Fibonacci

We had a bit of a perfect storm during the morning. AND for a change it wasn’t the Yorkshire micro climate to blame.

MATHS

In particular number sequences. A whole 90 minutes dedicated to the little beauties. Geometric, Arithmetic, Square, Cube, Triangular, Fibonacci. I always remember thinking Fibonacci sounded like a really cool wrestler. The Maths Tutor didn’t find that thought very amusing.

For those who quite rightly have forgotten mathematics from school and college, the Fibonacci sequence is where the next number is the summation of the preceding two numbers. One of those things you are taught and will probably never need it. Fibonacci has only ever cropped up twice since school. Annoyingly not in the school exam. I remember giving one unfortunate External Consultant a bit of a frosty reception when he tried to convince me that I should be using Fibonacci to better manage agile teams at work. I think the poor chap learnt some new Yorkshire words and was then ushered out to annoy someone else.

The second time Fibonacci entered my world again was today. This morning we discovered that our son struggles with number sequences. He just can’t see the patterns. It wasn’t helped by the frequent use of decimal points to make the patterns even more pesky. Much frustration. Son couldn’t see the patterns at all and his dad could see the patterns BUT I struggled to describe them in words. Clearly one of those things I can do with out thinking but I’m not entirely convinced how I do it. Bit like trying to programme the washing machine.

But here’s the thing. I convinced son that it didn’t really matter. If sequences do come up in the exam then they won’t count for many marks. He can still have a stab at them and if all else fails, guess and move on to stuff that he will be able to do. And after his exam unless he meets many keen External Consultants, he is unlikely to need number sequences again. He’s better off learning stuff he wants to learn and stuff that he will use.

Let’s leave Fibonacci as a wrestling star.

Argument

One leaf in the corner of the garden. It definitely has a story to tell.

I was looking at a Social Media exchange about a secondary school in another part of the country. Parents were discussing how good the place was or wasn’t. Clearly it was quite a heated exchange. On one side you had comments like

It’s a great school…

Look at the grades the kids get…

It gets fantastic OFSTED ratings…

My daughter is likely to get straight A’s thanks to the teaching…

I love the school. It has discipline and look at the results it gets…

My daughter won an award for Drama because the school pushed her…

Fantastic teachers,

You always get a minority who are never happy…

Well if your not happy take your child to another school

Well homeschool then, miss out on the special treatment you son gets then…

And on the other hand you got comments like…

My child has just been dumped in the bottom class,

The teachers don’t care,

My daughter is getting no help, just left to fall behind,

My son keeps quiet and doesn’t cause any trouble in class. Wish he did as the teacher might start spending some time with him,

I’m not sure the teachers even want to know that he has ADHD,

School is not bothered that my son is scheduled to get no grades,

It is useless at helping kids out who have special needs.

That last line gives the basis of the argument away. The English School System provides one model of teaching for all pupils. It works for some kids but unfortunately a few too many are left behind. Increasingly special education is seen as a distraction to the main school function. An unnecessary drain on resources. You see articles in the Press basically talking about those children getting funding to cover additional needs as a gravy train for parents. That approach mirrors government thinking. Yes schools are given some targets for educational need but a school that fail in this area can still be seen as Excellent. The key is hitting the limited exam, performance management, how well they stick to the curriculum and the financial targets set for them.

I bet you can guess what side of the argument I would have been on. But I would add one important thing. All schools have good, dedicated teachers. Teachers who care. But they can’t provide for those children with additional educational needs when they are hamstrung by government. Where they are undervalued and trying to teach classes with up to 30 children crammed into them. With a set and unwieldy curriculum which must be strictly followed. I remember a conversation with school about computing. The teachers shared my frustration at having to teach Hawklad so much coding. Coding is a nightmare for dyslexics and some on the spectrum to learn. But they had to teach him that because it was a key part of the national curriculum set by government. Surely we can find a way of teaching all kids which offers the change to offer different learning routes depending on the individual.

A school can be excellent and at the same time fail to many of the next generation.

Pictures

We haven’t don’t this for a while. Draw a picture in the ice forming on the outside of the window. Then turn the room light on and see what it looks like on the pavement. Makes us smile anyway.

It’s a tradition. Something we repeat. We do it every night we get the opportunity.

That’s a theme in our Aspergers household. Repetition.

The same foods on the same night. Week after week. Things like cheese have to be the usual brand and flavour.

