Geometry was part of my ‘good old days’ testing in high school. This second story in my ‘test’ series is … 1Most of my tests bring a chuckle, but one does not. I’ll slip it into the series later.
Imagine if your geometry teacher was Mr. Anglin. We didn’t have to imagine it. It was pronounced ang-lynn, but we boys emphasized the angle part of the spelling and called him Angle-man.
I liked Algebra and did fairly well, but geometry was an everyday muddle to me. Once a week or so, Mr. Anglin had the shade pulled down over the chalk board. We knew one of our names would be pulled out of his challenge basket and called up to write a proof or finish a solution.
My random callout came. Seeing of what I had to write the proof put my mind into a state as if I were suffering another blow to the head. 3I wrote about some of them in Before Grandpa was Thirteen. I felt physically dizzy and just stared at it for what seemed to be most of the hour – in reality far less than a minute.
“Thinking Morris?”4No one called me John in those days.
“Yes sir,” I answered.
“Well get on with it then, you either know it or you don’t.”
Still in my condition of panic, I started chalking on the board at the pace of a mad scientist. Not really conscious what I’d put on the board, I finished and stepped to the side expecting the disapproval of a lifetime.
His classroom expression was usually serious, but to use math language he looked serious to the second or third power as he mumbled what I had scrawled. I assumed my math life was over when he said, “Take your seat.”
I copied what I was sure I hadn’t written from knowledge into my notes too.
Well, over 20 years later I ended up teaching algebra and Trigonometry at the high school level.