A True Story
I’m writing a syllabus for an English course I’ll never teach. That and I’ve got to teach algebra.
I’ve been given eleven points to revise on a syllabus, a syllabus I’ve been using now for six months. Otherwise, the class will not be approved for instruction. I’ve got to bring my syllabus up to the standards of a university syllabus. The fact that I used this syllabus in an English class that I actually taught at a university, that isn’t quite the point. I’m told that I’ll find if my course has been approved sometime in April.
That and I’ve got to teach algebra. The English teachers have been told that the school could do well, on the state test, in algebra. So I should start my English class with an algebra problem. I point out that there is a reason why I’m certified in English. My basic skills at algebra are comparable to my word attack skills when it comes to Welsh place names. I also point out that, the last time I took a course in algebra, was the Nixon Administration. So I’m told to make a word problem.
Which I do. I get it back with an “OK” and initials from some nameless, overworked pooh-bah downtown. “A train leaves Portland at 6 AM and is headed to Philadelphia. Meanwhile, a jogger is running west along Interstate 10 just east of El Paso. Each is averaging less than the other did the other day. At this rate, how many Aztecs does it take to sell an apple yesterday in Nigeria or Montreal if Montreal is less than, or equal to, a train that leaves Portland at 6 AM?” That’s my problem.