Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Math Redux

There must be more math people out there than I guessed, or maybe most math people just won’t admit they’re “numbers people” out loud… In either case, I got an email asking for more math entries. How come I don’t get emails asking for more interactive Kindle opportunities? Oh, well.

In any case, here’s another math entry.

When people find out that all four of our children are math-loving, that Ariel has declared math as her major in college, and that both Luke and Ariel work as tutors in the Chatt. State math lab, they come with worship in their eyes and saliva dripping from the corner of their mouths. They say, “How did you make your kids love math and do well in it?” They assume, especially since I homeschooled my children, that I have some special secret. And if I were just kind and generous, I would share it with them. But it’s not true! There is no secret; or if there is, I don’t know it. My idea of teaching math, at least at the higher level, is: “Hmmm, you’re learning trigonometric bearing. Yeah, I’m not very good at that. If you can’t figure it out from the book, ask Luke.” And then I run quickly to the safety of the kitchen.

I try to explain this to the salivating parents. “I didn’t do anything. I gave the kids lots of reading—we did lots of literature. I believe in the primacy of a broad humanities education.” Surely, they will understand that I had nothing to do with my children’s love of math.

“Lots of reading,” they repeat and their eyes sparkle with happy malevolence.

“No,” I protest. “It’s not reverse psychology!”

My daughter interrupts, “Mom, you made us read Aeschylus’ Orestia.”

“Yes,” I say, “but you loved it. You even used to snuggle up in your bed and read it on your own.”

“Okay, yeah, that’s true,” she admits.

Matthew points his finger at me. “But, you made all of us read the Epic of Gilgamesh.”

My children look at me with condemning eyes, and the parents of unsuspecting children begin plotting horrible summer reading lists, consisting of obscure Greek poets and odd epic cycles.

I just hope I don’t start getting anonymous emails, threatening me with death by means of James Joyce’s The Dubliners. Take pity on me—at least I didn’t mention the Venerable Bede or Thomas Hobbes.


  1. What?!!! Let me go puke! I did not *snuggle up* in bed with Orestia !!! And I liked The Epic of Gilgamesh! The downside of convincing you to start a blog is all the misquotations that go on (especially the ones about me. I don't mind when you misquote the boys) But, really, it's appalling!! *Sigh*

    Perhaps the math trick is that you didn't use Saxon Math. If everybody used Singapore Math, their children would love math too. (hint, hint, to all you homeschool moms reading this!)


  2. Wow Ariel snuggled up in bed with Orestia!?! Hmmm... Intersing very Intersing...

  3. You did too snuggle up with the Orestia!! You have a selective memory.

    Love, Mom

  4. Dear Ariel,

    Luke agrees with me--he says you did!

    Love, Mom

  5. Hmm...what was the trade off there? Are you now his slave for life, or are you just doing his chores for the next month :)