View Full Version : My first-grade teacher screwed me.

Bartholomew

12-01-2007, 10:09 AM

And maybe my parents too, for never questioning my inability to add and subtract quickly. It is a moot point now, but suffice to say, I strongly encourage all of the parents here to regularly drill their children on their addition and multiplication tables.

My first grade teacher, you see, taught me a "dot" system. Every single number has dots on it. 2 had two dots. 9 has nine dots, etc, ad nauseum. I cannot add or subtract without looking at the numbers and physically touching them. If I add 9 and, say, 43, I go to the trouble of counting from 43 to 52. I've become quick at it, but even so, not having 9+3 memorized leaves a lot of room for error. I could just as easily arrive at 51, or 53, especially with background noise.

This habit follows me into higher functions. I count the invisible dots on eight and think, 8, 16, (6+8, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, add ten,) 24, etc. Here is an even more horrible example of this habit: 45 - 4*4, 16, 16*4 ([count the dots here])

I even do this to figure out square roots. This is making my life in higher math HELLISH.

That said, I am damn proud of the two A's I got on my combined Intro and Intermediate algebra test.

I want to blame my teachers, but it really is my fault. If I want to survive college algebra, I'm going to have to buy some flash cards.

End rant.

kristie911

12-01-2007, 01:14 PM

Don't feel bad...my kindergarten teacher screwed me. She never properly taught me right and left. No joking...it sucks.

Don't sweat math...it's a horrible invention. At least you can add...if it weren't for calculators, I wouldn't function.

Bartholomew

12-01-2007, 01:17 PM

Don't feel bad...my kindergarten teacher screwed me. She never properly taught me right and left. No joking...it sucks.

Don't sweat math...it's a horrible invention. At least you can add...if it weren't for calculators, I wouldn't function.

I've discovered that, in spite of my numerous left-brain flaws, I actually enjoy math.

Weird, huh?

dpaterso

12-01-2007, 01:30 PM

What an unfortunate thread title! Pedophile agencies all over the country just went to red alert.

I confess I count like that sometimes too. Well why not, that's why we've got 10 fingers. And 10 toes to carry over remainders. :)

But most times my math coprocessor would do mini-arithmetic, for example 43 + 9 gets broken down into, I need 7 to add to 43 to make 50, 9 = 7 + 2, add the 7 to 43 to make 50, then add the 2, = 52.

Each to their own, whatever gets you there.

-Derek

Maryn

12-01-2007, 07:13 PM

I got cheated by the transition from third to fourth grade. We learned the multiplication tables up to the fives in third grade. I have them down solid. God knows we repeated them aloud, in unison, enough times.

The next year, my teacher was not into rote memorization. Yeah, we learned the sixes, sevens, eights, and nines, but not with the constant repetition that drills it into the deepest folds of your grey matter. As a result, I still don't really know this level of multiplication. I cannot trust myself with simple arithmetic and should check using a calculator all the damned time. Most recently I screwed up calculating the amount of paint for a room with eight-foot ceilings. (Yes, I had to go back to Home Depot. I'm sure they all laughed.)

Maryn, village idiot

Siddow

12-01-2007, 07:51 PM

I do it the same way Derek does (rounding up to the next whole and then adding the leftovers).

How are you with money? I do math much faster if I think in terms of cash. You can ask me what 42 plus 33 are, and I'll think a minute, but if I have $42 and you give me $33 more, I'm all, "Woot! I've got 75 bucks!" :D

Bufty

12-01-2007, 08:40 PM

I'm amazed at some of the stories here, and folk who were 'swindled' have my full sympathy.

I had maths tables and simple arithmetic drilled into me at school from as early as I can remember. For example 54+9 is 63 -I don't have to consciously work it out -it just appears. Incidentally, with a 9 it's always add 10 and drop 1, which can be easier than rounding up etc.

The same with multiplication.

I remember, as a teenager, reading a fascinating book The Trachtenberg System of Speed Mathematics - fun, but not something I felt inclined to memorise at all.

I've no idea what methods they use nowadays to teach maths but to see someone last night (and who shall remain nameless) on I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here struggling to mentally work out 20% of 60 and calling out random numbers such as 26 and 43 makes me wonder! Oh, man.

