Date: Thu, 19 Sep 1996
From: Harry Southworth
To: Lee Lady
Subject: Maths.
Hello.
I recently send a mail to an NLP mailing list about teaching maths.
Someone suggested that you might be interested. If you're not, don't
mail me back and I shall take the hint.
I teach maths to children between the ages of 8 and 16. I see
them for three hours a week. I am often struck at how one child
will learn how to do a particular type of problem after one
explanation and one or perhaps two examples.
I was trying to teach a 14 year old girl compound interest. I
explained it about five different ways, using as many different
approaches as I could, and I did a couple of examples, but still
she was clueless. On the fourth example I was giving, she
suddenly said, 'Oh, so you just follow the pattern!'. I said,
'Yes, you just follow the pattern, like in the last one and
the one before that'. She went on to do the rest of the page
without making any mistakes and without asking any questions.
Ever since then I have given her an example or two and then
said, 'So for the rest of them you just follow the pattern',
and she's improved in leaps and bounds (though I recognise that
my different style of teaching and her performance are possibly
unrelated).
I have also started to teach other children in terms of 'patterns'
and tend to substitute the word 'pattern' for 'formula'. With some
it works wonders. But with others...
I was trying to teach a 10 year old girl simple percentages. We
had an example in which we had 100 soldiers. 10% of 100 soldiers
is 10. 20% of 100 soldiers is 20. I told her this, and asked if
she could see a pattern. She couldn't. I took her through 30
soldiers and 40 soldiers, and still she could see no pattern.
Next we had 100 tomatoes. I asked her what was 10% of 100 tomatoes.
She didn't know. I showed her what she had written in her own
hand writing, that 10% of 100 soldiers is 10 soldiers. I asked
again what was 10% of 100 tomatoes. She did not know. I asked
again if she could see a pattern. She could not.
When I am tutoring children, I do not find it useful to just
say to myself, 'Oh, well that one's stupid so there's not much
point in trying with her'. But in the above example (and in many
other less extreme examples I could give) the girl just could
not see the pattern; the answers eveidently looked like random
numbers to her. How on earth are we supposed to teach children
such as this one?
Please feel free to offer any advice or experiences of your
own. Hopefully something useful might result from this discussion.
(I can also give examples of using hypnotic language to help to
teach kids (particularly time distortion and embedded commands),
and also various stuff about modalities. Perhaps these will come
up at a later date.)
Harry.