Now, shift gears:
If you are a baby boomer or older or maybe younger and you can think back to grade 4, what were you doing in math? I think I recall sitting in Mrs. Willow’s room with multiplication and division flash cards—through the 9’s. Maybe we did long division but I really don’t think so. For sure we were not doing algebraic equations and logic. As a matter of fact, I don’t remember that until 9th grade with an English teacher temporarily assigned to teach algebra. She was every student’s worse nightmare.. steel grey hair pulled back into a bun, glasses perched on the tip of her nose so that she could peer over them at offending students (usually all of us) and a long chalkboard pointer that seemed more weapon than teaching tool. Add to this that she was totally clueless about algebra and you can begin to understand my then and now grasp of algebra or lack thereof.
Back to the here and now:
We are back in the US of A—our country, so surely we can help Casey with fourth grade math. Right? We speak the same language, the numbers are written the right way—our way and the teacher is available by e-mail. What could go wrong? This is what—Casey’s math is algebra—x’s and y’s and n’s and =’s and all those things--those things Miss Glasses on the End of Her Nose was to teach us so long ago.
Sadly, the only thing I remember of that class is being accused of leading the class in boisterous laughter when Miss Steely Eye’s drawer wouldn’t open because of a stuck ruler. I was justly or unjustly (your guess) sent to stand in the hall, fearing that at any minute Mr. Pinkney, the principal, would stroll by. Later I learned that was an unnecessary fear as he never left the sanctity of his office.
Anyway, Casey needed help last night so he brought his paper to me. And there they were—all my memories, buried with 50 years of living. Somewhere between that time and this, I did master equations and logic and, logic has stuck but equations and x’s and y’s again stump me. Humiliation visited again as Casey reclaimed his paper and went back to the table, saying he would figure it out himself and ask his teacher tomorrow.
Next time I will try harder. What is that TV program? Something about being smarter than a fifth grader? I think I need to find out when it is on and start practicing for next year.