Mathematics

I was talking about mathematics last night. It has never been my strong suit. I blame Mrs Reiden. She might be out there reading this.

I can remember it well. It was year 2. Mrs Redien was our teacher. She was teaching us about numbers, real basic stuff, the early days; how some numbers are even and some are odd.

To discover the even numbers all we had to do was divide them and there would be some more even numbers.

So all we got counters, little round plastic discs and there were numbers on the board, and we had to count out the discs to what the number on the board was, then seperate the discs and did we get two equal piles? Then those piles were of an even number and the number we had started with was also an even number (Hopefully you followed that; damn complex stuff for a 7 year old and still complex today).

I was up to the number 14. I counted out 14 discs. I seperated the discs into two piles of 7. 7 was not an even number, because I had done 7 a few piles before. So if 7 was not an even number, then 14 could not be either because Mrs Reiden said the even numbers will divide into smaller even numbers. Yet the two piles from 14 were of an equal size, they were both 7, but 7 was odd, so how could two odd numbers be making an even number when Mrs Reiden had explained even will divide into even and odd into odd?

So I went up to Mrs Reiden, very confused, a bit worried, rather concerned, carrying 14 discs, 7 in each little hand, my answers on a piece of paper with a margin ruled on the left hand side done courtesy of a wooden 30cm ruler and a marathon session of margin ruling done in the early days of the term where we went through all our exercise books and did margins in red pen on every page; anyway I’m digressing onto how I got my aversion to margins. Back to the mathematics.

“Mrs Reiden, what is going on? You said the even numbers will divide into smaller even numbers but 14 divides into 7 which is an odd number.”

“Oh”, says she, not moving from her desk, “I must have made a mistake. Some even numbers divide into odd numbers.”

Upon that pronouncement my interest in mathematics just waned.

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