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Things I Never Learned In School

School was never one of the easiest places to be, for me.  And not just because I was a shy, bookish nerd that was horrible at sports.

Even though I almost always had decent, if not really good grades, there were a few things that went in one ear and out the other.  And I’m finding, that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

I was good at English, it was in fact, probably one of my best subjects.  The teacher was one of the scariest dudes on the planet, though.  Mr. R didn’t take any crap from anyone, most especially students.

(think Snape from Harry Potter, he’s who he reminds me of, although I guess he kind of liked me, cause I kept my head down, and knew what I was doing)

I was pretty ok with History, I liked learning about the past, especially from Mr. H, who taught us that school didn’t have to be dry facts and boring worksheets.  We could learn while we did things. 

And Science was ok – our teacher Mr. W blew stuff up the very first day of chemistry, so he was off to a good start. 

But Math.  Math.  Math was awful.  Like needles to my eyeballs, it made me squirm and cringe, wanting to cry in pain and crawl from the room on my hands and knees over broken glass, because that would have felt better than doing math. 

I know lots of people that like math.  I am not one of those people.  YoungerDaughter is pretty good with math, and I’m glad, as it is an important skill to have – being able to figure out problems using logic and numbers.  There are lots of things that can be done with a firm grasp of math under your belt.  Many options are open to her that would pass me by with a loud whooooshing noise, simply because I can barely add, subtract, multiply and divide without a calculator. 

And OnlySon has followed in my footprints.

He is the one child I have that actually really struggles with his schooling, due to a slight learning disability, and a one-track focus on the things that he enjoys, to the exclusion of those that he doesn’t.  OnlySon loves English, and his teachers tell me he is a delight to listen to when he reads aloud.  He gets great grades in Spelling and Reading.  And I’m glad.  Being literate is as important to me as breathing.

But he hates math.  And as much as I agree with him, and tell people that “math gives me hives”, I hope that some way, some how, he’ll find a way to at least – muddle through.

Because math is important, too.  It helps you know how many cookies you get after dinner; how big a piece of cake you are allowed to have, versus the size your sister’s cutting for herself; how much money it takes to not only get into the dance, but to be able to get snacks once you’re there; how much that new Pokemon game costs, and do you have enough in your piggy bank to get it; and whether or not you’re getting cheated out of your fair share of loot at holiday time. 

There are practical reasons to advocate for math.

I just don’t like them.  And there are things that I was supposed to learn in school, that completely slid out the other side of my head, only to land on the floor with a distinct splat noise, as I left the room.

Algebra.  *shudder* Graphing and Pie charts. Percentages.  Decimals and fractional multiplication and division.

 If you keep it simple, I can eventually figure out some of this stuff.  But when you get into more complex equations, like the square root of fricking anything, you lost me, and I’m off to the book store.

I’m actually having trouble coming up with good reasons for these things, outside of those few special people that are actually built to handle these twisted critters, and should be licensed as Genius Number Putting-Together Guys and Gals.

Sudoku is from the bowels of Hades. Logic and numbers????? Frickin’ A!

But give me a Sunday newspaper crossword, and I’m happy, digging through the vocab files in my brain, searching for obscure terminology for “talkative”.

Loquacious.  Yes, Shawna, I remembered it!

There were things I learned in school that I’ve carried my whole life long, and have served me well.  I tell people all the time that while I may not be a “numbers gal”, I am definitely a “word gal”. 

And I’ve learned that there were many people that were not good at math, and have done ok.

Winston Churchill:  One of the greatest political leaders of all time – hated school and math, and stuttered.  But his speeches are remembered as powerful and inspiring.

Thomas Edison:  Patented over 1,000 inventions, including the light bulb, but had dyslexia, and hated mathematics – being told he was too dumb for school.

Walt Disney:  Was fired from a job at a Kansas newspaper job, after being told he wasn’t “creative enough”.  He was also considered “slow” as a child.

OnlySon is in good company.  He’s smart, funny, creative, and focused when engaged in something he enjoys.  I’m not too worried about what he’s not learning in school.


16 thoughts on “Things I Never Learned In School

  1. LMAO! “Sodoku is from the bowels of Hades”!! Amen! I am HORRIBLE in Math….Hate it!!! HATE IT!!!!…..passed bonehead math in HS, failed Algebra. The wife hates me because I can still add, multiply, and subtract numbers in my head quicker than she can do it on the calculator. Honestly, the only time in my life that my lack of Algebra knowledge has even come up, is when I have tried to help my children with their Algebra homework. Other than that, I have not found any practical use for the stuff in any of my idiot careers, including Nursing. Even nursing did not require Algebra knowledge.

