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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Word Problems

That's what we used to call them in math. Those problems that weren't as straight forward as a simple equation. Now they're called "Open ended questions." And they always end with "show your work and explain your answer."

I've got two kids. Both have very different approaches to math.

With Pippi (when she was Harry's age) she'd look at the word problem and pretty much give up immediately. "How can I be expected to know that?" Or come up with some solution that doesn't really involve math (not a real example, because I promised her I wouldn't share the most notorious of her solutions - but think along the lines of: if you have 25 apples and 5 people how much would each person get? and she'd come up with an answer like 'it would just be easier to make applesauce'.) I kept having to tell her that if the problem came from math class they probably expected numbers to be used in the answer.

Now for Harry - he sees the solutions to problems in his head. You give him a problem and he thinks about it for half a second and tells you the answer. Then you get to the point where it says "show your work and explain your answer." He says: It just is. How can you explain that? I can't do that. It's impossible.

That banging sound you hear is my head hitting the wall.

4 comments:

PJ Hoover said...

Everyone learns differently, right?

beth said...

I'm like Pippi. And applesauce WOULD be easier!

Jim D said...

Bet you can't wait for trig proofs.

Jim D

Bill said...

Harry should team up with Alex who apparently can instantly tell a person the year they were born if he is told their age. I know neither one of them got any math skills from me. I think that side of my brain is underdeveloped.