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A Woman On The Verge

thoughts and musings of my mind

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childhood memories

Long Division: Torture or Higher Level thinking lessons?

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.

Random Musing #1

Does everyone remember when they were young and wished daily for snow during December and January?  If it happened during the school period it meant days off from school.  I remember waking up every morning, peeking out the window, seen the green grass and being very disappointed that it did not snow over night. I thought snow was amazing to play in and just the idea of having days off from school being the most supreme delight.  Oh the joys of being able to play for hours outside building snow castles and snow men or at least dreaming about doing these things since it really didn’t snow that often, nor did the snow stick around for long, in Des Moines, WA where I grew up.

Then I started driving and my perspective on it all changed.  The funny thing is I even took Driver’s ed classes during the winter when it did snow and that didn’t phase me.  It was later when I actually had to go somewhere – to college classes or work.  Keep in mind at this time I was also living in the Puget Sound region of Washington State where it is extremely hilly so getting around isn’t as easy as it is in other parts of the country.  Many streets could be closed due to the fact that they were extremely steep and icy.  I always knew the alternative routes, but they were never faster.   I know I am a cynic about it now, but even here in North Carolina when I hear kids wishing for snow all I can think is – ah youth, just wait until you have to try driving in this stuff.

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