The Clan finds doing math means eating crow

This is a pose we like to call Intensely Frustrated By Algebra And Math In General. It is usually accompanied by irritable mumbling and outbursts of "But I got it right!"
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If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the course of my home school education, it’s that the math correction book is seldom wrong. And as much as my siblings and I like to, claiming otherwise rarely works out well.

But we still try.

Here at Woodlawn Academy home school, the Clan does our math out of a curriculum called Teaching Textbooks, which combines audio/visual lectures on the computer with chapters and math lessons in a print textbook. After Mom teaches the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, we do Teaching Textbooks for everything else until we graduate.

On the whole, this is a good system. However, my siblings and I found what we consider a loophole in this setup. Since we do prepared problems from a textbook for our math lessons every day, Mom doesn’t actually do the math to check our work (which makes sense since there are between eight and 10 people doing math on any given school day). Instead, she corrects our problems out of a correction book from Teaching Textbooks. And sometimes, there are errors in the correction book.

It’s only happened a few times, maybe a half dozen or so, but those exceptions have set a precedent. Now, whenever we’re stumped by a problem and can’t find our error, we’ll bring it to Mom with the argument that “There’s no other way to do this problem! The correction book must be wrong again!” 

I’m sure we’re not the only ones doing this, but at my home school, blaming the correction book is the No. 1 most commonly cited reason for why we made mistakes in our math problems.

This excuse works best when we’re doing geometry or pre-calculus, hopefully involving logarithmic functions or sines and cosines. When Mom doesn’t know the math off the top of her head, we feel more confident in our ability to convincingly say, “No, really, the correction book has it wrong!”

Blaming the correction book is much harder to pull off in the lower grades. Given that Mom taught all of us to do basic math (add, subtract, multiply, and divide), she’s pretty sharp about finding where the real errors are — and usually, they belong to us. That doesn’t stop my younger siblings from trying, though.

In fact, while I’ll be the first to admit that blaming mathematical errors on the creators of our math curriculum is an unreliable tactic, we continue to use it. This is partly out of sheer stubbornness, but we’re also optimistically hopeful due to the fact that this strategy has actually worked on a few special cases.

To date, there are a handful of individual answers in our various math correction books that have been “renegotiated.” That handful doesn’t stand up well to the hundreds of other problems that we really did get wrong, but just because we’re wrong 99.99 percent of the time doesn’t stop us from saying, “The guy who made these [math textbooks] is wrong!”