August 31, 2009


My daughter is upset with her new school because she has a problem with her math assignments. I guess in a small way I can't blame her, but at the same time I'm thinking to myself, "Maybe you should hold on to your hat there Turbo, and cut the teacher a little slack. Maybe the teacher is just getting a feel for the class and maybe in another month when the real assignments start coming out you'll have something to whine about. Maybe how about that, huh?"
I think it's probably something else though. I think now that she has finally moved on from elementary school and is in the 7th grade, she wants real 7th grade homework.
"Oh, you'll get your math, darling little daughter. I can already see it spewing out of your tiny little head."
Last year Jeni struggled with math. I think her problem is she tries too hard. I also think that the word problems are her hardest problems to solve. They are the ones that always set me back when I was in school. Problems like: A freight train leaves a station traveling at 30 mph. A passenger train leaves 1 hour later traveling at 50 mph. At what time will the passenger train overtake the freight train?
You may as well ask me something like this, "If I was walking through the forest with a canoe on my head and the wheels fell off, how many pancakes will it take to cover the dog house?" I. DON'T. KNOW!
Anyhow, her first assignment was to draw someone who was a mathematician. After giving this some thought she decided that she would draw an accountant. This is the picture that she drew.
The teacher informed her that she had done a nice job on her drawing, but then told her that she was taking points away because it didn't fit into her idea of what a mathematician should look like.
I looked at my wife and I asked her, "What does a mathematician look like?"
"Beats me," Lois said, "Nothing like an accountant, I guess."

I asked Jeni, "Did you tell her it was an accountant?"
"Uh, huh." Jeni said.
I thought. "Well, you'll get your new math soon enough."


The following day there was another home work assignment. Jeni was asked to draw herself doing math. "Really? More drawing? I already have an art class." Jenifer told us. And so this is her complaint: she is upset that she is having to draw in her algebra class.


One Day Later.

There was no drawing. However, Jeni got in trouble because she neglected to follow her assignment rules. She was supposed to show her work and the teacher was mad because she didn't.
I have a feeling this is going to be a very long year. Personally I think she should draw every chance she gets because in another month I have a feeling that she's going to be having some real problems when she starts working on her

This is my drawing of a mathematician.


Linda S. Socha said...

Oh My....Isn't everyone a Mathmatician? Some of us Mathmaticians perhaps like you and Jen and I tend to lean toward other calling:>)
Have a great year Beaux....

Laoch of Chicago said...

I was always amazed at how badly math was taught in my schools while growing up. Generally I sat in my math classes having no idea what was going on and every month or so I would sit down with my dad for an hour and he would teach me a months worth of work in that hour. Hopefully things have changed for the better but I guess it is very dependent upon what teacher you have.

Krëg said...

What is the circumference of that stick figure's head if the diameter is 6.2 centimeters? Show your work.

Something Happened Somewhere Turning said...

Maybe the teacher wanted a stereotype. Maybe she was looking for a white lab coat professor standing at a blackboard.

There is definitely a big difference in the way teachers teach their students. We've noticed it in the girls' home work and what they say the teachers want. We've been telling Jeni for the past couple of years to show her work but she always does it in her head. I guess things will be changing this year. I really disliked math while I was in school, but now I don't seem to have a big problem with it.

19.4804 cm.

kristine said...

I have so many feelings about this post. Seventh graders drawing pictures in math class. Math is wonderful and exciting and even though i'm not a natural there are ways to get children excited about it.

how do you teach respecting authority while also teaching to rage against conformism and stupidity.

i was one of 'those' students who never did my homework unless i needed to figure something out. didn't do me well in school that's for sure - but i learned a lot about people.

funny what we learn in school.

Something Happened Somewhere Turning said...




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