My fourth graders had a burning question all year long: How old are you?
I’m not so much embarrassed by my age, as I am shocked at how quickly I got to this ripe spot in my timeline. However, having said that, I do not directly answer that question.
Instead, I always give the students an equation on the last day of school. It usually involves a cube root. “But you didn’t teach us that!” they complain. And my reply is, “When you learn what that means, you’ll have earned the answer to your question.”
This year one of my fourth graders told me she didn’t need to know a cube root to figure out my age. Curiosity engaged, I asked her how she proposed to find the answer to her question.
“Easy. You told us you were in sixth grade when John F. Kennedy died, so I can figure it out without a cube root.” And off she went to find a JFK biography in our class library.
Which reminds me of two things. One, be careful what personal facts you reveal. And two, being flexible thinkers in math is just as important as working through an equation.