Over the years, we in the math department have found that one of the students’ greatest criticisms of any math class is their claim that they didn’t learn anything. I, therefore, decided, as part of their final, to have the students list ten things they learned. These things could be anything at all in relation to the class. In order for them to spend more time thinking about it, they were allowed to write their list ahead of time and just bring it with them to the final. Most observations were quite normal, but some made for interesting reading, especially those who forgot and had to quickly write them on the spot. Here are some of the classics:
1. This class helped me be more religious, because I prayed a lot.
2. I learned that math actually has a use in real life.
3. I’ve learned that even if the answer is only off by a little bit, it is still off, and the teacher will still mark it wrong.
4. I learned that if you are sitting by an idiot, it tends to rub off on you.
5. I learned that you can do a lot better in class if you are prepared.
6. I learned that the girl down the row a couple of seats is really cute. Actually, I can’t remember anything else about the class. (He didn’t fill out the other nine items.)
7. I learned that doing your homework makes a huge difference on your grade.
8. I learned that math is easier if you have a good attitude. Maybe that is why I hate math.
9. I learned that there are multiple ways to do something wrong, but there is usually only one way to do it right.
10. I learned that procrastination helps a person fail.
11. I learned that a 15 year marriage is cheaper than a 30 year one. (I’m sure he meant mortgage since that is what we studied.)
12. I learned that an hour and a half math class is way too long.
13. I learned that not all mathematicians are cold, right-brained thinkers.
14. I learned that coming to class helps your grade.
15. You’re the greatest teacher ever. By the way, are there any extra points on the final?
16. With all of the papers, I better learned how to write.
17. I learned that I’m not as good at math as I thought.
18. I learned that if you want to be involved in gambling, you better own the gambling hall.
19. I learned that just because you study for a test for 15 hours doesn’t mean you’ll pass it. Perhaps homework all along would have been better.
20. I learned that no matter how easy something looks when a teacher does it, it’s much harder on your own.
21. I learned that you shouldn’t get behind because it is almost impossible to catch up.
22. I learned how to make a budget, even if it is impossible to live it.
23. I learned that you do better on tests if you study.
24. I learned that you may never know if you can do a math problem unless you try. I learned that once you try, at least then you’ll know for sure you can’t do it.
25. I learned that you don’t have to be a genius to be successful in life. I mean, our teacher seems successful.
(Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit his website at http://www.darishoward.com)