The Martian and Lessons on Learning



Regardless of your view of math and science, you NEED to watch The Martian, starring Matt Damon. A little language in parts, but very well acted and a great example of how a variety of subjects and skills are connected and work together.
As a teacher, one of the most challenging tasks is describing to students the importance of learning math, science, history, social studies, language arts, etc. They do not easily see how connected and useful these topics are to each other in real life situations. While this movie is fiction (so far), the principles are foundational and clear. 
Parents, it is hard, by try not to tell your children, “I was never good at math (or science, or reading, or spelling), so you’re probably not going to be good at it either.” Or some version of this: “The reason why you’re not good at this is because I wasn’t.” Or, worse, “Don’t worry if you don’t understand algebra (or some other subject). You’re probably never going to use it anyway.” Often what we speak to our children, though it may not be a true/ factual statement, becomes truth to them simply because we said it. We can stunt their development and view of themselves and their abilities before they even have a chance to explore these skills on their own. We create individuals who find it hard to see the possible because they’ve heard us say it’s impossible for them. So they just don’t try at all; they become discouraged; they begin to dislike school, learning and and never get an opportunity to learn that failure is a stepping stone to success and growth. 
The last lines in the Martian, Matt Damon’s character Mark Watney says: “At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you… everything’s going to go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem… and you solve the next one… and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home. All right, any questions.” 
Teachers and parents alike need to encourage the importance of learning to our children. Remembering though, it may not be linked to a particular grade or test or assessment score. Real learning, true learning sparks an interest in learning more things regardless of the negative emphasis we falsely predict it will have on their future. Keep encouraging thinking and their ability to be resourceful and creative with what our children are learning. They will surprise us every time! 
A couple times I’ve told Ellis that the tower he was trying to build wouldn’t work, stating that it was going to fall because one of the pieces was smaller than the others. I can remember him saying, “yes it can mommy.” And the little three year old, at the time, proved me wrong. I’ve stopped speaking limitations over his building and engineering skills since then.😊

Designing a building in his sister’s room. Wherever creativity sparks, he’s prepared to explore and design.


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