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## Dawn Damalas Meehan

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Dawn Damalas Meehan is a single mom living in Orlando with her six children, ages 17 to 6. She's the author of Because I Said So and You'll Lose the Baby Weight (and Other Lies About Pregnancy and Childbirth). When she's not blogging, she can be found playing chauffeur, getting buried under a mountain of laundry, or explaining to her kids why they can't have an indoor Slip 'N Slide or a pet squirrel.

# Math Sucks

By Dawn Damalas Meehan |

For those who have read my blog for any amount of time, you know that I’m not mathy. In fact, I think I may make Jimmy Buffett’s Math Sucks my theme song. And this is my favorite cartoon ever.

I barely passed math in high school and now I have to help my students with math more than any other subject. Some days, I can understand why we teach it. Some days, I can tell my students, “Yes, you really will use this in your adult life.” I was helping my sixth graders learn how to set up proportions and figure out tax and tips and discounts. It was stuff we use all the time. I could honestly say with certainty that they will need this knowledge later in life. I mean, you don’t want to waste money on the buy-one, get-one deal for generic canned tomatoes when the coupon for the name brand tomatoes is the better deal. You need math to figure out this stuff. Unless, of course, you marry a rich person who takes you out to dinner so you don’t have to buy tomatoes at all, which is clearly the best solution.

And then there are times, like today, when I was helping my eighth graders solve two-step inequalities and graph them. When was the last time, you thought to youself, “Hmmmm, I must graph the solution to -6x – 18 > -12. I simply need to know the answer immediately!”? Have you ever, in your adult life, needed to graph an inequality onto a number line? Ever? Of course not!

I’ve gotten pretty good at faking it though. Today, a student asked me, “when you multiply or divide by a negative, aren’t you supposed to flip the sign?” At the beginning of the year, I would’ve looked at them, completely dumbfounded, and said something like, “How the crap am I supposed to know?!” Today, however, I looked at him and said, “Is this what your math teacher told you?” When he nodded in the affirmative, I concurred, “Why yes, yes, you do.” Then I frantically searched through the book to double-check. My students are none-the-wiser these days. They think I’m brilliant. (Yes, it does make me feel good to know I can hold my own with twelve-year-olds, thankyouverymuch.)

So today, while I was helping my students study for their test on solving and graphing two-step inequalities, they asked me, “Why do we have to know this stuff?”

I answered, “You don’t. But I had to learn this garbage in junior high, so now I’m making you learn it too just so I can experience a little vindication.” They merely stared at me blankly until I had them look up the word “vindicate” in the dictionary, thus effectively moving us on to Language Arts. Voila!

Buy your very own copy of Because I Said So. It contains no math problems! Pinky swear!

Connect with Dawn on Facebook because she’s far too lazy busy to update her blog every day!

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Dawn Damalas Meehan

Dawn Damalas Meehan is a single mom living in Orlando with her six children, ages 17 to 6. She's the author of Because I Said So and You'll Lose the Baby Weight (and Other Lies About Pregnancy and Childbirth).

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## 28 thoughts on “Math Sucks”

1. Pam says:

My 12 yr old who is in Algebra 1 just asked me to help him with his homework. I asked him if he was sure that he wanted me to help, since he was better at math than I was. After one problem, he actually said.. “you are right, this isnt a good idea”. I might not understand Algebra, but I am excellent at shopping math.

2. brent Backhus says:

answer is 5. I love simple math.

3. Kris Roach says:

My 12 yr old 7th grader is taking high school Math and I am not much help at all…too many years since I learned that stuff. He took the SAT a couple weeks ago and I was just very thankful that it was him and not me!!!

4. Amy says:

The last time I needed to graph an inequality? Last week, when I helped my son learn how for Algebra. And yes, I too just learned that when you multiply or divide by a negative number, you always flip the sign.

5. Wendy says:

For all you parents out there needing help with your kids’ math, this is a great site. Just go to http://www.khanacademy.org/ and you can search the math you are trying to do (i.e. adding and subtracting positive and negative integers) and he has videos that talk you through it step by step. It’s been a life saver for me!