Wearing the same type of clothes.

Buying the same toothpaste and the same toothbrushes. The same soap. Even things like the same toilet paper.

Watching a select group of movies and tv shows, time after time.

The same morning and nighttime bed rituals.

The same subjects we talk about most nights.

Having the same objects in the same places in the house.

The same fun animal story we tell every night. We have done this since he was a toddler. EVERY SINGLE DAY. I dread to think how many episodes we have told.

Playing the same games on the console. Just a couple of games. Microsoft might as well hardwire them into our box.

When we could get outside, walking the same walks and the same routes. Driving the same routes on the way to places. Even if that means more driving time. If we vary then we need to double back and drive the usual route as soon as we can. Going to sit in the same seats in the same cinema. Going to the same shops. Going to the same fast food joints and buying exactly the same order. Going to the zoo and visiting the animals in the same set order.

Repetition provides Hawklad with security and comfort. It provides stability for him to build bridges between his world and the big mad world. Variations can and will send him into a the realms of anxiety. At school any change to the set timetable will throw him and severely effect his performance. So it is just how things are in our little family.

So if ice forms tonight, I wonder what picture will appear on the pavement?

Go again.

Schooling often feels like a river. Sometimes it’s beautiful, sometimes frustrating and if you follow it then it takes you were the river wants to take you, not where you might want to get to.

I was talking to Hawklad yesterday about school and homeschooling. It’s his call what happens going forward. He will be doing school at home until Christmas. Then it’s time to make another call. Currently he just can’t see himself returning to the classroom in January but he’s not yet ready to call time on school. So it looks like we will start 2021 still in home at school mode.

If that’s the case then it’s time to start making some adjustments to the teaching delivery. Starting with French. The time the school allocates to learning things like perfect and imperfect tenses is just currently a waste of effort for Hawklad. So that time will be spent on using an online language learning app. Probably Rosetta Stone. I’d rather him pick up a few words that he might be able to use in the future than to parrot learn stuff just for one exam in two years time.

Time

I could wax lyrically about that wonderful Pink Floyd song, Time. All about how TIME can fritter away from people without them realising until it is too late.

I could talk about Dr Who. Mentioning that the first ever female Dr is also the first Yorkshire Time Lord.

But not today. We are talking about telling the time.

Hawklad has always struggled to read a clock or watch. It’s not for the want of trying. Different types of watches and clocks. Different styles. Nothing seemed to work. Analog time has just proved impossible to him. It’s taken years but he can very slowly read a digital 12 hour display. Not very accurately. He has to look at the display for many seconds before it seems to register. Even then it may need some further explanation.

It’s not just telling the time, it’s the concept of passing time. He struggles to get his head round what 20 minutes, or an hour or 3 hours actually means in practice. He was doing an assessment paper at home. I noticed that he had been on the first question for 30 minutes. When I told him that there was another 14 questions to do in the remaining time he couldn’t believe that he had spent that long on one question. To him it was just a couple of minutes. This kind of thing happens so very often.

Whether this is to do with Aspergers, or number dyslexia or just one of those things – we will never probably establish that. Just got to work round it. Find ways for Hawklad to cope with time.

Because he struggles to tell the time and then can’t comprehend how much time has passed, this stresses him out. Give him a time to work to and he starts to panic. As a result we often use something like a movie as our measure of time.

It’s bedtime at the end of this movie.

We need to get ready when this show finishes.

It will be 45 minutes when the game ends.

That’s why the TV is often on in the background. Not for entertainment, but as a timer. Where this leaves him with his pending exams and his adult life, who knows. But here’s the thing, he’s great at sticking to plans and following a series of steps in his head. If he could just get his head round time then he would be brilliant at project management.

It’s 40 minutes until he needs to start looking at his homework. Today that’s the end of Jumanji. Jumanji the Clock.

Decimal places

A lovely start to the day. Looks are deceiving. Over my shoulder was a mass of grey YUK rapidly heading towards us. And now…

Wet, cold, grey and just grisly.

Another thing which is grisly here is DECIMAL POINTS.

Hawklad is dyslexic. That’s both letters and NUMBERS. 4,6,7 and 9’s can be difficult for him. Somedays they are fine others not so good. This is so frustrating as he is really good at Maths.

Something which is never fine are those pesky DECIMAL POINTS. He just can’t process them. He can do really complex calculations yet struggles to do the simplest additions if you introduce DECIMALS. When it comes to schooling it’s just keeping those fingers crossed that DECIMALS just don’t appear. They can mess up Maths, Science, Geography and Computing lessons.

