Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

No, I am not.

I knew this when the game show by this title first aired. Those 10 year olds are smart kids! Now I have the pleasure of having a 5th grader for a daughter, and I am reminded nightly of my ignorance.

"There is a farm in Alabama that has 475 acres. Another farm 7 miles down the road has 40% more acreage than that farm. Both farms together have 16 acres more than the biggest Alabamian farm. How many farms are in Alabama and what is the average farm size?"    Huh?

I have flashbacks to standardized tests. "Two trains are traveling a total distance of 1022 miles. One train leaves the station at 8 AM and is traveling East at 80 miles an hour. Another train leaves the station at 9 AM and is traveling West at 60 miles an hour. At what mile marker will they pass?"

Yes, the test was multiple-choice, but my answer was not one of the options from which to choose. This led to a long-winded, internal dialogue about why anyone even cares? As long as the trains aren't on the same track, does it really matter? Now that I've actually traveled by train, I can tell you that given the number of stops and delays, it's possible those two trains will NEVER actually pass each other.

My daughter and I decided a week into the school year that if she needed any math homework help, she would need to ask her father. I am not only dumber than a 5th grader, but I also have the lowest frustration tolerance in the history of humankind.

I am cursed with a shockingly low knowledge of what I refer to as "math words" and limited math reading comprehension. I understand addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division (excluding long division), but what kind of sick masochist came up with concepts like tesselation, vector, and cyclic quadrilaterals?

I took one look at her math workbook and realized how miraculous my high school diploma actually is. I should get that sucker framed before someone asks for it back. Amazing what you can learn about yourself while skimming a 5th grade math workbook.

In a vain attempt to increase my ability to serve as a math role model, I bought the book The Usborne Illustrated Dictionary of Math. It's a math picture book for stupid parents. I love that book, but it's a little over my head. She still has to go to her dad with math questions.

I could worry about my own intellectual capacity, but frankly that ship has sailed. I have other more pressing concerns.

One concern is whether or not my daughter is as smart as a 5th grader. I see flashes of brilliance (she can follow complicated instructions, she reads and enjoys Greek mythology, she can pick up an electronic device and master it's operation in mere seconds). Then, in the next moment, she can look at me and ask, "What's our zip code again?"

I would tell her except I'm not good with numbers.

No comments:

Post a Comment