Thursday, January 29, 2015

New Math vs. Old Math

I’ve never really cared for math. As a little girl, sitting at my desk in first grade, I remember my teacher patiently waiting while I rattled off my addition and subtraction problems not from memory, but by using my fingers. It wasn’t that I’d never get the hang of math, it was more of an issue of disinterest. Numbers didn’t do anything for me. Give me a word problem, and I’d read it aloud like no other. Ask me to solve the same word problem, and I’d give you a blank stare.

The funny thing about math is, throughout school, it gets progressively harder. Concepts build on previous concepts, and if you didn’t master those earlier concepts, you’re out of luck. That was me: out of luck. When entering third grade, I remember they started throwing multiplication and division at me. That’s where they truly lost me. I was done, I felt hopeless, I knew there was no way I’d ever "get" math.

Over the years, I had a few teachers who believed in me and gave it their best to help me understand math, but I was perfectly content with my barely-passing grades that provided me with enough math credits to squeeze on through.

Just when I thought I’d escaped all math (albeit what I can do on a calculator), I had a child who loves math. Not only does my son love it, he’s really good at it, at least by my standards. When he was in first grade, I had to look up the answers to a couple of problems on his homework and I remember thinking, "surely math wasn’t this hard when I was in first grade. This must be that ‘new math’ I hear about."

Unfortunately, as was the case when I was in school, math gets harder. The boy is now in third grade, the same grade where I decided I was done with math. Where I had given up, my son continues to succeed. He learned pretty early on to ask anyone but Mom if he has a question regarding math homework. Spelling or reading? I’m your girl. Math? Um, let me see if Google knows the answer.

Don’t even get me started on what some refer to as "common core math." That’s a whole ballgame I have zero interest participating in. I’ll just be on the sidelines, happily reading player biographies and looking for typos.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Violence Continues

There’s something contagious about being around someone who is passionate about something. Whatever it is they have on their heart, when you listen to their story and hear their thoughts, you want to be a part of it -- even if it’s something you know absolutely nothing about.

Listening to Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker left me with a sense of urgency this week. Together, with the Kansas City No Violence Alliance, her goal is to stop violent offenders in their tracks, and hopefully, put them on the path to better things. While her statistics about the number of homicides in our city have begun to dwindle, the violence remains deadly.

As I am writing this column, I just received confirmation that the body that was found at The Bay waterpark, just minutes from where I sit, was that of 14-year-old Alexis Kane, a student in the Hickman Mills School District.

Our prosecutor was one-hundred percent correct when she said this is unacceptable. Our kids, our babies, are paying the most horrific price imaginable, and most likely over petty things. Whenever I hear bad news, which is daily in my profession, I can’t help but think of my little boy, and how he, along with all of his friends and playmates, deserves to live in a better world. Stop the violence.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Welcome 2015

The new year sure has come in with a bite to it, and in more ways than the crazy-cold temperatures outside. This week, I had the misfortune of writing some horribly depressing news stories. And those on top of news from around the world, and I don’t feel as optimistic about the start of the new year as I normally do.

Typically, I enjoy the start of a new year. The thought of a blank slate, so to speak, keeps me energized through our blustery least until spring hits. Then I rely on the sunshine and flowers to keep me going. I’m hoping that the sour news coming across my desk turns into stories of happiness and people in our community doing great things for each other.

If you know of any such stories, or hear of anything going on in the community that you think we should write about, we are always looking for input. Email me anytime at, stop by our office to chat, or give me a call at 816-761-6200.

This is your community newspaper, and we want to write the stories that you want to read. We look forward to doing just that in 2015. Happy New Year!