Friday, January 30, 2009

Given - If - Then Problem Solving. Thank you, Mr. R.

Math. {shudder.}

I have vague memories of sitting in a muggy high school classroom as Mr. R. tried to instruct a bunch of know-it-all sixteen-year-olds on the basic principles of higher mathematics. That poor man endured a lot from us. Specifically, moaning and whining about how we would "never use this math stuff in real life."

You know what? I realized recently that I do "use this stuff" in real life. Don't get me wrong. I'm not computing the angles of an isosceles triangle. Nor am I finding the square root of 14,721. But I am using the Given - If - Then problem solving method.

For example.

I recently escaped from my home enjoyed a quick shopping trip without my children. Joel called 2 hours into my errand (at 5:30). I'll spare you the details of the conversation. The important part is that we decided I would bring home supper and return to the store the next day.

Here's where the math problem solving comes into play. My thoughts as I walked to the van went like this-

  • After we eat supper, Joel will clean the bathroom, give all 4 kids baths, and read our family devotions.
  • That will all take about 2 hours.
  • I want the kids in bed sooner rather than later.
  • I don't want to have to wash dishes.
  • I don't want to spend a lot of my grocery budget.

If I go next door to Walmart:
  • Then it'll take 15 minutes to move the van, pick out supper from the freezer, and check out.
  • Then I'll spend $10-$15 of my grocery budget on frozen food.
  • Then another 5 minutes to drive home.
  • Then 20-30 minutes to heat the food.
  • Then I'll have dishes to wash. Ugh.
If I go down the road to McDs:
  • Then it'll take 20 minutes to drive to the restaurant, use the drive-thru, and drive home.
  • Then I'll use a gift card we received for Christmas and spend $0 from my grocery budget.
  • Then supper will be ready when I walk through the door.
  • Then I won't have to wash dishes.
See?! Given - If - Then Thinking. Mr. R. was right. I am using "that math stuff" in my every day life. I guess he knew what he was talking about after all.

I wonder if he had the answer to:

3 month-old-baby + X = momma sleeping 8 hours straight.

Have you also discovered your high school teachers were pretty smart? What lessons did you endure as a teenager but now use on a regular basis?

*** Edited to add: Visit the What I Learned this Week Carnival @ Musings of a Housewife.


Alicia said...

This is so funny! And would be good in Musings of a Housewife's new carnival "what I learned this week". Which I meant to tell you before now, but you subscribe to her, right?

Anyway, I use math everywhere, it seems. Everywhere. I cant think of specifics off the top of my head, but right now Timothy is learning "solid figgers" and all of geometry (ick) is rushing back into my head!

Musings of a Housewife said...

Too funny. I think I'm the only person I know who actually LIKED high school math. :-) Thanks for playing along!

Sheila said...

I absolutely love this post! You have become quite the writer, Steph!

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