Monday, April 14, 2014

Family History Journal: Favorite and Least Favorite Subjects

Questions 15 and 16 from 52 Questions, 52 Weeks:   What were your favorite subjects in school?  Why?   What were your least favorite subjects in school?  Why?

My favorite subject was reading as a child.  I learned to read when I was about three and I loved to read as a child.   I read a lot.  As I got older, I came to really like history and anthropology.  I love to read historical fiction and to learn about other groups of people and their cultures.   A couple of my favorite classes in college were anthropology classes.  I took enough classes to have a minor in anthropology...but I somehow never officially declared that as a minor and didn't have to have a minor so I graduated without an official minor...

I always did well in math.  Until Calculus.  I took AP Calculus as a senior in high school.  I didn't really get it.  I must have kind of gotten it because I got a 3 on the AP test...a passing score although not a high score.  But it didn't make a ton of sense to me.  I think most of my life, I was taught formulas and algorithms to solve math and I had a good memory and so I could apply the algorithm and get an accurate answer.  But I didn't really understand why it worked or what I was doing.   That is why I actually really prefer the way we teach math now.  I know some people think it is confusing or requires too many steps, but because we spend more time on WHY something works and show students several algorithms or several ways to get answers, I think they have a better chance of really understanding math.   And I think it allows them to be more flexible and to find strategies that work for them, and to find strategies that work for mental math without a calculator.   Because really...who wants to use the traditional algorithm to do long division or a big subtraction problem in their brain.? Not me.

As far as subjects I didn't like.  I genuinely loved school.  I liked most of my teachers.  I was a good student.  But I never did like science.  It actually kind of terrified me.  In elementary school, most of my science was taught by reading textbooks.  That changed in 5th and 6th grade when I had a very hands on teacher.   Although I think she favored social studies over science.   In junior high we suddenly had to do a few labs.   That honestly terrified me.  I don't remember having a bad experience.   But in junior high, high school, and even a bit in college, I dreaded labs and always hoped for a good partner that would do most of the work.  I felt terrified of doing the lab wrong or getting the wrong result.  I never felt like I understood science.  Ironically, I got A's in every science class...except perhaps an A- in one in college (can't remember for certain).  Perhaps even more ironically, I love teaching science now.   I try to read a lot of interesting and engaging nonfiction to my children and my students.  I try to do a lot of hands on activities.  I think science is one of the most exciting subjects to teach (partly because we do NOT have a textbook that I have to follow.   I do have to teach the science CORE but I can determine what books, activities and experiments will best help me do that.)

As an adult, I still love to read.  I still love history.  I would really like to get my masters in math teaching...because I think it is interesting and because I think I am a good math teacher but maybe not  a great one.  My good friend Brenda and I were going to start a math endorsement together this year.   It would get me about 2/3 of the way towards my master's degree.  But The Lord had other plans for me.  When I was called as RS president, I knew there was no way I could do both.  So it will wait.  And that's okay.  Some day I will get my master's degree but it may be another decade.   Or maybe I won't.  Maybe there will continue to be other more important ways to spend my time.