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.
Yeh! The second quilting square is complete for your “Dear Daughter” quilt and its time for my next letter to you. I’m glad you liked the last letter. (read more about the project here). I’ve chosen the thorny subject of homework this time.
I know you find homework boring and a chore. It cuts into your home time and reminds you of school. You find the threat of detention, if it’s not completed, a disincentive. They may offer you a carrot, but its this threat that sticks in your mind. Your thoughts about the teacher and the subject become less than flattering. I know you’ve received house points for exceptional pieces of work, so I suspect this is the intended incentive. The carrot that they offer you, but not enough to motivate you.
So, I thought I’d try to paint a different picture for you.
Homework – better than you imagined!
You can do it. You are a bright child. If you set your mind to something, you always succeed. I’m not going to list all the remarkable things you have achieved. None of these school subjects are beyond your capability. You don’t need to take it from me alone. I have a pile of school reports that back me up. You can do it. Believe in yourself.
Time to practise. The whole point of homework is to give you a chance to practise a little bit more. Maybe the teachers are seeing how well you have understood. As your parent, it gives me a little insight into what you are doing at school, but the most important part is that you get more practise, or time, to investigate the subject in more detail.
using a tension holder
Time to find out more. Not everything can be covered in class. There just isn’t time. Not everyone is grabbed by the same interesting fact as you. How long would the lesson be if everyone’s interests were followed through?
Homework could give you a chance to explore the subject that little bit more. Don’t be put off by the limits set by the lesson. My hope for you is that sometimes a fact might spark a moment of curiosity. I’ve seen this happen for you already.
It may have been a throw away comment from your teacher. It may not be strictly within the remit of the homework, but the world is your oyster. If something is interesting, why shouldn’t you follow it up. You have access to the internet and we have a houseful of books.
Putting it off. It’s too easy to procrastinate about starting your homework. I admit, I am the same with some items on my To-Do list. We could tackle this one together. Let’s try to do it as soon as we get it. That evening. For you, the lesson will still be fresh in your mind. Homework tends to grow bigger and onerous, if left. Like some kind of cartoon monster. (So do To-Do lists)
If you do it straight away, it’s gone. No longer praying on your mind. That horrible nagging feeling. Gone. Leaving you lots of time to enjoy doing your own thing. If that’s not a carrot, then I don’t know what is.
As an added bonus, by doing it early, you give yourself enough time to do yourself justice. Rushing it just before bedtime, the night before its due in, is pushing your luck. Do yourself a favour. Give yourself time and do it when you’re not using match sticks to prop up your eyelids. It is much easier and you’ll get a higher mark. A chance of a house point.
Make it into a habit. Like most things if you get into a habit of doing it as a routine, then homework too will become easier. It’s like magic. No longer will it feel like its biting into your time at home. (Picture biting cartoon monster from before) It will become part of your home life. Like giving yourself time to brush your teeth or feed the dogs. Just another thing that you do. Choose a set time, a set place and do it.
Reward. If nothing else works for you then try my fallback method. Tell yourself that after you’ve finished, you will have a treat. It could be anything. Finish reading your book, play with the dogs or promise yourself a slice of cake (although you might want to warn me about that last one, so I can put it aside for you). Once the work is done, then treat yourself. If it’s a long piece of homework, then split it into stages and a small treat once each stage is complete. (How do you think I get through the day?)
So hopefully, you can see the picture that I’ve tried to paint you. It doesn’t have to be a chore. Try following my advice for a month and see the difference.
Your loving mother
To find out more about the Dear Daughter project and the list of letters, click here.
Joining in with Pink Oddy’s Motivational Monday.