Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Math

//reposted for posterity, from

There was no pleasure in realizing that the legwork for interactive, constructive teaching takes a lot of time. And most of these work was disproportionate, as the result of a 3 man-hour work may only be enough to occupy the kids' attention for 30 minutes. Or maybe less.

There was no pleasure knowing that my carefully cut colored folding papers will end up all crumpled and ugly after being manhandled by 17 students in just one morning math period. There was even less pleasure comparing the amount of time I spent pleading my cheaply bought compass to draw a perfect circle to the amount of time they will spend noticing the shape in their hand was a true circle. Or knowing that the subtleties of a neatly drawn star--with 72 degrees angle separating each of neighboring points in the star--will definitely be lost on them.

There was no pleasure in being aware that after the dull hour of writing a teaching plan--which probably won't go smoothly anyway, more work awaits. More pencil-pushing work of drawing up an evaluation and marking scheme, and recording its result.

Yet there was only pleasure in sharing your love of something to other people you care about. I can attest to this, as it was thoroughly enjoyable making--trying to make--my pupils fond of basic mathematics as I do. I am not always successful, but trying is half the fun. And when I do get through to them, the jubilant feeling is very addicting.

You wouldn't believe how there was no other thing but pleasure watching your students taking up the initiative to create their own number card by imitating what they see in class and after classes end. It's nothing fancy, it's only discarded corrugated cardboxes, after all, but their enthusiasm was nothing short of heartening.

I say, it's a good addiction, as there was only pleasure in getting the work done in the best way you know how. Sorrow will have to be a stranger today.