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The Most Enthusiastic Math Teacher

Updated on January 18, 2011

Out of the teachers that taught my classes when I was a student, one in particular stands out in my mind. He was my math teacher in high school and taught what I recall as one of the most intriguing as well as fascinating class called "Algebra 2 and Trigonometry" or otherwise known as "A2T" among students at my school. He taught this class with such enthusiasm, filling the blackboard with numbers and figures, like an actor full of energy and positive emotions. I could not help but be mesmerized by his "performance" that I found myself at the front row of the class most of the time, trying to catch his every word, even though math was not my favorite subject.

He often called upon his students, asking them to finish a problem, in attempts to bring interaction to his class. He also once said, "you know, I was milking a cow when they landed on the moon". One student interjected, "did you tell the cow about it?" The whole class burst out laughing!

His explanation was also very graphic and easy to understand. To this day, I remember his analogy of what an "asymptote" was. An "asymptote" is a line on a graph to which a curve infinitely approaches. But he explained it like this:

"Let's say I take one step to the train station, about a ten minute walk. Then I take half that step, then half that step, and so on. Although I'm gradually approaching my destination, I'm never going to get there!"

What an illustrative example!

Examples of Horizontal and Vertical Asymptotes

There is one episode I remember particularly well. He was the coach of the basketball team and presumably during one of the practices, accidentally broke his leg. He was on crutches for quite some time but his enthusiasm hardly waned. He was limping at the blackboard on his crutches with a chalk in his hand, trying so hard to conduct his class. I could not help but feel for him, as he grabbed my attention even more. At the end of one such class, he sat down in his chair, looking a bit worn out. I lingered for a while, not having any particular question in mind. Most of the students had left already. He suddenly called to me and showed me a paper illustrating a few exercises for the purpose of rehabilitation for his injury. The illustrations were accompanied by explanations which were written in Japanese, and as he was an American, he could not fully comprehend it.

"Could you explain to me what's written here?" he asked. I offered a hasty translation and felt happy that I was able to offer a helping hand.

I saw him briefly in 2002 for the school's Centennial, but did not get the chance to talk to him. I believe he is still at my Alma Mater, but instead of teaching math, he works as director of technical support.

His enthusiasm and upbeat manner helped make the math class all the more fascinating.


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