Math is Hard

math post

So math is hard.  Or Nicole thinks it is.  She “hated math.”

I think she probably also hated English and grammar, since she uses both rather poorly, but I digress.

“We use(sic) to do math workbooks.”

She thought they were “busy work.”

The problem, of course, is that math is like playing the piano or riding a bike.  It’s a skill.  You have to practice a skill to get good at it. That’s what math workbooks are.  Practice.

One other thing about math is that we don’t study it in school solely to enable us to solve an algebraic equation at age 52, after a lifetime of working as a dog groomer.  Lots of people go all the way through school and rarely use higher math again in their lives.  If they really need it, they get a calculator or a computer does it for them.

What studying math does (all those workbooks) is teach students how to think logically and clearly and orderly.  How to reason.  How to solve problems step-by-step.  How to look at, say, an area where you want to build a patio and figure out that you might need to level the ground first. And then, the next step might be to actually be able to determine when it is level. And then a further step might be to slope it very slightly so that water will not puddle in your patio but will run off.

It’s not just about knowing how to figure out, say, what level is, but how to think so that you know that getting the ground level is desirable or necessary.  How to put things in order.

Problem-solving.  A really good life skill.  Brought to you by your math workbook.

But the zinger is the second highlighted sentence.  What if you are “forced” to do math when you don’t want to, when you would rather just take a break?

What if  you are forced to wait on a difficult customer when you just don’t feel like it, and would rather go to Burger King because you’re hungry, only you don’t have $10 to do that and you absolutely have to wait on that customer to get paid so you’ll have $10 to go get that Whopper?

Or what if your boss says you simply must load that truck with boxes by noon, only you don’t feel like it, and you’d rather take a break, so you just say, “Gee, I’m gonna take a break right now and I’ll do all that later”?

One of the real weaknesses of homeschooling in general is that homeschooling parents tend to give in to this sort of thing.  In “real” school, the teacher assigns a paper to be turned in by Friday, and if you’re late, you find out that your “A” paper has now earned a measly “B” for being late.  It’s a little practice at what life is going to be like when you’re grown and holding down an actual job with real responsibilities.

Homeschool parents are prone to say, “Well, it’s okay because Aunt Rhoda visited last night and I know you had to stop working on it to play with your cousin Mikey, so you can finish it tomorrow.”

I know about this. We homeschooled for quite a few years.  It’s a problem without an easy solution.

But I digress again.

Math is hard for Nicole.  She doesn’t like it.

It shows.

meme guns

I have no idea if Ryan Muller made this meme, or if he simply shared it.  There’s nothing on it that identifies the author.

However, it’s bullshit.

Here are the actual statistics about murder, right from the official FBI website.


In case that’s hard to read, in 2014, deaths (murders) from firearms of all types totalled 8124. Murders using blunt objects as a weapon (including baseball bats)? 435.

I know Nicole thinks math is hard, but this is simple.  8124 is more than 435.  A lot more.

And I am aware that the meme creator says that baseball bats are the most frequently used weapon in “violent crimes” and death does not always result from “violent crime,” but we’ll get to his mixed statistics in a bit. The overarching theme of the meme is death.

First let’s look at the bottom two items on the charming little graph she posted.

meme guns snippet

The meme’s author doesn’t bother to tell us if this figure is for one year (one would assume that’s the case) or for an aggregate of 12 years or three years, or if it is one year, which year.  So we have to guess.

And that is sort of hard to do because neither of those numbers match up to anything on the FBI official report.

The total number of people murdered in the US in 2014 was, according to the chart above, 11961.  I did a little searching through the FBI website and found a slightly different figure of 14249, but that was “estimated.”

If you opt for a different year, the figures are similar.  None of them match the ones in the meme.  According to the meme, there were a whopping 28292 homicides in the US during some unspecified period of time.

Notice that the meme maker made the figure for “non-firearm homicides” bigger than the figure for “firearm homicides.”

Not only is this inaccurate, it is wildly inaccurate. Firearms account for the overwhelming majority of homicides in the US annually, as you can see clearly in the FBI report above. Out of 11961 murders, 8124 were people who were shot by a gun.

And handguns accounted for about 3/5 of the firearm homicides. (See? A fraction.  Scary.)

Now then. Notice the other things listed on the meme.  Smoking. Medical errors.

Let’s talk about medical errors for a second. That’s a big scary figure, isn’t it?  Gee whiz. 195000 people died from some doctor or nurse making a boo-boo. That’s bad, if true. Turns out, the meme maker cherry-picked the largest estimate he could find so he could make the scary line longer.

But even assuming it’s accurate, imagine what the statistic is for “deaths due to not having medical care for a treatable condition.”  It’s estimated that 45000 people in the US die every year simply because they have no health insurance. (And yes, that’s an estimate and as such, is subject to error.)

But suppose there weren’t any mistakes made in hospitals simply because there weren’t any hospitals?  I assure you, I’d be dead a long time ago.  Actually, I probably would never have been born.

But the larger point here is about the reason for the meme.

The guy made the meme because he wanted to make it look like hardly anyone ever gets killed by being shot.   It just almost never happens.  Why, people are dropping dead all around us, getting killed in car wrecks, and falling down, and getting lung cancer.  Guns?  Pfft.  Hardly a blip on the radar.

