Today’s assignment involved data collection – mode, median, range. Not particularly complicated, except when the fact pattern is not clearly explained. Kids collect pill bugs (what the hell are pill bugs?). But how to calculate the total number of pill bugs collected? When the data indicates in a chart that three kids collected two pill bugs – does that mean a total of six were collected for the group or just two?
Needless to say, I needed to scour the web to try to find the answers so that I wouldn’t mislead my daughter and further confuse her. Luckily, we have the internet. Because a nice teacher somewhere in the US had posted the answers to this particular exercise. It turns out that no multiplication was involved – and that the three kids collected a total of two pill bugs. Had I not found the answers, I would have steered my child toward the wrong answers, making her (GASP!) do multiplication when it wasn’t necessary.
And this is just one example – what was wrong with the way we learned math when I was a kid? I can multiply in my head. We memorized the multiplication tables. I don’t use my fingers. And I don’t need a calculator to do basic math. I was a great math student, and I suspect that when Chloe starts to learn algebra I’ll have no clue what the hell she’s supposed to do.