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.
"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
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.