Monday, November 22, 2010

Don't Ask The Grandma

"Grammy, can you help me with this?" Gabby, age nine, asks me.

Math. Oh, how I hate math. I'm a keeper of words. English was always my forte. Social Studies, Biology, History.....band, I did just fine. Journalism was my all time favorite class. Math. It was a dirty word.

I'm not sure how my children ever got through math. If I'm remembering correctly, they liked it as did their daddy. Whew! I made it through the parenting years. Now here I am faced with a child actually doing math a bit differently than did her sister three years before. I shudder before I pick the girls up from school praying that there will be no math homework.

"You do what you can," I reply. "Maybe your sister can help you."

Gabby does all of the work in her head. No scrap paper. No finger counting. She manipulates the numbers in mysterious ways ending up with the correct answer.

I'll say this for my childhood school years at Franklin School. Diagramming sentences, long division, trips to the library were all part of the educational system.

"Do you know how to diagram a sentence?" I ask Sydney, age eleven.

"What?"

"Diagramming. Breaking up a sentence into parts."

"Why do I want to do that?" she asks.

For a moment I am wondering why she would want to do it. Sentences have changed since I was a child. Expressions, creativity seem to have taken a front seat. I do it all the time. Now she has me wondering if it is important? I've never, since adulthood, been asked to point out a participle. No one has asked me to explain my sentence structure. Normal Rhoades, my eighth grade teacher would not be happy with me.

So here we are with math. Instead of two numbers in a subtraction problem, she is writing down three. I look at the page as if it were a foreign language. Obviously, if I were in the third grade right now, I would be failing.

Franklin School teachers gave me a strong educational base. Many of the ways I learned were the ways my parents learned as well. I may not be as fast on my feet figuring out a problem as are my granddaughters, but I understand each step. My granddaughters may have more creative freedom with their writing, but, darn it, I can diagram any sentence should the request come my way.

My granddaughters use computers at school for research. They are in the library, but the lugging of books home from the Greenville Library has changed to the click of a screen. In fact, reports now have downloaded pictures. I know because I helped Sydney do a report on Switzerland teaching her to use the Power Point program on the computer to create the document. It has changed. Hm. Maybe I have, too.

"Grammy, can you help me with this problem?" Sydney asks looking at her Algebra book.

Perhaps this can wait until Mom gets home.

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