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Stories from school and college

(Math) Exercise, Dividers Of Theoden

| Learning | April 4, 2013

(We’re taking a calculus final. The TA is a well-known Lord of the Rings fan, and we’ve had running LotR jokes all semester.)

TA: “Okay, guys, everyone look at me. We’ve been over the rules, but just in case: no notes, pencil your answers in on the scantron sheet, and graphing calculators only – no more ‘can I just used my cell phone’ nonsense.”

Student: “[TA’s name], my calculator batteries just died! What should I do?”

TA: “Here, I’ve got a big box of spares.”

Student: *struggling* “I can’t get this packaging open…”

Student 2: “Here, I’ve got a pocket knife.”

TA: “And I’ve got a pair of scissors if you need them.”

Student 3: *from the back of the room* “OR MY AXE!”

(Everyone starts laughing.)

TA: “The only axes allowed on the exam are in the graph section.”

(Everyone groans.)

TA: “Oh, come on, you’re in a math class. Deal with the math jokes.”

(The professor enters with a stack of exams. With him are two exam proctors.)

Professor: “Tolkien jokes already, [TA’s name]?”

TA: “Hey, I didn’t start it.”

(The professor starts handing stacks of exams to the TA and proctors.)

Professor: “But I’m about to finish it. [TA], take these exams down the left flank. [Proctor 1], follow the desks down the center. [Proctor 2], take your exams right, along the wall.”

(At this point, many of the students have realized where this is going: Theoden’s lines from ‘Return of the King.’)

Professor: “Forth, and fear no problems! Solve! Solve, students of calculus! Points shall be taken, scores shall be splintered! A pencil day! A red-ink day! Until three thirty!”

(The professor pulls out a pencil, holding it out like a sword, and runs down the first row holding it out. Students hold up their pencils, hitting his as he passes.)

Professor: “Solve now! Solve now! Solve to good grades and the class ending! MAAATH!”

Entire Class: “MAAATH!”

Professor: “MAAAAATH!”

Entire Class: “MAAAAAATH!”

Professor: “Forth, exam-takers!”

(The entire class rises to their feet and gives him a standing ovation. A week later, we get an email from the professor.)

Professor: *at the end of the email* “PS: I appreciate all of you who wrote in their evaluations that I was the one professor to rule them all, but the best one yet was the student who called me ‘Mathrandir.'”

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This Apple Doesn’t Foul Far From The Tree

, , , | Learning | April 3, 2013

(A first-grade student of mine has started using some colorful language in the classroom. I decide to bring his mom in for a parent-teacher conference.)

Me: “[Student] has been using some rather inappropriate words in the classroom. I was wondering if you might know where he’s getting it from.”

Student’s Mom: *nonchalantly* “F***, I don’t know. Must be those video d*** games his c*** of a dad buys for him.”

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There Snow Way I’m Taking The Fall For This

, , | Learning | April 3, 2013

(I’m teaching a class of seven kids between the ages of seven and thirteen who are all brand new skiers. The oldest kid has refused to listen to me and is interrupting me while I’m trying to explain to the other kids how to do the exercise. This happens at the top of a hill, where there are two other classes as well as the lift attendant.)

Me: “Okay, so for this run, we’re going to play a game called ‘Red Light, Green Light’—”

Student: “That’s a baby game! I’m not playing that!”

Me: “Jack, it’s going to be more difficult because we’re on a steeper slope this time.”

Student: “Well, I’m not going to do it! Screw you! I don’t need f****** ski lessons!”

(The student takes off down the hill, ignoring me shouting at him to stop and wait. He crashes into a kid from one of the younger classes, who falls and starts crying. He ignores him and continues recklessly down the hill.)

Other Instructor: “Did he just take off?”

Me: *frustrated* “Yes.”

Lift Attendant: “I’ll radio down and ask them to keep him there until you get to the bottom of the hill.”

Me: “Thanks.”

(We start heading down the hill and we find my student standing with his mother, who is yelling at a Ski Patroller and my supervisor.)

Mother: “She should be fired!” *pointing at me* “She let my baby ski off on his own!”

Ski Patroller: “Ma’am, from what the attendant at the top has told us, your son refused to listen to the instructor, and also injured another student on his way down.”

Mother: “He would never do that! She just can’t teach; I want her fired! She can’t be trusted with the safety of other people’s children!”

Supervisor: “Well, she’s been teaching here for five years, and we’ve never had a problem before. If you remember, I spoke with you yesterday about your son’s refusal to participate and follow instructions, as well as the rude language he was using around the younger students in the class.” *waves me over* “Can you please explain what happened at the top of the hill?”

