Wednesday, November 16, 2011

sorting things out

I was sitting in the ER.  An IV in my arm hanging with the EKG & I say to the Tech, "Do you know why it is called an EKG and not an ECG?" 
He smiles shyly, laughs nervously, and starts with the answer past down to a generation of students, "The rumor is that it is German." 
This makes me laugh because it is a very unsatisfying answer to get & to give when you don't know if it is true or not.  I know how he feels first hand.  That answer was given to me & I in turn have given it to patients, and now here it is again proof of the damage the lack of understanding can bring.  
This is why I don't ask Beach to memorize math facts.  I would rather her know how and why than what.  Later when things get complicated & they do get complicated I would rather her know how to derive formulas than memorize them.  One thing can look very much like the other in both cases you have the formula in your head but they are mile apart in usefulness.  Saying it is German and it being German aren't the same thing if you don't know if it is or not.    

Math is like those phone numbers in your phone.  Why memorize them if you know how to get them? And sure enough no matter what you do some will get stuck in your head, these are good to have & good to use but best if you know why they are there in the first place.  Having a phone number but not knowing who it belongs to is pointless.
Beach working on place value to prepare for regrouping in 3-digit subtraction
And if you were wondering, yes it really is German: Elektrokardiogramm.  Right answers aren't always right and wrong answers aren't always wrong.  As for me? I was right, I was wrong: it was metabolic acidosis but I also have viral pneumonia. 
Standing in the waiting room of the ER holding my discharge papers pulling a little note out of my pocket- 3 phone numbers scribbled on it.  Guys, I may not know your numbers by heart but I know the how & why it is your numbers I am holding.              
Does math make you smile like this? The site she is on is:
People like to say life mimics art or art mimics life. 
I think life is an equation.  You figure it out.

"If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us.  The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain.” ~Adlani Stevenson Jr, speech at the University of Wisconsin Madison Oct 1952~

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