Now this

I may have picked the wrong weekend to completely redo my office, as this week my wife is out of town on business and I’m a single dad until Saturday morning. Really all I’ve done so far is get up half an hour early to make sure I have time to make the boy’s lunch and feed the cats before I take him to school and I’m ready to curl up and die already. I slept like hell last night, probably not related to the lack of a second person in the bed with me, but I took her to the train station quite late– we left after I would ordinarily have been in bed, and it’s a good 20 minutes away– and it just threw my schedule entirely off, and I didn’t get to sleep until after midnight. Combine that with getting up early and … yuck.

And then it was Monday at work, and Mondays at work are never great, especially after three-day weekends. Today was really weird, though; first hour wanted to talk about anything and everything other than math– I rarely have to fend off questions about the afterlife from my students, but holy shit did they want to know every single thing about my opinion about what happens when we die today– and sixth hour was all about the what is this forrrrrrrrrr that I have a lot of trouble answering coherently for some reason.

Here’s the thing about algebra, right? You don’t use algebra, necessarily. Nobody majors in algebra in college. But if you don’t know algebra it locks you out of a whole lot of shit that may or may not have any direct connection to whether you can properly square a binomial or not. And if you want any future in a career involving math, forget it. I tried to make an analogy today to the alphabet. Imagine a kindergartner asking how they’re gonna “use” the alphabet in the future. Well … you don’t, really? Because the alphabet itself is just a baseline entry skill to a shitton of other stuff that is not, in and of itself, the alphabet. Do you want a career that involves reading or writing, kindergartner? Well, sure, or at least maybe, but what does that have to do with learning which letters are vowels right now? Am I gonna have a job in vowel-identifying later on?

You’re not gonna “use” a whole lot of algebra, honestly. You’ll need it because it’s building blocks to all future mathematics, which are useful to a whole lot of skills and careers, and even if you don’t go into those careers, I’m training your ass to think logically, which is useful to make you a more functional person.

But they don’t want that. They wanna know why they have to multiply binomials, and tomorrow they’re gonna be all about when am I gonna have to factor things, and my answer will be “Today, shut up,” and on we go.

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Luther M. Siler

Teacher, writer of words, and local curmudgeon. Enthusiastically profane. Occasionally hostile.