20 August 2011

"Multiplication is simply an abbreviation... the repeated addition shortcut."

I'm teaching 7th grade math this year.

I love teaching math - maybe because it was my absolutely abhorred subject...

It wasn't that I wasn't good at math. I usually did okay - well, actually better than okay - but only because I was determined to do so. I naturally gravitate towards words... not numbers, diagrams, symbols and formulas. However, I didn't want to be the only one in my family who wasn't good a math wiz, and so I pushed myself. I worked hard at it - but not being a particularly logical person (or so my husband claims), it didn't often make sense. I could learn procedures, follow them rigorously and memorize formulas - but I didn't necessarily see the point and I always kinda felt frustrated - not quite sure that I actually "got it," even though my grades would indicate that I generally had. Obviously, then, I also struggled to see the practical uses of any math class, beyond basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division that I had already mastered, and more often than sometimes, I wondered why in the world I was investing that much effort to do something I didn't really even like.

So math was the one class that I dreaded every day

...until I entered Mrs. Potter's Geometry class in 8th grade. It was that year that "math" finally clicked and began to make sense, probably mostly because I had a teacher who insisted I was capable of firmly grasping ahold of the concepts, who was willing to follow my round-about, most definitely less than direct procedures to arrive at solutions, so long as my path made sense.

From that day on, I loved math... and I love teaching it... always hoping that I can perhaps encourage one or two students the same way Mrs. Potter helped me.

Then, as I'm busily preparing to begin classes in a few days, and I have math on my mind, I stumble across this thought. It caught my eye because when I work with kids who struggle in math, I'm an adamant believer in breaking down what you don't know into pieces that you do know and with which you are comfortable working. So, if you draw a blank and can't recall the fact that 7 x 8 = 56, then you go back to what you do know: that 7 x 8 means seven 8's, or 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 8, and if adding 8 is hard for you... then you simply add 10 and then back up 2 before adding the next 10 to back up 2... well, I'm sure you've probably gotten the idea. Ideally, of course, you'd recall the memorized fact - but in those situations where the fact doesn't come readily to mind, do you know how so break it apart, remember what it means and then solve the problem without the shortcut?

Here's the thought (which was a terribly long introduction to this thought): 

"Our 'viral church' idea is about falling in love with multiplication and abandoning what seems to be an addiction to addition. Any church that focuses on disciplemaking is by definition going to be a more authentic church. … Many congregations and pastors measure their health by whether their church is growing. The better measurement is whether their people are learning to reproduce themselves. It represents a profound shift in ministry, one that few churches and even fewer church plants have made. "
fromViral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers by Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird

What do you think of this idea? Do you agree? Disagree? Why?

Would you define "adding" to a local church a dangerous, possibly addictive behavior?

How are you, or your church actively engaged in "multiplication" instead of losing yourself in this addition addiction...?

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