Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Math Teacher

(This post originally appeared in May 23, 2006*)

In high school, I was assigned to a new math teacher named Joe. I knew Joe already, we were friends and neighbors, but I didn’t realize he was old enough to be a teacher! He dragged me through several classes, including one he just made up for me because I needed more math, but was not eligible to take trig my senior year. I asked how he was going to grade me. He said if I won the math competition at the science fair that year, he’d give me an A. I could see then that my grade point average was in danger. So I spent the year attending a consumer math class, while flipping coins to prove statistical theory (I also did my share of donut runs). I won the competition, and received my A! Joe had more confidence in me than I had in myself.

Joe has always been a great teacher and a great friend. But he’s also a musician, a comedian, a fishing nut, an ecologist, a newspaper columnist, and an all-around likeable guy. He recently won League of Kentucky Sportsmen's award for Conservation Educator of the Year 2006! Now I hear he has retired! HOW can a teacher who started out when I was in school be retired already?!? Oh yeah, I’m old, that's how. So I guess Joe is going to be spending more time in the mountains, fishing, picking, traveling, and making people laugh as always. Thanks for a great run at making educated people out of so many clueless kids.


There were three medieval kingdoms on the shores of a lake. There was an island in the middle of the lake, over which the kingdoms had been fighting for years. Finally, the three kings decided that they would send their knights out to do battle, and the winner would take the island.

The night before the battle, the knights and their squires pitched camp and readied themselves for the fight. The first kingdom had 12 knights, and each knight had five squires, all of whom were busily polishing armor, brushing horses, and cooking food. The second kingdom had twenty knights, and each knight had 10 squires. Everyone at that camp was also busy preparing for battle.

At the camp of the third kingdom, there was only one knight, with his squire. This squire took a large pot and hung it from a looped rope in a tall tree. He busied himself preparing the meal, while the knight polished his own armor.
When the hour of the battle came, the three kingdoms sent their squires out to fight (this was too trivial a matter for the knights to join in).

The battle raged, and when the dust had cleared, the only person left was the lone squire from the third kingdom, having defeated the squires from the other two kingdoms, thus proving that the squire of the high pot and noose is equal to the sum of the squires of the other two sides.


AP NEWS — At New York’s Kennedy airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher, was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule, and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-gebra movement. The FBI is charging him with carrying weapons of math instruction.

Al-gebra is a fearsome cult,” Gonzalez said. “They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like ‘x’ and ‘y’ and refer to themselves as ‘unknowns’, but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, ‘there are 3 sides to every triangle’.”

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, “If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, he would have given us more fingers and toes."

More math jokes can be found here and here

Thought for today:


A hundred years from now,
it will not matter
what sort of house I lived in,
what my bank account was
or what kind of car I drove,
but the world may be different
because I was important
in the life of a child.

* This is a repost from May 23, 2006. I am sad to tell you that Joe passed away Sunday. He touched a lot of lives in many different ways, and the tributes are rolling in at Facebook. More about him here.


Lilylou said...

What a wonderful tribute to your teacher and friend, Miss C. I'm so sorry for your loss and for the loss to the career of education. I'm sure he inspired many, many students to live lives of integrity and dedication---he inspired you, didn't he? and you make the world better every day with your work. Laughter is the best cure for whatever ails us.

Barbwire said...

As a retire teacher, I can really appreciate your memorial. Teachers not only teach their subject, they help their students learn about life and about themselves, as your math teacher certainly did. You not only learned you were pretty good at figuring things out, you still remember him fondly. And as Lilylou said, you make the world a better place every day with your work. Thank you!

Bill Scheitzach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill Scheitzach said...

My dad was a schoolteacher — coincidentally, he was also a math teacher — back in the 1950s before I came along (he also handled some science and phy-ed classes, as well as coached a gymnastics/tumbling team). He retired when he found out Mom was pregnant with me and went to work for the next 30 years or so at the Trane Co. in La Crosse WI so as to be able to spend more time with his family. He died in 1994 at the age of 77, and in his later years he sometime regretted that he would not leave any significant memory of his time on this earth — there would be no memorials, no statues, no scholarships with his name on them; his sole contribution to this world would be my sister and I.

However, the number of former students — now grown men in their 50s and 60s — who came to his funeral and made a point of speaking to my mother about their memories of their time spent with him and the things they learned, not just in the fields of math or phy-ed, would have warmed his heart had he known. It also made both her and I realize that while it might be nice to leave something significant behind when one shuffles off this mortal coil, it is far more important and is a more lasting legacy when it is understood that one has touched and helped mold the life of another.


Miss Cellania said...

I know how that is, Bill. My Dad was a college professor. When he died in '92, the church had to leave the doors open during the funeral because there wasn't enough room inside. And that was in summertime. I still have people telling me how much he meant to them.