Thursday, June 22, 2006

Quo Vadis Math Guru?

Back in highschool, one of my most favorite subjects is Algebra - so much so that when it was time to choose major in college, I opted for Mathematics. I wanted to be like our former Algebra teacher, Dona Soledad Alvarez, who taught binomials and polynomials as though it's just as simple as 2 plus 2 equals x.

However, my dream of becoming the coolest Math teacher was abrupted when I failed one subject - Differential Calculus, a parody of all mathematics, invented to torture young minds like mine. And when I told the clinker to my College Algebra doctor professor, the one who really pushed me to take up Math as my major (he was so impressed that he exempted me from the midterms and finals. Little did he know that everything he taught I learned already from Dona Soledad), he said something gay like "Did you have to take me seriously?" or something to that bloody effect.

Anyway, I forgave him already. He was probably right, I should have never majored in Math in the first place. I should have NEVER mentioned to my boss now that I could teach algebra. Arrgghhh!

Too late, as those memories flooded back this afternoon, I stood facing the white board with my armpit sweating, confronted with algebraic problem number 7.

The dilemma actually started when my boss presented the new Math textbook, written purely in Korean. Torture at its finest! I told the boss it would be very difficult for me to use the book as everything is in Korean and there's no one to translate the problems for me. The boss just shrugged. It's like telling me "It's not my problem anymore."

My former assistant teacher A had resigned weeks ago for reasons only she and the boss are privy to. There are two new math teachers: a dude who can't speak a single Eng-li-shi and practices sign language in my face, as though we are teachers in a Deaf Mute Academy, and a dudette who suffers from hearing dysfunction whenever I talk to her.

Back to the classroom scene: my forehead was getting really sweaty. I felt the shame in my bones. I wanted to scream: Time out kids! It's confession time! Teacher doesn't know the answer!

I can't do that though... I can't. Never in a million years would I allow my poise to disintegrate infront of smart alecky 5th graders. To save my face, I told the class that problem no. 7 is homework. Yes! That is pure genius! Whoever invented homework is my bestfriend.

As I was erasing the board, I heard Sung Hong told his seatmate in Korean: Teacher gave it as homework because she can't solve it. She's stupid.

I was so mortified, I can't believe my ears that I understood perfectly what the little tyrant said in Korean. I took a deep breath, turned around and told the boy: "I am the teacher here, I will assign which problem is seatwork; which one is homework. If you don't do your homework, I will have to tell your mothers."

I can't really remember exactly what I said, but I still remember my armpit sweating profusely out of disgust.

The class was silent for a while, probably digesting the fact that their foreign teacher can actually understand Korean. And as though they wanted to confirm my newly found authority, everyone chorused: Neh!!! (that's Korean for YES).

Now, the big question is: how am I going to know which is the correct answer should they pass the homework next week? Arrggghhhhhh!!! What have I gotten myself into? What???!!!