In 8th grade I had an English teacher who was told she would also have to instruct her students in math that year due to a teacher shortage. It was clear from day one that she was not happy about this. Not only was she unhappy, but she was just as lost as we were when it came to x + y = 47. As an English major who seems to be missing that chunk of my brain which comprehends numbers, I understand her disdain and only wish the principal understood what a mistake it was to ask an English teacher to mix algebra with Shakespeare.
What my teacher did to cover this section of her forced curriculum was cleverly disguise writing assignments as math assignments. The one I remember most was planning a road trip. We were to create a budget (this was the only math component) and write a report on where we would go and what we would do. Without hesitation I decided I would take a Winnebago with all of my friends across the country to the San Diego Zoo.
I sent away for free brochures and dreamed of palm trees and panda bears. Little did I know that eight years later I would be making that very trip (minus the Winnebago full of teenage girls) only it would be to live there. I still wonder sometimes if that choice in 8th grade was led by some strange intuition. Of all the places to travel to in the U.S., I chose the very place that, years later, my parents would tell me they/we were moving to. When I was having lunch at the zoo with my sister after first moving here, I couldn't help thinking how strange it was to be there, exactly where I had imagined myself only in a different time and under very different circumstances.
It's little things like that that make me wonder if we listened to our gut more often, maybe we'd have a better, truer sense of where we were headed. Even though I'm not choosing to stay in San Diego, I feel very lucky that a creative "math" project in 8th grade turned into a reality that was better than I could have ever imagined.