Saturday, April 16, 2016

You don't always win

"I want to thank everyone for coming out over spring break. I hope your kids had fun.  I really enjoyed seeing everyone competing and talking with all the other coaches and parents. Overall  I think team did well and we were in the middle for our division (the most competitive one). I also wanted to stress my goals for the contest. The most important parts as I see it are to generate excitement, to have a good learning experience and to have fun working with your other team members. The math in these contests highly emphasizes speed. As you move forward and keep going this is not going to remain the case . I think its important as a parent to emphasize the positive parts of the competition and to focus on personal growth when talking about it with your kids. 
I'll handout the returned tests on Tuesday at Math club.
In the meantime I was sent the electronic results last night."

My least favorite part of math contests is telling everyone how they did.  We don't usually win and we certainly will always have kids scoring across a range of results. At the same time I can tell how excited the kids get at the prospect of a win during the contest and  I'm always worried that they'll get discouraged.  The text above is my latest attempt at handing out the news.  During the latest Math is Cool contest this Friday I brought 2 teams of fourth graders. From talking with the kids and parents during the process I think they all had fun. I tried to emphasize the important aspects (to me) along the way but its really hard to do.  I'm not immune to the siren song of comparing relative scores. At the every end of each of these events I usually have a few minutes of regret while I remind myself of the big picture.

  • Elementary Math Contests are hopefully just the start of a math career and bear little relationship to what comes later especially with their emphasis on speed.
  • My hope is to foster continued interest in Mathematics down the road.
  • And at the same time add exposure to interesting topics right now.

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