That's sad and terrible not to be able to just look at numbers and know their sums. I knew adding and subtracting before being taught. Numbers just never presented themselves as mysteries to me. I had a hard time teaching my son the way I see them, though. I never heard of this dot thing...weird. I'm sure that if the bizarre notion had never been taught to you things would be different. I'll say they screwed you over! Wow. That's truly terrible.

astonwest

12-01-2007, 09:06 PM

People looked at me weird when I was teaching (in college algebra) the method I was taught in high school for factoring out trinomials...but it worked.

threedogpeople

12-01-2007, 09:19 PM

My first grade teacher, Mrs. Andrews, was good. She was patient and we learned lots of great stuff.

Plus, she wasn't mean to that little boy in my class (can't remember his name) that wet his pants. She called his mom and was really cool 'till his mom brought him dry pants.

Except she lost her temper with me one day, slapped me in the face and then shook me, by the shoulders, until I cried. Really....

===========

Adding 9 to anything is EASY....

Just add 10 then subtract 1 (much faster).

=============================

I use a similar trick for calculating 15%

First I calculate 10%, then I divide that by 2, then add both together.

So, in the old days - restaurant bill = $122:

10% of $122 = $12.20

divide by 2 = $6.10

add two together = $18.30

Today to calculate 20%, in the same example:

10% of $122 = $12.20

multiply by 2 = $24.40 Easy, breezy.....

OK - I've told you some of my tricks, now I'll have to....shake you until you cry...not really...

donroc

12-01-2007, 10:31 PM

My geometry teacher was past it and hardly taught. I leanred only to slice a pizza into 8 isoceles triangles. Is geometry good for anything else?

:roll:

www.donaldmichaelplatt.com

JoNightshade

12-01-2007, 10:41 PM

I want to blame my teachers, but it really is my fault. If I want to survive college algebra, I'm going to have to buy some flash cards.

You know, it might not be your teacher's fault after all. I was drilled incessantly as a child and I still count up on my fingers. It takes me a while to add. For some reason multiplication tables stuck much better so I've got no problems with that, but simple addition and subtraction... I've got to think about. But I passed calculus with an A. I've always chalked it up to being a "big picture" person. My brain just doesn't care about the details.

I think I wouldn't worry about it unless 1) Your teacher is putting some sort of time limit on your tests or forbidding you to use a calculator, or 2) you're planning on going into a major that will involve math. Otherwise, honestly, it impacts my life very, very little.

Don't feel bad...my kindergarten teacher screwed me. She never properly taught me right and left. No joking...it sucks.

According to my mom, most people don't know their right from left instantly. She's a nurse and when she's checking in patients she always does something that involves them putting out a right or left hand or something. Apparently 90% of the people she gets hesitate. I've always wondered if this is a right-brain left-brain issue. Ie, because your right brain controls your left hand, does it get confused? :)

Shady Lane

12-01-2007, 11:00 PM

I have strong ideas about which numbers are good numbers and which numbers are bad numbers. So I know what numbers need to be added together to make good, complete numbers, and those come naturally. Like 8 and 6. 14. Very nice.

And I know which numbers should NEVER be added together. Like 5 and 12. 17?? ew ew ew.

...okI'mweird....

ETA: Just so you know--it's not an even/odd number thing. It's a sharp/round number thing. 3's and multiples of 3's are my favorite numbers because they're the perfect balance between round and sharp. I do the same thing for letters. In biology, I always had a hard time with DNA base pairings because I had to remember that cytosine--C--goes with guanine--G--and C is WAY too sharp a letter to go with G.

now I'm seriously shutting up before I get commited.

Old Hack

12-02-2007, 12:45 AM

Shady, you sound like you might be a synaesthete. That thing about the numbers sounds so familliar to me. Do you see time as well, or associate any colours with numbers or letters?

5 is the number of the universe, Shady. It is the ultimate number. It should never be added with 8, actually. I forgive you. You're young.

9 = P

7 = F

6 is blue

8 is green

I'll stop there.

astonwest

12-02-2007, 01:43 AM

According to my mom, most people don't know their right from left instantly. She's a nurse and when she's checking in patients she always does something that involves them putting out a right or left hand or something. Apparently 90% of the people she gets hesitate. I've always wondered if this is a right-brain left-brain issue. Ie, because your right brain controls your left hand, does it get confused? :)Or perhaps it's the same phenomenon when my wife asks me a question, it takes a moment to process what I was just told.

Most of the time, I'll see her say something, ask her "what?" and then a moment later answer the original question...

benbradley

12-02-2007, 01:55 AM

Maybe I shouldn't complain (I did really well on the math portion of the SAT, but I swear it was as much my own reading and playing around with math as what I learned in class), but I feel I was held back in school.

