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Stories from school and college

We Are 100% Mathematically Sure That Teacher Helped

, , , | Learning | February 9, 2023

When I was in High School, I was mostly ignored by my classmates. I was also not that great in math and did every assignment and math problem, hoping to understand the concept.

When I am in my graduation year (2000’s), there are two types of exams: the one big national exam at the end of the year and three ‘smaller’ exams the teachers create themselves. I practice hard but the first two don’t go… that great. So, I double-study time for the last test.

I am doing one of the mock exams the teacher offers. I know I am the only one doing it, the teacher even mentioned it. He doesn’t give up on me and explains what I did wrong. I think I understand the concept!

During a study break, most students just chat, but three boys have the math books in their hands. They are the smart boys; they understand everything first try!

Boy #1: “I just don’t get it.”

Boy #2: “What are we doing wrong?”

Boy #3: “Let’s ask [My Name].”

I look up, surprised. They’re noticing me? Why? What is the catch? They can’t be serious!

Boy #1: “Hey, [My Name], you did the mock exam, right? Did you face this problem?”

Me: “Oh, yes! I did! The teacher explained it to me… Do you want me to explain it?”

Boy #2: “Yes please!”

They weren’t kidding, they did ask for my help! And when we have the teacher-made exam:

Me: *In my head.* “Okay, three problems, I have an hour… let’s go! Oh, this first problem looks like the mock exam. Yes, I know this! Huh, it even has the same result. Did I really do this right? Okay, I’ll check back later, problem two… this is the same as on the mock exam. The names are different, but this is the same… And the result is the same as well. This can’t be right! And problem three… oh, I’m messing this up! I’m getting the exact same answers as the mock exam! This can’t be right! I’m going to fail!”

Can you imagine my face when I got back a 100% on the test score? I was the only one in my class to get that grade. The three boys who asked for my help did pass and thanked me for my help.

I still wonder why the teacher used the mock exam as an official exam, only changing names and stories. He must have known I had practiced it, right? In the end, this 100%-grade boosted my average so much that I had enough points to pass my final math exam.

Checking If This Is Camp Crystal Lake

, , , , | Learning | February 7, 2023

When I just started dating my now-wife, I quickly noticed she didn’t like being in dark alleys, parks, etc. She was skittish whenever we walked outside during the night, so I asked if something had happened.

She told me that when she was eight (in the early nineties), she went to a weekend camp. It was located in the forest, and she had a lot of fun… until the evening. She was in a group of six to eight girls, all around her age, and together with three camp leaders, they would do an evening walk. After walking for about thirty minutes:

Camp Leader #1: “Oops, this is where the track ends! But I think there might be still markings around here, so maybe we can find our way back!”

The girls quickly found the clues and followed the path, but somewhere around the route… they lost the clues and accidentally started following similar signs. Should the Camp Leaders have noticed? 

Trust me, my wife still curses them for this.

Suddenly, everyone heard music – that must be the camp! Everyone hurries to the light… and ends up at a place with a radio and coffins. What was going on? The Camp Leaders don’t know either… and suddenly someone jumps from a coffin! The girls scream; it’s a vampire!

Turns out the group accidentally followed the tracks for the older teens – a more horror-creepy-track. The vampire was awfully nice and kind, giving directions about where they should go. My wife made clear this vampire had nothing to do with her fear.

No… it was the Camp Leaders. Imagine a group of eight-year-old girls, tired and scared because they are lost, no cell phones, and just had a vampire jump from a coffin… And then the Camp Leaders decide to say this:

Camp Leader #1: “Oh no, we are so lost! What if we never get home again?”

Camp Leader #2: “What if there are wolves or bears, they will eat you!”

Camp Leader #3: “Do you see that man over there? I think I saw him carrying a knife! What if he spots you? He will murder you all!”

Wife: *At eight years old.* “Where is [Camp Leader #1]?”

Camp Leader #2: “Oh, don’t worry, he’s just checking if that way is the way to the camp. Just wait a bit.”

At that moment, [Camp Leader #1] jumps from the bushes, with his beanie pulled over his head. He screams ‘Raaawr!’ and the likes and of course, the group of girls start to scream.

When they finally get back to camp, the girls are sent to bed straight away, because it is so late. The other Camp Leaders do not ask the girls what happened, just the other Camp Leaders and they just said they got lost a little bit.

So, of course, the girls all told their parents. Most parents didn’t believe them. My wife’s parents did believe her but thought she was overreacting. They were with the Camp Leaders, so they were safe, right?

About fifteen years later, my wife (with her parents) coincidentally came across one of the other girls in the group. They talked about that dreaded night and only then the parents believed their daughter. Especially when that other girl told her that ALL the girls in the group (she stayed in touch with some) were now afraid of the dark, dark alleys and dark forests.

