My daughter is having her first term exams. She is in Grade 5, and she is studying in a school that follows the ICSE system (a crazy tough Indian system). This basically means that she has a lot to study. [Translation: This means I have a lot to study before I can pretend to be all-knowing and help her study.]
My strong point is English and even with regards to English I have my limitations – there is just this much grammar that I truly understand. I can write a sentence correctly, but if you were to ask me about the predicate, I would be in a predicament. That is until the recent English 2 paper which is devoted to all things grammatical. Now I can wax eloquent about subjects and predicates… and nouns that go beyond the simple proper nouns. I know a thing or two about abstract and concrete nouns too now. In fact I have strong feelings for those little fellas.
The wonderful thing about teaching my girl these things is that I am able to revisit these old acquaintances and actually develop a deeper friendship with them. All of this could be because as an adult I have the unfair advantage of a fully developed brain… but in my defense I have recently started forgetting names of actors (If you know me, you will know that this is serious), so my brain is obviously not in tip-top shape.
Once my kid and I were done with some Indian history and English grammar, we moved on to what is the bane of our educational lives – Math. DNA is all powerful. The things about math that flummox me manage to perplex her too. But her math teacher this year is a sweetheart and my daughter has begun to enjoy math a lot more. However, like I said, you can’t fight your genes beyond a point. And in our life that point is HCF and LCM.
Her teacher kindly pointed out in her notebook that my daughter has not understood the concept fully. That is nice. Now what do I do? I am in my 40s and I have still not understood the concept. So like a true blue procrastinator that I am, I decided to deal with this problem later.
Life however plods on and before you could say HCF the exams were on our heads. So there we were – a 9 year old girl and I – on a weekend, wondering why anyone wants to know the highest common factor and lowest common multiple of any number. What do you do once you find out the answer? What do you do with that bit of information?
Anyways, I got down to business – told her to do some word problems based on addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, while I studied her textbook. And guess what! Yup! This time round I understood the concept. I got it! All these years spent in fear of the goddamn highest common factor and lowest common multiple! And now it was all crystal clear. Of course I still don’t know how it is useful in one’s daily life… but… I am willing to let that slide.
Then I sat down with my girl and explained it to her. The way that lovely book explained it to me. Step-by-step… slowly. And double yippee! She got it too!
Of course none of this is of earth-shattering importance. However, I cannot begin to explain to you how on-top-of-the-world I felt after I managed to understand something that had defeated me as a child.
We all know that learning is a life-long process, but I am beginning to believe that it is a process that we truly enjoy only as we grow older and, when we are not shackled by exams or competition, but are learning things for the sheer challenge and pleasure of it.
Tomorrow I am going to study about plant life cycle and germination. Those seeds better watch out.