Each digit didn't have "dot" in my first grade (at least not that I remember), but I recall a first-grade problem where we were to write down the number of dots. The teacher was going over the test with us after we took it or some such. The total number of dots was 12. They were in an array of four dots across and three dots down. The teacher, as an afterthought, said "This is actualy multiplication, twelve is three times four."

I couldn't believe it, that was too simple! My brother, two years older, was in third grade and was memorizing multiplication tables, and had told me multiplication was hard.

Going forward a decade or so, my SAT math score was greater than my brother's TOTAL SAT score (this was when the SAT only had two sections, math and verbal).

Another thing happened in first grade - we had a visitor who gave a presentation for (what seemed like) an hour or two. She had visited the fawaray land of Mexico (really far from Atlanta). She talked of going different places, seeing things, and she brought some things she bought in Mexico, and said how things cost less there: "Something that costs $12 in the USA only costs $4 in Mexico." I immediately wondered why didn't we just buy everything from Mexico? And also, I thought for a moment, why did she use those numbers? Didn't that mean that something that cost $3 in the USA would only cost $1 in Mexico? But I was always real shy and didn't ask questions, even when she asked if we had any questions and others asked them. But no one asked MY questions...

5 is the number of the universe, Shady. It is the ultimate number. It should never be added with 8, actually. I forgive you. You're young.

In college I was interested in number theory, but wasn't even sure about the name of the field of study. I found a book in the library on numerology, read a few pages and nearly barfed.

joetrain

12-02-2007, 01:57 AM

Or perhaps it's the same phenomenon when my wife asks me a question, it takes a moment to process what I was just told.

Most of the time, I'll see her say something, ask her "what?" and then a moment later answer the original question...

yes! my wife and i were beginning to think i had a problem. sometimes she has to repeat things two or three times.

elli: we set dates for the drawing classes today.

joe: ...

...

joe: what?

elli: *sigh* we set dates for the drawing classes today.

joe thinking: alright, drawing classes today. think. what was the beginning. shit.

joe: come again.

elli: forget it.

WendyNYC

12-02-2007, 02:31 AM

Yes, it's true. Although the exploratory approach is great from learning new concepts, there is a lot to be said for supplementing with old fashioned rote learning for automaticity. It seems to have fallen out of favor at many schools, sadly.

Shady Lane

12-02-2007, 02:32 AM

5 is the number of the universe, Shady. It is the ultimate number. It should never be added with 8, actually. I forgive you. You're young.

I like fives a lot. Thirteen is WAY too sharp and should never happen. So, no. Never add five and eight.

Shady Lane

12-02-2007, 02:35 AM

Shady, you sound like you might be a synaesthete. That thing about the numbers sounds so familliar to me. Do you see time as well, or associate any colours with numbers or letters?

I see months in a very clear c-shape. But not really time as in hours, except 3 o'clock is blue and 2 o'clock is yellow. And 1 o'clock is this really deep purple.

The letters have some vague colors...like, a yellow H would be really, really bad--it's got to be some pink variant. But I'm not too crazy color-wise. It's mostly soft and round.

(H is REALLY round, btw. Sort of grotesquely so. That's why I never spell my name--hannah--with capital H's. Because capital H's are fat and gross. Lowercase ones are still very round, but it's not quite as bad.)

Sorry I sort of hijacked this thread with my weirdness...

ETA: Where it says "soft and round" I obviously meant "soft and round OR hard and sharp." you know what I mean.

I like fives a lot. Thirteen is WAY too sharp and should never happen. So, no. Never add five and eight.

That freaky my beaky. I wouldn't add 5 and 8 BECAUSE 13 is too sharp. And sharp is exactly the word I would have used. I love 13, but it's way too sharp for anybody's safety.

Shady Lane

12-02-2007, 02:41 AM

That freaky my beaky. I wouldn't add 5 and 8 BECAUSE 13 is too sharp. And sharp is exactly the word I would have used. I love 13, but it's way too sharp for anybody's safety.

Okay, that is really scary.

Sharp is the ONLY correct word.

JLCwrites

12-02-2007, 02:50 AM

I see months in a very clear c-shape. But not really time as in hours, except 3 o'clock is blue and 2 o'clock is yellow. And 1 o'clock is this really deep purple.

The letters have some vague colors...like, a yellow H would be really, really bad--it's got to be some pink variant. But I'm not too crazy color-wise. It's mostly soft and round.

