Teens Who Didn't Study Math

Subj: [UnschoolingDiscussion] you never know ...
Date: 5, May Wednesday, 2004 11:56:41 AM
From: pam sorooshian ......
To: UnschoolingDiscussion...

So—I have something interesting to report.

We NEVER did a math curriculum of any kind at all. Have had years and years of not opening any "official" math texts. I can't say we didn't "do" math, because the truth is that it comes up in life all the time and there have been a number of opportunities throughout the years to show one kid or another how to do things like add fractions with unlike denominators, etc., but no math program and the amount of time spent on explaining how to "do" math computations was very minimal.

My oldest daughter started taking the lowest possible level of math in college, because she hadn't had any instruction and figured she probably had big gaps—so she didn't even bother with the placement test and just started right out with the most remedial level. She whizzed through the remedial levels and got up into more advanced algebra courses and, lo and behold, she LOVES it. She is ready to transfer to a 4-year university in the next year or so (she's been at a community college) and I got out of the bed this morning to discover her on the computer DROOLING over all the math courses offered at UC Santa Cruz, where she's planning to go.

She may change her mind, still, and that's okay, but she and I are both kind of in shock that she'd even consider being a math major - this is my poetry writing, pottery throwing, seriously artsy-fartsy kid.


JJ Ross

Okay, Pam will appreciate how shocking this is, from my math-phobic daughter, who wants a Broadway musical career combined with being a literature professor in some exotic locale.

As she walked into the kitchen to put on her hightops and ride off for her private workout session, she asks me what kind of statistical analysis might prove something she and a friend have been discussing. I stopped making tea and turned, expecting a good joke a la Jon Stewart (we watch the Daily Show together most nights 🙂.) But no, it's not a joke at all, she wants the statistics as a problem-solving tool and as argument to change a real-life policy that is affecting her art!

I want to show, she says, by what percentage these mandated costume checks before a dance trip are actually increasing the loss of our accessories. It's got to be at least 20 per cent or maybe it's doubling it or more!

This just blows me away. I, the great ponderer, have never once considered that these anal-retentive cattle calls the director announces several times a year, where every hair different color pair of tights, flower-trimmed hair barrette and earring of every costume for every number is hauled back and forth from home to the studio, packed and unpacked, and put on and taken off in big crowd scenes, all in the name of assuring that documenting that everyone has everything before each competition.

Hmmm, I say. Nothing more.

She goes on. It's just that Ansley and I have been thinking and talking about how this doesn't make sense, she says, and we are so frustrated that we actually lose things we had all in order and ready to go, until she asks us to prove it.. So if we are right, we could maybe convince her to change this it is doing the opposite of what she thinks it's doing, so we need to figure out how much more likely this strategy is to cause us to lose more than it helps us keep—there has to be a way to do that with statistics, right?

What a great thing to think of, I say. I will write my favorite math professor this instant (that's you, Pam 🙂) and see what she says.

And after she left, I did a Snoopy-style happy dance around the kitchen and came straight to the computer. 🙂


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