Do We Really Want Correspondence School After All?
Posted in Over a Cuppa
My oldest son Zach, 16, is on Correspondence School at the adult rates (far cheaper than the rate for students … unless they have been expelled!!! !) Anyway, he is doing 6th Form Chemistry. To work out the pH concentration of some liquid, they taught in the official text which calculator buttons to push. Zach has a different style calculator than the one they have at the Correspondence School apparently, for the recom-mended sequence of buttons did not produce the desired answer. So Zach fiddled around and finally discovered a sequence of buttons to push for HIS calculator to get the same answer they had. As if this wasn’t bad enough, to do the calculation in the reverse direction the text showed a more complex sequence of buttons to push with a few options along the way depending on the type of calculator you have!!! I was fairly frustrated by now, for nowhere did it explain the actual mathematical process that was taking place or the relationship among the variables. It involved logarithms, so it would have been a little complex, but at least a sketch to increase understanding would have been nice.
Once again, Zach’s calculator would not perform as the text said it should. He rang his tutor at the CS. The tutor told him to buy a calculator that had the correct button on it!! I just about went ballistic! So I got down some old book on Logarithms, and before too long, drawing on vague memory of this stuff from 30 years ago, I figured out an equation that very simply explained the relationship between the three variables involved…. and then found that the sequence of button pushing, to get the answer they wanted was far simpler than what they had illustrated! And now both Zach and I understand the whole concept whereas before neither of us did.
Moral of the story: teaching your child yourself, learning with them if you have to, is more effective than paying big dollars for fancy text books and far-away tutors and expecting the children to learn it themselves.
From Keystone Magazine
January 1999 , Vol. V No.I
P O Box 9064
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389