Tag Archives: crap at maths

Why I’m not a teacher, part 2*

Me: ‘Right, let’s have a look at this maths homework. Oh, I see – it’s division.’ [Thinks: ‘Shit.’]

Seven-year-old son [grimacing]: ‘Hnnnnuuurrrrrrggghhhh.’

Me [deftly reinforcing the stereotype of maths as ‘boring’ and ‘really hard’]: ‘I know you don’t like maths; neither do I. But you have to do it. Look, if you do it without moaning, I’ll give you some dolly mixtures.’

[Son, perking up a little]: ‘Okay.’

Me [with infinite patience]: ‘Okay, how about this one – something, divided by five, equals 4. What’s the missing number?’

[Son shifts in his chair, jiggles, squirms.]

Me [with slightly less-than-infinite patience]: ‘Can you concentrate please? It’s important.’

Son: ‘I dunno. I dunno what the answer is.’

Me: ‘How do you do division at school?’

Son: ‘I. Don’t. Know.’

Me [trying to imagine what arcane methods teachers are using these days – hundred squares? Splitting numbers? Random hedgetrimming? Dale Winton equations? Spot the ones I made up.]: ‘Do you use counters? Or do you use times tables?’

[Son shrugs and does the sort of vibrating jiggle that he does when he’s stressed.]

Me: ‘Okaaaay, we’ll start with this one over the page instead.’ [Reads]: ‘In a Year 2 classroom, the children sit in groups of four. How many children are there altogether if there are seven groups?’ [Thinks: ‘Shit, words and numbers, this will make his brain bleed.’]

[Son stares at the wall.]

Me: ‘Okay, what do they want you to work out?’

Son [jiggling and vibrating]: ‘Don’t know.’

Me: ‘Read the question to me.’

[Son dutifully reads it out loud.]

Me: ‘So, what are they asking?’

Son [starting to panic slightly]: ‘Don’t know.’

Me [also starting to panic slightly]: ‘The children sit in groups of four. How many children are there altogether if there are seven groups?’ [Grasping desperately for a way to make this ‘fun’. Or at least easier.]: ‘Would it help if you drew it?’

Son: ‘Wha’?’

Me [having a flashback of Mr Portman rapping my knuckles with a ruler, really hard, for not knowing my 12 times table]: ‘Draw some desks. How many desks?’

Son [getting slightly tearful]: ‘Er, two? One?

Me [the last glimmer of hope I had that my child might have escaped the Not Waving family’s legendary pan-generational shitness at maths starting to fade like a sputtering candle:] ‘How many groups?! How many groups?! The answer’s in the question!’

Son [eyes spiralling wildly]: ‘Erm… erm… Seven?’

Me [elated, as if son has just split the atom]: ‘Yes! Yes!! Now, there are seven groups, and how many children in each group?’

Son [proudly, decisively]: ‘Three!’

Me [realising at last that Son won’t be sitting the bloody 11-plus after all, and will be going to the school up the road where 12 per cent of pupils got GCSEs last year, and where he will be beaten up daily for being crap at football, mega-weedy and running like a girl]: ‘Nooooooooooo!!!! Not three!! My God, you’re going to end up at a bad school, do you understand? A bad school!’

Son: ‘Boo-hoo!

Me: ‘There, there, have a dolly mixture.’ [Fast-forward into future to image of morbidly obese 30-year-old son trying to fill in his tax return, consoling himself for every miscalculation with yet another custard doughnut.]

I handled that well, don’t you think? Madame Smoking Gun and other home ed-ers, and teachers everywhere, I salute you.

* Part 1, if you’re interested, is here: https://notwavingbutironing.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/well-that-taught-me-a-lesson/

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