Planning had been in the works since September, when our math department decided that the flavor of Diegueño’s Family Math Night would be celebratory. They’re a young department, only two over forty, and those two perhaps the most youthful of the bunch. Their idea of celebrating family and math together smacked of the unconventionality of youth, and this proved perfect for our audience, made up of middle school students, their parents, and scads of younger siblings.
The activities promoted a playful attitude, students and parents warming up with a challenge that invited them to use straight lines to cut a pizza into as many slices as they could. Walking around our media center, where eighty kids and parents were getting started, I could tell right away we were in for a great night: the kids were helping the adults.
Under the watchful eyes of our math teachers, all of whom agreed to give up the Tuesday night to come help, moms and dads, grandmas and little brothers (and even my AP and I) joined Diegueño students for an evening of hands on math fun.
One popular activity had us learning that Wisconsin’s mascot, Bucky the Badger, does push ups for every point scored in a football game, and then doing our best to figure out the total number of push ups he did when Wisconsin beat Indiana 83 to 20. I’ll be honest, my calculations were going astray until an intrepid twelve year old leaned over and helped me out. His patience with a former English teacher like me, and his ability to see me not as his principal but as a guy who was there to do math with him, captured the spirit of the evening.
Together we enjoyed raffles, skits by the Math team, and informative and practical tips for how parents can help their students at home. Mostly, we learned together and laughed together.
I think my favorite part of the night was the last shared experience, when we got to chew gum and blow bubbles. Sure there was a graphing component to the bubble activity, but the image of parents and kids blowing bubbles through smiles and fits of giggling was one of the sweetest and most inspiring things I’ve seen in more than two decades in public education.
At our best we learn together. Our Diegueño Family is a collection of supportive and fun loving kids and adults. We value rigor and invite in whimsy. Often at the same time.
My AP took a photo of us all at the end of the night, a panorama that captured us as learners. You can see papers littered across tables and even a couple of people finishing up computations. These are learners young and old, some with pink gum in their mouths, some celebrating correct answers, all happy to be spending the evening together. And as the very thankful principal of Diegueño I have the pleasure of being in the middle of it all …blowing a bubble.