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Calculus Versus Dumbledore’s Army

| Learning | April 12, 2017

Our calculus teacher is on maternity leave, and we have a substitute. We have our first exam since he took over. The entire class does poorly, with not a single student passing the exam. A few of us have formed a calculus study group and meet after school to try to figure out why all of our scores were so bad.

After comparing our answers, we find we were frequently coming up with the same answers, all marked wrong. Reviewing our tests, we can’t find where we had made errors, so we go to the school’s math tutor the next morning for help. She similarly can’t find where we had made errors.

She goes with us to the calculus substitute. He simply pulls out the master test from the textbook and says that the answers are supplied by the company and all that matters is that we were wrong. Finally the math tutor gets another teacher and they demand to see the master test.

It ends up that he had retyped the equations that were the questions off of the master test into our test. When he did so, he put in numerous typos: eliminating parentheses, negative signs, and factors. He copied the limits from one question onto another. A whole portion of one question was missing, and two questions were swapped. All in all, out of 50 questions, 38 were mistyped!

The tutor and teacher bring this up to the principal, who has our grades amended so that we get scores when correctly solving the equations as given. The class all goes from failing the exam to higher scores.

The substitute was dismissed and the math tutor took over the position. Not wanting to admit he made a mistake, the substitute wrote a ton of letters to the school board and local newspaper. He accused the students of cheating for higher scores and that we should have “understood the spirit if not the letter” of the equations he gave us. Furthermore he called for the school board to expel any student participating in a study group saying that they allowed us to coordinate attacks on teachers and how it would lead to gang activity!

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