Thursday, 23 January 2014

The story of the time I got my maths teacher to call me a legend

In high school my maths teachers hated my guts. Both of them. There were only 2 at our school and each year or so the teacher we had would switch. Obviously my first had worded up the other to my "antics" (clue: asking "why" is not misbehaving, it's a genuine part of learning), and so they both gave me a solid dislike for mathematics. Shame. It's actually fascinating. Later, I did physics at TAFE and loved it. 

Anyway, I digress. 

Often I would walk through the doors to my math class to hear "MAAA-RY!! Come and sit where I can see you! Alone please!", and I would begrudgingly trudge to the front row to sit, on display, right in front of her desk. I was constantly told I talked too much and asked too many questions. Later, as it turns out, I realised my preference for socialising during maths had something to do with the unanswered "whys". But at the time I just didn't understand the squiggly lines on the board. Trigawhat?

At the time it also seemed strange I was singled out. I wasn't the only cheeky/bored kid in maths, and the majority of other teachers who taught me gave the impression they liked me. Maybe I was the love or hate kid. 

Anyway it was on. Mary vs Maths Teachers (1994-1999). 

And I brung it. 

More on that soon, but for some context, when I was 15 I also had this keen interest, for reasons only a teenager can explain, to get people to call me A Legend. I had loads of time on my hands to concoct brilliant plans to inspire such a name to be bestowed on me. And I was quite creative about it. My friends would humour me (often I would also return the favour) and from time to time I would even receive a spontaneous "you legend". Sometimes people would close their eyes briefly and shake their heads at my daginess. (Clue: asking someone if you're A Legend is daggy.) But oddly, that was just as satisfying. 

Each year I would sit the math comp. In my first 2 years at high school I'd come out with distinctions (hooray for basic maths comps booyah), but by year 10 my maths was falling badly behind and the chances I'd score highly were looking slim. Still, I sat the year 10 maths comp exam anyhow. 

Towards the end of the exam session I was sitting quietly, wondering how to kill time until we were permitted to leave, when an idea crossed my mind. The exam papers were those computer feed sheets, that you use 2B pencils to shade in circles, then the paper is fed through a computer and the results tallied without anyone even needing to look at the paper. Perfect. 

I spent the rest of the exam making sure the shading in each circle was flawless. I didn't want some computer scanner failing to read my sheet properly and screwing up my plans. For this to work I was counting on a human not having to review my paper. After I filled in all the answers, I (ever so carefully) shaded the circles to spell out my first and surnames. There were enough spaces for all of those lovely little letters. 

The hardest part was the waiting. Over the next few months I tried patiently to wait for the results to be sent to our school. 

Maths comp certificates were always handed out in assembly. 

School assembly. 

You know, with the entire school present? 

The day finally arrived and we all bundled into the school hall to sleep through announcements. Only this day was different. No chance I was going to sleep through this.

It was the day the maths comp results were in. And I was about to score BIG in Mary vs Maths Teachers (1994-1999).  

"R" for "Ryan" comes late in the alphabet so I had to practice more patience while my year 10 maths teacher called each student up, one by one, and congratulated them on their achievement. 

"Betty Rogers*... a distinction, well done!"
"Beatrice Ruddick* you go"

That was my cue. I was ready. 

"Mary Ryan The Leg-e...[a pause, queue confusion]...MAAAARY". 

Okay so I didn't technically get a win. But my friends finally believed I'd the balls to put "Mary Ryan - The Legend" on my year 10 maths comp exam paper. I still have it too, sitting with my degree. 

And I still get called a dag quite a bit. I secretly love that. 

So that's the story of how I almost got my my maths teacher to call me A Legend. 

*Names have been changed. 

For the record, "Certificate of Participation" means I failed the exam. Hahaha. So worth it.

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