It takes a village

I remember a time in 6th grade when I got stuck on a math problem.  My dad worked on it with me and we got to the right answer, but I didn't get credit for it because I didn't show my work.  My dad tried to figure out how to use my teacher's method, but we ended up solving the problem some other way.  I remember talking about an 8th grade history assignment with my parents, and being honestly stunned when I realized that my mother didn't remember the historical significance of the year 1066, and that she didn't remember that the Spanish Armada collapsed in 1588.  How could anyone forget something so significant?

My library offers a free tutoring program for kids in grades K-12.  We have amazing volunteer tutors who help kids with their math worksheets, grammar assignments, research papers, and even high school chemistry.  One of the (20-something) tutors told me that she was helping one of the kids work on multiplying 2-digit numbers, and had to do a quick wikipedia search to learn the system in order to help the kid with his worksheet.  The system is called lattice multiplication - you use a grid to keep track of the numbers you're multiplying and adding.  I read through a few different articles before finally getting it myself.

(It seemed crazy to me to reinvent the wheel with this crazy box system, when long multiplication (what I learned) is easier and more practical in real life situations.  Then I learned that the lattice method was first described by the mathematician Al-Khwarizmi in the 9th Century.) 

I keep saying that parents are a child's first teacher, that we need to support our schools and teachers, and that parents and schools can't do it alone.  Many of the parents who bring their kids to Homework Hub are recent immigrants who are incredibly dedicated to their child's success in school, and are learning English, math and history at the same time as their kids.  I'm quite pleased with the library's role in helping families achieve academic success - that the library can be (is) such an important part of the community.

I just didn't expect a 9th Century mathematician to trigger an "It Takes a Village" moment.

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