I get needing to know the basics of
math. I have multiplied or divided
fractions when I doubled or halved a recipe.
I used addition and subtraction (mostly subtraction) when dealing with
finances. I have even measured things
accurately. I get the basics and I do and have used them in real life. Anything beyond the basics have been useless
except for two times since graduating high school.

The two situations in which I’ve
been required to understand beyond basic (Algebra comes to mind) came when my
children were taking math courses in school.
Tony used to milk his sessions.
It would take hours just to do one problem. He didn’t get that if he would just do it
instead of trying to get me to re-learn and do his assignments, he could have
been done so much quicker.

Actually I have had hang-ups with algebra
my entire life. I think I would have
been okay doing year round school. With
three months of summer vacation and no homework, I never did retain what dad
had explained to me the year before.

Dad was a math nerd, actually. He thrived on it. Oh, yuck!!!
None of his kids had it in their genes to love math the way he did. We all use the basics – but I doubt that any
of us have ever dealt with algebra except to assist with homework so that our
children in turn can help their children and so forth.

When
Jenna was too young to know any better, I had convinced her that math was/is
fun and that she would love it – which she did.
From 2

^{nd}- 4^{th}grade she basically did her math homework without my assistance – which was great for me. By third grade I was at a loss just looking at her papers.
Multiplication has given her problems. And she absolutely hates division. Division, on the other hand, had always been
my favorite (I mean if I absolutely have to pick a math favorite) and hated
multiplication the most (which is ironic as you need to know how to multiply in
order to divide) and so for the last two weeks I have been explaining the
technique – which I’m sure that she gets but seems to experience ADD each time
she does it – though it still doesn’t take near as long to do her entire paper
as it did for Tony to do just one problem)

Unlike Tony, Jenna LOVES algebra. She thinks it’s fun to create and do
problems. (I was hoping my father’s
genes would skip a generation - perhaps they have)

Not long ago, Randy was taking a monster
algebra class through the college. At
least Jenna’s problems don’t require as much paper as his did. He must have gone through one notebook per
class assignment. That’s gross.

In order to better understand what it was
that he was doing, he felt the need to explain, making Jenna and me his
pupils. She thrived on it. He didn’t think she totally got the concept,
but said she was getting the right answers.
I was, too. I just wasn’t
enjoying it. But actually, neither was
Randy.

There seems to be only a handful of people
who not only get algebra and trigonometry and calculus, etc. but thrive on it like it is the most awesome thing ever.
Great for those people. Kudos to
them for having that desire. But leave
me out of it. I don’t wish to rack my
brain with symbols and results that are basically meaningless to me just so I
can relearn it to teach my own children.

I have a friend who majored in math (who
does that? What do you even do with a
math degree?) and had all four of his boys memorize their times tables before
they were six. All smart. All knowledgeable – not just about math but
politics and current events and are basically brilliant people. Surprisingly they’re not boring – often times
their topic of subject doesn’t interest me, but I have enjoyed hanging out with
them on occasion.

Anyway, my own personal philosophy is that
all most real people really need is the basics and the rest is there for those
who truly want to learn it, but no one should be forced just to keep those math
majors in the business of teaching math or whatever detailed jobs may be
offered to the mathematical minded. I
just don’t get it. I certainly don’t thrive
on it. Even the game of Monopoly is not fun. Too much math involved. I’m grateful that Jenna believes it’s
fun. She likes math. She also enjoys going to the dentist. I honestly can’t decide which I think is more
painful.