Math vs English

There is an ongoing battle in our house. (Ok, so there are many ongoing battles in our house. We’re only talking about one at the moment!) It comes up about 4 nights a week. Inevitably one of the boys will come with a question. And the debate will begin again. In one camp, those who believe that math is the ultimate. The concreteness, the black and white, the right and wrong, the objective answer. They love knowing they solved the problem. There is only one answer. You are either right or you are wrong, there is no in between.

In the other camp lives the one who believes there is always room for discussion. Nothing is so simple it can be broken down to black and white, a lover of subjectivity. Champion of creativity and passionate about words. The one who enjoys expressing emotions and moving people to action. The opposition claims it’s all up to the teacher’s opinion. ‘How can I be wrong when they ask me what that passage meant. If the teacher got something else out of it then I’m wrong. That isn’t right!”

The discussion continues. And the older they get the more both sides are certain of their views. Talk moves to imaginary numbers, and ridiculous formulas. Things like calculus. What does that even mean?

So, my children are all brilliant at math just like their………..father. They all love the numbers and shun the words. They talk in strange ways about math and sound so passionate when they do. I don’t get any of it! It becomes like the parents in a Charlie Brown show; muah, muah, muah, muah. They try to explain to me why it is so superior to English. All in vain. I’m the lover of English.

Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to consumer math, I put them all to shame. I can figure percents off at a lightning speed. I can add tax, figure a tip, divide a check, balance a checkbook and in a way that leaves the men in my life in my dust. Frankly, it usually surprises them. But the math they do is a whole different animal. It just isn’t part of my life. I will never use imaginary numbers.

English on the other hand, is everywhere. The ability to “use your words” as I used to say to them when they were very little, has a profound effect on how you are perceived by others, your ability to get what you need/want, the opportunity to describe life. I love the fact that words can move someone to tears or cause a deep belly laugh until your stomach hurts. Words build understanding and connections. They create a bond between people and their world.

We try often to persuade each other touting the merits of our subject. But, no one’s really listening to the other. Somewhere inside us is a passion, an inclination, a right-brain/left-brain thing. We aren’t going to change each other, but maybe we can gain a little insight. If they were forced to choose math or English, it would be no contest. Math will win every time. Fortunately, the boys can all write. They just don’t love it. And so the battle continues with all the men in the house in one camp and the lone female in the other. I think we will always be opposed on this one. Just one more way the people in this house are so different from each other.

And in the ultimate display of irony, I found myself reading this post to one of my son’s to help me with the closing. Oddly enough, he thought it was FINE.


1 Comment

Filed under Family, Legacy, School

One response to “Math vs English

  1. Nicole Long

    Clearly, you know which side of this debate I fall on. 🙂 And maybe it is as simple as gender preference for emotive vs. cognitive reasoning. But physics, engineering, and complex quadratic equations are all things I’ve learned and forgotten about – and I’m not that old. 😉 NO ONE has ever gotten through life without words. Language, writing, expressing ideas is crucial on the job, in the community, and most importantly, in the home. If your boys are learning how to phrase (polite) persuasive arguments, they will know the power of words with their own wives and children someday. And hopefully, they’ll have the words to thank you for it!!

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