Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Sarah Moustafa - Assignment 1 (Team Uncreative)

Sarah Moustafa's picture

Sarah Moustafa

Critical Issues in Education

1/29/13

Paper 1

  1. Who Will Read To Me Now? The Changes That Come With A New Sibling
  2. How Much Will It Cost? Having A Support System at Home
  3. How Much Interest Will I Get? How Neopets.com Taught Me About Money
  4. So I’m A Smart Kid? What It Was Like On The Enrichment Track
  5. So I Can Only Get It If It’s On Sale? Learning Math While Shopping
  6. What’s White Privilege? The Things The Internet Taught Me
  7. You Mean I Can Take Whatever I Want? How A Liberal Arts Education Is Affecting My Schooling

***

“Now listen to me and listen carefully.”

It was a warm day in the small town of Cape May, New Jersey. I was leaning over the back of a booth at my father’s restaurant when my father’s best friend and coworker addressed me. Countless similar interactions had prepared me for what was to come next.

“Ok, there are seven people going to dinner. Each person wants two slices of pizza and one soda. Remember that: 2 slices, 1 soda. Now, you can only buy the pizza by the pie, you can only order groups of eight slices. How many slices does each person want?” The man, like an uncle to me, paused in his elaborate setup to make sure I was paying attention.

“Two!” I responded, eager to show that I was focused on the problem at hand.

“Yes. Two. Good. Now, each pie costs 18 dollars and 50 cents. Each soda – everyone got a medium – so each soda cost 2 dollars.”

“$18.50, $2,” I mumbled to myself, trying to store all of this information in my short-term memory.

“Good. Now, the group pays with a $100 bill. How much change will they get back?”

There it was, the overall question. It might seem a bit much to ask of a nine year old, but he had confidence in me. I squinted into empty space, waving my finger in the air as I imagined myself drawing numbers, multiplying and manipulating, drawing answers out of thin air.

“How much was each soda?” I asked absentmindedly, listening for a response while attempting to keep the rest of the information flitting around my brain from escaping.

“I told you to listen to me and listen carefully! They each got a medium soda, so it was two dollars.”

I ignored the amusement obvious in his tone, focusing all of my energy on the task at hand. I gasped in wonder as the numbers fell into place, revealing the total.

“They spent 51 dollars, so their change is 49!”

The pride on my father’s face as I untangled his friend’s question was obvious. I wasn’t off the hook for long, however, as he jumped into the fray himself.

“Very good, Sarah! Now, what if there were 9 people, and 4 of them wanted pepperoni, which cost 75 cents more?”

***

For people who don’t like math, being presented with lengthy, verbal word problems as a child would probably seem like a nightmare. I was not one of those kids. I enjoyed math, and these problems were like puzzles, challenging me to push myself. This story isn’t about math, however. It is about my privilege of having a supporting family that cared about my education. In “Teaching to Change the World,” Peggy McIntosh’s description of white privilege is highlighted, discussing certain privileges she observes are inherent to her in society solely based on the color of her skin. McIntosh views this as unfair, finding it hard to come to terms with the fact that, by no amount of effort on her own part, she is automatically given a leg up on anyone who is not white.

My dilemma with having a supporting home life can be viewed as similar. Having parents and family members who understood my homework, who challenged me to do the best that I could do, undoubtedly had an impact on my views towards school and education in general. It gave me a starting point above the “competition” that was my peers, and I myself had nothing to do with the application of that privilege. I am forever grateful for the emphasis on working hard and doing well in school that existed in my family, but I cannot help but sometimes feel guilty for my successes because of things that were not under my control.

Comments

mertc's picture

How do I delete the above

How do I delete the comment below?

mertc's picture

First Assignment

.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
3 + 0 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.