A Challenge To Get A Challenge By: Timory Goggin

What would you do if you realized you were not being challenged in a class? Would you be like most people and take the class as it is or would you try to be challenged?

I first figured out that my 7th-grade math class was not as mentally challenging as I would have wanted it to be a couple of weeks into school. At the very beginning, it was fairly simple, but I just assumed that it was because they did not want to throw anything too overwhelming at us yet. As time went on I started to realize that the work was not getting harder. I knew the majority of what we were learning and the things that I did not know I picked up fast. The class began to bore me. It moved at a slow pace and I realized that it was not going to change. I did not think much about it as most students would be happy to have an easy class. Even with this, I felt like a person who really liked to run long distance but was only allowed to run the 100-yard dash.

This is an example of the math I was doing when I was in the seventh grade math class.

One day I was talking to my mom about math and I casually mentioned “...I know most of the things we're doing anyway”. My mom took interest and started asking me numerous questions, “What do you mean?”. I answered with, “When I’m in class I understand what we are doing within the first five minutes, but then I have to sit there and listen to my teacher elaborate on it for the rest of the class.” After talking about it, she helped me realize that I did not really want to be in a class that I was not being mentally challenged in.

At first, I was a little hesitant of wanting to go and do something about it, as the thought of what others would think kept surging through my mind like a stampede of wild animals. I worried about saying something, as I was nervous it would make other teachers think that I was just making problems. The concern of going up to someone and saying “I’m bored in my math class” made me feel like I had to go into a chef’s kitchen and tell him he was cooking the dish wrong. Just thinking of how a person could take that the wrong way whether it be that they think I was trying to insult them or if they just thought that I did not want to do the work made me feel like there were millions of butterflies in my stomach. Even with all of these concerns, I decided that the process of getting more work and being challenged needed to begin.

We went to the school to see if there was anything I could do to be more challenged. The school did not exactly know how to react as they had never really had any students come and ask for more work. The thought of moving up a grade in math was brought up briefly, but we did not think I should go that far. Then I was put on Accelerated Math which was an online program addressing some of the standards that a student would miss when they skipped Pre-Algebra and took Algebra in 8th grade. This did not solve the problem as it was only temporary, not very challenging, and done outside of class, so I was still not challenged. There really was not any other way to get any more work other than to move up, so I did.

These are some problems on the Accelerated Math program.

It took a while to get to the point where I could, though. When I finally was moved, the second trimester had just started. Walking into the class made me a little uncomfortable at first because I was going to a class that was filled with kids who were older than me and who I had never talked to before. Not to mention that it was already a good chunk of the way through the year and most things like where everyone sat and who worked with who had been decided. Along with this, I had to get caught up on the work that I had missed during the first trimester, but I really liked it. It moved at a faster pace and I was learning things that I really did not know.

These are examples of the pages of my notes and work I did when I was in the Algebra class.

Looking back at what had happened I’m kind of surprised at a few things, for one I learned that when you speak out about something you want and try your best to accomplish it, a lot can happen. Also, it surprised me that the school did not really know how to react to the fact that a student wanted more work. We are going to school to learn and challenge ourselves as much as we possibly can, yet there is no real protocol for when someone wants to do just that.

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