Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Math V. Zombies

I recently attended an outstanding conference sponsored by the Society of Women Engineers.  I left with many, many ideas about how to encourage my daughters to embrace math and science without fear.  The most important message came from Camsie McAdams of the US Department of Education.  She said we, as parents, have to stop telling our kids math is hard.  That statement was backed up by an article my husband shared with me yesterday addressing the differences between kids who excel at math and kids who don't.

When I started getting semi-frantic and very frustrated texts from my 16 year old today as she dealt with a difficult C++ class, I took Camsie's advice to heart and tried to be a math cheerleader.  Only, I don't think Ms. McAdams had zombies or bloody corpses in mind when she was giving her very inspirational talk. (And please note, this kid is in honors math and honors chem.  She rocks.  She's just temporarily stuck and that tells me she's tough enough to know when she has to work smarter.)

 jillian: Major headache because of C++ and I haven't been in here for 15 minutes. 

Me:  Noise?  Glare?  Sick?

jillian:  I don't understand the math and I've asked for help but it just makes everything worse.

Me:  Okay.  Take a deep breath.

You are absolutely capable of figuring out the math. It just takes a little time.  Can you send me a picture of the problem?  Scott, my cousin, majored in math in college.  He can probably give it a try.  And Dad can help, too.  And if they're not good enough, we'll find someone else who can make it make sense.  

You could ask your teacher if there are websites or other resources that might help you with this math... let him know you aren't giving up because "math is hard" (said in my best Barfie voice).

jillian:  I don't think he's aware that I'm not working...

Me:  Okay.  It's always good to check in when you have a problem though.  Be the kid who cares enough about his class to want to do well.  I'm sure he has his hands full.

jillian:  I tried. For the past three days I tried.

Me:  To talk to him or figure out the math?

jillian:  Yes

Me:  Okay.  We will work on it tonight.  This is kind of like... um... your brother is eating his socks.  Hang on.

Okay.  Sorry.  This is kind of like a test of fortitude.  Stare the stupid math in the eye, tell it you're going to smash it's brains in, and keep wailing on it until it's a bloody corpse on the ground.
Zombie ponies, Jill!  Zombie. Ponies!

Wow.  That was violent.

jillian:  *its a bloody corpse
.....Put away the Walking Dead, slowly. Just turn it off and walk away....

Me:  But Jiiiiillllllll.  There are new zombies now!  COOTIE ZOMBIES!  And they Bleed. Out. The. EYES!  

jillian:  Mom. Just put it away. Watch pretty ponies instead.


She and David figured it out.  Because math is only as hard as you make it and having an engineer for a father is pretty darn handy!  Sadly, there were no zombies present during the solving of these equations.  Sigh.

1 comment:

  1. Gotta love and cherish these moments if when you want to run away and hide - good luck!