Sitting at a Starbucks communal table reviewing some math work. A random guy is sitting next to me and eyeing my papers.
Guy: “Looks like some tough math. I don’t know how to do any of that stuff!”
Me: “I know, right? 8th grade math is no joke!”
Guy: “You’re in 8th grade? Really? I assumed high school, like maybe a senior!”
Me: (Confused stare. Not sure if he’s serious. Realzing he is.)
Guy: “Jeez. Should you be sitting here doing homework all alone? Where are your parents?”
Me: “I tutor an 8th grader. That’s what the papers are for.”
Me: “I am 34 years old.”
Guy: “Well this is embarrassing.”
On so many levels.
Me: (explaining a math problem)
Kid: “Ooooh, so I get it! It’s like the computer prompt, with tea.”
Me: “I’m sorry….what?”
Kid: “You know. Like…the computer prompt WITH TEA.”
Me: “Yeah I don’t understand what’s happening. Can you explain?”
Kid: “You don’t know about the computer prompt with tea? My teacher taught me! Like, you know…if 2 + 3= 5, then 3 + 2 = 5, because it’s the computer prompt…with tea.”
Me: “Oh my gosh– the COMMUTATIVE PROPERTY?!”
Kid: “Yeah that’s what I said. COMPUTER….PROMPT…..WITH…..TEA!”
Me: “You’re actually saying something completely different, but you have the concept so I don’t even care.”
Kid: “It sounds exactly the same to me!”
Me: “Alright well….agree to disagree?”
Me: “We will get back to this though. I’m not going to let you become an adult who mispronounces this.”
Kid: “What does ‘mispropounces’ mean?”
Me: “Forget it. Back to numbers. Language is obviously not working out for us today.”
Me (to student): “Did you do your homework on a calculator?”
Me: “Well, I find it hard to believe that you randomly came up with that super long number as your answer. Which would technically be the correct answer to 40 divided by 3, had you used a decimal point after the first 3. But that would be strange, since we never taught you decimal points. Only remainders.”
Kid: (Blank stare)
Me: “Also, I see NO work.”
Kid: (Blanker stare)
Me: “So again, I will ask you– did you use a calculator?”
Kid (wide-eyed): “NO. I did NOT.”
Me: “Unfortunately I don’t believe you.”
Kid: “I swear! I used an iPhone!!!!!”
90% of running a marathon is about complaining.
18% is about bacon.
13% is about bragging rights.
I guess 0% is about accurate math. Because who has time for math when ALL YOU DO IS RUN?!?!!??
See. There it is. 90%.
We asked kids to write their own division problems. Here’s what one kid wrote:
“There are 265 gift certificates to eat at Daniel. 12 kids in 4th grade split the certificates equally. How many gift certificates to Daniel will each kid get?”
This is Daniel.
I’ve never been.
I can’t afford it.
Me: “So the problem says there are 3 horses with 7 spots on each horse, then asks how many spots there are in all. So first, let’s draw the horses.” (I start drawing)
Kid: (laughing hysterically) “Those aren’t horses, they’re just blobs!”
Me: “Yes, I know honey. I’m not actually drawing horses, I’m just drawing circles to represent the horses. Because when you’re problem solving in math, you want to focus on the numbers, not on drawing pretty pictures.”
Kid: “Oh, ok. That makes sense.”
I was definitely trying to draw horses.
There are a few kids in my class having a really hard time understanding fractions as parts of a whole. I remember fractions being such a simple concept for me to understand as a kid, so I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to figure out how I learned them so easily.
Then I remembered. It was from my mother threatening my siblings and me:
“You better do as I say by the time I count to 3, or SO HELP ME GOD. One! (blank stares), Two!…(no movement)….Two and a HALF (nothing)…Two and THREE QUARTERS (shit, that’s close to three wholes…should we do something? WHAT COMES AFTER THREE?!)”.
We never found out.
But I’m good at math now.
So thanks, Mom.
Me: “Make sure you are answering THE QUESTION BEING ASKED.”
Kid (extremely confident): “Oh, I did. I double checked. TRIPLE checked!”
The test question provided two fractions, one for the amount of purple marbles in a bag of 24, one for the amount of red marbles in a bag of 24. It then asked, “Are there more purple marbles or more red marbles in the bag?”
Kid’s answer: 1/4
And with that, testing season comes to a close.
Miss Emily, out.