Thursday, March 26, 2009

An Engineer and the commutative property

John is learning multiplication. You can only understand my stress as we've approached this task if you understand the painful experience addition has been. You see... even if John has an answer memorized, he must go back and verify it to be true before he will commit to the answer. He refuses to entertain the idea that it really could be as easy as his first thought. But the work he has to do to figure out the answer from scratch every time is so daunting to him that he has had panic attacks trying to answer addition facts that he knows quite well.

I was a whiz in school and I remember learning the times tables with some pain and difficulty, so it is no surprise this is stressful for John. Since John refuses to accept memorization as a viable option, we've been using strategies and tricks. He's still pretty slow at it, but he has a strategy that he can apply to most of the tables.

I was explaining to Theo tonight that we have no simple strategy for 3's, 7's or 8's, but since we had all the other strategies it worked out that there are only 6 unique problems John would have to flat memorize. Theo's raised a contemplative eyebrow as he tried to calculate alongside my ramblings. I know he was trying to verify there were indeed only 6 facts left. I quickly cleared up his confusion by reminding him it was only 6 because of the commutative property.

There was a short pause and a long, slow grin. He said he was impressed and that phrases like "commutative property" were real turn-ons for engineers... I told him it was just inappropriate to speak to his son's teacher in that manner.


missyhelton said...

TMI for your mother

MamaHolly said...

LOL, Mom. I forgot you read this!

Belinda said...

This is so cute I can just see Theo saying that to you and getting turned on, only in his odd mind would he find that a turn on ha,ha. I love the blogs you and Theo both have such a way with words and descriptions of events it's like we are there with you all. Keep em coming. Have a blessed day.

Angela (HsvScrapGirl) said...

That is an engineer for you.