Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 09.27.08
Stanstead, Quebec


Still putting the "work" in "homework"

STANSTEAD, QC | Put the laptop away, it's time for homework. No, I doubt very much that your homework involves playing N-Game. Sighing doesn't help, you know. Neither does rolling your eyes.

What do you mean you don't have any homework? Let's see your agenda. You left it at school? Then how do you know you don't have any homework? Maybe you have homework written in your agenda but you don't know you have it written in your agenda because you don't have your agenda. You see, you can't know you don't know something if you don't know you forgot it. It's a proven fact.

Let me see your math. Ah, now, you see? You've got unfinished problems here. You don't get it? What don't you get? Let's do it together. No, really, I can do it. It's only high school math. I've got a university degree. Therefore, I can do the math. That's called logic. It's very important to use logic in every aspect of learning. Except gym class. There's no logic when they make you climb those stupid ropes.

So-o-o-o... exponents. What is an exponent? An exponent is a tiny number next to a big number. It's called an "exponent" because it's like a promoter of the big number. It really believes in the big number. It's kind of a little cheerleader telling you how many times to cheer. So if the number 4 has an exponent of 3, it's "Rah! Rah! Rah!" Four, four, four! And that, of course, gives you 12.

Incidentally, you express exponents by saying "to the power of," in our case, 4 to the power of 3. So the higher the exponent, the more power the number has. Say you had a 4 to the power of 5. Well, the 5 is more powerful than the 3, and that extra power means you should be able to do the math more quickly.

Now here's a tricky one. You have to divide numbers with exponents. First of all, look at your cheerleaders; are they on the same team? Yes, in this case, they are both exponent 5. We call these denominators. They cancel each other out. What you're left with are the numerators, which means "the numerous things left behind." Now simply divide.

What if your exponents aren't the same? Subtract your exponents and carry the rest below. Now simply divide.

What do you mean you don't get it? I don't think I can explain it any more simply. You're just not paying attention. You know, muttering under your breath is even less helpful than the eye-rolling.

Let's move on. Let me look at your Science workbook. See? Another unfinished problem: "Name five properties of salt." Let's talk this through. Obviously, you have saltiness. What else? What do you put salt on? French fries. Good. So what would you call that? Come on... Would it be perhaps be "edibleness?" Okay, that's two.

Scratchy. That's a good one.

What do we put on ice in the winter? Hockey pucks, yes, but what else? Salt! And salt does what to the ice? Melts it! So we would call that property... "meltability."

One more. Do you know about acids and bases? Which category do you think salt falls into? No? Well, salt is the "basis" for a lot of cooking so it would be... excellent!

What are you doing in history? Ancient history. Have you learned about the Tigris and Euphonium? No, I believe it's Euphonium. Look, I'm three times older than you are. I think I know a thing or two about ancient history.

The Tigris and Euphonium are also known as the Cradle of Civilization. Later migration into Europe led to the Roll-Away Cot of Civilization. But it's only when Great Britain becomes populated that we get the King-Sized Bed of Civilization, which, of course, led to the creation of the monarchy.

I can hear from your grinding teeth that you've had enough for tonight. Fine. You know, if you didn't waste so much time on that laptop, you'd know all this stuff.