Pluttification Tables

She'd rather doodle

From the archives on another blog with added revisions and current events ūüôā

I do not know my multiplication tables. But I know how to multiply. I learned the tables as a kid but I don’t use multiplication in my everyday life. When I multiply some of its by memory, sometimes I mentally figure it out, or sometimes I use a calculator. I know how to do math and so does Adeline. Because most people are most familiar with the public school model they assume she can’t possibly be learning because she doesn’t know her multiplication tables. Inside and outside the unschooling circles the question inevitably¬† comes up- “What about the multiplication tables?” Just what is so important about this group of numbers that is so necessary to memorize? I’d be happy to never have to deal with them. But I’m in a unique situation with my oldest daughter. She keeps getting asked by well-meaning but misguided adults about them and it frustrates her to not be able to make them proud. I think eventually they’ll catch on to the whole unschooling philosophy and won’t take pride in anything but Adeline in and of herself. Even if they don’t, she’s learning that she doesn’t have to impress anyone with her knowledge because she’s steadily gaining confidence in herself and how and what she learns. However, for awhile I’d promised to help her memorize them. But she doesn’t have a real desire to learn so she gets annoyed when I remind her to write a few sets. Then she gets frustrated because she’s bored. I’ve explained to her its no big deal because its just memorization-like a poem only less rhythmic-and to some number junkies out there it may actually be considered the most beautiful poetry in existence. She’s memorized her parts for plays. But she won’t be standing in front of an adoring audience reciting multiplication tables and waiting for a round of applause. Sure those adult who ask her what 4 x 7 will smile and tell her good job when she gets the answer correct but its not the same kind of satisfaction.

She insists she hates math. I’ve tried to tell her that its not math she hates because the multiplication tables ARE NOT MATH. Math is what I do budgeting for the weekly meals, estimating how much food I’ll need for guests, doubling recipes, calculating how much gas I’ll need to get from point A to point B and back again. Higher Math is for engineers, carpenters, lab scientists, and your average DIYers-and that math is easy to learn when you need it and use it consistently. She uses math but since we don’t fill in worksheets and recite tables she doesn’t recognize it. She uses math every day. She knows time when she checks the clock and date and amounts of food to cook and eat. She’s using shapes and perspective when she draws by hand and on the computer.¬† She budgets how much more allowance she needs to buy a DS game and she uses logic and memory when she plays them.¬† She mentally calculates if she can jump from one bench to another or decides the best place to cross a creek. She’s estimating when deciding how much stuff she should bring to entertain herself when we drive from point A to point B and back again. A lot of math is just common sense-part of living.¬† Recently she’s decided she wants to do a curriculum really informally. She’s not motivated to pick it up without me reminding her. But she asked me to remind her and so I do and if she wants to do it at that moment she does. I sit on the couch, nurse a tot or two, and help her through the math problems. She’s ready to do it, she decided to do it. But its not a requirement for a grade or even to make her happy. She just wants to do it so she can be more like her schooled friends and that’s okay too because its on her terms.¬† Those stupid tables¬† made her think she hates math. So I kinda let the table memorization slide-and she doesn’t seem to mind anymore about impressing anyone. When she gets frustrated I remind her that its like anything else she wants to learn. It doesn’t come all at once and its not always easy until she learns a certain skill. I remind her that she didn’t always know what 2+2 was but once she learned it, it was easy and so will all the math and anything she wants to put her mind to. As usual Pippi Longstocking says it best, “I’ve got along fine without any pluttification tables for nine years, and I guess I’ll get along without it from now on, too.”



  1. mary Said:

    you’re such an incredible human being! sending you love via computer waves. keep it up awesome momma! xoxoxo to you and yours.
    ps: I LOVE pippi longstocking!!

  2. Kelly Said:

    Manning use to cry when she would do math workbooks. They just didn’t make sense to her, and so she too thought math was boring and hard.

    Then we found “Math with Fred”, which is a story about the life of Fred and the math in his everyday life. She immediately related to this book and now, for the most part, she understands the math she is learning. The book has a fun sense of humor so Manning finds that entertaining as well. Nothing better than fun learning! It’s “book” learning she doesn’t mind doing on her own and then later she’ll come ask questions if she has any.

    The other thing that has helped make sense of math to her is understanding and seeing math in nature. Her and I together love learning about “sacred geometry”. I wish when I was in school they would have pointed out such things about math to me. It wasn’t till I went to college for art that I learned about math in nature and art. (From what I know, Adeline likes art.)

    Mandalas are a fun way to see math (sacred geometry) in art. Not that you’re looking for ideas or suggestions….just sharing what we’ve enjoyed.

    When I’m happy or excited to learn something two things that matter to me…relevance to my life and a deep appreciation for the wonder of it. This is one reason I like homeschooling, because I can allow Manning to learn what is relevant to her life. And as a homeschool mom you know, those are the things they really relish.

    • Cool to know someone who uses that. I’ve had it in my Amazon wish list for awhile with plans to get it when she was older. Maybe I’ll revisit them-thanks for the reminder.

  3. Kelly Said:

    Correction the math book series we use is called “The Life of Fred”. ;0)

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