Aug 30, 2012


8/30/2012 — cori

It is no secret that I am not a fan of math.  Not the basics of course, that I get.  And I honestly enjoyed Algebra 1 when I took it in 8th grade.  But I've just not found a use for it since then.  Thus, logic would lead one to believe that since I haven't practiced that particular math muscle in, oh...26 years, I might be a bit rusty in this field of thinking and processing information.

It would also make sense that since I (for lack of a better term) hate math, Gavin would absolutely love it.  In order to keep that math muscle strong, I had all the kids continue doing math all summer long.  This goes back to my utter and complete failure as a math student in 3rd grade.  I forgot how to subtract between 2nd and 3rd grade!  Seriously.  I had no clue which side you started on if you were subtracting two digit numbers. Right side or the left?  Apparently, the creative side of my brain was pushing for more space and my short term memory loss was beginning even then.  So it would make sense that I would want to spare my own children the humiliation of having to ask their teacher how to do subtraction again at the start of each new school year.

Since Gavin is years beyond me in his math reasoning and comprehension level, I found someone who could teach him for me.  It is called Khan Academy and it is golden!  You can learn so much through this awesome website, not just math.  The instructor talks you through the lesson as you watch him work through problems on screen.  Genius!  Gavin happens to love this.  Each video can range from 5 minutes to 20 minutes.  He couldn't wait to do them each day.  Even on days I told him he didn't have to do it he begged to because he said he was really looking forward to learning the 'next thing'.  Whatever.

And being that he is Gavin, he can't wait to share what he's learning with me.  I love that about him.  He gets so excited about learning that he just has to talk about it and I usually get to be the lucky recipient.  That's all fine and good when it comes to history or literature and even science.  But when he starts throwing math words at me, I seem to shut down.  Just the other day he learned how to Invert a Matrix and promptly sat me down at the island to have me watch him work through his problem.

This was wrong on so many levels.  First, I don't even know what a matrix is besides a movie.  I think matrix and a picture of graph paper pops in my head.  I have no idea why.  Secondly, I know invert means to turn something inside out or upside down but how in the world would one do this with math?  More importantly, why would anyone want to do this with math?  I know my incompetence and ignorance is shining brightly even by admitting such questions.

So I do the motherly thing and watch Gavin as he multiplies lots of numbers and puts them in weird places.  Every once in a while I throw him a bone like, "oh ya, when you're multiplying negatives and positives the product is usually negative" just so it looks like I'm paying attention and that my brain really does work (even if not at the same level).

We got interrupted at least 3 times while he was working through this problem that was way too long in my opinion.  I asked him what real world application inverting a matrix has and he told me, "I don't know, but they're fun to do."  Spoken like a true lover of math.  He then advised that if I really wanted to understand, it would be best if I watched the videos.  I tried.  I got a whole 1:09 into the first video titled, "Introductions to Matrices" and then my brain just shut down.

Gavin, I wish you all the happiness in your future math endeavors.  I will be more than happy to listen to, watch, and smile at your presentations and explanations but I can't promise any comprehension or intelligent conversation at the end.  But I can write a good story about it.

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