Jennifer Flaten

Hunched over the table, surrounded by a pile of papers containing scribbled calculations and many erasures I am rechecking my formula, I can’t figure out where I went wrong.

I’ve worn my pink pearl erase down to a nub and I am still no closer to finishing.

I wish I could say all this effort was because I was plotting to take over the world, steal a fabulous jewel or even *shudder* doing this year‘s taxes, instead I am doing homework.

It’s not even my homework! It is my kid’s homework. Seriously, if I am going to work this hard I should get something out of it, but I’m not even getting a cookie.

To be precise, it’s math homework, fourth grade math homework. I never thought I would say this, but how I miss third grade homework.

Gone are the days of adding and subtracting. We have ventured into the land of multiplication and division. I have no idea how I am going to survive this, let alone the algebra I know is coming.

Thank goodness, the homework comes with an answer key.

As you know, I wasn’t a huge fan of homework when I had to do it; I am even less of fan of it now that I am an adult. I would much rather be reading a book, instead of slaving over a hot column of numbers.

Now you would think math is math is math, but it’s not. That’s because it is new math; at this point trumpets should blare.

Meet the new math, not the same as the old math.

Although for the life of me, I can’t figure out why we would need “new” math. If I am not mistaken, generations of children learned how to do math the “old” way and they turned out fine.

Sure, some scarred for life. Some can do simple addition, subtraction and division, but, invariably, run, screaming, from the room, if required to do division with a remainder. That is, just a small percentage.

Why I’ve even heard of people who actually like math, unbelievable right, to the point they chose a profession that requires they engage in math related activities every single day.

Even me, a person who has what at best could be described a complex relationship with math, did manage to learn under the old method.

Although, I do panic if I have to do math in front of people, which is why I chose a career that involves words, not numbers. I can’t imagine ever having to solve for X as a writer.

The old way can’t be that bad can it. I feel sorry for “old” math. After a long relationship with educators, poor old math, kicked to the curb, for the new, sexy way of doing the math.

After listening to my child explain how to do the new method of division, and having to pinch myself to stay awake, I looked up expecting to see Ashton Kutcher, from “Punk’d,” standing there ready to capture my reaction.

Alas, this is really how they want the kids to do the math. I will have to stock up on erasers and cookies. I had also better make sure I keep the answer key handy.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

More by Jennifer Flaten:

- Moving
- X + Y = Math Aversion
- Dog versus Door
- Gilbert Got Fried
- Canned Air Junkie
- Ants
- Bumps in the Night

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