Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 22 2011

Prime and Punishment

I have refused all year to tell my kids my age. I say that I’m 48, and then I guarantee that I’m lying by telling them my age is a prime number. (I’ll tell them on the last day of school, with an awesome math problem my friend wrote. When solved correctly, it will be 23, but when my kids make the mistake they always make, it will be 48. Nerdy, but awesome.)

On Friday, our kids got the afternoon for a yearbook signing party. The big consequence in the last weeks of school has been loss of that party, so my assistant principal had all the grade’s major troublemakers with him that afternoon. Somehow the topic of age came up, and they started discussing how old I am. They started with 23, 27, or 29, until someone pointed out that 27 is 9×3. Then they added 31. Debate raged and eventually they settled (correctly) on 23.

I know this story because my AP called me to tell me. He was delighted with the fact that he had all these behavior problems sitting with him, and they chose to argue over prime numbers. Eighth graders in trouble are not known to debate math problems. I WIN.

3 Responses

  1. G

    A definite win! I have convinced my 2nd graders that I am 12. They believe me…seriously! I haven’t been 12 in a VERY LONG time!

  2. Lucas

    “But yet mathematical certainty is, after all, something insufferable. Twice two makes four seems to me simply a piece of insolence. Twice two makes four is a pert coxcomb who stands with arms akimbo barring your path and spitting. I admit that twice two makes four is an excellent thing, but if we are to give everything its due, twice two makes five is sometimes a very charming thing too.”

    Dostoyevsky, Notes from the Underground

  3. ZR

    You absolutely win. Nice work!

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