Do you know what ‘division by remainders’ means? Yeah, me either. I learned this phrase after talking to my son Jake about his math homework. Apparently, this is a new term they’re using in the public schools to teach math.
I had no idea what Jake was talking about until he described one of his math problems to me. This is how they learn to add, subtract and multiply. They have remainders or numbers left over, move this around to add or subtract this from that and then they get their answer.
Sounds pretty complicated to me but even in my math challenged mind, I got it. So the following conversation took place in the car as we were driving home from school:
Me: Oh I get it now. That’s what we call long division.
Jake: What’s long division?
Me: That’s your math homework except we did it using a piece of paper to write out your work. We didn’t do this math thing in our head by taking numbers or adding them. Math is math, numbers are numbers.
Jake: You just don’t get it mom, do you?
Me: Not really. I don’t understand why you need to do all these extra steps.
Jake: Alright, let me give you an example. If Jake has 32 crates, each crate has 10 shirts in them, 5 are blue and 5 are red. Jake gives 12 crates to Mary and 3 crates to John. Both Mary and John take 3 red shirts out of their crates. How many shirts are left?
Me: Um … ten
Jake: No mom, that’s not right.
Me: Yes it is. It takes 10 minutes before your mother’s head explodes and she goes to get the calculator.
School work in the car conversation Part 2
Jake: What has 4 I’s and can’t see?
Me: I don’t know, what?
Jake: Mississippi! I know how to spell that word, do you?
Me: Yes, yes I do. Let me hear you do it first.
Me: You missed a few letters. It’s M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I.
Jake: How did you know that?
Me: I know a song to help me remember how to spell it. When I was kid, we learned how to do things because of these silly songs. I guess they figured it was easier to learn a song to keep the information in our heads. Because of something called School House Rock, I can even say the Preamble to the Constitution.
Jake: I know School House Rock. My dad has some of those DVDs. What’s a preamble?
Me: It’s the beginning of the United States Constitution. (I sing the School House Rock song) You’ll learn this in school someday. At least I think they still teach this stuff.
Jake: What’s the Mississippi song?
Me: MIS-SIS-SIPPI (I sing so proud of myself for still remembering the tune)
Jake: You said PP