Michael Bay movies aren’t the only thing in the world weighed down by clichés. The classroom of Mr. McPherson – Vimy Secondary School’s longest serving math teacher, is as well.
There are the obligatory posters of Einstein, Newton and Descartes on the walls, the token abacus on his desk, and the chalk dusted tweed jacket hanging from the back of his chair. What really makes him the stereotypical math teacher, however, is the question of the day on his blackboard.
Lennie left his house Monday morning and drove 50 miles. That same day, Jocelyn sat on a train travelling three times as fast and journeyed 300 miles. What was Jocelyn’s time compared to Lennie’s?
Well known slacker, Matthew Klaussen, is the student Mr. McPherson has tasked with answering the question.
“Seriously?” Matthew grumbles. “I don’t mean to be a jerk about this, but what does it matter? I mean, when am I ever going to use something like this in real life?”
“I’ll tell you when,” Mr. McPherson says to him. “Picture it: it’s ten years from now and you’re standing in a nightclub when you see her: the most beautiful woman on the planet. You’re afraid to approach her. After all, she’s drop dead gorgeous and you’re – well, you. So you hold back and start scanning the bar for girls more in your league; only she decides that you are in her league and makes the first move. Forget the cheesy ‘Come here often?’ lines; this girl comes up to you and says, “Have you ever noticed how everyone goes on and on about how brilliant Einstein was? Call me crazy, but I can’t get enough of Srinivasa Ramanujan.”
“Srini…who?” a confused Matthew asks.
“One of history’s biggest mathematicians. Now, are you going to say something intelligent in return or are you going to stand there speechless, with the same stunned expression on your face that you have now?”
“Okay, first off Mr. McPherson, who talks about mathematicians while in a nightclub? Secondly, I can’t imagine any hot girl thinking I’m in her league.”
“Billy Joel landed Christie Brinkley, didn’t he? Ben Stiller convinced Christine Taylor that she ought to marry him. Hugh Hefner…well, we all know about his long list of female admirers.”
“My point, Matthew is that these ordinary looking guys managed to attract hot women. Obviously, they had something. Wouldn’t it be a shame if the one good looking woman in the world who was attracted to you was a math whiz and you lost her because you didn’t know a thing about the subject? I suggest you start paying more attention in class.”
So Matthew did and not only did he figure out that Jocelyn had travelled twice as much as Lennie that day, he went on to become a math teacher himself and the husband of a knockout tax expert.