The Hours of Living Mathematically

In Mr. Stredney’s 3rd Period class we whined,
Will we ever use this stuff in real life?
For reals… x’s and y’s? Sines and cosines?
Tangents and triangles? What do they mean, sir?
We used to line up like lemmings beside his desk,
Our scribbles on borrowed paper [needing changing].
And he’d get so flustered – our friendly teacher –
At our mass bewilderment that he’d take an eraser
To our puny conjectures and pencil-in correct digits,
That glass bottle pop-eyed genius, Mr. Stredney.
He tried so hard, [he was too kind] our Mr. Stredney.
All we ever wanted was to pass Algebra II.
Critical thinking could wait in line, for all we cared.

day 14 NaPoWriMo
for Real Toads

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18 thoughts on “The Hours of Living Mathematically

  1. I never had a Mr. Stredney. I wish I had. I had Mr. Hare, who was the football coach, and told all us girls we “would never need math anyway.”

    I have dyscalculia (basically, numbers dyslexia). Only I never knew it until I was wellllll into adulthood. My kids’ 5th grade math teacher was the first person I ever feel like I actually learned a little bit of math from. 😉

    I loved this tribute, and your title.

  2. I’m still no good with math. Mr. Stregney sounds like a nice guy but maybe not a great teacher (glass bottle pop-eyed genius). I had one like that. He finally quit teaching and starting using that math in the business world.

  3. I didn’t realize how much I loved math until after I graduated. I had a Mr. Stredney – she doesn’t use the Internet, but my mom prints my stuff and she reads it…and then sends me handwritten comments through snail mail. Teachers are truly priceless….
    And oh, I just made this about me again!
    But, that’s what I love about your poetry – you wrote it, but it feels like me–like home 🙂

  4. Fortunately I have never needed anything beyond simple arithmetic. I can manipulate words, but not numbers. (And as for those advanced aspects – totally incomprehensible.) We were taught ‘clear thinking’ in primary school, though: a practical version of logic with application to everyday life.

  5. That glass bottle pop-eyed genius, Mr. Stredney..

    This is quite the accolade for your long-suffering teacher. I can see this from both sides of the teacher’s desk.

  6. Like the teacher, pass the class–that’s the present reality. The relevance of math? Some other time. You select the right details that remind us of that place and those motivations.

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