Mathematics Update

Saxon87Today, I completed the final lesson and test in my Saxon 8/7 Mathematics book. One hundred twenty problem sets, 23 tests, and 12 investigations later, I now know the same amount of mathematics as the average 7th grader! I started the book on January 4 of this year, so it took me just under three months to complete.

Things I learned along the way:

  • Surface area of a sphere: 4πr²
  • Volume of a pyramid: 1/3bh
  • Volume of a cone: 1/3 πr²h
  • Volume of a sphere: 4/3πr³
  • Counting in base 2 (binary)
  • Multiplying and dividing exponents
  • Rationale for why division by 0 is not possible (It has to do with infinity, which I never knew before!)
  • Stem-and-leaf and box-and-whisker plots
  • Probability vs. chance vs. odds

In all, it has been a pleasure to work on maths alongside my boys. I have been interested to note how similar their work is to mine, just at a simpler level. On the same day, we all might be working on very similar types of problems. I feel much better equipped to help them with their maths studies as they progress. And it is wonderful to see their work ethic and sense of accomplishment being encouraged by the example I set for them. We are truly in it together!

I can already see where my weaknesses in this subject lie, and I will be very interested to see how material that is increasingly unfamiliar to me exacerbates those weaknesses. As the introductory remarks in our maths text says, we drill over and over on concepts so that we build up defenses against ourselves and our tendency toward certain sorts of errors. By repeating the same sorts of problems again and again, we see where we make mistakes and what sorts of mistakes we tend to make, and then develop checks against those so that we are more successful as we progress. There is a lesson for all of life in that, I think!

I’ve also started to read a book on the history of mathematics. As I encounter new maths concepts, it is interesting to me to learn where and when they originated and for what reason(s). I’m reading this on my own time, since my school reading schedule is already full to bursting!

I’ll start Saxon Algebra 1 tomorrow. Hoping I can complete it in six months or less!

Jeff Herron

Homeschooling dad of two boys. Husband of one terrific woman. Disciple of and disciple maker for Jesus. My cup runneth over!