Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Smarter than a fourth grader

Math has never been my forte. It especially went downhill after I stopped taking piano lessons in high school (playing a musical instrument enhances your math skills).  I’ve always been more of a words kind of girl. Long as I know the basics – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – I’m just fine. And if nothing else I can figure out elementary school math. Or so I thought.

Rita made this design. I had to figure out how it looks rotated 90 degrees and then flipped. Who cares Rita?

Last Saturday started off as a beautiful day. I picked up my “little sister,” or mentee, for a day of fun. The goal was to see “The Hunger Games” and then eat lunch. She had makeup assignment from school to work on before we went to the movies. It was 10 pages of math problems. There were five problems on each page. How many math problems were there in total? Just kidding. At any rate volunteered to check the assignment when she finished. She’s only in the fourth grade. How hard could it be? Hard! VERY. HARD.

Why is fourth grade math so hard? When did it even get that way? All I remember is learning multiplication and division. Now they have students figuring out algebra, geometry and all that other advanced math. It took my “little sister” maybe 45 minutes to finish all 10 pages. It took me, along with help via Skype from my kemo sabe Danity Kane, an hour just to check the first five pages. At one point I was even going to my roommate, Katie, for assistance. We had to look up formulas, get scratch paper, use a calculator and even guestimate answers. My “little sister” did most of the work in her head, had the formulas memorized and kept taunting us saying, “This is so easy.” Easy? For who?  How am I supposed to know the best estimate of the size of a football field? Why do I care how many more goldfish than her friend does Samantha have? And will someone please tell little Johnny to stop building diagrams and asking me which one looks the same from the side?

My self-esteem almost suffered a blow that day. I had to wonder for a minute if I was smarter than a fourth grader, especially when we got different answers to one question.  Were my division skills really that bad? No! I WAS RIGHT! Winner, winner, chicken dinner!  I AM smarter than a fourth grader. I’m not so sure about any grade level after that. Math just isn’t my thing. But if nothing else I can best a fifth grader and higher in spelling, reading and writing.

Anyone else felt lost when seeing elementary school math problems? Are you smarter than a fourth grader? What about a middle or high schooler?

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