Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Evil Santa

You've gotta love the environment around a high school campus on the last day of class before final exams leading up to Christmas break. While the majority of students are exempt from their final exams, the halls are as dense and as festive as they are going to be until next year when everyone comes back to school rejuvenated with a hankering for mathematical instruction. Indeed, if there was ever a day where students could use an extra minute in between classes, today would be the day as they casually mender to and from their classes, not worried about being late and missing the first part of the in-class movie.

Not all classes, though, are showing movies. No, some are dedicated study halls where 28 out of 30 students play cards, chess, or draw festive pictures on the board while of the 2 students who actually have to take the final exam, one is asleep in a pool of slobber on his desk no doubt dreaming of working his review problems, while the other student is absent.

There are some classrooms, however, that are the exception to the "dead week" rule: those that forge ahead with new material up until the bitter end. These classes are, of course, the "uncool" classes with the "tyrant" teachers who never give students a break. These tyrants, realizing that most of their pupils (students, not eye parts) are not studying for the finals from which they are exempt anyways, uses every instructional technique in his arsenal of torture to hold the students' feet to the fire until the bitter end. Having quizzes and new lessons for which he, the unfavorable despot, will hold the kids accountable upon their return in January.

"It's not holiday break yet," he's heard to say as a faint, almost inaudible "muuuuuuuhaaaaahaaaaa" enters the consciousness of the forlorn students in attendance, their plaintive cries falling on deaf ears. "Trust me, I'm not only a ruthless dictator, I'm a professional educator," the oppressing autocrat sneers as his pupils (eye parts not students) dilate in ecstasy. It does no good for the already-crushed spirits of the students when the slavedriving wet-blanket of a teacher points out that if he were to allow partying and festivities in his classroom on an instructional day, not only would he be a terrible ward of the taxpayers and their parents' money, but he would have to compensate by giving a classroom lesson on Christmas morning in each students' home in their living room in front of the tree (quid pro quo), and logistical nightmare almost as daunting as Santa's himself, but an egregious violation of church and state. This message falls on deaf ears, much like the ensuing lesson.

So what sort of teacher would do such a thing on such day as the day before the day before most students begin their weeks-long vacation? A teacher that has the students' best interests in mind. A great teacher who has his eyes on the horizon and not just the ground in front of him (this is a great skill to have, but you have to have your eyes on the ground in front of you too, or you're likely to trip on a pothole while jogging on an unrepaired road at night at college right in front of a sorority lawn party . . . . you don't want to learn THAT the hard way . . . like some person I know).

Yes, I'M the person who has done all these things, quizzes on the day before finals AND the tripping thing. Luckily, my students know we very well, and they expected nothing less. Hopefully they also comply (somewhat) willingly because they actually REALIZE that I have their best interests in mind, that I LOVE math, and that there's no greater gift than the gift of knowledge.

It was very rewarding these past two days being the tyrannical, mathematical Santa. Let me just recite the final part of the quotient rule in calculus by saying . . .

Ho Ho.


bob s said...

Wow, exams are back to before Xmas now?

kwkorpi said...

Yes, but there is still 2 weeks left of the first semester upon our return. It's kind of "funky."

Freckles said...

I like the "Ho Ho" :)