Math. Yes, Math.

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I’ve been saying I’m not a math person. I’m a words person, man. I can’t get bogged down in all that boring math! Let those nerds figure it out…

When I came face-to-face with math in everyday life, I backed down. I stayed away from car dealerships where the sales force spoke in monthly payments. When the check came at a restaurant, my friends and I would look shyly around the table and muse, “I’m so bad at math… let’s see… what did I have?”

But it’s not cool or sexy anymore. Grown-ups use math.

Even scarier, grown-ups’ KIDS use math – and they’re going to need to know it and use it even more than we did. It might surprise some of you to know, colleges no longer offer majors in comparative ballroom dance, theory of spelunking, or basket craft. Today’s students need to knuckle down!

When I was a kid, my parents helped me with math. I would say, “Mom, what’s three-fifths plus two-eighths?”

“Go ask your dad.”

“Dad, can you help me with my math homework?”

“No.”

See? That’s how parents of yesteryear fostered independent thinking, and students of yesteryear learned the answers were all in the back of the book.

Today, I wake up in a cold sweat knowing those math problems are just around the corner. They’re teaching everything earlier nowadays. My first-grader is covering “missing numbers,” a kid-friendly term for algebra. We have math apps that expect me to know exponents. Exponents! (Hint: They’re not Americans living in other countries!!)

That’s why I was so relieved to hear this very important story on NPR’s  Kathleen Dunn Show.  She interviewed Shubhangi Stadler and Paul Martin, UW Professors of Mathematics and creators of this free downloadable workbook.

You know me, I have to do everything my kids do. I learned to swim as an adult when my daughter was about to take swimming lessons. This year, I put on ice skates and faked it to the detriment of my poor ankles, but now we’re all proficient!

How can my children be proficient in math if I’m afraid of it?

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