Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Guessing is Good

Wild Aeron
Uploaded by toastfloats
"The answer is two," Aeron informs me.

"Really?" I peer at the problem. "Are you sure? How do you know?"

"I guessed."

Aeron can appear the most guileless creature on earth. She widens her eyes, smiles at me, and hands me the mathematics book to sign off. She is ready to burst out of the room and into the spring sunshine.

Today is typical of this brief interlude in Bayswater between our arrival as cruisers and our future as liveaboards. By February, the entire family will be fully engaged in work or school. Right now, however, we were divided in our lifestyles. DrC is already hard at work doctoring, Jaime is in her first real job scrubbing the deck of a mega yacht, while Mera attends high school for a few weeks. Only Aeron remains in the Don Quixote Academy, only I remain as her teacher. After breakfast each morning, we move to the cruiser lounge hoping that the change of scenery and the smell of coffee from the vending machine will put us in the right frame of mind.

The solitude and singularity is hard on my youngest. Aeron is a very social creature. She talks, plays, listens, and sings. She has an extraordinary amount of empathy which extends beyond care of her family and to friends, fellow boaters, and now her new liveaboard neighbors. She wants more than anything else to spend the day with like-minded individuals in a state of sound and constant motion. Instead, I have to pin her down like bug to a board and force-feed her grammar, science, math, and French each morning. She struggles, pouts, and inevitably throws at least one attitude tantrum. These occasional storms of stubborn nastiness, infrequent features of our entire homeschooling life, have become a daily occurrence. My patience is fast vanishing, her love of learning is already gone. We merely tolerate each other these days.

I chew my lip. There are two options here. I agree with her guess or I don't. The first option leads me to the next phase of the day during which Aeron runs around like a wild animal in the parks near the marina while I slog away at boat chores and immigration paperwork. She is happy; I am happy. The second option is going to lead to a ripping argument between my daughter and myself as sure as poop stinks. So. Decisions decisions.

"Let's do the problem together," I say plucking the workbook out of her hands and setting it on the table. "You're probably right, but we need to know why."

"No we don't."

I look up at my daughter. She repeats, "No. We. Don't."

Mama Whale with Baby
Uploaded by toastfloats
Good point. We really don't. The number of marbles required to make a cube translated into the number of bananas is not particularly helpful to anyone at any level. Yes, we are seeing here an outstanding attempt to introduce algebra painlessly to an 11 year old. On the other hand, define painless.

"Are you sure?" I make one last ditch attempt to be a responsible parent and teacher.

Aeron states positively, "I am absolutely sure. Guessing is good."

I nod thoughtfully. There is a time and a place for everything. And here, now, this is not the time or place to learn algebra. "Guessing is good."

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