Today, I want to talk about something that all parents are well aware of. If you’re not a parent yet, or you are but your kids are not school-aged yet, I want to share some important information with you.
When you help your kids with their homework, you are going to look and feel like a complete idiot. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth of it. Just accept it now.
Not to sound like a wizened elder, spinning yarns while rocking on the front porch with a pocketful of Werther’s Originals and a sense of nostalgia, but back in my day I remember when math was just math. When my kids went to school, there was a whole “new math” curriculum. Although it really should’ve been called art class, because they were doing more drawing than actual math.
On another note, why do we say the “three R’s” of education when referring to Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic? Only one of these starts with R? Yeah, yeah, they “sound” like R, I get it. Seriously though, it’s no wonder we’re behind other first-world countries when it comes to education. The very foundation of our education system is built on falsehoods. But I digress.
When my kids were in elementary school and learning math, they had to draw ten chocolate chip cookies, plus five blueberry muffins, and then figure out how many pizzas that would get them. If you thought, like I did, the answer was diabetes, you’d be wrong. To make matters worse, halfway through the worksheet, I’d get freakin’ hungry.
When we got to fractions? Oof. I’ve never felt dumber than when I was trying to explain “new math” fractions to my kids. I don’t think I’m a completely inept person, but I didn’t realize just how much I didn’t know until my kids went to school. We learned by rote when I went to school, you see. There was no real problem solving or out-of-the-box thinking. There was no explanation or concern over the relationship of numbers in math. It was “this is how you do it because that’s how it’s done to get the answer you want.” The answer was the point and if you didn’t understand how you actually got the answer, it didn’t matter.
Once my kids got past elementary school, they took it up a notch. They came home with assignments covering anything from calculus to advanced statistics. Did you pay attention in school that day? I didn’t. Meanwhile, throughout their high school years, I was quietly reminiscing about the “good old days” when I had to go to the local community college and learn how to paint, and signed up for an advanced class titled, “Techniques of Professional Clay Work,” just so I could help them with their 3rd grade math homework. At least, I felt like I was contributing. But college prep math? In this day and age? No way.
Science projects aren’t what they used to be, either. In my day, they discouraged nuclear fission and the like, and promoted the good ol’ baking soda volcano. Now kids are coming up with cures for diseases, apps that NASA didn’t even think of, and straws that will detect date rape drugs. I guess the paint-by-numbers they did in elementary school was the right way to go after all.
Some people think that kids these days aren’t all that and a bag of chips just because they’re not learning or behaving the way we did once upon a time. Sure, they may not be able to change a tire or write in cursive, but they’re on a mission to make the world a better place, and that’s a good thing. Evolution at its finest. Besides, to paraphrase the great Dr. Emmett Brown, “Cars? Where we’re going, we don’t need cars!”
Yeah, yeah, there are tide pod kids and mouth breathers in every generation and sadly, those are the ones making the news. But I swear, the next generation is equipped to save the world and I say, more power to them. I mean, us old-timers are about to have another world war, so we’re gonna need the next generation to fix things once we’ve destroyed everything. Maybe we should give them a little bit more respect.