Learning outside the classroom (Pig Tales)
(Editor’s note: Dr. Rich Barczewski is a retired professor with Delaware State University.)
Over the last seven months, things have been crazy to say the least, but one thing that has seemed to touch a major nerve in many homes has been “distance learning.”
In many homes, parents have been trying to learn, how their children learn, and in some subject areas, it has not been a huge problem, however in certain areas it has been a real challenge, especially with some of the early grades.
When it comes to college aged kids, distance learning for all of your classes may be a newer approach, however, the vast majority of what you learn in college is actually learned outside of the classroom.
Sure, you have traditional lectures, but reading textbooks, outside assignments and even interactions with your fellow students all play a role in getting the message across.
Most college aged students, especially those that are used to doing their outside assignments are surviving the pandemic quite well.
As we move down the educational ladder it is more difficult as parents are expected to be more and more involved with their children as they learn and certain subjects are not taught the same way as when we were in school.
Hence the problem. Math seems to be one subject that I hear a lot of complaining about.
Back in my day, the normal way to learn math was to have it drilled into you through repetition.
Knowing the times tables was essential and we were forced to memorize the times tables until it was part of our being.
Now days, things are different and many parents just do not understand how the subject is being taught, making it more difficult for them to assist their children in the learning process.
I only bring this up because things have been very difficult on some home fronts in keeping kids motivated to learn, especially when parents are not familiar with the methods being employed. It is a tough situation.
On the farm, there are a lot of opportunities to learn math even though many of us do not think of our lives as “math in action”.
Calculating the volume of a grain bin can involve geometry, algebra and basic math principles.
Understanding how to dose and animal with a medicinal is another area where math is routinely utilized as are the calculations needed to calibrate a sprayer or manure spreader.
Additionally, fabricating equipment in the shop is yet another way the rural community uses math.
Determining seeding rates? How many pounds of seed are needed to plant that 20-acre field? How much fertilizer do you need to purchase to get the job done?
How many fence posts, and how much wire are needed to complete the pen?
All of these types of problems are real world issues that involve math in one form or another.
Additionally, if you have a farm stand, then the whole idea of adding up purchases and making change may also come into play.
If we look around the farm, it is relatively easy to find examples of mathematics being used or needing to be used to solve problems. But that brings us back to our current situation.
In a lot of ways, I feel sorry for students, parents and teachers who are having to deal with the current situation.
Many teachers have been faced with teaching without seeing their students’ faces.
Without that or with having to try to see their faces only on a computer screen outside the classroom may not let them know that in some cases, kids are confused.
I feel for them because the vast majority of our teacher really care about their students.
Parents have been frustrated because they may not always be able to help, especially if they are working, and not at home to answer questions as they come up.
Hopefully, we will get back to normal soon and our kids will have the opportunity to get back in the classroom.
I know a lot of the kids want that, the parents want that and the teachers are looking forward to that as well.
Continue to stay safe.
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