Afraid to Teach

July 2, 2015

I searched this blog looking in vain for an entry related to my decision, made a few years ago, to skip the whole Unit 5 of Momentum Math because its second chapter required the student not only to know Pythagorean Theorem but also to apply it to find the perimeters of irregular polygons. I chose instead to use Elements of Basic Geometry by Nancy Nichols to review facts known to Robert and introduce new concepts with the book’s simple approach. However, the content of Elements of Basic Geometry didn’t include Pythagorean Theorem.  My goal was to follow this curriculum any way and supplement it with lessons that would slowly prepare Robert for Pythagorean Theorem.

1. Practice counting squares of numbers larger than 10

2. Remembering (or finding a place from which to retrieve) square roots of numbers larger than 100.

3. Learning names of right triangles’ sides (legs and hypotenuse)

4. Reviewing family of facts to help transform Pythagorean equation to find not just the length of hypotenuse but also of  legs.

5. If appropriate, learning to estimate the square roots of numbers.

6. Applying the Theorem to complete problems from Chapter 2 of Unit 5 of Momentum Math.

That was the plan I had years ago. I have never followed through.  I was… scared.  I wasn’t sure if I could teach Robert all the steps I listed above. I was afraid that I would fail to teach Robert.  I was afraid that Robert would fail to learn. This is the fear I have felt many times.  Sometimes I overcame it, sometimes not. That time, I didn’t.  Instead I taught what seemed easy to teach and to learn. Moreover, I forgot about it.

This year, as Robert and I kept redoing Momentum Math curriculum, we got stopped by the same problem and yet again, I returned  Momentum Math back to the shelf and  brought back Elements of Basic Geometry to review and relearn. And as before I decided to “slowly prepare Robert for Pythagorean Theorem”. Exactly like I did before.

The strange thing is, that Robert is capable of learning materials from all the chapters in Unit 5 with the exception of the second.  They are much easier as they include topics Robert has been exposed to already or is even very familiar with.  

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