Multiplication With Angelia
By Tanya Moore, PhD
There are moments when we are reminded of how much we have to share with those around us. The other night as I was preparing to leave my sister’s house after a quick gab session, my seven year old niece Angelia walked up to me and asked me if I would show her how to do multiplication. Even though I was tired and hungry after a long day, how could I possibly say no to her request?
Sitting at the kitchen table, I taught her how multiplication was another way to do addition. We worked out the times table for all the numbers between 1 and 9 by adding the appropriate numbers. I showed her tips to figuring out what happens when you multiply numbers by a 0, 1, 10, or 100. After she calculated an answer, and found that she was right, she let out a genuine squeal of delight. She did this each time with each calculation. Even as we could hear American Idol begin to play in the other room (one of her favorite shows, no less), she wanted to keep going. She began to discover patterns, seeing that when you multiply two numbers it doesn’t matter which order you multiply them in.
With each computation I could see her confidence and esteem bursting at the seams. She also didn’t seem to mind, and even thoughtfully nodded her head in agreement, to my mini-lecture on why I didn’t want her to use calculators yet to figure out the answer, because finding out the answer is only one part of learning math, the other part is about sharpening your mind and making it strong.
I realized that each of us walks around each day with so much information and knowledge, some of it hard earned, and some of it acquired with ease. We sometimes spend so much time focusing on what we “don’t know” what we “don’t have to give” that we blind ourselves to all that we have to offer and limit what we give to those in our lives and communities.
Shortly after our multiplication session, I learned that in her after school program there are a group of boys in a higher grade that are constantly challenging each other to math questions like, “I bet you don’t know what 130 times 8 is.” My niece, who is a force to be reckoned with on the soccer field, monkey bars or in a swimming pool, is very competitive, and I can only imagine how it has been burning her up inside not to be able to jump with her own “I bet you don’t know” challenge. Whatever her motivation, I am happy that she spoke out loud her desire to learn. I wouldn’t have known that I possessed something, something small and simple that I took for granted that could translate into an opportunity to build confidence and excitement for learning.
It makes me wonder how many of our youth, and our peers for that matter, have burning questions, but for whatever reason are to afraid to ask or don’t know where to go to find the answers, and how many times we can be a bridge that can help a person take the next step in accomplishing their goals. Each of us should know that right now, we have what it takes to be mentor to someone in our life.
I can’t wait to teach Angelia about infinity!