(H is REALLY round, btw. Sort of grotesquely so. That's why I never spell my name--hannah--with capital H's. Because capital H's are fat and gross. Lowercase ones are still very round, but it's not quite as bad.)

Sorry I sort of hijacked this thread with my weirdness...

I think that is awesome!

I am afraid that I am much like Bartholomew. When I look at numbers, I see their value as dots on a dice. However, I will also use time and money as helpers too. 25 = 1/4 of 100. 15 = 1/4 of 60. Etc..

I wonder if it involves our learning types. I am mostly an auditory learner. I can hear a song and play it back perfectly, but it took me forever to memorize the notes on a page. Mr. Turkey is a visual learner.. he can read something and know it verbatim. It is interesting how our brains process info.

Shady Lane

12-02-2007, 03:03 AM

Yeah, I'm totally visual.

astonwest

12-02-2007, 03:28 AM

All of this talk of the magic numbers reminds me of a Jim Carrey movie that I really enjoyed...but can't recall the name.

Hmm... my days of the week definitely have colors. Wednesday is blue, Thursday is brown, etc. I haven't thought about colored numbers though. I dislike 17 and 19, but 11 and 13 are cool.

kwkslvr

12-02-2007, 04:04 AM

Wow... sharp and round? wow.

Uh, oh, I am lousy at math. Algebra just flummoxes me. Never learned multiplication or division facts.

For some reason, I was good at geometry and could do calculus. (don't ask me to do any of that now... age has taken it's toll.)

It may be because I am very visual and I could "see" the solutions to theorems and calculus just sort of "made sense." Sort of like the visual representations of equations.

Have never, not one day in my life, seen sharp and round, though.

All of this talk of the magic numbers reminds me of a Jim Carrey movie that I really enjoyed...but can't recall the name.

23?

(I may have the number completely wrong, but I think I saw the same movie)

WendyNYC

12-02-2007, 04:10 AM

Hey Bartholomew: Get a flashmaster. Really. My daughter's school issued them and it has made a tremendous difference in how quickly she solves math problems. She's lightning fast. Way, way faster than me, and she's 8. I played with it a little, and I think it would even be helpful for adults, if one was so inclined to improve basic math skills.

http://www.flashmaster.com/

honeycomb

12-02-2007, 04:41 AM

I was 37 when I graduated from college because I couldn't understand math. My question to my family and friends: What in the world can I do with the math that's being presented nowadays?

That's why they've invented all this new technology so we wouldn't have to use it. Forget the dots, fingers, toes, and all that. Just find a good calculator and keep it with you at all times.

joetrain

12-02-2007, 05:23 AM

Hmm... my days of the week definitely have colors. Wednesday is blue, Thursday is brown, etc.

you should read watermelon sugar by richard brautigan..

hell, everybody should.

SpookyWriter

12-02-2007, 05:31 AM

I was 37 when I graduated from college because I couldn't understand math. I always wondered what they did with college students who didn't understand math.

Bartholomew

12-02-2007, 06:03 AM

I was 37 when I graduated from college because I couldn't understand math. My question to my family and friends: What in the world can I do with the math that's being presented nowadays?

That's why they've invented all this new technology so we wouldn't have to use it. Forget the dots, fingers, toes, and all that. Just find a good calculator and keep it with you at all times.

Math is a different language from English.

See, in English, you can't run before you can crawl. You've got to learn the ABC's, then phonetics, words, and then sentences.

Math is almost completely backwards, by comparison. The most basic functions all have tons of practical applications. We multiply, add, subtract, and divide almost every day. Even if we don't do those things, counting (the most basic of all mathematical motion) happens every day, especially when you're trying to figure out if you're going north or south as the numbered streets fly past your car.

And then we learn a little geometry and realize that we can figure out really useful things for home maintenance. A2 + B2 = C2 is a statement that follows us throughout mathematics. So is Pi. These are but crude sentences, the equivalent of a baby going, "Apple!" and pointing.

And then we hit algebra and realize that there is an entire world of rules and functions that seemingly make no sense. Can a child possibly fathom the use of being literate? Or do they learn to read because we make them, and they place a quasi-trust in our assurances that being able to read is a very valuable, and necessary skill?

The six-bajillion semesters of algebra, and even trig, are building blocks. In math, you can talk before you can sound out words. But you can't write in math without having this skill. Higher math allows an oiler to find out where, precisely, he needs to place a hole in a pipe in order to be able to pump. Higher math allows an engineer to figure the specs on a car.

What most people don't seem to realize, before coming into the last parts of algebra, is that every single thing in math has a picture.

