Pinback, circa 1960

I was watching Leave It To Beaver today while I ate dinner, this was the episode where Beaver is struggling with math.  His dad is helping him with his homework and Beaver says in essence “Boy this Division is really hard and when am I going to use it real life?”  His dad replies back, “Well it isn’t really about the math, but the fact that it is teaching you to think.”  I laughed because I abhorred long division in grade school.  Growing up in the 70’s ages before computers ever entered our classroom everything hand to be done by hand, and while I think some of those skills are important, I still believe that anything beyond say 999 divided by 98 is just torturing a child.  I remember spending a week working a really complicated long division problem, it was something like 286,987 divided by 258 (okay really probably not that drastic, but you get my point).  I am not sure if I agree with Mr. Ward that it taught me critical thinking, what it really taught me was to hate, hate, hate math. I didn’t even like teaching math when I was a teacher because I wanted to spare my students the torture I went through.  So now maybe I need to reconsider the possibility that math can teach you thinking skills.

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