Wednesday, November 22, 2006

think, then speak

It would appear I have become a smidgen too comfortable with my job, and by extension, my students. This week, in what loosely could have been called a teachable moment, things escaped my mouth that very surely should have only been uttered by a teacher with a permanent position. As of yet, I haven't received any phone calls, but it's not Friday.

My grade 10s are determining the equations of lines and exploring slope. Parallel and Perpendicular lines to be precise. Titillating material I assure you. To get them to really understand that when writing the equation of parallel or perpendicular lines it is only the slope that matters, I am ridiculous in choosing the intercept point. 2, -3, 103, 4 000 356. I shout these silly numbers over and over at them, hoping they'll get it.

This year, my extremely mature gr 10s, very much enjoyed this exercise. It started out with a y-intercept of 369. Small tittering around the room. Then, just 69. Quiet snickering. Another 69. They're almost laughing now, not quite sure if I'm going to say anything, or just keep writing 69 up there on the board for all the world to see. Another 69, and now we have laughing. I'm simply smiling, telling them that that is in fact a line parallel to the original. One boy is brave enough to admit he has no idea what anyone is finding funny. He asks me what 69 means. He's serious. He honestly has no idea what the joke is. I matter of factly tell him that's something he's going to have to ask his dad, since I don't really have that kind of extra time on my hands - curriculum and all. The rest of the class is dying, this lack of knowledge from a peer is too much for them. I continue on, highly amused at gr10s.

We come to a tricky example - one involving horizontal lines. This seemed like a good time to review the properties of horizontal and vertical lines. I write horz on the board, and start writing short notes underneath. My class explodes in laughter. Now it's me who has no idea what's going on. I turn around, searching the red faces for answers. They can barely contain themselves. What's so funny? I ask the giggling masses. Horz, one student manages to squeak out. I'm confused. I say it to myself in my head. (This is a French class, all dialogue is happening in French, and 0-ri-zontalle isn't really seeming funny to me.) Horz, like.... they trail off. The light bulb goes on. Like whores.

I must have been having a really good day, because there are days when this kind of ridiculous stuff really gets to me, but on this day, I'm almost laughing with them. So, I scan the room. I reel them in. You can't tell you parents what I'm about to teach you I tell them. Probably for the first time since September, everyone is paying attention. I explain: Horizontal lines are just like whores - they're flat on their backs for nothing. I used my arm to demonstrate the flat, zero sloped line for extra oomph. There was a brief pause of disbelief that a teacher had actually just said that before the laughing started.

I reminded them that this was something that should not be repeated around the dinner table later that evening, nor anywhere near the principal. I would like to think that no one will mess up the horizontal line questing on their upcoming exam, but I know better. Sigh.


Rach said...

Oh My God...that is gold. Welcome to the public system. If there had been more sex analogies in math class, I may have been more interested :P

Matty said...

Oh Parker... what are you teaching the future leaders of the world??

Anonymous said...

oh my! that is awesome, I agree with Rach, I would have totally payed more attention to math. Where were you when we were in school?

Kilometres said...

I'm trying not to cackle with laughter here as my housemate has gone to bed. This story is 24 carat SOLID GOLD! It makes everyone a better person for having heard about whores on their backs.

Man! It's like you think you're my brother or something. This is definitely the kind of story I would expect from him. And he works in the Catholic system. Figure that one out. I may tell it to him at x-mas, I think he'll like it so much.

You keep moulding those young minds chelle!

(and the spelling was intentional there)

Chris said...

Chelle, that's a pretty good one. Oh grade 10s...I remember grade 10s...