6. Dayna Jones says:

The only reason we need to learn math like that…is to help our kids with it. There is no other purpose for it.

7. LuAnn says:

Thank you Thank you Thank you!!! If angels like you were not helping my student with her algebra homework, she would be bringing it home and there would be much moaning and hair pulling.

8. Sandi says:

“I mean, you don’t want to waste money on the buy-one, get-one deal for generic canned tomatoes when the coupon for the name brand tomatoes is the better deal. You need math to figure out this stuff. Unless, of course, you marry a rich person who takes you out to dinner so you don’t have to buy tomatoes at all, which is clearly the best solution.”
omg, just spit out my coffee laughing. either it’s a severe lack of sleep or you are the funniest lady ever, Dawn ♥

9. Bonnie says:

My 8th grader came home from school one day dragging her backpack behind her and said, “I have homework but since I know math makes you cry, I’ll just wait and ask Dad for help.” And that is why I married the man!

10. Pam D. says:

How does turning a sign upside-down give you an answer? Or are they actually “flipping the sign”? Which isn’t very nice and can get you in trouble at school. Just my thoughts. LOL not very mathy either….obviously.

11. Dawn Damalas Meehan says:

I knew there’d be some weirdo, er, um person who would do the math problem, however, I hate to break it to you, but the answer is most definitely not 5.

12. Laura G says:

So funny, once again, Dawn! And a big thank you to your fan, Wendy, for sharing the website for math help. Awesome! I can’t tell you how many times the kids and I get stumped by their homework and of course, did they bring home that heavy textbook? This site is the answer! Keep taking care of those kiddos, at school and at home!

13. Cynedra says:

I am going to have to agree with Brent on this one. The answer is 5. In a right triangle, a squared plus b squared equals c squared. a = 4, b = 3 so 16 + 9 = 25. The square root of 25 = 5. Or maybe you thought he was solving the inequality equation. No one, of course, cares about that one. The triangle one has lots of practical purposes though. Also, because I say this somewhere else and it fits into this whole conversation. There are only 10 types of people: those who understand binary and those who don’t.

Have a good day.

14. Jen says:

Too funny. My son actually had homework last night asking him to find X. I did exactly what your cartoon shows. He gave me ‘the look’, rolled his eyes and erased my answer. I am a bit of a math geek – and yes, I did solve the math problem – but I have to agree with Amy and Dayna. In the 20 years since I graduated high school the only time I’ve had to graph an inequality was last month helping my son with his homework. I guess that’s what my teacher meant when she said it will come in handy later in life…

15. Elizabeth says:

Math does suck indeed!! I struggled with it, and I had hoped that my daughters would not, but they did. Right now my oldest is trying to finish her GE to transfer from her community college to a four year. She is struggling in the worst way The irony is that her boyfriend of 3 years is a graduate of UC Berkeley with a degree in pure math!!!! It comes to him like breathing. My daughter is an art major, and will never use what she is struggling with, so why does this system of ours insist on redoing math yet again for general education, when you won’t need it in your degree!! When I graduated from college, you didn’t have to complete math at all, and instead you would take an science path instead. I feel so sorry for her, because if she doesn’t pass these next two classes, this will seal her fate!! I hate math!!!!!

16. Brian B says:

Yes, let’s stop teaching math and science in Jr high. These kids don’t need to know this stuff. None of them need to become scientists or engineers or architects or astronauts or economists or meteorologists or any other vocation that has to do with advanced topics in math. Jr high is a little early to say if a person is going to need this skill or that skill. Kids at that age don’t know what they will be when they grow up. I was, at best, average at math in Jr High. I bloomed in HS & College to become a Computer Engineer. One last thing: The triangle x=5, the inequality x<-1 (This is graphed by running a vertical dashed line through (-1,0) and shading everything on the graph left of said dashed line).

