cleaned it, rebooted the computer, and whatever else it is he usually does when something goes wrong with our computer and its gadgets.

Finally, he decided to reinstall it but couldn't find the installation disk, so he called the manufacturer and they sent one to us. A week later, it arrived in the mail. He reinstalled the printer and now it works fine.

Good luck with your printer.

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