For me, their passion for the job completely trumps everything. Without the love of whatever bit of STEM interests them it is impossible to keep up with the constant changes, but with that passion people can learn anything.

I have never, and never will, employ someone as a programmer who tells me they studied IT because they heard the work pays well and who does’t love technology. ]]>

http://www.homeschoolretrospective.com/what-are-they-doing-now-the-answers-2/

http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/09/how-do-unschoolers-turn-out/

]]>We did “math on paper” learning as homeschoolers, although avoiding much of the busywork imposed by school. If your daughter is struggling with math in college, I hope she takes heart knowing that some of our most accomplished mathematicians, physicists, and engineers came to math rather late.

http://mathoverflow.net/questions/3591/mathematicians-who-were-late-learners-list

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]]>Here’s one more quick mention of what worked for us (just to broaden the range of math learning possibilities). Another of my homeschooled boys went far beyond my math ability quite early. When he was 15 we hired a high school math teacher to moonlight as his tutor. The tutor was thrilled to have an enthusiastic and friendly student. He sat at the kitchen table with my son once a week to work together. They rapidly accelerated through calculus and trig, not only with plenty of real teaching backed up with homework but also with brain twisters, games, math hacks, and lots of laughter. The teacher loved the freedom to bring all sorts of new ideas to their lessons, the freedom he didn’t have at school. Each week this gentleman stayed well past the time we paid him to stay, This continued for a little over a year. The tutor told us it was the best experience of his teaching career.

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]]>The one subject that’s always made me nervous is math, because it just seems like trying to learn it away from paper won’t work, specifically when it comes to things like regrouping, long division, times tables, et cetera. I hate making decisions out of fear, but that’s definitely what’s been happening.

On the flip side, I’m keenly aware that trying to force-teach doesn’t work – the material doesn’t click, because there’s little-to-no interest.

I’ve had to come up with inventive ideas, like you talked about above. Right now we’re doing 10-minute math 3x per week (the timer tells him exactly how long he’ll have to work, and he likes that). He also has a daily “math vitamin” that I write based on his current interests.

He enjoys doing problems out loud, and he’s really good at it, probably because it feels like a game. But I’m never sure it’s ‘enough’, especially because he’s talking about careers like physics, chemistry, and astronomy, and I’ve seen the math that goes into those. I don’t see how we’ll be able to manage algebra and above without a pencil and paper, and that’s where the nerves kick in.

All that to say this: what you wrote about your son who is studying mechanical engineering really bolstered me. I’ve read your posts on math for a while now, especially the ones about the class at the democratic school that was able to cover all the basics in short amount of time. Maybe that’s what I need to remember: that when it’s needed, he’ll find a way to learn it.

It’s tough to loosen the need for control, but I’m going to repeat the mantra “Why not?” until it sticks.

Thank you again so much for the helpful advice and links!

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