17. Megan H says:

Haha! This sounds like my Ma! I’m a juinor in high school, and I’m severely dyslexic. I just got moved from Speical Needs classes to some regular but simpler classes to give me a chance of getting into a normal college. I don’t have anyone ot help me after scool anyore so my mom has to help me. She’s good with english and science but with geometry she’s always like, “I’m worse off than you!” The Rose Hulman hotline’s really helpful thoh.

18. Patty Merry says:

We all need a copy of The Math Dictionary for Kids.
I don’t know if this link is going to work or not but I found it on Amazon.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/159363644X/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER

19. Keisha says:

My grandpa taught jr high math for a lot of years and he absolutely loved math. My mom said it was a game for them growing up to be given math problems at the dinner table that she and my aunt had to do in their heads. Grandpa used to always tell us that the purpose of higher level math is to teach you how to think and reason. You may never use geometry or algebra again in your life, but the skills you learn by solving math problems will most definitely be used again.

20. Missi says:

My daughter hated having math homework in Jr. High. Only because her little brother would take her math book & flip through the pages like a new Highlights that just arrived in the mail. He loves math, & thank goodness his dad is good at it because he is the one that helps him with his homework now when he needs it.

21. Dorothy says:

Math, I do not understand or remember much algebra. Thank heavens my little sister is a college math teacher. I can just post the problems to her face book and she will sent back the steps, but not the answers, needed to solve them.

22. Lia says:

This is a really sad article to read. Women are no worse at math than men, but tend to be a lot harder on themselves about it.

To be perfectly honest, would you have written a blog post that said “reading is stupid, and why should we encourage it? It’s hard to learn what all those words mean, and what’s up with spelling, anyway?”

No, you wouldn’t — or I HOPE you wouldn’t. Thing is, math skills are important, and denigrating yourself and downplaying the importance of math is just as bad as dissing reading.

23. Susanne in Georgia says:

Wow, Lia. Have you ever noticed that Dawn writes a humor blog? Lighten up, girlfriend.

24. Heather McConley says:

I hope the non-math folks out there are OK. and I have lots (LOTS!!) of stuff to help you.
Here’s a link to a set of three books for K-12 math:
http://www.myubam.com/ecommerce/details.asp?sid=F2599&gid=131740238&emkt=105&title=Complete+Math+Collection+(3)
Or you could always go to http://www.WonderFunBooks.com and type “math” into the search engine. There are so many great helps — including toys! Hope this helps someone out there. I love math.

25. Teresa says:

I was ( ahem…. still am) horrible in math. I wanted to die of embarrassment every time I had to go to the board and do a math problem. I was, however, the best singer, and I always wished that those kids (who were so awesome at doing math problems on the board) would be forced to sing a solo in front of the whole class. They probably would have shit their pants.

26. Alag says:

I agree with Lia. I don’t understand why society tolerates people declaring “I’m bad at math.” Numeracy is just as valuable a skill as literacy. Math is about discipline and logic. It’s about training your brain to conceptualize the world in factual terms. It’s not cute to justify or endorse your ignorance or role model laziness to your children. That this attitude comes from a teacher makes me all the more glad I homeschool my children.

27. Kate says:

I’d also have to agree this post is a little sad as well.
Frankly I’m glad you don’t teach my kids.

Whether one likes math or not, the fact is the more proficient you are, the more options you have if you are going to college.

A teacher writing this sort of piece really is not humorous.

28. Dawn Damalas Meehan says:

First off, I’m not a teacher, not have I ever said that I am.

Secondly, I only work with the lowest performing kids in school who have no support at home. Clearly, with mothers like you, your kids are far too perfect to ever be in one of my classes, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

And yes, actually, I DO write humor. Some people are simply too serious and uptight to appreciate it. My suggestion to those is – don’t read my stuff. I’m pretty sure no one is forcing you to do so. How sad that you have nothing better to do with your time than to leave negative comments on random blog posts you don’t like. Just click the little red X in the right hand corner. Voila!