    • I DON’T GET THAT! See!??! Why do they want you to learn all these complicated formulas – in JUNIOR HIGH- no less, and then you never look at them again, unless you become an engineer, architect, theoretical mathematician, blah, blah, blah (sorry, I am hosting the snot monster this week – I cannot brain today, I have the dumb)

  2. Just to add to the Churchill thing; he was known to have a vocabulary of 60,000 words. This is based on his writings and his speeches. And politicians today dumb down….???
    Everyone has a special talent somewhere; the problem with standard schools is that they don’t actively seek what someone is good at. They seek to homogenise the children, turn out intellectual clones who can all answer the questions they have been taught to answer.
    Have you ever read a book called Mister God, this is Anna? She was a kid who asked questions beyond the usual….

    • I have that book in my library – and I BAWL every time I get to the end. LOVE that book!

      I agree that schools these days seem to want kids to be like punch-out paper dollies. All the same size, and can interchange parts with any other dolly.

      Sorry- not this dolly, nor her dollyettes. 😀

      • Quite right too!
        As a matter of interest, I read Anna and the Black Knight while I was on retreat. It also turns out that the wife of Fynn had stayed at the same retreat house some years ago; I asked if Sister Pamela thought it was a true story, and her verdict was yes, mostly, and that based also on having met Fynn’s wife.
        I guess my disgust with the education system contributed to taking my only child out and letting her learn at home. She now says if she has kids, she will do the same. I suspect Granny might well get roped in…..
        keep up the good work, Brea!!

      • You know, I’d never heard of the Book “Anna and the Black Knight”, but I do have “Anna’s Book”, which is a collection of her logic and sayings.

        As far as her being real, well… http://www.finchden.com/fynn/
        and Wikpedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mister_God,_This_Is_Anna

        There are no pictures of her, but Sydney Hopkins was “Fynn”. And one of the gentlemen that worked with “Fynn” at the therapuetic hospital that he worked at, said he’d seen some of Anna’s drawings, so…. 🙂

  3. So very inspiring!! Especially since I’m struggling the same with my son. Thank you for the reminder that we all don’t think from the same areas of their brain as others.

    I am grateful that my son is skilled in reading and playing the tuba.

    • I had him sit down and read the blog last night, before I scheduled it for posting. (I wanted his ok to talk about it)

      He smiled when he got to all the “smart” people at the end, who were called “dumb” in school.

  4. Lol…I was so pretentious in elementary school. Loquacious and colloquial were my FAVORITE words!!! Present company excluded, no one ever had a clue what the heck I was saying – sadly enough, I still hear “I don’t understand what you are saying” a lot. When I rephrase I get “No, I don’t understand the words you are using”. YIKES!!! Right now I’m at odds with one of the other 5th grade teachers. In HER words, “The students just need to spell the words correctly, they don’t need to know what they mean.” OH, THE HUMANITY!!! Not in my classroom!! Time to break the cycle of ignorance.

    • ohmygods, but…. if they KNOW what the words mean, then they’re easier to remember! Memorization, without an eidetic memory set, is simply POINTLESS. You end up with the GIGO effect, and all the smart falls out the ears at the end of class, landing in the doorway with a splatting noise.

      ugh. I would rather have a child full of the useless facts, that can’t spell the larger words, but actually KNOW what the hell they mean. Oh wait… I have OnlySon! Phew! And actually, he’s a pretty good speller, too! Probably because he actually has read the words in one of his books, or ASKED how to spell it, after learning how to use it correctly.

      Oh, and btw, you were not pretentious, you were CONSPICUOUS, and PRECOCIOUS. So there. 😉

  5. Sodoku is evil. I’m surrounded by numbers-people. And I say that like I would say “I’m surrounded by fried-liver-lovers.” UGH! Sure, they can do math in their heads or remember every phone number they ever dialed, but I can quote Shakespeare, write a 8 page paper in three hours, and know many, many random facts.

    • YES! Same here! Although, not the “being surrounded by numbers people” thing. Only one person in my household can do math really well, and she’s 16. 😀

  6. I. Hate. Math. And your description of wanting to poke your eyeballs with needles? Soooooo can relate. This post is awesome. Made me laugh. I love you!

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