#264 – The Writing on the Wall

In a rare turn of events, I mentored Ernie today without incident. That’s not to say my visit to the elementary school left me with nothing to comment about, however. While Ernie’s behavior during our time together raised no eyebrows, his exercise on fractions certainly did.

The boy’s teacher, Ms. McDaniel, often posts her student’s homework papers on the wall outside her classroom. I caught sight of the latest batch at the conclusion of today’s mentoring session. As seemed obvious, the third-graders had been tasked with creating and solving an equation involving fractions. 

The children’s efforts said a lot about their generation’s values, little of it promising in my opinion. For instance, several of the kids based their equations on hi-tech devices I wouldn’t have thought appropriate or necessary for boys and girls their age. A typical piece read: “Tim has 5 ipods 3 ipads and 2 iphones. What fraction of Tim’s stuff is iphones?” Based on my prior discussions with Ernie, I suspect the author of that particular entry owned all the items included in his equation too!

Thankfully, not every piece denoted a spoiled, materialistic denizen of society. Mixed in with the expressions of self-entitlement were also cutesy animal stories. For example: “Sally has 3 white cats. And she has 2 black cats. Her faction of white cats is 3/5.”

Then there was Ernie’s piece, utterly unique among all the children’s efforts. Unlike his peers, he’d steered away from expressions of materialism and adorable pets. The lad went in an entirely different direction, formulating an equation which read:

A wolf bites off three of Arnie’s fingers. Arnie cuts three more off with a kichen knife. Arnie’s mom shuts the car door on him and chops off two more fingers. Arnie only has two fingers now. What fraction is left?

At least he solved the equation correctly. That’s a plus, isn’t it?

The normal complement of fingers … before biting, cutting, and chopping off

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