Mulling Meaning in My Son's Math Quiz

This morning, I woke up and thought about how I try to squeeze extra value from each minute of each day, by finding easy ways to connect to my phone. Yes, people decry technology, and especially the phone, but I connect my phone immediately in my car, to initiate my "university on wheels," as Brian Tracy calls it. I even walk around with headphones in my pocket in case I get a free moment to listen to an audiobook or podcast, which I listen to at double speed. Walking around with a paperback would not yield such ROI.

I took a break to watch a slick video of Prince Ea, who usually comes across as too preachy to me, but produced a fantastic set piece of American Education on trial in a courthouse. Parents in this day and age obsess over their children's future and their education, but do they really put the educational system through a rigorous analysis?

I thought about how a school year is 180 days, and we are now about halfway through. 90 days left. Every online guru nowadays argues you can write a book, create an online course, build an empire in 90 days. And the school day is 6 hours, 2 hours less than the typical American workday. And if a child sleeps 8 hours, that leaves 10 hours--2 more than the typical American workday--outside of school for a child to get a different kind of education.

My 4th grader had a math quiz today. It was multiplication of double digits. I wasn't sure how much he knew. I woke him, reminded him of his quiz, and asked him, "How many days in a school year?" He knew it was 180. "How many hours in a school day?" He knew it was 6. "How many hours in a school year?" It took him longer, but he correctly answered 1080. "We could arrive at that many ways. For instance, if you wanted you could double 180, and get 360. And double 360 and get?" He said 720 easily. "And add 360?" He got back to 1080.

"And how many minutes are in a school year?" His eyes narrowed. "I have to use 'break aparts' for this. And a pencil and paper." He got the pencil and paper and arrived at 64,800 via an inexplicable Common Core methodology.

"Well, we know from the show Rent that there are 525,600 minutes in a year. There are only 64,800 minutes in a school year. That's hardly anything. You gotta make those minutes count!"