Chocolate Cake > X

1 Jul

So, as you may have gathered, I went back to college a couple of years ago to get a teaching degree.

I know, imagine. All this excitement coming soon to a classroom near you.

But although I had most of my core classes out of the way, glaring at me on the schedule was College Algebra.

Now, I don’t have the “Math is Hard” Barbie. I did just fine in math in high school, liked it even, and in fact, did well enough on the SAT that for the liberal arts degree I was pursuing at the time, my math requirements were waived.

But, if you’re going to get a teaching degree in Texas, you need to actually take College Algebra. Not wave around some SAT scores from the Paleontologic era, and charm everyone with your brilliance.

I thought about taking a CLEP test, but a glance at the practice materials sent me head on into the cold reality that higher math is not like riding a bike. You cannot just hop back on after 25 years and pedal your way through quadratic equations, No sir. My parabolas are not as perky as they used to be.

I was whining about the class with my lovely friend Donna, and she offered the helpful advice that I should solve all problems with X = chocolate cake.

Donna has a liberal arts degree too, apparently.

So, I tried to pay attention to the instructor instead. Which was sobering. The first night she painted such a dire picture of our chances of passing the class that approximately three-quarters of the students dropped.

I wasn’t worried about not passing, but I wanted an A. So I did homework until my fingers calloused. I spent 5 hours at a time working mammoth exam reviews so I could get 5 bonus points on the tests. When the instructor said we could get 5 extra points for singing the quadratic formula, I offered to pole dance for 10 (Offer politely declined).

Still, come test time, I would annoy the very precise instructor by not showing my work in a manner befitting a serious student of math.

Exams, even ones I scored well on, would come back with more ink than Jesse James’ skanky girlfriend.

On one, she had corrected the same form issue on numerous problems, each mark getting bigger until, when I turned to the last page of my test, I saw this:

Yes! “Not appropriate” “BS!” Underlined two very angry times! I was mortified. And shocked.

I go to the University of the Incarnate Word. And in case you’re not fluent in Catholic, the Incarnate Word refers to Jesus. And at the University of Jesus, it is just not common to get back papers with “BS” scrawled on them.

Even though my philosophy professor would have probably been justified a few times.

And “not appropriate?” I frantically checked back to make sure I hadn’t mistakenly spelled something nasty, or plotted parabolas reflecting over the X axis that looked just a little too voluptuous (If you are also a liberal arts major, look that math reference up. It’s funny.).

But mostly, I just stared at my paper wondering if I’d even be allowed back in class after offering up inappropriate BS on my exam.

While I stared, the instructor had gone on to another chapter, and the class was quietly scribbling notes when it hit me. She meant  I needed to write the computations on both sides of the equation. BS = Both Sides. I started to laugh.

I explained my confusion to the teacher. And to her credit, she laughed, too. Oh did she laugh. Not enough to give me back some points, but you know, that’s ok. Turns out, even at 42, I can ace a college algebra class. BS and all.

9 Responses to “Chocolate Cake > X”

  1. PippaD July 1, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    ROFL I would never of understood what she meant!

  2. Donna Tuttle July 1, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

    I think she meant ButterScotch.
    Because even though x=chocolate cake, y=butterscotch pudding.
    x + y = Well, let’s not go there. This is why I have been running every day.
    Suffice to say, math is so much more palatable that way.
    You are so funny, my friend. As always, your blog is somehow humorous and poignant.
    And I’d be your pupil any ole’ day.

  3. Bridget July 1, 2010 at 2:22 pm #

    Haha! That’s great! I wouldn’t have figured that out..

  4. Nan Palmero July 1, 2010 at 2:24 pm #

    What class will you be teaching? If needed, I’ll shave my facial hair to be accepted.

    I loved your post, thank you for taking the time to share *another* hilarious story.

  5. Nicole July 1, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

    I broke up with math a LONG time ago. Why do they make you write that stuff out? Isn’t that why calculators were invented? I am certain that if I were to give it another try, I would get a “BS” on my paper – and it would NOT mean “both sides.” (PS – tell the Google ads on your page to stop telling me to be a teacher! I would not be good at it, unless you can use a taser on kids.)

  6. Elizabeth July 2, 2010 at 8:38 pm #

    Frankly I’m just relieved to know I’m not the only one who has less than perky parabolas at this stage of the game.

    But really, I think you should frame that comment. Hilarious!

    The only disappointing part of this is that it sounds like you will not need my math tutoring.


  7. Cat B July 3, 2010 at 9:33 am #

    I received a teaching degree (majoring in English, minoring in History, with a large smattering of Drama) 6 years after my Biblical Studies Degree (majoring in Hermaneutics, minoring in Christian Education, with a large smattering of Drama), which was 5 years after my Grade 12 Math class. The class I took twice and got a high mark of 52 in, I think (it was sooooo long ago….)Please note–Math was not a part of my life, nor one that I missed.

    As life would have it, I ended up in an entirely different field, working with delayed preschoolers, for well over a decade. (Preschoolers often gave me the same joy high school Math did. :-{ ) Then I ended up teaching Basic Ed to adults–and had to teach Math.

    Lots of Math. GED Math. Grade 10 Math. Pre-carpentry Math. Carpentry Math. Designing Math tests. Explaining Math concepts. Math to the nth degree.

    I have learned to sing the SOH CAH TOA song (which I will gladly exchange for your quadratic song) and to love Cartesian Planes. I can recognize formulas for volume and explain how to find angles. Math. It’s all good.

    Thanks for making me laugh. I’ll remember to explain BS to my guys, lol!

  8. ingrid July 5, 2010 at 10:12 am #

    I’m not taking college math courses but I am relearning algebra and geometry thanks to my 13 year old twins! 🙂 Oddly enough I still remember a lot of it and have impressed the kiddos. 🙂

  9. Katie Gianotti July 20, 2010 at 12:11 am #

    How funny! Your writing is such a joy. I’ve figured out the perfect niche for you and your entertaining blog.
    You should target your blog toward people who are wondering what to do midlife and whether teaching is the right answer. OBVIOUSLY, you will be an incredible educator and this is the right path for you. Your hilarious insight might help and encourage others…
    Just would love to see millions read your blog.
    If the Pioneer Woman found her niche, why can’t you in this economy?

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