Last night, my daughter came home with math homework. It was a word problem and the instructions said to work with an adult.
I grinned and mentally spat on my hands.
I’ve looked forward to this day for years. After all, I have a degree in Mathematics.
Of course she’s going to come to me.
Here’s what her homework said:
Mark sees some frogs and some turtles. He sees 18 animals in all. There are 2 more frogs than there are turtles. How many of each kind of animal does Mark see?
Chortling, I grabbed a pen and a piece of paper.
I swear, I tried explaining what I was doing. Have you ever tried teaching algebra to a seven year old?
Twenty minutes later, after inadequately covering the concepts of division and balancing an equation, my daughter frowned at my scribbles and asked, “Are you sure you know how to do this?”
“Yes!” I said. “I just… don’t know how to explain it to you.”
Finally I gave up and told her draw a picture of frogs and turtles just to show she’d ‘worked with an adult’.
I sent the work I did on the problem to her teacher.
Then I showed the problem to my husband.
“How do they expect a second grader to do this?!”
He read the problem, looked at my work.
“Well,” he said, very slowly. “If you know there are eighteen animals, then you could split the number in half. That comes to nine each. But there are two more frogs. So there are ten frogs and eight turtles.”
Carefully not looking at me, he added, “You have to think like a second grader, my love.”
After a moment, I said, “Damn it. I did it again, didn’t I?”
“Yeah. Yeah you did.”