A true homeschooling conversation between me and my son, lightly edited.  He’s eleven and I’m teaching him algebra.

Father: Sorry, you got another problem wrong.  Do you know why?

Son: [aggravated silence]

Father: Because you skipped steps!

Son: [further silence]

Father: Is it ever OK to skip steps?

Son: No.

Father: Wrong!  It is OK to skip steps… when you are a master.

Son: And I’m not a master.

Father: You are not yet a master.  Do you know how you become a master?

Son: No.

Father: By following the steps.

Son: I follow the steps, until I don’t need to follow the steps anymore?

Father: Exactly.  Now start over, and follow the steps.