Spring is in full motion in our corner of the world. I’ve woken to hear the most amazing bird songs, this week, and find myself not rushing up, but enjoying the songs. Not chirps, but full on musical movements! Like an orchestra is playing outside my window.
In the garden, bulbs are popping up overnight. Not really overnight, but I swear they weren’t there the day before. If they hadn’t been there the year before, then I’d begin to think that someone is sneaking into the garden and planting them while we sleep.
(Cyclamen with tiny bug on edge of petal)
Just buds mostly, at the moment, but full of the promise of colour and scent, ready to attract all manner of bugs to visit them. The garden will soon be full of life again.
(Lesser celandine in the woods)
On the home front, I’ve been aware of a change in the children. Especially my two daughters. If you’ve read my previous post , you’ll know that we went to see Hidden Figures over the weekend, as a family, and loved it (I’ve reviewed it, if you’re interested). Go see the film, if you haven’t already.
This week, both girls seem more confident in themselves. Just little things, mostly, but I have noticed that they seem to believe in their abilities a little bit more, especially in maths.
(pulmonaria in the garden)
Maybe I’m imagining it. Wishful thinking, but maths homework has been done without me being asked for help. They come home saying that they understand the topic they are doing in maths, more easily. They’ve helped fellow classmates. They even express the ambition to do well in the subject and how can I help them?
Has the film inspired them? I didn’t see that coming.
I took them hoping to broaden their minds to the racial issues. Giving context and a historical view, which I think it did. And more, it appears.
There is a fine line in parenting. So easy to push, when really what is needed is for eyes to be opened. It makes me wonder how else I can open their eyes to opportunities without appearing to lay out a carved-in-stone career plan. I guess that is my challenge. The fine line we all walk, bringing up children.
So not only is the garden budding up, but children as well. Reminds me why I love so much being a gardener, and a parent too.
Word of the week – budding.
I’m back with the 24th quilt block and 21st letter for your Dear Daughter Quilt. I’ve chosen the Broken Sugar Bowl block, this time. I like the pattern, but I struggle to see why it’s a sugar bowl. Is it just me? I guess I can see a break, but if you showed me this quilt block, I’d be unlikely to guess the name in a million years. It could be the fabric I chose, making me see a different pattern in the finished block.
Maybe it’s like looking up in the sky and seeing a cloud in the shape of a snapping crocodile, while the person next to you sees the same cloud as a person lying down in a hammock. As humans, we are set up to search for patterns and try to make sense of them, which brings me almost too neatly to the subject of this letter. Science and patterns.
Made up language
Science is about recognizing the patterns in the world around us and within, and wondering.
Numbers, equations and scientific terms are our way to express, manage the understanding and communicate these patterns. It is a made up language. The number 3 is made up. Two horse shoes, one sat on the other. Another symbol could easily be universally substituted and it would not change the value. So long as we’re all using the same symbol, we can communicate.
We use the language to explain the rules of the universe, or, in other words, the patterns they make. The patterns are already there.
Do you remember when you were younger and you used to add glitter to your Christmas cards? First you would add glue to the card. Arranging it carefully. Depending on the type of glue you used, you might find it difficult to see where you had already glued. Then you would sprinkle the glitter on and shake off the excess. Almost by magic your pattern would appear.
That is the same with science. It is already there. More than we can see yet. Using our made up language, experiments and observation, we can reveal it.
Learn the language and patterns/rules
Science, at your stage, is learning the language (and wondering).
You are unlikely to make big scientific breakthroughs at this stage, in exactly the same way that you were unlikely to write a best-selling novel while learning to read and write. Not impossible. Just unlikely, but maybe one day.
You are learning the basics and beginning to wonder. You need this knowledge. You need to know the patterns so that later you will notice when something doesn’t fit. It may seem to break the rules. Also you’ll need the basic rules so that you can use them to their full potential and apply them. Maybe putting different patterns together, to make something amazing. (Thinks aeroplanes)
You will have moments when the penny will drop and those will be wonderful moments. Savour them. There will be plenty more of them, given time.