His Maths Assessment Scores fluctuate according to those pesky dots. His last score was 60% as there was a large section on rounding up decimals and standard notation. He did another paper yesterday. This time only one decimal appeared. From what I can see he got that question wrong but was perfect on the other 16 questions. That paper as a final in 2 and a half years time would be so cool for him.

Wean myself off

This was last year. One hour into my trail run. Apart from missing the exercise I hope you can see why I miss running free.

Eventually you have to accept reality.

Hawklad’s anxieties are still rising. More routine tasks are becoming more difficult for him. He can largely control the dynamics within our house and garden. Lots of washing, extensive quarantining of items and being careful what he touches. He is ok within his castle walls. He is not ok with me venturing out.

Beyond those walls and that’s a completely different world. An alien, dangerous world to him. His doctors are clear – this will take a very long time to start to address. It’s not going to start happening until a pandemic is well behind us and as one of our leading scientists pointed out – with a fair wind we may start returning to something like normal life at the end of 2021. That’s assuming the new vaccines work and roll out soon….

So for me the reality is that our personal lockdown will likely stretch through 2021 as well. My mindset has to change. Away from getting through the next few months TO living the much longer new reality.

So back to the photograph. Running has become a bit of a drug for me. Now I have to completely wean myself off that. I’m nearly there as it’s been so long without it. Time to permanently replace it with other things.

Perfect or imperfect

Just a little something to break up the dark greens, browns and greys. Definitely really appreciated. Si adorable…..

Dad why do they make French so difficult to learn. It feels like we are trying to build a fusion reactor some days. Not trying to describe what I did on a visit to a Paris Park.

Hawklad is so right. Yesterday he was given a long list of French words and asked to work out the correct endings for both Perfect and Imperfect tenses. How about first checking if the pupil actually knows the word first. Asking a dyslexic to write 40 words out perfectly (twice with slightly different endings) is like asking me to cook the perfect Soufflé. It isn’t happening and is basically a waste of time.

The problem is that in the UK teachers are not allowed to teach. They are basically just presenting what the Government tells them to say. The Government is not interested in pupils developing and growing. It’s all about passing one exam. Parrot Learning in the good old way Victorian children did. Only last month schools were instructed to not use any learning materials from sources which are considered to be anti-capitalist.

It’s really time to let Teachers teach and the Government can focus on governing. Oh hang on a minute – our Government can’t even do that properly.

Hide behind the sofa.

Another grey and damp morning. Now where did I put that brilliant and always helpful Parenting Guide again…..

I had an email from school. One of those emails that immediately sent me scurrying for safety behind the sofa.

It’s a legal requirement for school to deliver sexual health education in Year 9. The education will be across a number of lessons. It will cover Relationships, Puberty, Sexual Transmitted Diseases, contraception and other sexual health issues.

As Hawklad is not in school, the teacher will send me the lesson materials and I was asked if ‘The parents would be ok delivering the material to your son…..”. Well that will be me then.

As I see it I have basically four options

Say No

Continue to hide behind the sofa

Deliver the material

OR just show him an episode of South Park.

Jim Morrison

Definitely been one of those mornings. One of those French mornings…..

It’s taken us 8 weeks to work out that class has been accessing a learning resource that we didn’t know about. So two months later Hawklad finds himself behind. I guess it was one of those things that was discussed in class but not passed on. Deep joy.

I can officially say that this subject has become a disaster.

Anyway I think the time it would take to catch up would be better spent on other activities. Maybe even playing with a non school sanctioned language app. Let’s see if we can find one that works for him. That would be a start. At least it would start to give him the basic skills and bugger the school tests in this subject.

I must admit that this so mirrors my time at school. I so struggled to learn French. Just wouldn’t stick. In the end sitting my final French exam was a bit of a Hail Mary Pass. Not much hope.

But strange things can happen.

Half the exam was the expected shambles. A series of random guesses really. Then the final question accounting for 40% of the marks. Read a long French newspaper article and answer questions in English. I should have had zero chance. But unbelievably the article was about Jim Morrison and The Doors. OMG I know every answer without reading the text.

Two months later I received my certificate in French. I had scraped a PASS. Must have got a perfect score on the final question and winged 10 marks from my other guesses. Yes I owe my French Qualification to Rock Music.