Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Were You Sick on Roman Numeral Day?

What is the worst day that you could possibly miss in your elementary school math class? The consensus around the family dinner table over the weekend was that day in the third grade when Roman numerals were taught. Sitting there—like Roman numeral repressed ducks in a row—my daughter, my brother, and my sister-in-law all admitted to missing out on this valuable life lesson. They were sick on the day that Roman numerals were taught and remain somewhat clueless about their meaning.

If you think about it, you do need to know those Roman numerals and not just to read the dates on ruins while in Rome. I've made my daughter a cheat sheet of Roman numerals for when she does an outline for one of her high school classes. Roman numeral clocks were always a struggle. She doesn't know the order of the numerals or what "XV" stands for. My brother admitted to having some difficulty reading the dates on certain movies or older TV shows that are written in the Roman way. My sister-in-law remains perplexed about what "L" or "C" mean.

I don't even remember learning about Roman numerals and their order but this lesson must have taken up an entire day of math. But seemingly only one day. I found it really surprising how missing one Math lesson could make such a difference in every day life and how three people of varying ages were so impacted by missing out. For some reason, it seems that a 3rd grade teacher must teach you this in the classroom because if you try to learn it on your own it will not stick with you.

Roman numerals are now my prime example of why Math matters. As for my daughter and her Roman numerals? She still has her cheat sheet.


alyssa said...

That's interesting. I don't recall learning Roman numerals in school...but it seems I just know them. Maybe I taught myself just so I could know what year those Scooby Doo reruns originally aired :)

Christianna said...

HA! I agree. Gotta know when those Scooby Doo episodes were written!

Marilyn said...

I taught Grade 3 and can not read the higher Roman Numerals - must have called in sick the day the lesson was to be taught. Fortunately I can read fluently to XII, so am able to tell the time on Great Grandpa Frank Korth's wind-up clock sitting on our piano.