Were mistakes made? Should all the adults have handled this differently? Absolutely. But nothing can be done about this anymore (perhaps therapy), because the camp no longer exists and technically no law was broken. I’m just very glad my wife says she trusts me and is less scared in the dark when she’s with me. But I will never scare-prank her, or anyone else.

I’ve seen the results of a scare prank. Please, just don’t do it.

I Owe An Apology To That Kid From First Grade

, , , , , , , | Learning | February 6, 2023

My eight-year-old came home from school, and I asked her how the day had gone.

Eight-Year-Old: “A boy in my class had to get picked up early.”

Me: “Why?”

Eight-Year-Old: *Matter-of-factly* “He didn’t make it to the bathroom in time, so his mom took him home to change. It was near the end of the day, so he just stayed home.”

Me: “Oh, no. That must have been awful for him. You didn’t make fun of him, I hope?”

She looked at me like I had three heads.

Eight-Year-Old: “Make fun of him? Why? It was just an accident.”

Me: “Did anyone make fun of him?”

Eight-Year-Old: *Still incredulous* “Of course not! We would never do that!”

There’s hope for the future!

*Chuckles* I’m In Danger!

, , , , , , , | Learning | February 4, 2023

In the early 1990s, I bought my first house. Not long after moving in, I noticed that our local community college had a non-credit evening course called “Residential Wiring For Homeowners”. It was, as the title suggested, catering to homeowners who wanted to learn the basics of electrical wiring in the home as it pertained to anything from replacing lights fixtures and switches to minor electrical changes — renovations, etc.

The instructor was a licensed journeyman electrician with a wry sense of humour and more than a few stories to tell of the many wiring nightmares he had come across in his career. He was a great instructor, and I learned a LOT from him in the course.

Each week, he would give a short lecture on the work we would practice. For the course, each of us bought a list of electrical supplies (wire, switches, junction boxes, etc.), and we used a two-foot-by-two-foot square of plywood to attach the various pieces. After each lecture, we would then practice building the circuits and mount the necessary pieces on the board. During this time, our instructor would move about checking our work, offering advice and/or corrections, and answering questions.

On the first night, [Instructor] outlined the course and expectations. He also made it clear there was one rule that had to be followed:

“NOBODY plugs their board in to live power without me checking your work first. No exceptions!”

You may guess where this story is going.

There was one guy in the class — let’s call him “Ralph”. After a few nights, it was clear that Ralph was struggling a bit with the concepts. He never seemed to get it right the first time, kept asking for more explanations, etc. He was a nice guy but clearly not cut out to do this stuff on his own.

One evening, in particular, stands out all these years later. We were working on a more complicated wiring example using four-way switches and light fixtures. Everyone was working away and completing the task when, all of a sudden, there was a loud “FOOP” and the lights went out in the class and in the hallway so we were in the pitch black.

After a few moments:

Instructor: “Who did that?!”

Ralph: “Uhhhh, sorry…”

Instructor: “Okay, everyone unplug your boards, and do not touch them until I’m back. I’m going to find and reset the breaker.”

When the lights came on and [Instructor] returned, he reviewed all the work in progress and gave the okay to proceed… for everyone but poor Ralph. He took Ralph to one corner of the room and sat down with him for a few minutes to have a “quiet conversation”. We proceeded with finishing our work, and Ralph eventually returned to finish his project board under the watchful eye of [Instructor].

A few classes later, we were done with the course. On the final night, [Instructor] began passing out certificates to all of us… except for poor Ralph. They were largely symbolic certificates, just an acknowledgment that we had taken the course.

Instructor: “Ralph, I know you tried your best in this course, but it is abundantly clear that you really have trouble grasping the basics I tried to teach this class. I would invite you to register for and take the course again to get the concepts down. If not, I implore you to never, ever touch the electrical wiring in your home and always call a qualified electrician for any work.”

I have no idea if Ralph tried to take the course again, and I certainly hope he never burned his house down trying to replace a light switch on his own.

Stay Frosty! (It Goes Great With Fries)

, , , , , , | Learning | February 2, 2023

I’m a middle school teacher, and I try to keep up with “the hip lingo.” (Thank you, Urban Dictionary.) I’m not very good with it, but I do know that the new word “salty” means that someone has a bad attitude or is giving someone attitude.

I’m in class with a student who is giving me attitude. He also is “too cool for school” and loves to give teachers the runaround. I’ve had enough and decide to mess with him.

Me: “Am I a french fry?”

He blinks.

Kid: “What?”

Me: “Am I a french fry?”

Kid: “I don’t know what that means.”

Me: “Am I a french fry?”

Kid: “No?”

Me: “Then stop throwing salt at me!”

The class laughed and he even chuckled. He fixed his attitude after that.