Thursday, October 24, 2013

Les Fractions

Who knew grade six math would come in handy at the ripe old age of 39?

Well, other than my grade six math teacher who assured us that it would.

I was not always stellar in math. In fact, OAC Calculus took two kicks at the can before I got a grade high enough for university application. I was pretty good at multiplication but division came a little slower. I was great at math tricks (ask me to multiply any 2-digit number by 11 and watch how fast I can do it). Math puzzles are fun too...although my skills are a little random in that department. Either I'm really good...or I'm not.

When it comes right down to it, I just really like fiddling with numbers and making them fit nicely into patterns.

I also always make myself do the math in my head before I double check on paper or, gasp!, on my calculator. It's important to keep those wheels greased lest they rust and fall off.

(I just realized that not everyone knows what OAC is. OAC is what we used to call Grade 13, at least in Ontario. Grade 13, something else that kids these days who head off to post-secondary education after Grade 12 also don't know about. Gosheroonies, I am beginning to sound rather dated aren't I?)

Back to the grade six math.

The other night, Doug and I had a very yummy chicken pot pie for dinner. Not homemade this time but from a box. It was warm and delicious....AND had a nutrition label which is always helpful.

Doug had popped the pie into the toaster oven and I was perched on my usual stool sipping wine so I asked him how much of the pie he thought I would eat.

"One third" he responded. "A quarter is not enough and half is too much."


I checked the nutrition label. The service size was one quarter of the pie.

So folks, pretend you have diabetes (unless you actually do and then don't worry about pretending) and you need to calculate the number of carbs in your dinner in order to take the correct amount of insulin. No calculators allowed. 

How many carbs in 1/3 of the chicken pot pie? 

If you want to be even more precise, we technically subtract the number of grams of fibre from the number of grams of carbs when we calculate. In other words, 1/4 of the pie is 28 grams of cards - not 30. In this case, it actually made the math a lot easier - at least for me. 

Sure I could pull out my calculator. Sure I could just guesstimate it. 

Instead, I relied on my grade six fractions classes to pull me through. And pull me through they did. Who know all those fraction homework sheets would one day help me calculate how to keep myself safe and healthy? 

I am very glad I paid attention. 


  1. Multiply by 4. Divide by 3. :-)

  2. Oh Jeff!

    I laughed when you had to explain OAC. Even now I say that followed up with "back when we had grade 13!"

    for the record, I took OAC physics TWICE, and failed OAC calculus while barely passing OAC algebra and geometry. Most of my college education was engineering. somehow I made it work.