Friday, July 1, 2011

The Beginnings of a Math Dabbler

When I was 4 years old, my dad would make up games with buttons to keep me occupied. We had a LARGE jar of buttons that had been saved from out-grown clothing to be used to replace lost buttons. He'd have me sort the buttons by color or by size or any any way I liked. Then we moved on to counting buttons and finding out how many were in two groups of buttons.

Based on that description, you'd think my father was a formally-trained math educator. He wasn't. He grew up during the Great Depression. His family struggled financially. My grandfather was mugged on his way home from the bank after withdrawing the last of his savings. My father considered himself lucky to have completed high school before joining the Navy where he didn't receive any specialty training, unless swabbing the deck was considered a specialty then. After leaving the military, he took a job as a laundry truck driver. He eventually went to night school and landed a job as a labor accountant--the guy who makes your paycheck possible.

Ever since my early days of playing with buttons, I've enjoyed math. Sometimes I wonder why, considering my second grade teacher scared me senseless when I forgot to subtract from right to left. It just made more sense to subtract from left to right because that's the direction we read. And I nearly failed Geometry in high school. I had nightmares about Probability in college.

I can't say that math has been a breeze for me, but I still find it fun. I'm not one who enjoys solving overly-challenging math puzzles as a word-whiz enjoys doing the Sunday crossword puzzle. I do enjoy a Sudoku from time to time, but I struggle with the 5-stars. I would say I have average math abilities. Where I shine is my willingness to take on math as if it were a new game, (sometimes) read the rules and attempt to develop a strategy for winning. My strategies aren't always successful, but I still enjoy trying.

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