New year, better being

Published 4:31 pm Tuesday, January 11, 2022

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By QuaWanna Bannarbie

School is back in session as the holiday vacation has ended. Before winter break began, my second-grader was studying two-digit addition and subtraction problems.

When he returned to school, we had to do some refreshing to remind him how to do this math, which meant that now I was getting a lesson in new math terminology. I was introduced to the term “regrouping,” which involves numbers larger than 10. The basis of regrouping requires the understanding of place values when adding or subtracting numbers to complete the vertical addition equation using columns. Children of my generation and older learned this as “carrying or borrowing” the number from one column to the other. Imagine me sitting alongside my son attempting to assist him while using the terminology that he is accustomed to at the same time withholding the terms that taught me how to do the same problems. New math seems to be the journey of this pandemic parenthood. Mothers and fathers are using new methods to help our children adjust to their new reality.

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My son’s regrouping math problems taught me a lesson, which inspired a message for this new year.

In planning our resolutions, we often reflect on what happened in the year prior and how we will adjust our actions and intentions to accomplish the goals we set. For 2022, I have heard several messages about what to leave behind. Our nation’s retrospection of the events of 2020 and 2021 and this long standing pandemic is dismal, because they were so difficult to endure. We are happy to leave it behind. However, the start of the year is not a blank slate.

In order to learn from the summation of both 2020 and 2021, we have to do some regrouping. We need to know what to carry over and what to borrow from the journey of the past two years. Some of those experiences and lessons have greater place values than others. A good mathematician precisely adds components to the function to achieve the next right solution.

One of the worksheets my son’s teacher gave to him had a bit of repetition of how to regroup when the same number is in the ones place. For example, any number added to 29 or 79 required him to regroup to the tens place. He was mastering the assignment until the next worksheet varied the numbers that were in the ones place. He had gotten so used to seeing the 9 that the new problems actually slowed him down. The switch up helped him get better. He practiced computing the result rather than depend on the familiar. This pandemic has taught us that we cannot depend on the familiar, and normality does not last. That can be good.

I’ve seen the slogans for 2022 that say New Year, Same Me. I would have to disagree with remaining the same. Whatever new thing that you are dealing with at this moment is establishing a new SUM THING in you. Evolving is a function of addition. We are destined to evolve. The best of us improves in response to the inputs of our individual experiences. The result of our learning and development is a newness that brings us closer to the fullness of our being. Let us resolve that this year will be better than the previous ones because we will regroup to discover whatever makes us better.

QuaWanna Bannarbie is a teacher, writer and affirmer of faith, identity, relationships and experiences. Connect with her via