When I was five, my parents tried to teach me multiplication. I was already decent at adding and subtracting and they thought that it was time for me to take the next step. For two years I learned the basics of multiplication before I was finally good enough at it for my parents to be satisfied. About a year later I started multiplication in elementary school and, for the first time, I saw the multiplication table. Two years of trying to figure out what the little crooked addition sign meant and my parents never showed me the multiplication table.
I ask my parents about it now and they say they don’t remember why they didn’t teach it to me that way, they even admit that it would have been easier that way and that they knew about the table when they were teaching me. They just never got around to showing me.
I’ll be honest, thinking back on it now, I kind of resent not being shown the easy way out. They used to hand me a calculator, tell me to input the numbers and symbols then figure out how it works out on paper.
I was never allowed to use a calculator on homework until I was 16 and I had to learn my trig functions. For one year I used a graphing calculator in class, but to be honest it was faster for me to just visualize the graph in my head. And there’s the rub, there’s the issue. I can’t be mad at my parents. For five years they made me visualize the numbers in my head, calculate problems and get the answers with minimal writing and use of resources until I was able to draw up graphs and equations on my own… until books were just that, books. Even now I can visualize equations and figure out math problems without showing any work (this pissed my teachers off though) faster than people can input numbers into a calculator. Whatever their intentions, meaning or harsh methodology was… it worked.
And that’s what they’ll always say. Whatever we did, it got you A’s in all of your math subjects (when I cared to attend) and got you up to high-level calculus (I hate Quantum Mechanics though). And I sit there and stare at them… as if it was them who had to sit there at a desk and figure out multiplication after watching Sesame Street.
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