Sunday, March 14, 2010

Death by Math

By Jacob Gutnicki

The comic cartel was in full force. Briefcases in hand, the swap took place. Outside the classroom a group of students were flicking cards against the wall. Elsewhere, another group of students played with their PSP’s. In one back corner of the classroom, the daily arm wrestle competition was on. Students in the middle rows were texting while other students were tweeting.

As always the lookout force was on the job. “Dudes, math teacher approaching; hide all electronics.” The students quickly hid their electronic and gaming paraphernalia and scuttled to their assigned seats. Michael Lotta the math teacher was approaching the door. Armed with his thermos of mocha latte the math king was ready to pronounce his order of the day. “Janice, write these questions on the blackboard. Class you have 10 minutes to answer these questions. Justin, your lucky I didn’t see you daydreaming. Jennifer I am confiscating your cell phone and Dennis hand over that Ring Ding.”

After the students posted their work on the blackboard, Mr. Lotta started his lesson on truth tables. Mr. Lotta started by saying; “We will now define the logical operators which we mentioned in our last class, using truth tables. Let us proceed with caution; most of the operators have names, which we may be accustomed to using in ways that are fuzzy or even contradictory to their proper definitions. In all cases, use the truth table for an operator as its exact and only definition; try not to bring to logic the baggage of your colloquial use of the English language.”

Justin was fast asleep. Jennifer was cracking her knuckles to stay awake. The comic cartel was reading their comic books under the table. Some of the more brazen members strategically placed their comic books in the math book. The arm wrestling group resorted to finger wrestling while the gamers, texters, and tweeters struggled to stay awake.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lotta continued to lecture and said, “The first logical operator which we will discuss is the "AND", or conjunction operator. For the computer scientist, it is perhaps the most useful logical operator we will discuss. It is a "binary" operator; a binary operator is defined as an operator that takes two operands.”

Thump!!! Out of sheer boredom, Dennis fell out of his seat. A cackling laugh ensued the classroom. The loud noise startled Justin, woke him from his slumber, and caused him to bump his head against the table. A chorus of laughter broke out. Mr. Lotta banged his thermos of Mocha Latte and angrily exclaimed, “ Justin and Dennis; a 55 for today’s work. Dennis said, “For what?” Mr. Lotta said, “For making noise.” “I didn’t make noise”, proclaimed Dennis. “Now you are”, laughed Mr. Lotta. Mr. Lotta proceeded to continue his lecture and stated, “p AND q is traditionally represented using the and symbol. We will represent it using the ampersand since that is the symbol most commonly used on computers to represent a logical AND.”

Brinnngggg!!! Saved by the bell. No one really understood what Mr. Lotta was talking about. We were just glad the agony was over; for now.


  1. No amount of trendy tech can help Mr. Lotta overcome the fact that he's inherently a dullard. We have to stop recruiting the boring and nerdy pocket protector types into the teaching ranks and find more lively and creative artists!

    Teaching IS an art form.

  2. Ah!! The age old argument is teaching an art or a science. Can professional development turn around a Mr. Lotta or is he simply too set in his ways?

  3. A boring person is a boring person, unless science can figure out a means to transplant personalities!

    Unfortunately, too many Mr. Lottas exist among us in the teaching profession. I wouldn't have skipped so many classes during my undergrad years if teachers like Mr. Lotta didn't exist.

    A teacher has to be a performer in the classroom. He/she must awake each morning and look into the mirror saying "SHOWTIME!"