Monday, 7 October 2013

Memory of a maths lesson

All this primary school work reminds me of when I was just a lad, sat at the tiny tables, trying to work out how to divide 15 by 3 and why it mattered.
     One particular maths lesson springs to mind, from Year 4. We were having a quiz, with each table as a team. After four questions three teams were tied in first place so the teacher decided that each team would have a tie-break question, but only one person from each team could answer it, and she would choose that person.
     I did a quick scan of my table and concluded that I was the best at maths. It wasn't arrogance, it was competitiveness, I wanted my team to win and knew that the best chance we had was if I took the question. However, how was I to get the teacher to choose me?
     In a moment of genius I began fiddling with my hands, making it appear as though I was distracted and bored. The first team answered their question and got it wrong, everything was going well. Now it was our turn. I remained thoroughly interested in anything but the teacher and the quiz. Then I heard her say, "Jonathan, you will answer the question."
     It had worked! I had gambled on her picking on someone who wasn't paying attention, as teachers often do, and she had fallen for my trap. Desperately hiding the joy at my success, I turned to hear her ask the question.
     It was easy, I responded immediately.
     "No," said the teacher, "that's incorrect."
     Of course it was, what had I said! I knew the correct answer, but as they say, 'pride comes before a fall'.
     The third team got their answer right, and I was left looking more than a little foolish, despite my moment of brilliance. Ah, the trials of childhood!

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