At Mylan Park’s Hazel and J.W. Ruby Community Center this past January, the buttons on those scary looking scientific calculators were clicking just like a Bach concerto.
The equations were dropping like the pins in a newly reopened bowling alley in Georgia.
No algorithm was left unturned.
Yep, life in those pre-pandemic days seemed so much simpler — even if it was Math Field Day for Monongalia County Schools.
Today, 100% of those schools are closed, along with 85% of the other institutions across the country where learning ensues.
And 79% of the nation’s parents of school-aged children are angst-ridden because of it.
More than 65% of that above number, in particular, are blaming it on math.
You know: Math. The subject you loved to hate in school.
Growing up, the only “math person” you knew was your one cousin who went to engineering school, but at least he was nice about it.
The above numbers were compiled in a recent survey by Brainly, an online learning community in New York City.
Brainly picked the collective brains of moms and dads who are de facto teachers, now that schools are closed and the coronavirus is still roiling.
A total of 600 responded, and math, as said, most definitely wasn’t the Most Popular Kid in (Distance) School.
Owe it to the fact that you never really did memorize your multiplication tables as a kid, Cara Spaziani said.
Or that (see above) you aren’t that math person who craves columns of numbers and goes squishy over those squiggly looking symbols in Algebra that have to mean … something.
“I’m not a math person either,” she said, chuckling.
That doesn’t mean, however, that she doesn’t want to know the story.
She’s a former newspaper reporter who went into education.
Spaziani teaches 4th grade at Ridgedale Elementary School on Goshen Road, and that includes math.
Like a reporter sizing up a source, she knows every student has a different cognitive narrative — a different story — and that’s whether said student is digging in at Ridgedale or the family rec room.
Teaching math, in particular, she said, means telling a story.
Why ask a second- or third-grader to memorize, “6×3=18,” as she tabulates it, when counting rows of pennies or LEGOs could be so much more compelling?
Then, Spaziani said, you come away with knowing what “math” looks like.
And no, the teacher said, you never really get a way from math.
There’s the interest payment.
And the sales tax.
And the doubling-up of the recipe.
And the cost of the tile versus the square-footage of the bathroom you promised to remodel.
Spaziani makes sure to augment all her distance-lessons with video and real-time audio.
Distance doesn’t have to be a problem, she said, in math or otherwise.
As she said, don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be intimidated.
After all: It’s just math.
And math, she said, is absolute, in that there’s a wrong answer and a right answer.
There is an emotional equation wrought by COVID-19 that carries the same, she said.
“We miss our kids.”