Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Am I smarter than my 4th grader??

I know that I should be grateful about this. After all, bribing government officials in India is no joke. It is an expensive business for anyone and more so for the middle class. Looking at the historic, exorbitant rates of bribery, I am positive that nothing less than utter desperation or blinding love could have pushed my middle class parents to do it and I am leaning towards desperation in this case.

I have no proof but my gut feeling says that my parents coughed up big money all those years ago to pay off the Education board of India to let me graduate from College.

Why do I suspect foul-play in my education? Many reasons really but when the first time I held my daughter's homework folder and my stomach involuntarily heaved in protest, I knew something was fishy. Forgive me for asking, but shouldn’t I be able to do a fourth grader’s homework with my eyes/ears/mouth closed given that I am a college graduate? Well, I can't, hence the allegation against my parents.

Here is a small sample of the problems that I commonly face on the homework front.

Math – Nothing gets my tear glands working faster than fractions, especially the word problems. The other evening, I was faced with my daughter’s wide, adoring eyes and the following problem.

A first grade class took a poll to find out their favorite ice cream. 1/4 chose chocolate, 1/4 chose vanilla and 1/2 chose strawberry. 2 kids are lactose intolerant and can't eat ice cream. If there are 22 kids in the class, how many kids liked each flavor?

If you ask me, can they not have a glass of lemonade each and be happy? Huh? Is Ice cream really necessary for the happiness of first graders? Somehow my daughter was not convinced with this argument of mine.

My evening’s homework woes will, by no means, end so quickly. Usually, right about this time a missile of a different sort like the following will attack me:

The entire third grade class is going to the zoo. There are 3 buses for the field trip. Each bus has the same number of kids. If there are 90 kids in the third grade, how many are on each bus?

Helllllllloooooo…..? What is wrong with the society today? If every parent took the responsibility of driving his or her own children to field trips, I wouldn’t have to sit and bite my cuticles off over the bus situation now, would I?

An important point to observe here is that I am very easily persuaded to double or triple the monthly allowance in lieu of escaping to the powder room in the evenings to avoid any contact whatsoever with Mathematics and yes, my daughter is very much aware of this weakness of mine.

Science – In the name of all that is sane in this world, why would I want to know Earth’s distance from the Sun? I am not planning to go there now, am I? Duh!

Grammar – Now, I know I have heard of irregular bowels but what is this ‘Irregular Verb’? And wait; aren’t pronouns, proper nouns, prepositions, helping verbs and conjunctions banned from the language dictionary yet? Have mercy, lord! I thought I had learned all there was to learn about grammar from Professor Higgins’s (My Fair Lady by George Bernard Shaw) teachings “In Hartford, Hertford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly happen.” Obviously, I have miles to go before I can even think about resting. (Sigh, sigh…..)

Social Studies – Okay, I know that the big, bad English people came a long time back to America to shoo away the natives and set up colonies. Hey, I watched Disney’s Pocahontas too, you know. But come on, how much information can you absorb from a cartoon movie? Is it my fault that Disney forgot to include important details of the Civil war and Declaration of Independence in its movie? Talk about irresponsibility!

Anyway, there it is finally. My homework woes for all the world to see. So knowing what you know about me now, would you call me smarter than my 4th grader? Before you answer, please do keep in mind that I hold a college degree from a very reputable educational institution. That has got to count for something, right?