… ‘Twas the week from hell and all through the school, not a creature was normal, not even the mule.
… Yeah, what that has to do with anything is beyond me too. But it’s been a week. I was out sick last Thursday and Friday, had meetings all afternoon this Tuesday and Wednesday, along with Parent-Teacher conferences those evenings. The kids were p-s-y-c-h-o. Today, 3rd period, I was ready to just give up. But the craziest thing that happened this last week was at the Algebra Academy I had on Wednesday afternoon. We were given a problem to do, a pattern to figure out, and some time to work on it. [Click here if you’re ready for (or even interested in) the equation that is the solution] There were a lot of different ways to figure it out, the three in my group each started in three different ways. One of the methods of working it out was by using a recursive algorithm, by counting the number in one figure, seeing how many squares were added to get to the next and then the next, and so on until you see a pattern. It turns out to be adding increasing odd numbers:
….the first one + 5 = the second one
the second one + 7 = the third one
…the third one + 9 = the fourth one
the fourth one + 11 = the fifth one and so on…
… So, when it’s time for the class to present their solutions, the speaker specifically asks if a group that used the recursive method would like to show how they worked it out, this one teacher volunteers and starts to show how she figured it out. Now, to be totally honest, I was sick at the time and not very interested, so I’m not sure how it got to the point, but I became interested when things started to get a little heated. It seems that the method wasn’t really all that recursive, but the presenter was talking about the parts that were recursive, much like most teachers do when a student doesn’t get it quite right but we still want to encourage their thinking.
… My mind started to register things when the teacher was getting angry at the presenter and arguing about how her method was not at all recursive. They argued for what couldn’t have been more than 30 seconds when the presenter, like many good teachers, just started to move on with the lesson and started talking about another method of working out the problem.
… The teacher, who was still hot around the collar, dropped her papers on the table, turned around and walked out of the room. I was at the very next table and heard her mumble “screw her” as she went out of the room.
… Now, I’ve had, and still have, my issues with this whole Algebra Academy thing, the presenters and all. I’ve done my fair share of complaining about how they cram 15 minutes of stuff into a 3 hour class and how these presenters (there are 2 of them) haven’t been in a classroom with kids in probably over 30 years. But I have to give credit where credit is due, she didn’t lose a beat and kept the lesson going, despite the rest of the teachers evolving from stunned to murmuring about the incident.