Wednesday, January 27, 2010

My Problem (and I do have one)

(Pre-Script: There's a 64% chance that this post will solve all of your problems, or at least one or two of them, if you read it as the song, "Black or White," #48 on the playlist, plays in the background. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

The problem with math problems is that they are a hard. This is why they are called math PROBLEMS. The problem with math word problems is that word problems, of the math variety, are an oxymoron. They have been written by gifted mathematicians, as opposed to being written by gifted writers. Therefore the written math problem is often written in such a way as to not make any sense. I'm sure it would be a great problem to solve, with a logical black and white answer, had it been written by one who knew how to write.
Now, I know what you are thinking: "Michelle, you are far from elementary school math. Why concern yourself with math problems?" because now that I'm a mother, and have to steer my own children through the murky waters of elementary level math, (which, by the way, is no longer taught at an elementary level, no sirree, because if it was, how would my little darlings get ahead in life, and go to Harvard, and Yale, and go on to pursue every unmet dream of MINE, then go on to rule the world, *not that I am pressuring them at all,* nosirree, do you hear what I'm telling you, but that is a topic for another day, so we'll just couch that one for now) if I can't even help them complete the problem on the page in front of us?? And they hold their newly sharpened pencils between trusting fingers as they look up at me with those puppy dog eyes, those big huge, blinking, "Our mother will surely help us in our time of mathematical word problem need, won't she, won't she, won't she," blink, blink, blink, blink...
The point I am getting to is this: Those math word problems are as difficult now as they always were; they are just as difficult now as they were when I was the ages of my children. As a child, I was smarter than I realized, I only thought I was not intelligent because of the craziness that was thrust in front of me in the name of mathematics. I am just now old enough to realize that math and words together is the problem, not me. I have concluded that math should be done by men who have completed their word quota for the day*, and have nothing left to do for the next 23 and half hours but sit in a room and grunt at each other while solving math problems. Because math problems are still problems, world without end, amen.


*I'm not hating on the men; I just thought it would be funny to say "men," instead of "people" here, because, well, it's just funny, that's why.

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