But you see, nobody intends to die from smoking.  Nobody says, “Gee, I’ll smoke so I can commit suicide.”  No medical person (except for the occasional serial killer) intentionally kills a patient.  Medical errors are just that: errors.

And on and on.  Not a single thing on that list is intentional except the two at the bottom: homicides.

So the meme is comparing apples and oranges.

And then in doing so, the guy cheats with his figures.

But he fooled Nicole because she isn’t good with fractions.  I would suggest that maybe she needs to get one of those math workbooks and do some work in it herself, even if it’s hard and she doesn’t feel like it.

Or maybe she could just read this.



6 thoughts on “Math is Hard”

  1. Math is everywhere. Whether you know that you do, you use math on a daily basis. Not just shopping. Try laying a floor or meeting angles without a working knowledge of math. You can do it, but you will have a lot of trial and error and waste. Yes, learning math takes memorization, effort and practice. I guess self discipline is nonexistent in that household. I just can’t understand why someone would choose to cripple their own children like that. Is the parents life not example enough that a lack of discipline, effort or understanding of the basics easily leads to an impoverished existence? I’ve run a few small businesses and you can have all the talent in the world, work your ass off and still fail miserably if you do not understand the financial and business end. Don’t they want or hope for something better for their children? For their children to succeed despite the parents failures? What is wrong with these parents?

  2. –People learn by listening to or reading from “an expert”. Think about how your mom told you how to ride your first bike. “Pedal fast”. “Balance”. “Stay on the path”. Or how you might have seen a picture of bike riders in a story.

    — People learn by being shown by “an expert”. Remember when your older brother demonstrated how to ride that bike. Every kid watched.

    –People learn by “doing”. You had to get on that little bike and try to go. And you probably drove over the curb, or into the bushes a few times. Practice was required.

    –People learn through persistence. Skinned elbows and knees didn’t stop you. You got up, tried again…and eventually learned to ride (or decided biking wasn’t for you.)

    Learning the language, theory, skills and application of all of the various strands of mathematics requires all four of the above in different proportions depending on the age, ability and goals of the learner.

    Learners who hope to compete in a global economy require high level mathematical understanding either with Homeschooling or mortar/brick building schooling.

  3. Excellent post. I’d add that for children with any degree of inattention (or a variety of other special needs) , giving them “a break” from a challenging math problem, whenever they feel like it, does not help them develop perseverance and focus. That child may not become an Einstein or a Stephen Hawking, but can develop proficiency in math …..but this requires discipline. Having a proficient and interested teacher. Not giving up when frustrated. Practicing.

    This is the problem with homeschooling, and “unschooling” that subscribes to follow only what the child is interested in. It indulges a child who does not him/herself know what s/he is capable of…. with some application. A child of 10 or 12 or 14 does not know what s/he will become in life, her interests often change along with more exposure to the world and what career options there are. That is, of course, is IF the children are being exposed to those options. Even if it is beyond the parents’ own level of education or comfort zone.

  4. Nicole admits that she has trouble with fractions, so how in heaven is she qualified to teach her children the higher math needed to get a GED and maybe take the SATs and ACTS? (ya know, that could actually lead to them becoming wildly successful in life?) Her writing suggests that math wasn’t her only problem area.

    But she will not send her kids to folks who bothered to spend 6 years in college and got master’s degrees in education. Because she believes they will be brainwashed into “obedience to the state”, that they will become “rats in a cage” (like all the poor schmo’s that gave her the GFM money).

    Sad to say, in the end the only rats in a cage are going to be those Naugler children. The lack of either a proper homeschool eduction by someone qualified to TEACH the critical subjects (yeah, math and English) or traditional school education, will cage them. To a future no better than their parents. How selfish.

    A real education opens your eyes to divergent thoughts and ideas outside whatever you have learned in, or brainwashed by, your family of origin.

  5. I wonder if Nicole believes the bullshit she spews or if somewhere deep inside she knows she’s neglecting her children’s educational needs.
    Blah, blah, blah. I have no doubt certain types of people can successfully facilitate education through unschooling. Nicole and Joe are not these people. They’re lazy pieces of shit latching on to any movement that enables their grifting , lazy lifestyle.

  6. How can someone who is raising goats for milk and meat, rabbits (meat) and chickens (eggs & meat) not understand the importance of numbers? You have to know how much money you’re investing in the animal to know how much to charge later when you sell products.

    There is the start-up costs (animals, containment, housing) and the ongoing costs (feed, veterinary care) to account for and without math – you’re just guessing. Now, if this is just a hobby and you have money to burn, then go ahead and charge whatever you feel to be correct. But if you’re trying to make money, you have to know how much you’ve spent along the way.

    Even when purchasing something over a period of time it’s a good idea to figure out how much the item will really cost you if you don’t pay ahead on the principal. That’s what amortization charts help you do and you can do that yourself. Or have math classes where you teach and learn the formula for doing it yourself.

    I hope that they’ve impressed upon their kids the importance of never signing a contract that has a prepayment penalty clause. I hope they’re now increasingly rare, but they’re still out there to trip up the unwary.

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