Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Right Brain, Left Brain: Duking It Out
Many of you know that I studied English Ed in college. And some of you know that I love to read and truly enjoy expressing myself with the written word. Go ahead and think it: I'm a nerd. Would it help if I told you I play the clarinet? Yeah, I'm an even bigger nerd than you originally thought.
Last year, my friend's high-school-aged son was struggling with some of his classes. I offered myself as a tutor. This school year I stepped up once again to fill that role as tutor for him, in addition to tutoring his cousin. But it's not in Shakespeare, even though I did help him with his "Romeo and Juliet" worksheet last night.
Even though I have a deep and spiritual love for good literature, and I become almost indignant at misplaced commas and semi-colons, my left-brainedness is having to step aside--with pouty lips, if a brain has lips--because I've been hired as an algebra tutor. I admit it: I love algebra! You should see the nerd-radar go off in these kids' eyes when I get excited about manipulating equations and solving for x.
And tonight, we had one of those story problems with the trains moving in opposite directions. You know the kind that goes like this: If train A leaves Chicago going east at 90 mph, and train B leaves Chicago at the exact same time going west at 80 mph, in how many hours will the trains be 510 miles apart? Hey, I actually know how to solve this problem! The equation is going to look something like this: 80h + 90h = 510 (with h representing hours), and when you solve for h, you know that in exactly 3 hours, those trains will be 510 miles away from one another.
Okay, my right brainedness knows how to figure this out. My left brainedness is asking, "Why even ask this question...unless...
Two lovers, destined for heartbreak due to the misalignment of stars (No, I'm not into astrology...just making a reference to "Romeo and Juliet", prologue) must say their final goodbye on a lonely train station in Chicago, IL. The woman's grandmother has fallen ill, and she must take the train back home to care for her. The man, after recovering from a sluggardly and wasteful youth, has just been offered a promising job, and he must take it to make himself worthy of her love. He steps off the platform onto train A, and she reluctantly climbs aboard train B. Three hours later, they both reach their destinations. Will they be able to continue to be faithful to one another seperated indefinitely by 510 miles?
Okay, so at that point, it might be helpful to know about math and trains.
Who says math is boring?
(BTW, I've forgotten almost all of the math skills I acquired in high school and college, and every tutoring session finds me poring over the examples and formulas in the kids' textbook trying to relearn them so I can teach my pupils how to do it.)