Word Problems: The Lie I Told Myself
I told myself I wasn't good at math. Considering my parents are former math teachers, my assertion seemed unlikely. Math certainly wasn't my favorite thing to do, although I can't say I struggled with it until we moved to Missouri. My trip-up stemmed from a specific type of problem: word problems. After over a decade of home educating my sons--including high-school-level arithmetic--I know why I wouldn't get the correct answer to many of the questions I suffered to solve.
I didn't know what was being asked of me.
I suspect--through my experience of using different math strategies and curriculum formats to teach my sons with varying learning styles and abilities--that what I had learned in the lesson didn't directly apply to the word problem at the bottom of the page. It felt random and out of context.
But, then, so was I.
When we feel uprooted, how can we square the root of what is being asked of us?
In my case, it wasn't in solving story problems. It was in discovering the solution to the problem within my own story. It took about two years to figure that out, but once I did, a daily multiplication entered my routine.
I started writing poetry.
From age fourteen through the end of high school, I consistently wrote two poems a day. Most of the time, one of those poems was written during my math class.
I've lost count long ago of the quantitative result. For me, the qualitative effect of lines connecting point to point and image to image is the solution to my word-problem dilemma. I understand how to directly apply the lessons I've learned in life to my own story. What sometimes feels random and out of context is often proven by a poetic postulate. But, a more important truth has determined the correct answer to my word problem's question.
I know what is being asked of me.