She Wants Us to Study for Math

Our teacher’s gone utterly crazy.
No one can fathom her wrath.
She wants us to do the impossible:
She wants us to study for math.


How can you study for something
where talent is so black-and-white?
You get it, or don’t.
You’ll pass, or you won’t.
It’s pointless to put up a fight.

Her mind must have leaked out, like water,
and slipped down the drain of the bath.
I might as well “read up on breathing”
as study for something like math.

Math’s an implacable tyrant,
a game that I never can win.
And even if I stood a prayer of success,
how would I even begin?


My teacher, the madwoman, told me:
First, list the things that you know.
Her mind’s gone to rot.
Still, I’ll give it a shot,
though I’m sure that there’s nothing to—


Well, now that I glance through my papers—
my homework,
my notes,
and my quizzes—
I see that I’ve learned a few things in my turn,
though I still fall far short of the whizzes.


“Second, list things that you don’t know.”
That’s what my teacher said next.
I’ll follow her words,
just to show she’s absurd—
the last thing that lady expects.

Hmm… well, it’s funny to notice,
but as I revisit my work,
I find a few bits
where nothing quite fits,
where the math goes all strange and beserk.

I’m starting to feel a bit dizzy.
She’s lured me somehow, down this path.
Her craziness scrambled my thinking—
she’s making me study for math!


The third thing my fool teacher told us,
was, “Fill in conceptual gaps.
And this is her looniest notion of all,
a sign of her mental collapse.

How can I teach myself something
that she failed to teach me herself?
Does she assume that I keep in my room
a magical math-teaching elf?

All that I’ve got is the textbook.
Oh, and the internet too.
Plus a few friends I could text for some help—
well, I suppose that’ll do.

Still, once I’ve got the big picture,
how will that help on the test?
A test’s full of puzzles and problems to solve,
with answers not easily guessed.

She thinks it’ll help if I study?
That illness, I fear, has no cure.
The last piece of counsel she gave us was this:
Practice until you feel sure.”


Clearly, the lady is batty.
Her brain’s made of ketchup and flies.
Still, with a sigh, and a roll of my eyes,
I gather some problems to try.

The next day I sit through the test,
hoping like heck that I’ll pass.
The day after that,
the test’s handed back,
and hey—I scored best in the class!

My teacher is crazy as crayons.
Her mind’s rolled away like a ball.
Doesn’t she see that I’m great at this stuff?
I don’t need to study at all!

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