Yeah, who cares, right? Maths being the devil’s work and all.
About two weeks ago Maurie, one of the Maths staff, asked me if I’d get involved with the celebrations for Pi day by trying to memorise a few decimal places and then reciting them in front of the staff during morning tea. I agreed, then promptly forgot about it.
This morning, after the interrupted night’s sleep I’ve already described, I was getting ready for work when Evan4 came to see me with his head at an awkward angle.
“I’ve put my neck out when I was washing my armpit in the shower,” he said.
I rang the chiropractor and we could get him in at 9.10. This of course necessitated a mad rush to drop him off at the chiros before school, as I was teaching period 1. I walked through the door of the staffroom with 1.5 seconds to go before my year 12 class started. Reyka, one of the Maths staff, greeted me cheerily with, “Hello Frogdancer! Are you ready for the Pi challenge?”
Shit! I thought. I completely forgot about it.
I knew a grand total of 2 decimal places: 3.14
I grabbed my books, computer and the student bulletin and raced off to class. As I was reading the bulletin I came across a notice about Pi day. WITH SOME DECIMAL PLACES IN THE BULLETIN.
Awesome. Occasionally I’m slightly competitive and I didn’t want to look like a fool in front of the staff. I immediately told my year 12s what was going on, set them some work from the text book and then sat in front of them, trying to memorise numbers. (shudder…)
It took me nearly 4 years to memorise my own mobile number, so I was really up against it. Then one of my students said, “Miss, why don’t you set it to music like you told us to do with quotes for our essays?”
Pure genius! I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before!
For the rest of that lesson I was sitting on the desk in front of the class singing numbers to the tune of “Yesterday” under my breath, interspersed with swear words when I got it wrong, (Don’t worry… these kids are 17 and 18…. I didn’t psychologically damage them or introduce them to any new and colourful words), while the kids analysed an editorial from the text book. Next I had year 9 English in the library. I’d already told them that they were having an assessment task, so they worked in silence while I walked up and down between the tables, putting more and more numbers to words. Then I’d go over the lines again and again, trying to make sure that I’d not forget them.
When a kid asked for help, I’d walk over to them but they’d have to wait until I finished the sequence I was singing to myself before I’d let them speak.
By recess I was as ready as I’d ever be…
The Maths staff had outdone themselves. The staff common room was filled with platters full of meat pies, fruit pies, cakes with the Pi symbol on the top, chocolate stick biscuits melted together in the shape of pi, pineapple lollies, a pineapple pie (which was double Pi… most impressive!). The staff all milled around stuffing our faces, then it was time for the show..
Jason went first and rattled off an impressive 23 decimal places or something like that. He was cheered and then Maurie looked to me. I got up and went to the front of the staff room.
Before I made my grand attempt, I explained how I’d forgotten all about it, how Tom1 had dragged me out of a sound night’s sleep, so that this attempt was only two period’s worth. Then I took a deep breath and started.
In a definite tone I said, “Three point…” and then I started to sing the rest. When I got to the end of the line: “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away”, which was “Three point ..141…592653589….(” try it… it works), people realised what I was doing and there was some laughter and applause. Up until then I think they were probably wondering what that awful noise was.
I sang right up until the line,”I’m not half the man I used to be…” then I had no more decimal points left in me. I’m a bit cross that I only started learning it that morning. I reckon with a bit more time, I could’ve done the whole song. Darn it!
It was amazing, but Then Em got up and blew me out of the water. She stood in front of the staff and rattled off 63 decimal places. She spoke them, but told me later that she had the same learning strategy as I did, only she used “The ants went marching one by one”… and it only took her one period to learn it. Clearly we’re dealing with a superior mind here.
It was a bit of fun and it livened up the day.