Bored in seventh grade math class again, Maureen rolled her eyes as Jacob asked for possibly the millionth time this week, “When are we actually going to use this in the real world?”
But this time it was different.
The math teacher had done her research this time, in advance, and began.
“Have you ever looked at a building?” She asked her students, most of which weren’t even interested enough (yet) to look at her.
“I mean, really looked at a building?” She repeated as she pulled up a slideshow of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
Lorraine, in the back row, raised an ink stained hand to the ceiling. “Yeah, but buildings are art, not math.”
“Au contraire,” the math teacher quipped with a glint in her eye. “How do these buildings get constructed in the first place? If these walls weren’t properly supported, how would we be sitting here, on the second floor, right now?
“You see, architects have the talent of art from the moment they’re born, but making safe buildings for people to live and work in takes math.”
Lorraine was now enthralled, and the teacher smiled as she saw the possibilities fly through her student’s head.
But the rest of the class stared back blankly.
“I can see that you’re not all future architects, then.” She laughed.
Maureen rolled her eyes again, and Harley turned his music up louder.
“Sports and games use math too.”
About half the class’s heads popped up, their interest now piqued.
“Yeah, do you remember that lesson we did on angles? When you play pool, you have to use the sides of the table to direct the ball into a pocket. If you can calculate what angle it will be, you can get the perfect shot every time, with some little margin for human error, of course.”
Now about half the class, plus Lorraine, were preoccupied with dreaming up all the ways that math was found in their own lives.
Sam raised her hand. “What about in books? There isn’t any math in there.”
“There are math books, you know, plus math can even be funny sometimes!”
Sam instantly opened her math book and poured over it.
“Has anyone here played Minecraft?”
The group of boys that always sit in the back nearly dropped their hidden game players when she said the name of their favorite game.
“Yes, you guessed it, Minecraft even has math in it. The code behind what you’re seeing on screen is fueled by algorithms in the computer! If you look really hard at the code, you can find equations, and logarithms galore!
The teacher went beserk now, listing of a multitude of things that math could be used for until every single student in the class was excited about math.
“Wait, wait!” The teacher yelled above the hububb.
“First, you have to learn how to-” The teacher’s voice faded away.
* * *
The teacher jerked awake to an empty classroom. Everything was exactly as she left it.
Then she thought to herself, If only I could get the students excited about math outside of my dreams.
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