There are some excellent teachers, there are some not so excellent instructors and there are some horrible social constructs of the educational system. We learn a lot in school, but it is also important to learn outside of school as well. Some of the most powerful lessons are not in the teacher's answer book and some teachers operate by the book, at right angles, making no adjustments for the humanity of their students. Like most people who are interested in history I dreaded math and algebra and may have found an interest in history out of my disdain and fear of division and multiplication.
I remember the first time I learned how to add. I thought I had tackled the math thing then and there. I also remember the first time I was frozen in front of the class unable to do long division on the chalkboard. And yet the main mathematical lesson I have used the most since its revelation to me and the one I remember most distinctly turned out to be more than a mathematical lesson. Today one would have to remove all electronic devices with a calculator to teach this lesson.
An elder was grilling a friend and I on our multiplication tables. He grew up in a country where lies by the government were commonplace and exposed after the Berlin wall fell. After a while he paused and said, "Let me think of a hard one"alright what is eight times seven?"
Well my friend and I deliberated and answered, "Fifty-six."
"Wrong. Think again."
Well we checked and double checked our arithmetic.
"It's fifty-six, I think."
"You're wrong, it's fifty-eight."
"I think it's fifty-six."
"Wrong it's fifty-eight."
We held our guns, but finally capitulated to his insistence that he held the correct answer because he was the authority figure.
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