“Mathematics was hard, dull work. Geography pleased me more. For dancing I was quite enthusiastic.”

Today is winter. The dump was freezing and the wind felt Arctic. I swear the people in the car beside me were speaking Russian. If records were being kept, the fastest dump runs in history would be today’s.

Last night the wind howled and the house shook. I was glad the new palm tree was nailed in places to the deck or it would have gone flying, a bit like the cow and the rowboat in The Wizard of Oz cyclone. All I did was snuggle even more under my down comforter and go back to sleep.

Monday was the worst day of the week and the worst of all Monday’s was the one after a vacation. That would be tomorrow around here.

We all knew school was inevitable. Hating to go only made it worse so abiding it as a necessary evil made it a bit more tolerable for those for whom school was anathema. I liked school or at least I never minded going. I liked most subjects except arithmetic because it was the only one which ever gave me any trouble. I used to hide my fingers under my desk so I wouldn’t get caught using them. I was a great carrier of numbers though. It was always the smaller ones which tripped me up, never those with three digits. I remember writing the 1 over the number the way I had been taught while in my head, I’d be saying, “And carry the one.” It was almost like a prayer, something we all learned by heart. My favorite subject was reading. We had a book series which we used from year to year. The books were filled with stories and poems with questions at the end. Lots of times we’d have to read aloud. I always felt bad for the kid who had trouble with words and for whom reading aloud was torture. “Sound out the letters,” was always the nun’s directive as if that easily solved the problem. What I thought was strange was our report cards graded us on silent reading, never reading aloud so I didn’t understand why we did it. I suppose to prove we could read.

I’m sorry geography as a separate subject has disappeared from most schools. It was always a favorite of mine. Only one part, learning the exports of all the countries, was never all that important to me. I liked the pictures and mostly I liked the stories of the way people lived. The tulips and the windmills, the snow on the mountains and the goats and sheep were far more fun than bananas and coffee beans.

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8 Comments on ““Mathematics was hard, dull work. Geography pleased me more. For dancing I was quite enthusiastic.””

  1. Bob Says:

    Even here in North Texas winter may not have finished with us just because February is coming to an end. Like you I always had trouble with math. When I started flying I bought a pocket sized aviation slide rule which made doing the math simple. I thank god daily for the invention of the pocket calculator which today has morphed into a smartphone.

    Geography is now part of Social Studies which means it has lost its real meaning. All the cultural parts of Geography are now the Social part of Social Studies.

    Have you ever noticed that all of the maps in our classrooms are and were Mercator projections with both north and South America in the middle and Asia on the right edge and Europe on the left. Europe and Asia were split for political reasons to hide the fact of the real world during the cold war. If we had maps showing a North Polar projection, then we would have seen that Europe, Africa and Asia are all one big world island, The Soviet Union was huge and that we in the US are small area by comparison. Luckily no one has ever asked me about the North polar projection and the world island when I have interviewed for a job.

    I always loved maps and have a good sense of direction. I guess that comes from many years of looking down at the world from the cockpit of an airplane using paper maps and my brain. Now all of the airplanes come equipped with computers that do all the calculations for the crew and even replace the paper maps. I spend lots of time explaining to my younger aviator students that checking the results of the computer with your brain and common sense could save your life. I pulled out my old aviation slide rule in class a few weeks ago and the younger students didn’t have a clue how to use it. When I told them that it was really just an aviation version of a slide rule, they thought I was speaking a foreign language.

    • Kat Says:

      I have made so many mistakes in my check book when I calculate by hand. I have to go back and check it at the end of every week and use my calculator.

      You’re right about geography’s fate. It is taught in context and that isn’t enough.

      We had maps just as you described, but we also had a globe so we’d have an idea of what our world really looked like. I was taught the size of Russia so I knew it was huge.

      I too have a good sense of direction. My mother didn’t and neither does my sister. I always drove when we went somewhere because they knew we’d arrive without driving in circles. They used to laugh and threaten to tie me up in the backseat while they tried to find where we were going.

  2. olof1 Says:

    Mondays are ok and I’ve always felt that way, but Tuesdays are awful 🙂

    I loved math and still does ( I normally do all counting in my head and is often faster than my friends using a calculator 🙂 ) but I loved geography even more and it was my best subject. But we didn’t have to learn what products the countries sold. The three biggest cities, rivers, lakes, deserts, regions mountains and lots more. All states in the USA of course and I still think I know them all but I don’t think I can place them right on a map any longer.

    Reading out loud was fun especially when I reached voice change. Not an eye was dry as long as I read out loud and I had just as fun as everyone else 🙂 🙂 🙂

    We’ve had quite a nice day over here even if it was a bit cold in the afternoon. Now it feels like the influenza has hit me. 100 000 were hit last month so I’m not surprised if it is my turn now.

    Have a great day!

    • Kat Says:

      I used to get up at 5:15 for work so dragging myself out of bed on Monday was a struggle.

      We learned all the rivers, lakes and mountains too as you did. I can’t even plave the states in the right place anymore!

      It has been horribly cold all day here and is only in the 20’s now.

  3. Zoey & Me Says:

    I wasn’t hot on math either. This post reminded me of a time when we had pen pals. A list circulated around each class and there were plenty of kids in foreign countries to choose from. I wrote to a boy in S Korea. It was beyound remarkable to get a letter back from him two weeks later. In fact, reading the letters soaked up much of the school hour for geography which I also like. It was even better when I could say I knew someone in Asia.

    • Kat Says:

      That would have been cool to write to a kid in another country. We never really went anywhere, and I would have thought that quite exotic (if I had known the word!).

  4. Hedley Says:

    AR, on DVR, waiting for The Dictator to arrive on the red carpet !

    • Kat Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      Just got back from my friends’ house where we watched the whole red carpet then the AW. I thought the show was excellent.

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