## Saturday, April 16, 2016

### N is for No Pencil

N is for No Pencil
or Multiplying Negatives

I was in Mrs. Weekly's sixth grade math class and we were learning for the first time that when you multiply two negative numbers, you get a positive one. This was a concept I just couldn't wrap my head around. How in the world could two negatives make a positive? I questioned the teacher endlessly and her explanations never made sense to me.

Then one evening I asked my sister, Martha, how could you get a positive number when you multiplied two negatives. Without missing a beat, she simply said, "I don't have no pencil. Do I have a pencil or not?"

I thought about it for a couple of minutes, and then it was all crystal clear. She didn't have no pencil, so she must have a pencil. So that's how two negatives could become a positive. So simple.

Martha had a knack for saying just the right thing to make sense to me.  She seemed to speak my language, so I often went to her when I had a question about something. And she never disappointed.

Did you ever have someone who could explain things that made sense to you? Someone who spoke your language?

1. I love how your sister explained that to you. If I'd had her to explain math to me, perhaps I'd be better at it! Thanks for stopping by my blog the other day!
- Jen

1. Maybe that's why I did like math. That and some really good high school teachers.

2. I'd say the hubster is my special language buddy but aren't always on the same page, we're always teaching each other new things. I teach him vocab and he tries to teach me tech-if there is anyone out there that can teach me chemistry they're the next Nobel winner hands down.... Nice post, I liked the stroll down memory lane :o)

1. Even though we have been married for over thirty years, I am constantly learning new things from my husband. I am sometimes amazed that there are still stones unturned because we know each other very well.

3. A sister is the best ally anyone can have. A sister who can explain math concepts is even better!

1. I'm very lucky. I have three of them. And we definitely speak the same language. In the past couple of years when my younger sister and I have been spending time in hospitals with my mother, it has been amazing to me how many times we say the same thing at the same time. Like we're twins. I don't remember ever doing that when we were growing up (she's four years younger), but it certainly happens now.

4. Ha! That's brilliant! Your sister should have been a teacher.

1. All of my sisters are pretty talented, however none of them is a teacher. Handling our own kids seemed to be enough kid action for us.

5. Kudos to your sister for thinking up that explanation.

I work in a city different from where I live. I have a friend who can give me directions in that city and I never get lost with her directions (no, I don't have GPS). She gives just the right amount of details--not too little, not too many--so that it clicks in my brain.

1. Now that's a talent. I get lost if I turn around in a hall. Are you generally good about not getting lost?

2. Um ... I like to do Google maps prior to going somewhere because it helps me to visually plot out where I am going--I don't do well with auditory directions. It's hard work for me to navigate, but I can do it if I put my mind to it.

6. My family think I am the great explainer which is handy. My husband used to work in an industry that was completely outside of their experience and understanding. He would try to tell me what he did which I sort of understood and I would re explain it to them in simpler language again. I am not always sure I really understood what I was talking about though. Enjoy the rest of the A to Z challenge

1. Sometimes it doesn't matter if you know what you're talking about. You just have to sound like you do. :)

Thanks for visiting.

7. That was so darn clever of an explanation.

1. I think so. Made sense to me.

8. I loved her explanation!!

1. She brought math into the real world.

9. Wow! She sounds like she really knew how to explain things to you! And I'm so glad no one gave you the "that's just the way it is" spiel. I think it's so much better when kids can work it out in their head and really understand what they are doing. :)

1. I think my teacher gave me that's just the way it is spiel. That's why I asked my sister.

10. I'm glad you understood that because while I had no trouble understanding multiplying negatives your sisters reply confused the heck out of me. :-)

1. I think with either symbols or words double negatives can be confusing.

What do you think?