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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Did you like maths when you were in school?

Maths isn’t my favourite subject to teach. It wasn’t my preferred subject when I was in school so I like to get it out of the way and teach it first thing in the morning when the kid’s minds are still fresh, not sullied by the “who stole my soccer ball at lunch time” or “who accidentally/deliberately kicked me in the nuts during handball” or the “who threw my lunchbox on the ground and stomped on it” type of ‘after lunch dramatic scenarios’.

So anyway, I had this written on the whiteboard at 8:30 yesterday morning and asked the class.

“What is symmetry?” I glanced around the room with an unwarranted optimism.

One hand tentatively went up and I looked over hopefully.

“Is it where they bury dead people?”

I was perplexed. What were the grade two and three teachers teaching these kids?

“No. That’s a cemetery. It has nothing to do with dead people. This is symmetry, not cemetery.”

Another hand went up, waggling enthusiastically.

“Is it to do with Frew Noodles?” he asked, cocking his head to one side adorably.

I scanned my brain.

‘Frew Noodles? Were they a type of symmetrical Asian food I’d never heard of?’

“Pardon?” I asked politely.

“Frewn. Oodles,” he repeated slowly, as if I were a backward idiot from the Ozarks.

“Sorry. Just say it one more time for me.” I was beginning to doubt my sanity/hearing.


No. he definitely said, ‘frew noodles’.

“What are frew noodles?” I’d given up by this stage and was staring over at the staff room through the side window, longing for a coffee.

“They’re what you have when people die,” he sounded very exasperated.

“Oh… funerals,” I finally realised, defeated and ready to hang up my name tag and whistle. “No. That’s still about dead people. It’s nothing to do with dead people.”

Frankly, I think they were all highly disappointed we weren’t about to learn about the dearly departed.

My question to you all is this.

When have you ever had to determine how many lines of symmetry there are in a given two dimensional object in your everyday lives?

Do you think we need to review what we’re teaching our children?