Monday, 3 July 2017

Never lie to children


There was a radio thing about mathematics and puzzle-solving this morning, and it reminded me that I achieved the grand result of zero marks for my 'O'-Level maths.

I remember turning off from the whole subject. At the end of term at my primary school, the maths teacher wrote a complicated equation on the black board and said, "Next year you will be doing these." One girl said she was giving up, but she didn't mean it. I did.

The next teacher was far from inspiring, and seemed to use the teaching of maths as a punishment. "Right. More maths homework for you."

The only puzzle that I really tried hard at was given to me by a South African lodger we once took in. It was the pictorial one about the three houses which each had to be connected to the three services (gas, electricity and water) without the pipes and lines crossing.

After about three days, I decided that it was impossible and suggested this to him.

"It is possible," he said, "I have done it myself."

He went back to South Africa and I spent several more years on it before I realised he was just a fucking liar. Worse than that, he was a South African fucking liar at a time when white South Africans needed all the friends they could get.

21 comments:

  1. I never took O level maths having been thrown out of the class when we started algebra. I was good at mental arithmetic and put in a class taking the Cambridge Certificate in Arithmetic and got 96% when I took the exam at 16. The trouble is nobody has ever heard of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The name 'Cambridge' attached to it sounds impressive though.

      Delete
  2. To solve the puzzle you fold over the paper and draw the awkward lines on the other side.
    Simple ain't it :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. If in London you can have the Trains, Drains and Underground crossing I would have thought that the services you mentioned could work.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I hated Mathematics, but loved Geometry and Algebra.

    Perhaps your man's problem involved a series of Mobius strips? Seemingly impossible?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I hated Maths too .... in my O-level, I wrote the question, left a space and drew a line !!!! I think I got a low pass but that was probably for neatness and for getting my name right !!! XXXX

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would have got -1 if I had spelt my name right.

      Delete
    2. I mean NOT spelt my name right of course.

      Delete
  6. I loved geometry. Algebra was ok, but I was forever making careless mistakes -- and in those days -- even if you did everything right one careless mistake and the whole thing was wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That you found out that the SA was a fucking liar made me laugh out loud.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He was one of the first liars I discovered from many more in the future. I am still not rid of them.

      Delete
  8. A mental blockage descends upon my brain when the word maths is mentioned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too Weave. It's a shame, isn't it?

      Delete
  9. I got a 3 in csc maths.....then what did i do? I went to work in a bank

    ReplyDelete
  10. I failed my maths 'o' level. I think the teaching was fucked up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I went to a school with some very bad teachers.

      Delete