Tag Archives: Teacher

Sex, Math and Computers

The most valuable sex education lesson I learned took place in my high school geometry class. Computers and geeks mixed in with the sex ed.

Unlike my previous year in algebra, I loved geometry. How I went from barely passing to straight As in math, I’ll never know.

One day, my geometry teacher took us to a special room at school that housed a couple of computers. Nothing that I’m familiar with today, but large, mechanical desks with no screen that spit out punch tape and later ate it up again for the input and output of data.

Two guys in my class were already experts with these machines. They poked and prodded them into functioning. To everyone else, it was kind of magical yet boring at the same time. These geeks ended up with a four-year math/science college scholarship.

After our visit with the machines, our teacher told us that in the future every home will have a computer. That blew our minds, early 1970s style. What would we use it for? How many people could afford this thing? That computer looked bulky, complex, and unfriendly. The two geeks were the only fans.

Later in the semester, my teacher somehow brought up the  topic of sex in geometry class. He told us that sex takes up less than 1% of your time in married life. He ticked off necessary distractions such as working, shopping, cooking, childcare, cleaning, and whatever else needed to be done.

Today his lessons in love still stick. Although neither marriage nor heterosexual relationships are a given part to that theorem. Those few short minutes in some few short nights don’t seem to be worth the societal controversies. Whatever gets you through the night. A small part of our small time.

My first lesson with computers created an ambivalence within me which still remains. I love the possibilities and I hate my dependence. Like the human bond, deep feelings can move through the spectrum. An embrace may not be far removed from a push away.

Geometry class: you expanded the possibilities in my mind. I remember you fondly.

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Instruments of Writing Destruction

I stabbed him. He pushed me to the limit. He kept pushing me while we lined up to walk to the library in the first grade.

The weapon: my freshly sharpened #2 pencil.

This elementary school stabbing elicited very little reaction from the teacher. Although she did give me the evil eye as she took my stabbing victim to the sink to wash off the lead mark I left on his arm.

My mother always told me I was too passive and sensitive and that I should stand up for myself. So I stood up and lashed out. Today I might have been suspended, if not arrested.

On another day, this same teacher’s lesson plan included a writing assignment. I listened to her directions and grabbed a piece of paper to start writing. In a misguided fit of enthusiasm, I pulled out my box of crayons instead of a boring (and deadly) black-lead pencil.

I carefully formed each letter on my paper, aiming for printing perfection. I alternated a different crayon color for each letter I printed. It was colorful, joyful, and beautiful.

After I handed in this assignment, the teacher pulled out my multicolored paper and held it up for the whole class to see. I thought she was showing off my stellar bit of work.

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Instead of praising my choice of writing instruments and creativity, she used my paper as a prime example of what not to do. Emphatically she said, “Never, ever hand in a paper like this one.” Of course my name was boldly printed at the top of the page and everyone could see who the culprit was of this crayon-writing crime.

In addition to being called out as a coffee-swilling first grader, assault with a pencil and deviant-writing behavior was also added to my record. My public school education was off to a great start.