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?


நாகு (Nagu) said...

Good one, Meena.

Sometimes I feel as if the homework is targeting the parents :-)

Anonymous said...

சயின்ஸ், மாத்ஸ், ஹிஸ்டரி புக் எல்லாம் எனக்கு கொடுக்கும் பரிசு தலைவலி. உடல் நலம் கெடுக்கும் விஷமும் நீயே, என்னை கொல்வதும் ஏனோ? ஏனோ? ஏனோ?
எங்கிருந்தாலும் வாழ்க, உன் பக்கங்கள் அமைதியில் வாழ்க, புதுமை கருக்குடன் வாழ்க, உன் தூய புது மணம் வாழ்க, வாழ்க, வாழ்க
எங்கிருந்தாலும் வாழ்க !!!
Remember this Meena? We seriously can't expect ourselves to change so drastically, dramatically that we start solving our kids' homework happily in a jiffy, can we now?

Anonymous said...

Math: too easy :) Now your next blog should be about your 10th grader - then I will hang my head in shame and agree with everything you have said here..

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!
Answer: Watch Big Bang Theory. All your questions and doubts regarding this will be clarified.

Grammar: I cannot argue with you on Grammar. English language makes no sense - and its rules defy logic.
Irregular Bowels (ROFL): All I can recommend is a high fiber diet: bran, oats, or perhaps Metamucil or Activia :)

Social Studies – Go out and look around you, Meena. You are living in the place where all that history happened. You need to experience history, soak it up through your senses - you cannot study history.

I think you are smarter than your 4th grader but she is more adventurous :) I also think she was testing you with things she already knew :)


Veronica Lee said...

Hi! Stopping by from MBC. Great blog.
Have a nice day!

Meena Sankaran said...

Thank you Nagu and yes, I agree with you. I am so homework-challenged that I consider every piece of worksheet that comes home to be a personal war waged against me by the School board. :-)

Meena Sankaran said...

Ha ha ha Krithika. How can I forget that night from our childhood? We both had tests the next day and instead of burning the midnight oil studying for them, we both sat outdoors looking at the star filled sky and in a melancholic vein made up new words for this popular film song. And with how much feeling we sang that song that night? HA HA HA......

You are right. Miracles don't happen overnight. In my case, they don't happen. Period. :-)

Meena Sankaran said...


I don't believe for a minute that a 10th grader's homework will bring you to your knees. You are what I would call a 'homework-resilient' person. I am constantly in awe of the length and breadth of your academic knowledge.

Makes me wonder how two women that are poles apart in intellect can continue to be such good friends. All I can come up with is that like love, friendship must be blind too. :-)

Meena Sankaran said...

Good to see you on my blog page Veronica. I am so glad that you enjoyed my post. Thank you for stopping by. :-)