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Archive for February, 2012

Sometimes it pays to be a pack rat.

Last weekend I started weeding through some of my personal papers as I get my house ready to sell. There is so much stuff that one can easily sink into paralysis, but spring is approaching; I know it’s time to buckle down. Going through every single thing, one at a time, is not easy, but I can’t let anything go without touching it.

Among the mountains of file folders and photographs, recipe clippings and random notes, I came upon some of the kids’ old homework papers. One of my son’s assignments, dated Sept. 10, 1998, was titled “Interview with Robert Lavelle.” The fledgling 8th graders had been asked to interview a parent about his job and how he made use of math in his work. It began:

Mischa: Robert, what’s your job?

Robert: I’m the director of publishing, education and new media for a documentary production company.

Mischa: Do you use mathematics in your job? If so, in what capacity?

Robert: I use math regularly in my job. I use it when doing budgets to decide on the feasibility of a project, to keep track of the expenses, and to project the revenue for my department.

The interview continues, with Mischa asking Bob what math courses he took in school, and whether he wished he’d taken more. Bob says he wishes he had.

Mischa’s final question: What advice would you give to a student today?

Bob’s answer: Think for yourself, be an individual, and remember that struggling for success and trying to enjoy life are not the same thing. Sometimes you have to choose between the two, and when you do, always choose to enjoy life.

The teacher’s comment, in red ink: “Good advice.”

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