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?