We write 1 + 1 on a number line. It is useful, it is flat, and it is two dimensional.

We draw X2 - 6x + 3 as a parabola. Cool looking, starting to sneak into a third dimension, but just not useful.

And then you discover all sorts of awesome things - that X2 + Y2 = C2 is actually a perfect circle. This is just a modification of something you learn earlier.

And right beyond that cusp, math becomes useful again. It can be used to find the perfect tuning for a piano; the amount of pressure needed in a tire. The math we teach today is the same math they taught in ancient Greece.

honeycomb

12-02-2007, 06:13 AM

There's your answer: a calculator :-)

honeycomb

12-02-2007, 06:15 AM

Math is a different language from English.

See, in English, you can't run before you can crawl. You've got to learn the ABC's, then phonetics, words, and then sentences.

Math is almost completely backwards, by comparison. The most basic functions all have tons of practical applications. We multiply, add, subtract, and divide almost every day. Even if we don't do those things, counting (the most basic of all mathematical motion) happens every day, especially when you're trying to figure out if you're going north or south as the numbered streets fly past your car.

And then we learn a little geometry and realize that we can figure out really useful things for home maintenance. A2 + B2 = C2 is a statement that follows us throughout mathematics. Si is Pi. These are but crude sentences, the equivalent of a baby going, "Apple!" and pointing.

And then we hit algebra and realize that there is an entire world of rules and functions that seemingly make no sense. Can a child possibly fathom the use of being literate? Or do they learn to read because we make them, and they place a quasi-trust in our assurances that being able to read is a very valuable, and necessary skill?

The six-bajillion semesters of algebra, and even trig, are building blocks. In math, you can talk before you can sound out words. But you can't write in math without having this skill. Higher math allows an oiler to find out where, precisely, he needs to place a hole in a pipe in order to be able to pump. Higher math allows an engineer to figure the specs on a car.

What most people don't seem to realize, before coming into the last parts of algebra, is that every single thing in math has a picture.

We write 1 + 1 on a number line. It is useful, it is flat, and it is two dimensional.

We draw X2 - 6x + 3 as a parabola. Cool looking, starting to sneak into a third dimension, but just not useful.

And then you discover all sorts of awesome things - that X2 + Y2 = C2 is actually a perfect circle. This is just a modification of something you learn earlier.

And right beyond that cusp, math becomes useful again. It can be used to fine the perfect tuning for a piano; the amount of pressure needed in a tire. The math we teach today is the same math they taught in ancient Greece.

Hey! Are you having a melt down.

paprikapink

12-02-2007, 07:02 AM

My daughter's teacher taught the class "number buddies." 7's buddy is 3, 5 is its own buddy, 2's buddy is 8...see where this is going? For the kids who've been doing it since first and second grade, it's great. My daughter joined the class this year (at this school they have the same teacher first thru eighth grade), so she's looking at the whole thing somewhat askance.

I learned my multiplication tables finally this summer (I'm forty-freakin'-eight!), while drilling my kids with flashcards. I grew up in the "rote is not groovy" age of education -- I just assumed I would never know how to multiply. I didn't even know you could memorize it without being some kind of a math-weirdo-geek.

And (this thread is full of topics) I'm going to have to check with daughter2 about the sharp and roundness of things. She's always assigning sour/sweet/spicy/salty qualities to abstract things...

Bella!

12-02-2007, 07:47 AM

?????????????was I the only one scared crapless by the title of this post?

benbradley

12-02-2007, 07:59 AM

... for a Public Service Announcement:

?????????????was I the only one scared crapless by the title of this post?

Ladies and Germs, please, before responding to any of Bella!'s posts, please check out the other threads she's posted in (especially the "Those that query" in TIO).

Thanks. This has been a Public Service Announcement.

Popcorn, anyone?

:popcorn::popcorn::popcorn::popcorn::popcorn:

ETA: Show's over folks - please exit The Theater calmly through the two Exit doors on either side of the screen.

astonwest

12-02-2007, 09:12 AM

I always wondered what they did with college students who didn't understand math.At ours, they stuck them in a remedial math course taught by undergraduates such as myself...years of fun, let me tell you...

Bartholomew

12-02-2007, 10:57 AM

There's your answer: a calculator :-)

Hey! Are you having a melt down.

(A - No, I'm not having a melt down. I'm sorry I wasted the time trying to explain myself.

(B - A calculator is a time saving device. Period. It cannot do a lot of the work you need it to do.

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