Sunday, November 17, 2013


November 17, 2013

It is, of course, THAT time of the semester, and though I have largely survived to this point, and the outlook to survive completely and score a total recovery is positive.  It doesn't mean, however, that I don't play mind games with myself.

Back in the day (unlike the enlightened present) public schools didn't typically start junior high students into algebra, the course Davis conquered as a 6th grader.  We all waited to have Ms. Littlejohn in the 9th grade (1st period--7:08 every morning. . .and luckily it was offered in the South Annex, which was only two blocks door to door from my house, so I could stumble in on time.)  

Some of my friends' parents allowed them to enroll in both Geometry and Algebra II when we were sophomores, so they could get all their pre-reqs in for the full run of mathematics, through trigonometry, analytical geometry, elementary analysis, and calculus, but my mean ol' parents insisted that I stay well-rounded, and I had to take them one at a time.  Which meant that if I was going to catch up to my rightful cadre of peers on the maths track, I had to take trig and analyt in summer school.

Mr. Longest pulled that awful instructional duty (he must have been either really naughty or really desperate), teaching heavy-duty math from 7:00 to 12:05 five days a week, six weeks in a row.  He tried to make the best of being trapped with cheerless 15 and 16 year olds, spinning out terribly silly, long-winded jokes so that we weren't snorting sin and sec into our brains the entire time (imagine the potential damage that would do).   I don't remember any of the jokes, but they had punch lines like "Only Hugh can prevent florist friars" and "Silly rabbi, kicks are for trids."

Despite his best efforts, time weighed on our hands--and here is where I'm not that proud:  

Every day, when I got to class, I would draw a circle in the upper right hand corner of my desk.  I would then divide it into five equal parts and then bisect each part and then bisect all of the parts, leaving me with a circle that had thirty equal pie-shaped compartments.

At 7:15, I would shade in one of the pie slivers with my trusty No. 2 pencil:

By the time the dismissal bell rang, it look like this (except, much more all the same shade):

By the end of the summer, all 30 desks carried this brand.

Now, the confession.  When I have a stack of 24 mid-term papers or 76 mid-term exams or whatever, I do the same kind of tracking, making sure I know at the beginning how many more papers I have to look through.  I put myself on a schedule (whatever is appropriate--three per hour, two per hour, five per hour, something), and then I track myself--though not on the desktop anymore.

If you are interested.  I have thirteen four page briefs, due back to the students on Tuesday.  Then I will just face twenty-four homework essays (coming in on the 21th), 76 essay exams (coming in on the 26th), 6 final projects (coming in on December 6) and 76 final exams (also coming in on December 6). Can you tell I'm celebrating?  After all the exams, projects, homeworks, and briefs I have shaded my way through this semester, I really can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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