You love science. You always have. You always loved joining in the experiments that we have tried at home. Leading the others and helping to explain it to your younger siblings. Teaching me a new way to express it, in some cases. I really liked that. I know that you are finding one of your science lessons boring. A bit dry.
May I suggest that you look at this subject slightly differently? It involves the use of maths. Maths is a useful language for expressing a pattern. Don’t believe me? Let me try and explain.
Imagine an algebra equation. A mixture of numbers, letters and signs. The letters represent numbers that are either unknown or could be a whole range of numbers. If you were to repetitively substitute numbers into the equation, and work it out, you would begin to create a pattern. (Think graph.) That is a formula. All it is, is a few (hopefully!) well placed letters, numbers and signs that represent a bigger picture, or pattern.
Maths allows this science subject to be expressed. It makes/reveals the patterns. The patterns help you to solve the puzzle. If you approach this subject as if it was a series of puzzles to be solved, would that make it more interesting? Your teacher, unknowingly, has become the clue giver.
I hope I’ve offered you a different way to look at science. I hope it inspires you to tackle your studies with fresh insight.
Look for the patterns.
Your loving mother
There are more quilt blocks and letters to read here. Some funny. Some serious. You can also read about why I started the Dear Daughter quilt for my daughter.
I’m on a roll this year. Already another quilt block complete. I have two sewn up, but when I suggested that I use both with this letter, you sweetly declared that you’d prefer one square to one letter. No problem.
Every block pattern is measured and scaled up on to my square of freezer paper. Multiplying and dividing the lengths until I can replicate the pattern, just so. Then cut up, ready for the english paper piecing. It has to be precise. I number them so they’re sewn up in the same order. I enjoy this process as much as the stitching.
And here comes the topic of my letter to you: Maths. You chose your GCSE Options last week. By the end, there was a tough choice to make and you made it. One throw away comment was that it was a shame you couldn’t drop one of the compulsory core subjects. Maybe Maths. *internal gasp from your mother. reach for chair.*
I let it pass. Not happening, so no need for us to discuss. At that moment.
It did surprise me though. You see, the idea of giving up Maths never occurred to me at your age. I kept up Maths all the way through my education, even on to my professional exams.
I am not a Maths genius, but I do love numbers. I love patterns. I love maths. Not all maths. A couple of areas never caught my imagination and I’ve not used them since school. The rest I like. I see them as puzzles to be solved. From talking to people, I know that being faced with a Maths problem can be daunting. Instant block goes up. Where they see a problem, I see a challenge and the chance to solve it.
I’ve enjoyed helping you and your siblings with your homework (only KS2 examples blogged: here, here and here). It’s been fun to revisit areas of Maths that I’ve not used for a while. I’ve loved crafting ways (because it is creative) to show you how fun it can be. Sometimes waking you up in the morning, telling you about a fun way I’ve dreamt up to use the Maths we discussed the night before. Admittedly you don’t always share my enthusiasm at 6:30am*. In retrospect, it might not be the best time for the conversation, but I do get excited when I create a new way to play with the numbers and methods.
I often think that my love of numbers and words are about equal. (Strangely English was another subject that I kept up throughout school.) Both allow you to communicate your ideas. Prove your point and maybe that is why I like them so much. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing it all fit together.
I know you wouldn’t admit it, but I have seen you enjoy the chase of the answer. You race me when we work together. You, doing your homework. Me, so I can check your answers. I sense hope.
So I’m not going to give up persuading you. Not on my watch.
Maths. Is. Fun.
You are in top set maths. You can do it. You quickly grasp concepts and see the patterns, but you are not feeling the joy. Yet. My job now is to carry on showing you the bigger picture. Then maybe you will see Maths as less of a problem and more of a puzzle to be solved.
(Maybe not so early in the morning. How about I give you half an hour to wake up?)
You loving Mother
PS. Have you noticed how the middle part of the quilt block looks like a cog. I didn’t notice until I stood back and looked at it. Sometimes its just easier to spot a pattern if you take a step back.
* 6:30am is the time she wakes up on a school day. Ha! Hope you didn’t think I just woke her up early to talk Maths.
More Dear Daughter letters, with their quilt blocks, can be found here.