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May 14

Pandemic has forced us to confront our worst fears: Teaching math to a fifth grader –

Forget speaking in public or death, our greatest fear should be, Help your fifth-grade child with their math homework.

Before COVID-19 we all expressed our deepest love and respect for the teachers of the world who go through the glass-smashing process of instructing our children. After COVID-19 we will actually mean it.

Sitting with my daughter for even two minutes to go over her math homework, it all comes back.

The ability to complete the fifth-grade problems is not what returns. What returns are the stomach pains of fear, dread, inadequacy and stupidity.

The powers of 10. Fractions. Long division. Word problems. Midpoint formulas. Polynomials.

Why do I have to do stupid math?! Its pointless and it doesnt make any sense!

These are the words from our daughter, Vivian, but it could have been me decades ago ... or now, minutes ago.

I always knew there would come a time when I could not help her with her homework. I hoped to make it to seventh grade. Turns out fifth graduation is in doubt because I may not pass math.

The first question asks: The Garcia family started the day with 2 gallons of milk. They drank one quart of milk for breakfast and three pints for lunch. How many pints of milk did the Garcia family have left after lunch?

I have questions. Why are the Garcias drinking this much milk? Was the milk 2 percent? Was the cow free-range? Did the cow sign a consent form to take HGH? Or was the milk almond, goat, oat, or coconut? If it is cows milk, was the cow approved by Joaquin Phoenix?

Reviewing the Garcias morning milk consumption, my high school diploma, undergraduate college degree and masters degree are collectively worth almost as much as the current price of a gallon of gas.

A 2020 solution: Hey Google, do my daughters fifth-grade math homework.

Sorry, I dont understand, she says.

Should have bought Alexa.

But I found something else, Google tells me. Do you want to know how much homework a fifth grader should have?

On the website, they say, Experts in the field recommend children have no more than 10 minutes of homework per day per grade level, Google says. As a fifth grader, Timothy should have no more than 50 minutes a day of homework.

Timothy obviously works for Equally obvious is that moms and dads must all agree that our kids are never allowed to check this website.

Proving she is her mothers daughter, Vivian completes the question with a pen and paper as she softly sings, Everybody Wang Chung tonight.

Add that to the list moments I will never forget.

Next question, Scientists have put together bones to make a T-Rex skull that has a mass of 600 pounds. They just found a tooth fossil to add to the skull that has a mass of 40 ounces. How many pounds is in the T-Rex skull with the new tooth?

Wait, youre telling me there is a Tyrannosaurus Rex skull that weighs 600 pounds? Thats going over the mantle.

Xan and Katie are twins. Xan weighs 6 pounds 9 ounces, and Katie weights 8 pounds 1 ounce. What is the difference, in ounces, between Xan and Katies weight?

Determining the difference in weight is mathematically simple; determining how twins are named Katie and Xan is mathematically impossible.

In which number does the digit 7 have a value that is 10 times as great as the digit 7 in 0.975?

Complete the stem-and-leaf plot to represent the following data about the amount of hours David worked each week.

There is such a thing as a dumb question. It should ask how many hours David worked, how many hours David worked according to his boss, and how many hours David worked that he told his wife. Three different figures.

So far, so good. Nothing has been thrown yet. No tears.

OK, this is where I need your help, she says. This is going to be miserable.

At this point, I have no choice but to acknowledge I am my father when I say, Slow down 34,141 times over the next four minutes. After this, I beg like a car salesman for her to double check her work.

As the exercise in humiliation continues some of the math skills from decades ago make a surprise return. She laughs at her dad trying to do long division by hand. Its quality entertainment to watch a middle-aged man attempt 16 x 6 + 9, especially when his is the wrong answer.

In the end, some help is actually provided and the math assignment is successfully completed with a most important lesson gained: The life-altering importance of partial credit.

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Pandemic has forced us to confront our worst fears: Teaching math to a fifth grader -

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