Simon, who is 11, isn't doing particularly well in math.
The other night, we sat at the kitchen table to work on the multiplying and subtracting of mixed numerals, and what I discovered upon looking closely at his test was that Simon actually does understand fractions, for the most part. So when I say he's not doing well in math, this means, actually, that Simon is not slowing down enough to do well in math.
The theories he's got down, for the most part. The motivation to do well, he does not.
We reviewed the concepts, and then I stressed the importance of taking the time needed to do a good job. We talked about why grades are important, as faulty a system as that may be, and why he needs to try to get those grades up.
And then I brought up diabetes. Diabetes is the elephant in every room, even though the type 1 diabetic himself was elsewhere in the house. A calculator there, test strip here, vials in the frig.
With diabetes, I told Simon, we do much the same kinds of math. We deal in decimals, we divide and multiply at every meal.
The difference is this: it's not for a grade. It's a matter of life, and, unfortunately, death. When we sit down to count the carbs and determine the dosage of insulin, we want to get the math right. We need to get the math right. This is not an assignment we turn in and hope the teacher approves; the very real life of our son is affected. Too much insulin, he could slip unconscious. Too little insulin going unnoticed, the chance of long-term effects is increased.
I often perform the simplest calculation three or four times to be sure I got it right. Simon, however, is speeding through his tests, finding time even to doodle on the sides.
Similar actions, wildly different motivations.
The motive, my friend, makes all the difference.
what moves you?