Math and After Math
Essay by Lensey Namioka
What are you really GOOD at?
RI 1 Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text. RI 2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details. RI 3 Analyze how the author unfolds a series of ideas or events. RI 4 Determine the meaning of words as they are used in a text. L 5 Demonstrate understanding of word relationships.
Knowing what you’re good at can take you a long way toward finding work and activities that you enjoy. In “Math and After Math,” Lensey Namioka describes how she first embarked on one career path and then later discovered her true talent. DISCUSS Make a list of activities you particularly enjoy. For each one, list the skills that help you succeed at the activity. With a partner, brainstorm career possibilities that could make use of those skills. Cooking • ability to follo w recipes • knack for comb ining ingredients
Meet the Author
text analysis: implied main idea
In nonfiction, the writer’s central idea, or overall message, is often referred to as the main idea. This main idea may be stated directly, or it may be implied by the factual details and personal examples and ideas that the writer chooses to include. In “Math and After Math,” Lensey Namioka shares a series of anecdotes—episodes from her life through which she develops a main idea. To identify the implied main idea as you read, ask yourself, What important idea is conveyed by the anecdotes? How does this idea relate to the author’s conclusion?
Always an Outsider Lensey Namioka was born in China and moved to the United States when she was nine years old. She has lived in many places and, consequently, has felt herself to be something of an outsider wherever she has lived. It’s not surprising, then, that the protagonists in her stories for young adults are usually outsiders too. Multicultural Author Namioka’s writing draws on both her Chinese heritage and her husband’s Japanese heritage. She has written humorous novels about young Chinese immigrants in America, as well as a series of adventure-mystery books about two 16th-century Japanese samurai.
reading skill: analyze sequence of events
The events in a memoir are not always described in the same sequence in which they occurred. When describing or explaining events, a writer may move back and forth in time to make a point. This skipping around in time can be confusing, however, so it’s important for the reader to keep track of how the sequence of events actually unfolded. Signal words, such as when, by the time, or for years, help to clarify this sequence. As you read “Math and After Math,” use a chart to jot down the important events in each stage of Namioka’s life. Then number them in the order they occurred in time. Stage in Life Second grade Order Event Namioka suffers “abacus anxiety.” Family emigrates to America. Math is best subject.
background to the essay
Girls and Math In “Math and After Math,” Namioka describes how she stood out in her American classrooms as a girl who was good at math. Researchers have long sought to determine whether the differences in math performance between girls and boys stem from biology or culture. In elementary school, girls tend to outperform boys in many subjects, including math. In high school, however, the situation changes. Statistics show that, as a group, boys score slightly higher than girls on math aptitude tests. Also, boys tend to choose math-related college majors and careers more often than girls do, although this is changing. Researchers continue to debate various hypotheses that explain these gender differences.
vocabulary in context
Lensey Namioka uses the following boldfaced words to tell her tale of personal discovery. Use context clues to determine the meaning of each one. 1. The...
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