The year was 1955. I was six years old and ready to start my primary education. At that time you went directly to first grade; there was no time for Kindergarten.
I still remember my first day at school. It was a windy day. My hands were sweating profusely and my whole body was trembling like a leaf in a storm. There were butterflies in my stomach and my head was spinning round and round like a whirligig.
My mother guided me to Mrs. Hubbard’s classroom ( I can’t remember her first name). She was my first grade teacher at the Farm #8 School in Changuinola, Bocas del Toro. She greeted me with great kindness—as most teachers do—and made everything possible to calm my fears. After a few days, the butterflies flew away. I was a happy boy once more.
It was Mrs. Hubbard who taught me my first Arithmetic concepts. She said that if you had one apple in a basket and you added one more apple, there would be two apples in the basket. It was very simple; one apple plus one apple equals two apples. I got a golden star from Mrs. Hubbard when I finished that simple arithmetic test; and for many years I would put my hands in the fire stating that 1 + 1 = 2. That is, until yesterday.
Yesterday, I found out there was another arithmetical structure which contradicted what I had learned way back in 1955 from Mrs. Hubbard. It’s called the “Unorthodox Math”. The following two examples will show you what I mean. Here we go.
Example No. 1:
Lend me $10, but give me only half of it. Then you’ll owe me $5, and I’ll owe you $5, and we’ll be even.
Example No. 2:
Teacher: If you had one dollar and you asked your father for another, how many dollars would you have?
Vincent: One dollar.
Teacher (sadly): You don’t know your arithmetic.
Vincent (sadly): You don’t know my father.
Now you’ll understand that Mrs. Hubbard taught me another kind of arithmetic.
Did I put a smile on your face? If not, I’ll try harder next time.
Have a beautiful day!