Maths Teachers through the Ages

We just passed the Teacher’s day where all bloggers were out paying their tributes to teachers who transformed their lives. I have had more own share of inspirational teachers from as varied fields of study as English, Physics and History. But strangely no mathematics teacher seems to figure in the list though many of the others’ favorite teachers seem to hail from this discipline. So I thought I would take a sojourn down my memory lane in quest for that elusive inspirational teacher of numbers.

In my first three years of education, teachers were generalists who single handedly initiated toddlers fresh out of their diapers into the education system. The only thing about mathematics I remember from this period was my mother receiving complaints about how I was challenging the spatial orientation of numbers. But the teacher apparently was not too impressed with what she called the sleeping ones.

Then I shifted to a new school in God’s own country for my second standard. All I remember from that time is that the teacher had set a prize for the person who score 100% in marks – a cool looking eraser I had my eyes set on. Since I do not carry any recollection of ever being in possession of the said object, it is conceivable I never managed that feat.

I was back to what was then a retirees’ paradise and now India’s answer to Silicon Valley for my next two years. All I remember from this period is a Malayali Christian Math’s teacher who was the class teacher as well in my third standard with who my mother had managed to strike a friendship. Of the subject as such or the teacher during my fourth standard I carry no recollection whatsoever. For my Fifth standard I moved on to a different school – here the teacher’s cane managed to find an indelible place in my memory that the teacher could not. I still vividly remember that shabby cane she would bring probably plucked from the trees on the roadside unlike those smooth pliable art pieces that the masters carried to ply their craft upon errant students’ posteriors. Talk of gender discrimination!

In sixth standard I encountered the first memorable teacher. And she did take a personal interest in me as well. But the interest had more to do with my social skills than my mathematical skills. Or rather the lack of it! She would keep wondering how my mother with such a nice smiling face would have a son with such a dark gloomy face as if the word’s burdens rested on his shoulders. Probably she was not aware genes get inherited from both one’s father as well as one’s mother. Or it could be just that she assumed a woman with a smiling face would have married a man with a smiling face? But all in all she was a nice grandmotherly lady whose very positive aura gave a pleasant feel to the mathematics classes. However the teacher next year made up for the same with her unpleasant negative aura which is all I remember about her.

For my eighth standard I moved down south to the land of temples. There I managed to run afoul of a popular mathematics teacher – again thanks to my social skills. This time my outraged reaction to a perceived injustice lead to my earning an epithet for impertinence. The teacher during the ninth and tenth made her presence felt by her constant absence. That suited me pretty well and I managed to secure 95% in my board exams.

Moving on to my eleventh and twelfth, we had a teacher whose claim to fame was more non mathematical in nature – a book of poetry and a self-proclaimed sense of humor. My only interaction with him was at the end of the two years when he volubly expressed surprise regarding the loopholes in the IIT JEE system that allowed a complete dunce like me to penetrate through.

So that’s been my checkered history of relationship with Math’s teachers. I did have a brilliant teacher for my IIT preparation though. But then I am more a ‘do and learn’ person who tended to foray into the world of dreams while he would be expostulating brilliant solutions to high complex problems on the blackboard. Then there was this lady mathematician who offered me free coaching for Mathematics Olympiad based on my performance at a city level Mathawiz contest evaluated by her. But she was known to be a marionette with a reputation for flogging her students relentlessly in pursuit of mathematical excellence. I lacked the resolve and strength of heart to put up with her rigorous demands. My pragmatic parents also did not deem it necessary to put me through the ordeal for the sake of intellectual pursuits that did not have direct career implications.

20 comments:

Suresh Chandrasekaran said...

Hahaha! THIS is one of the pieces where you set out to make the reader laugh. You succeed and HOW :)

jaish_vats said...

The Maths teachers have been a lot unfair to you haven't they ?

umashankar said...

Nice to see you back in action, though the link from Facebook stops for a while asking me if I'm sure I should follow the link further. Since your's has been an old, trusted site I do click 'yes' anyway.

Your trademark humour is intact as you try to dig out a favourite Maths teacher from your past. I enjoyed your journey and am happy to report my last encounter with a Maths teacher in 10th grade and none too memorable at that. Oh, I forget the QT teacher from my abandoned pursuit of MBA from Poddar Institute, Jaipur...

Cart Hick said...

Thanks Suresh. Glad it had the desired effect.

Cart Hick said...

Yes Jaish. That is how it seems. Good to see you found your way back here.

Cart Hick said...

Good to see you back Umashankar. Facebook seems to have decided my blog is spam during my absence. Must have been interesting meeting your standard 10 Maths teacher. I did not touch my QM profs of management nor my IIT maths profs.

Anjali Sengar said...

Nice & honest tribute to teachers :)

Cart Hick said...

If you call it that, Anjali. Thanks for the visit.

Dipti Tiwari said...

Haha you remember all your math teachers! :D

Amit Agarwal said...

Ha ha:) Wonderful! Enjoyed:)

Ruchi negi said...

..ha ha nice!

Rio De La Sciocco said...

I think you must have earned the eraser. My heart say so. Math teacher of my class used to tell students to bring the canes from abundant jungle that lay infront of school. And beating the posteriors would not stop until all were broken. That too failed to instil math in my head. :D

Cart Hick said...

Thanks Dipti. I generally have good memory regarding people and events.

Cart Hick said...

Thanks Amit,

Cart Hick said...

Thanks Ruchi.

Cart Hick said...

Don't know Rio. Regarding your teacher, guess it is tough to drive the point using the case.

Team BlogAdda said...

Congratulations! Your blog post was selected for Spicy Saturday Picks edition on September 12, 2015 at BlogAdda.

Please find it here : http://blog.blogadda.com/2015/09/12/spicy-saturday-picks-september-12-2015

Cart Hick said...

Thanks Team BlogAdda

Ruch said...

you know I used to hate maths and still dream about my horrid maths teachers ! This was one of the funniest things I have read in a long time !

Cart Hick said...

Thanks a lot, Ruch. Maths teachers are indeed a menace.

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