Me: *explains what happened*

Supervisor: *to me* “Good work. I’m sorry you had to deal with this.” *turns to the mother* “Either you teach your son some manners, or you teach him to ski yourself. I’m not putting my employees through this; they’re all good workers and they deserve to be treated better.”

Mother: *embarassed* “Well, we’ll just go to [other ski hill]; they know how to teach kids how to ski!”

(She storms off, pulling her son behind her who is struggling to get away from her.)

Ski Patroller: “I think I’ll give my buddy over at [other ski hill] a heads up about those two; they’re f****** dangerous.”

(Later, I received a huge thank you and a bonus for not snapping at the mother or the student.)

The Power Of A Kenya-Do Attitude

| Learning | April 3, 2013

(The Electronic Arts class is having a show featuring their final projects — computerized or mechanized sculptures. I’m getting my project installed.)

Classmate: “Hey, can you help me a second? This bulb socket is giving me trouble.”

Me: “Sure.”

(He tries to screw in a replacement light bulb into his project, but it won’t light up.)

Classmate: “That’s weird. It was working a minute ago.”

Other Classmate: “Are you getting power to the socket?”

Classmate: “Let’s find out…”

(He picks up a high-voltage multimeter –— the right tool to measure 120 V –— but puts it down, instead selecting a homebrew circuit another student built to test nine volt batteries.)

Classmate: “This will work, right?”

Everyone: “NO!”

(Before he can put it down, it literally explodes, showering us all with molten plastic and pitting his hands with hot metal.)

Classmate: “What… what the?!”

(The door flies open and a breathless security guard comes flying in, hands up to fight.)

Security: “THE F*** WAS THAT? AIN’T NO ONE SHOOTING UP MY SCHOO— the h*** you doing, crazy boy?”

Classmate: “I… wha…—”

Security: “Someone tell me what the h*** went down here before I start punchin’ people!”

Other Classmate: *looking over at classmate* “Don’t worry, he’s just an idiot.”

Security: “I got that! The h*** he do?”

Other Classmate: “120 V AC across a 9 V circuit.”

Security: “120… you tryin’ to die motherf***er?! Lemme see that!” *snatches tool from classmate*

Classmate: “Uhh… here?”

(Security grabs a bunch of tools from the surrounding area and gets to work.)

Security: “This circuit is just fine! 120 V AC just like you want!” *holds up the bulb* “But this? This s*** ain’t right. This is a f****** fancy bulb for a f****** fancy flashlight. You blew this poor b****** right the h*** up!”

(The security guard jumps on a desk and unscrews a bulb from the ceiling.)

Security: “Now THIS is what you want!”

Classmate: “Uh, isn’t that… hot?”

Security: “Sure it is, but you’re the one whose hands got smoke coming out of them!”

(The security guard looks over at the student’s project and gets it back online in time for the professor to arrive.)

Professor: “That was quite an impressive job. Were you an electrician?”

Security: “No, I lived in Kenya. When I was 14, my house caught fire from faulty wiring and burned down. When I was 18, my house caught fire from faulty wiring and burned down. When I was 22, my house caught fire from faulty wiring and burned down. So finally, I taught myself how to look at wires. When I was 23, a drunk man drove a truck into my house, and it caught fire and burned down. So I gave up and moved to America.”

Professor: “Are you interested in learning any more about electronics?”

Security: *face lights up* “Sure! I love this stuff! You got some books?”

Professor: “Plenty, and you’re welcome to my class. It’s the least I can do for extinguishing my student.”

(Last I heard, the security guard had tested out of all but the most advanced classes!)

Not Getting The Picture

, | Learning | April 2, 2013

(A student walks up to the front desk to check out a book.)

Me: “Do you have your library card with you?”

Student: “Uhhh!” *throws hands up in the air and starts to back away*

Me: “Wait a second! If you have a picture ID, we can look up your account by your name.”

Student: “I don’t have a picture ID!”

Me: “Do you have a driver’s license?”

Student: “Of course I have a driver’s license, but I don’t have a picture ID!”

Me: *confused* “It doesn’t have a picture? Is it a learner’s permit?”

Student: “Uh… duh! Do I look like I’m 15?”

(She fishes around in her purse, pulls out her wallet, and shows me her driver’s license.)

Student: “This is all that I have!”

Me: “Um… that will do just fine. That’s what I meant by ‘picture ID.’ It has your picture on it.”

Student: “Ohhh! Is that what a picture ID is? I didn’t know that.”

(I check out her book and she leaves.)

Co-Worker: “How did she ever get into college?”