math phobia

 OK - so we had reached the part of the school year where math drills were coming home in the backpacks.   I, by the way, happen to be totally cool with that. It's a worthwhile endeavor. If Mrs. Fleischer hadn't made me memorize my times tables I would still be counting 7x6 on my fingers.

But Punk concerns me a bit.

His new school allowed for "creative answers." Again - I am totally down with giving credit for somebody who thinks outside of the box . . . but . . . in this class you can actually get credit for coming up with a fantastic theory and still getting a completely wrong answer.

And this is why I am worried:

Last year, Punk took a big math test - not his first - wasn't like he'd never done it before, so I can't blame naivete'. The question went something like this:

It takes 1 roll of paper to print 15,000 ten dollar bills. Each ream of paper weighs 26 pounds. You have 1,000,000 in the bank, and would like to withdraw it. The trouble is that your briefcase will only hold 11 pounds at a time. It takes 1 hour to get back and forth between your house and the bank. How much money can you fit into your briefcase at once, and how many hours will it take to make the withdrawal?

For a moment let's ignore the fact, that even M.I.T. doesn't even assign problems this convoluted, and take at face value that most fourth graders are going to attempt a logical response.

Not my kid.

His answer went something like this:

"Is it a weekday? Because if it is - who cares - I'll just come back tomorrow, I'm in no hurry. Nothing I want costs more than a hundred bucks, and I know that much will fit. Besides, one briefcase full of cash should be enough for anybody. Is anybody really that greedy? If you have that much money you should just share it - why bother coming back at all? And my mom always says your money is safer in the bank anyway."

This is followed by a cartoon of a man with an overflowing briefcase being admonished by an angry mob.

So not only did he make no attempt to actually solve the problem - he wrote down NO numbers whatsoever, dragged my name into his communist response . . . and still got half credit!

And THAT my friends is why I have a phobia about teaching math.

I don't know how it is that he aces every standardized math test he's ever been given.  Maybe even the computer doesn't know what to do when it sees all of that 10 year-old logic. 

I know I don't.


Anonymous said…
I'm pretty sure Punk is going to be a rocket scientist. Or a Mafia boss.