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21st Century Math = Help!

math problems, math problem, math word problem word math problem, homework help

Was this your middle school math?

Yesterday I spent most of the afternoon attempting to help my daughter with Math questions. They went something like this:

If Laura has 52 apples and Michael has 87 oranges, assuming they are shopping in the same store at 2pm on a Saturday the day before Daylight Savings Time, how many cans of soup are on the third shelf in aisle 2?

My brain is still recovering……

8th grade Math has nearly moved way ahead of my understanding, and certainly above and beyond anything I have ever learned in 8th grade. When did it get this difficult? And is it all necessary?

I must confess that I am your typical English major which I know for me equals, mathematically dysfunctional. In high school, I once wrote an essay entitle “X+Y= Who Cares?” to which my assumable equally mathematically obsolete English teacher gave me an A. I was an honor student throughout high school and college but just “got through” Math, so I am certainly no expert. Basic Math is not a problem and I can quickly sum up a store sale and do all the everyday mathematical functions, but no where will you catch me calculating  x2 +82y-7b/ x5-64a+2.

It just will not happen.

Furthermore, outside of the classroom, I have never really needed to do so. I do understand that there are kids who will excel at this and in fact, will go on to major in Math. For these brilliant tykes, I do realize the benefit of Pre-cal, but does every 13-year-old need to wrap her mind around these mind-boggling questions as a lesson in daily torment?

What many parents do not fully realize is how much the school curriculum has changed. It is nowhere on the level of what we learned just a few years ago. I’m all for progress, trust me, but I think we need to understand the stresses that our kids go through. Things are vastly different for our kids, from Facebook bullying and the steroid infused, beefed-up curriculum to the competition to get into good schools and the worry of terrorism. Our kids go through a lot.

I have been guilty of telling my daughter that we’ve all done it, hated a certain subject but muddled through it, went to school, and experienced just what she does. But the truth is we didn’t. When I was young, we had to call someone’s home and speak to a friend’s parents to talk to them. If you had a problem with someone, you told them in person, not in a cowardly online or texting exchange. When we wanted to go to a certain school, if we did well and got good grades, there was a good chance we’d get in. Of course, we also didn’t ride the subways worrying about undetected bombs and chemical attacks. And girls weren’t bombarded 24/7 with constant unrealistic body images and TV shows that only reinforced societal pressures to be sexually active. I can’t even recall anything but PG sitcoms in the 70′s.

It just makes me wonder when did we stop being kids and go straight from being pre-schoolers to mini-adults? It seems there is no in between anymore. Pressure from all forms weighs heavily on our kids- it’s no longer reserved for adults only. So I just try my best to discuss these issues with my children and help them discern a real worry from a peer pressure. But Math is something my daughter will have to conquer regardless, and luckily she is way better at it than I ever was.

Let me put it this way:

If one smart child + one good school – a mathematically dysfunctional mother = a better understanding of math and good grades, I think we’ll both end up just fine.

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