first day back

first period: my guiding teacher gave a test on the day before spring break let out. she let the kids take it home to work on during the break. three turned it in that day: we corrected them and told them to work on it during class and that it was homework. she had reviewed for a whole week and told them that the test would be given: still, today we had to hand out 10 tests to kids who were mysteriously absent that day. ... i want to be able to say that i am the failure: that somehow my inexperience is to blame for their poor performance. yet, given the facts, i cannot. i am certain that these kids are the very ones who will wind up as drop-out statistics. they have made up their minds to give up, and i dont know if my endeavors can triumph over strong-willed teenagers. i can only focus my attention on the kids who have not entirely given up: there are too many kids in these high schools who do need the attention.

which brings us to fourth period: talk about a difference! like night and day. first period is alg 1, and fourth is alg 2. i think the difference in attitude can be attributed mainly to two things: (1) that these kids are older, mostly 11th graders, so they have a better sense of their academic obligations. they have developed a sense of self-discipline: they have goals established. they want to graduate high school, get an academic scholarship, go to college. they are at worst simply resigned to math as a necessary prerequisite to reaching these goals. (2) all the kids that are like period 1 either never make it to alg 2 or have dropped out by now. sad to put it like that, huh? but thats the truth of the matter.

anway, chew on these mathematical contradictions. i remember mr. bremer got me a shirt of the 1=2 problem at some math conference. chris howe borrowed it once sophomore year at sjc and i never saw it again. man, i loved that shirt. id wear it to bed and have escher dreams.


josh dizzy said...

divide by zero errors are scary

i heard a rumor floating around my junior year that mr sachs brought up the issue of what happens when two gravitational bodies are touching in newton and they tried to do the math and no one could do it and everyone got really scared.

cathode ray said...

i have mixed feelings about division by zero. on the one hand, it is how we know a theory is missing something: it is a signal of its incompleteness. on the other hand, i would love to live in a world where division by zero is possible. i imagine it to be like, well, like the escher dreams i sometimes have, or like alice-through-the-lookingglass fantasy realms where anything would be possible. laura vitale and i used to say that she and i were 2÷0 because we were two friends and we could be divided by nothing: space and time being mere illusions keeping us apart. so her physical location in chicago and mine in los angeles is meaningless because the division by zero makes these quantities illusory. so, in conclusion, i like to divide by zero.