Weird, true math story

Alas, hunky actors did not likewise appear.

As bedtime approached last night, my son casually mentioned a story problem from his algebra homework that had stumped him. He related the problem to me, and it was like a scene from Numb3rs: I could SEE the variables and their relationships, as if they were floating in the air before me. (Note: this has never happened before. Ever.)

My son wandered off to brush his teeth, and I scrambled for paper and pencil and began frantically writing down mathematical equations, afraid I would somehow lose them. (This also has never happened before.) When he came back, I handed the paper to him and went to deal with some laundry. His father took an interest, and I could hear the two of them puzzling over what I had written. I called down the hall words that I swear have never before crossed my mind, let alone my lips: “You need to set up a binomial equation.”

Where the heck did THAT come from? I can’t remember where I put my keys not five minutes before, but stuff I all but flunked over 30 years ago spontaneously pops into my brain? As dementia closes in and other faculties fade, am I becoming some kind of mathematical idiot savant?

Maybe I should sign up for some math courses at the community college…

(By the way, they were able to solve the problem by following my suggestions, though they resorted to using a calculator. Wimps.)


6 responses to “Weird, true math story

  1. I love it. I could never do that stuff either and am duly impressed.

    • Jennifer Barricklow

      Thanks! I’m trying not to get a big head about it; it was probably just a fluke, the result of a stray cosmic ray or something. 🙂

  2. I bow at your feet, in awe.

  3. The engineer resorted to a calculator? Shame on him! Ha! Ha! What I really hate is when the school district Childcare staff incorrectly help my second grader with her math homework and I have to review it with her so that she understands the correct answer. Very sad!

    • Jennifer Barricklow

      Yeah, I was willing to work out the long division by hand — I think there were only three digits involved. (That statement, coming from me, was/is very alarming — I have always *hated* long division!) The weirdness continues…

      I would think someone might want to check the after-school staff’s qualifications to help with homework. Maybe one of the teachers would give them all an overview of the methods being used in the school this year. The underlying concepts are fairly universal, but kids at certain ages really get stuck on the particular way they learned something. I’ve been through this with Paige before; you have my sympathy. :-}

      Thanks for chiming in! 🙂

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