Sunday 2 September 2012

Storytelling Sunday

It's Storytelling Sunday time again and that means we gather at the lovely Sian's blog to spin yarns, tell tales, swap stories and have a lovely Sunday.  So grab a cuppa, have a read and then head over to From High in the Sky to discover more of the same.

Sian suggested a theme of 'Too Cool for School' so  thought I'd continue my run of school stories by sharing my epic attempts to inspire the youths at my disposal in some mathematical activity.  By being cool.

Or by not being cool.

For instance, there was the time when I explained to my 6th form students about how maths could be a fun social activity:

"I went to a maths gig last night" I announced to my 6th form.  They didn't so much reply as roll their eyes and snigger.  "I did!  It was brilliant!"

"Miss, seriously, what's a maths gig?  Is it a real thing?"

"Of course it's a real thing!" I enthused. "You know how at a music gig a band comes on stage and does some music?  Well a maths gig is like a music gig only cooler and instead of a band you have a mathematician and instead of music, there's some maths".

"...So basically a lecture miss?"

"No! Nothing like a lecture.  Didn't I tell you it was cool?  There was a even a warm-up chemist."

The students looked at each other doubtfully, as though deciding telepathically who was going to question my statement.  Eventually, one of them went for it.

"There was a what?"

"Well, at a gig, there's sometimes a warm-up band that come on and play to warm up the crowd before the main band come on."

"We know how gigs work, miss"

Undaunted, I continued. "A warm-up chemist is like a warm-up band only he came on before the mathematician and did some chemistry to warm up the crowd"

"There was a crowd?"  Disbelief.

"Cheeky.  Yes there was a crowd."

The student pursued his inquiries "And how did he warm up the crowd?"

"Oh, quite literally.  He set some stuff on fire using lenses and parabolas."

As it turned out, attending a maths gig isn't cool.  Explaining how to use maths to set stuff on fire: definitely cool.  Or at least, not totally lame.


There are other ways to mould young minds.  For instance, I shall be handing back assignments that have been marked over the holidays.  And I hope the responses will be more encouraging that last time...

"Miss!  You can't write 'numpty' on my paper!!!!"

I sauntered over to peer at the assignment in question. "I think you'll find I can"


"You were being a numpty" I interrupted scanning the problem.

"No, but-"

"Look here" I pointed to the problem.  "And here.  What did you do?"

"I forgot to put '+ c' when I integrated," he mumbled.

"And who forgets to put '+ c'?" I prompted.

He sighed.  "Numpties, miss".


Still, I hope to inspire the new intake to look to role models and work hard to achieve their goals.  Even if the role models they select for themselves aren't perhaps the most encouraging....

"Who would you say your role models are?"  I asked my Year 11s one afternoon.

Some of the responses were expected: parents and family members.  Some picked successful academics in their preferred fields, such as Richard Feynman.  But one was memorable.

"Miss, do you know who Rowan Atkinson is?" 

I nodded.  "Yes, I do.  That's an interesting choice - did you know he studied at Oxford?"

"No miss, not him.  Y'know Mr Bean?"

My face fell but the student continued.

"Well, he has a teddy.  That's my role model"  He grinned. 

I scowled.  "Your transformation is considerable advanced.


Who knows what they have in store for me this year, but I'm quite looking forward to finding out!  Now, pop along to Sian's blog to read more stories.  There's some amazing stuff out there :D

Kisses xxx

P.S. I have stumbled into the world of knitting podcasts.  There is nothing so relaxing as listening to a nice lady talk about knitting in a soothing way.  It's sublime.


  1. Good luck with the inspiring young minds with maths. I'm grateful I only do primary and nothing more. Princess learned early on that if she wanted help with lots of formulas I'd be supportive but she was better off talking to someone else :)

  2. Maths gigs are sooooo cool! I went to one by Johnny ball, our teacher had to try & rip a yellow pages in half ... I was more impressed that he got to meet JOHNNY BALL!

  3. lol, your students are very lucky!!

  4. What a great post at the hands of your students. I do so hope this year's intake are as delightful. I look forward to many more entertaining tales this term.

  5. he he! I wish you had been my maths teacher! I was awful at maths and you would definitely have called me a numpty!

  6. I'm with Abi - I would have been a major numpty! What do I mean would have been ... I am STILL a major numpty at maths!

  7. Another numpty stopping by! Lovely stories as always..hope you have a good week!
    Alison xx

  8. Another maths numpty here....but love your story.

  9. Had to laugh about the teddy ;)

  10. I love your class stories but I have to admit, just looking at your maths photos brought me out in a cold sweat....simple numbers for me thanks lol

  11. I don't think I'd be sold on a maths gig either - even with setting things of fire! One of our biology teacher's wrote 'this is sh**' in my friends book - I think numpty is less likely to invoke the unions!

  12. Great stories, I love that you try to inspire, good luck with the next intake!

  13. i'm impressed just looking at your white board! Fab stories Miss Smith!

  14. Hahaha, this reminded me of my former days as a teacher! Infact, yesterday at Pride I saw some of my ex students, and they saw me, and called out my name incredibly loud.... gotta love em, I guess!

  15. The rest of the family like to read over my shoulder (direct quote from TSO -"is Miss Smith in this month?" and now The Accountant says that looks like the stuff his lecturers used to put up on the board while he sat and cried..

    Great to see you back!

  16. I did okay with algebra but nearly died in geometry. Just looking at those equations makes me nauseous!

  17. After many years, I went back to college. One of my first classes was algebra. I just could not get the hang of it and after a few weeks, the teacher suggest I drop the class--which I did and then took business math. I wish I'd had you as a teacher. You would have motivated me.

  18. What an inspiring teacher you must be and your maths lessons sound such fun.

  19. Knitting podcasts and maths jams? Miss Smith you are so rock'n'roll! ;-)

  20. Thank you! You brought a big smile to my face.

  21. I have not the slightest clue what a numpty is but am pretty sure I am one when it comes to math.

  22. Yay!! I've been to a couple of maths gigs - including seeing Johnny Ball (who, by the way, knew my husband's family - he (hubs) used to play with Zoe Ball on occasion while they were growing up! #famousbyassociation) Gosh, reading about your experiences almost makes me want to return to secondary teaching. Almost...

    1. Oooh, you should, it's a ball!!!!!

      (See what I did there? No, my students wouldn't have thought it was funny either.)

  23. Ha, I love that you wrote numpty on his assignment. Perfect! Good luck with the new students! x

  24. yes, yes i know i'm late but i'm playing catch-up. i love your stories, u really must write a book of them when time permits. they make me laugh, the warm-up chemist has to be the best so far,
    jo xxx