Eduardina is a designer.

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Here in my little corner of small town USA, goal setting and hard work are highly regarded.  Right up there with raising littles that use Ma’am and Sir properly, as in all the time.  And for the most part, this is good stuff.

Honestly, when I visit most everywhere in America, we Americans are known to be goal oriented.  Just as my town prides itself on hard work and dirt under the nails, city dwellers pride themselves on efficiency and fast paces.

Yet in a goal oriented society that greatly values “getting it done”, whether it be a small business with a unique quality product or a factory production with international trade capacity, problem solving gets fast tracked.  What is the fastest, easiest, most cost effective solution?  Get that done.  Accomplish a goal.  Now.

While this is all great when I am waiting for an oil change, the process of math education needs a slightly slower, less stressful route.  In other words, give the kids a chance to absorb the universal language.

When it comes to teaching and mastering mathematical skills, the cheesy platitude that vaguely goes, “It is the journey that matters more than the destination; stop to smell the roses; etc” actually has it right.

In math, the process IS the important part.  Rather than solving fifteen problems the same way, taking the time to solve three unique problems each four or five different ways is valuable.  Looking at one problem from new angles helps us learn to think critically.  When we allow children to slow down long enough to find new ways to do the same problem over and over again, we are giving them the confidence to step out of a box.  In other words, it may be really exciting that little Johnny can solve eighty five thousand math facts a minute because he is talented at memorization and highly competitive by nature.  But it doesn’t mean that adorable Eduardina who only finished three math facts in the same minute is less intelligent or isn’t as good as Johnny at math.  My first request to Eduardina would be to explain to me how she solved the ones she did.

And though I tend to be the little Johnny in this situation (I can still claim title to Around the World Champion of my third grade class tied only with Landon Coleman), my youngest son is Eduardina.

Here’s how he sees 9 – 3:

(Stare at the ceiling and spin standing up while computing this train of thought.  Not kidding.)…..9 is really 3 sets of 3 and 6 is two sets of three and 9 is the two sets of three plus one more set of three and then there’s that other set of three you want me to take away which could be 4 sets of 3 but I need to end up with 2 sets of three in the end which is really my 4 sets of 3 minus two sets of 3 and that would leave me 6.  So 9 – 3 = 6.  It is really a version of the doubles game if you think about it.

It’s right about here that my little Johnny brain explodes.  Dear Lord, why does he not just accept the flashcards?

Yet, Eduardinas of the world quite possibly spent their minute noticing that 5 + 3 = 8 is the same as 4 + 4 = 8 and then decided to see if the teacher put any other doubles on the fun sheet because doubles are easy and she did those first and then noticed a pattern and then looked around the room to notice other patterns and was happily observing her surroundings, having accomplished 3 WHOLE MATH PROBLEMS IN A SHORT LITTLE MINUTE.

See the difference? (Hint: Little Johnny is super fast and Eduardina is super deep.)

Who is better at math?

Now.

Who grows up to be told math isn’t a personal strong point?

Little Johnny is a very useful, goal oriented American.  We are all grateful for Johnny.  Seriously.  Again, I am a Little Johnny.

But Eduardina isn’t just spacey, and we need to be grateful for her too.

There is value in the process.  There is value in Eduardina.

One day, Little Johnny will hang some pictures on a wall in his new office.

One day, Eduardina will design that office complex with a fountain in the middle that fit between two historic trees the city voted to save and still came in with specs for measurements giving each office 144 square feet because the occupants asked for these details and in this building with a glass menagerie and a family gym is the wall for Little Johnny…

Knocking MATH off the Pedestal

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Imagine a pedestal.  Alabaster stone with Grecian carvings.  Tall, majestic, solid.   The kind of column found in the center of some fountain in a big city plaza.  Capable of weathering the worst of storms.  The kind of statue where people throw pennies at its feet and make wishes and watch their dreams glimmer in that shallow pool.

Imagine that kind of pedestal.   And top that column of marvel with a math book.  Made of stone as well, in the open position, with symbols carved into its pages for all the world to see.  Such a towering monument, one must look up in order to lay eyes upon such a tribute.

Sit on that image for a minute.  Soak it in.  Absorb it.

For some people, this image could quite likely bring up nostalgia.  Old college days and a freedom to explore, research, delve into the deep academics.  Maybe it is the symbol of achievement and knowledge, a goal yet to be reached.  But no matter – it is, in the end, a positive and awe inspiring image.

And yet – for many, this image could bring up feelings of resentment, insecurity, even a bit of fear.  It is, after all, a giant stone statue honoring the dreaded math book.   A monstrous creation, to be sure.

It is to these people in particular I write.  Those that have uttered the words, “Math is not my subject.”  Or, “I am terrible at math.”  Etc.  

The rest of the world can stop reading right here and go picnic under the Ode to Mathematics.  Enjoy.

But for those “not good at math”, stay with me for a minute.  Let’s get back to that Creation for Torture statue that some crazy folks are picnicking around.  It is time to back up a little bit, take in the surroundings.  Because just a few feet away, parked on the grass, is a giant bulldozer, left running, and waiting for its driver.  This, my friends, is the chance of a lifetime.  Go!  Get in that bulldozer, feel the gearshift against the palm of the hand.  And drive. (Without hitting those picnickers) charge into the fountain.  Feel the spray of water shooting off the treads.  Hear the crunching of metal on stone.  Watch with incredible joy as the brittle concrete topples into a pile of shattered mess, wet gravel left in its place.

Ahhh!  Woot Woot!!!  Did that not feel incredible?!?

Folks, it is time.  It is most definitely time to knock MATH off its pedestal.  Because as long as it is sitting out of reach, it becomes useless.  And math is one of the most useful tools for universal communication we as humans have ever created.  It is meant for every. single. one. of. us.  And, given time, it can even be fun.


I promise.

I AM

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I am His creation.  To God.

I am a surprise.  To my parents.

I am Mom.  To my kids.

I am (still, even now) a little sister.  To my siblings.

I am that hippy chick.  To my friends and community.

I am warrior. To my prayer sisters and faces of Jesus.

I am Patricia Anne Cox Hatch.

 

And in my mind, in the silent places, I hear my Mom call me Patrish.

Someone once told me we don’t truly grow up until our parents are gone.  For those with the luxury of having parents during those crucial raising up years, I do believe this is true.  My mom passed away recently, and I can feel the loss strengthening me.  I would give anything just about to see her again, but still, I am getting stronger in her absence.  I think the reason boils down to the simple act of listening.  I am listening a little harder to my inner soul and quite often it is my mother’s voice guiding me.  Patrish

Back when she was suffering and living in this twilight of an existence, part of me wanted to hold her warm hand forever.  But as long as I held it, I couldn’t talk with her.  Not really.  Not talk with her and have any real idea that she understood.  And so I wished for her to go so that her soul would be released and I could talk with her again.   This time woman to woman.  I felt guilty wishing her to pass, and yet to have a conversation and have her laugh and say Patrish….

See, back during the twilight, I talked to her constantly.  But the conversations never left my head and my mouth rarely uttered the out loud words.  Instantly, I would correct myself, reminded that Mom was stuck in the twilight.  She couldn’t hear me yet.  Now recently, I talk to my mother again, and this time, I know she can hear me.  I feel it.  It is a bit of her in me and she strengthens me.  And she answers….Oh, Patrish!….