Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hold On... Didn't I Pass Grade 4

When I was a kid, I used to love school. Seeing all your friends, getting praised for colouring inside the lines. I think it's every little girl's paradise. Then you move on to high school, college and even university. You get diplomas and certificates and one very fancy Bachelor of Science degree to hang on the wall. And you think to yourself, man when my kids ask me to help them with their homework, I've got it covered.

Then something remarkable happens. Your nine year old son brings home his math homework and asks if you can help him figure out long division. I smile... long division, please. I can still do calculus in my sleep. So over I go, pull out the chair and calmly start jotting down numbers on a crisp piece of paper. I talk slowly, but not so slow he thinks I'm babying him, and proudly display my finished example of long division.

That angelic little face looks up at me, eyes wide, lips turned into a tentative smile, and I hear the four little words every parent dreads... Sorry, but that's wrong.

Wrong. Sure. I smile down at him, give him a wink and explain, no honey, this is how you do long division. My son smiles back, only now it's the kind of smile that says he's questioning my mental state. And I know if my damn degree was plastered on the wall, he'd be staring at it thinking, did she really get that all by herself? Then he does the only other thing that can make grown ups cringe... he hands me the dreaded text book. "Here, mom. This will show you how it's done." He actually gets up and heads for the back yard, tossing, "call me when you've got it figured out," back across his shoulder.

Long division. Correct me if I'm wrong, but our way still works. Been working for decades, so why, now of all times, do they decide to change a fully functioning wheel, and put on a new one. One that has you staring at the page wondering if you really did pass math back then. And before you know it, I feel the same panic as when I stare at a box of mindless plastic pieces that are somehow supposed to fit together to form my daughter's dream doll house. 

So there you have it. After all these years, I'm forced to realize school just isn't the same. Yes, I did figure out how to do the 'new' version of long division. Heck, it only took two hours, seven phone calls and one night at a parent workshop. But it has left me with one fleeting thought...

If this much has changed in math, what on earth have they done to his sex ed class.

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