If It’s Not Popcorn Math, It’s Fuzzy Math

Today my first grader asked me to help her with her math homework. After staring at it for about five minutes, I had to tell her to ask her dad for help when he got home.

Wow. Pathetic.

I knew this would eventually happen. I have even admitted to my blogging public that most math is fuzzy math to me (see “Lock Your Doors”). But I expected to maybe make it to AT LEAST fourth grade math concepts before I needed to start turning over that portion of homework help to my enginerd husband. Maybe?

I suck at mathAside from being a tad embarrassed at myself, I am also incredibly impressed with the curriculum at my daughter’s school. Believe it or not, I remember a fairly good chunk of my own first grade experience, thanks to an incredibly cruel joke God played on me by blessing me with a brain that is a steel trap for most things useless (like the theme song to the 80’s television show Small Wonder) but a leaky sieve for genius-making material (like algebra). And from what I remember, things were pretty basic. I have very intense flashbacks to staring at a red felt grid, taking tiny popcorn kernels out of old margarine containers, and placing them in various columns to find the sum. My daughter brought home a worksheet on mode and range. Seriously? Granted, once my enginerd hubby told…um, reminded me what mode and range were, I could see that it would fall into the realm of concepts my daughter could understand. But the fact that she was sitting there having a discussion with her dad using those words, mode and range, while I am sitting here still trying to remember what you call the two numbers you add together to find a sum, well, it blows my mind a little. Apparently, I couldn’t even handle popcorn math.

(And speaking of other first grade memories, I wrote about one of my favorites in an earlier blog post. And it is a lot more entertaining than popcorn math. Two words: Michael Jackson.)

There are no big revelations here. Really this incident has just served to reinforce what I, every math teacher I ever had, and my dad (a.k.a. my math tutor and also an enginerd) already know: calculators were invented for people like me.

5 Responses

  1. I love when kids learn new concepts like these! Our kindergarten curriculum teaches about scarcity and opportunity cost!

    Luke also likes to ask if I have a schema about different things…before Christmas, it was “do you have a schema for anoles?” Uh, no. For the record: anoles are tiny lizard-like things, and they were a classroom pet for a month while they studied them.

    Go smart kids!!

    PS…my brain is so the same as yours…all of the important stuff leaked out, and I’m left with crap that makes me an awesome Trivial Pursuit partner.

  2. […] rope bridge between two fly ash electrostatic precipitators (…um, no clue. That is total enginerd territory), and when he was being wheeled down a hospital corridor on his way to a quadruple bypass […]

  3. […] from any other Math class I ever took. With the exception of very vivid recallings of first grade popcorn math, placing kernels from margarine tubs onto red felt squares, I don’t know that I remember any […]

  4. […] Just last week, I got to be Billy Madison. In case you don’t know who that is, he is a character played by Adam Sandler, who, as an adult, had to repeat grades one through twelve in order to take over his father’s business. I, on the other hand, only had to repeat third grade, and my teacher was none other than my daughter…and the rest of her class. “A Day In Third Grade” was a way for her and her friends to demonstrate to their parents what they have learned during this school year. And I was worried I would show my daughter on an even grander scale how much I do not remember from grade school, further demonstrating just how little retention of the the third grade curriculum is necessary for success later in life. I mean, we are talking about me, the woman who ran into some trouble helping Grace with her FIRST GRADE math homework, […]

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