Monday 10 October 2011


1. S=0 A=0
2. S=1/4 A=1/16
3. S=1/2 A=1/4
4. S=1 A=1
5. S=2 A=4
6. S=3 A=9

t p
3/4 02/5
S 42/A9

Mathematics - year 8 level

This sets out to be a good illustration of the function more commonly expressed as y=x2. (Why the teacher has chosen A and S is unclear; these are sometimes used in lower case form as acceleration and distance respectively, but the relationship between them would not then be physically correct.) The important points (S=0, S=1, two points where S<1 and two points where S>1) have been well chosen to illustrate this function, though it would have been useful to have included some more points where S<0 to show what happens when squaring a negative number.

The graph has then been plotted, but sadly this is where the lesson begins to falter. Firstly, axes on the graph should be labelled with 'S' (horizontal) and 'A' (vertical). And the graph that has actually been plotted seems to be more like:
1. S=0 A=4
2. S=4 A=8
3. S=6 A=15

The graph is roughly the correct shape, but is not positioned correctly: it clearly intersects with the vertical axis at A=4. Even allowing for other drawing errors, this is a function more like A=bS2+4. It would also have been useful to extend the graph to S<0.

What is going on on the right-hand blackboard is less clear. There is a drawing of a trapezium, and also the equation 100=S=A, which is hopefully not meant to be related to the function A=S2.

Finally, the teacher should make sure that her students keep their focus on their work. She only has three students, so can't complain too much about the pupil-teacher ratio. The teacher is giving all her attention to the lone male student, allowing the two female students to talk to each other, thus reinforcing gender stereotypes of women in maths, despite being female herself. Sadly, it is this kind of attitude which leads to the 'Math class is tough' talking Barbie and low numbers of women choosing to study maths in further and higher education.

5/10 Shows some promise

(Many thanks to Chris for sending this picture in. Please keep them coming, folks.)


  1. Replies
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  2. I suspect S=side, and A=area, as in the side and area of a square.

  3. Try readying it like this:

    A = S *S


  4. s is displacement, not distance. Its a vector not a scalar quantity.

  5. I like how they wrote "Mathematics", as though someone might otherwise think it was Spanish class.

  6. Surely it should read 'she has only three students' - a small point, but it's little details such as this upon which the academic credibility of this project will rest.

    Otherwise, an excellent analysis, sir.

  7. All mathematical details aside, I'm surprised no one has noticed the brunette female student has her desk facing backwards.

  8. Looking at the blackboards in these films is also a past time of mine, and this is an awesome concept for a site. Keep up the good work!!

  9. sorry, didn't see codemonkey's post above. my bad.

  10. Yeah, don't really care about what the 's' means. I wanna know what this is from so I can see where this picture is going.

  11. codemonkey0815, tcj - As they said in The Simpsons, 'r d r r'.

    JonnyB - Wait till I start splitting infinitives. You are going to really love that.

  12. I like to think they were clever enough to do the A=SS on purpose.

    They could also show the ASS rule of triangle congruence (usually referred to as SSA for obvious reasons, but it's the same thing).

  13. Chris, be dear. Name of movie/site from which is this picture is badly needed. I mean ..for purpouses ..of checking the rest of the blackboard for a more complete analysis. Sadly, we cant's see the whole thing due to the unfortunate camera angle

  14. I have no idea what classroom has a book case not made of metal, an 8" tree, and a cushy chair for the teacher. Seriously, with all the budget cuts, teachers are lucky to get a hard wooden chair, and the 8' plant would be more realistic as a trashcan.

  15. ‎"The teacher is giving all her attention to the lone male student, allowing the two female students to talk to each other, thus reinforcing gender stereotypes of women in maths, despite being female herself."

    I strongly object to this sentence, given that it wallops cod. It is almost unintelligible. I understand the point that the pictured situation could be interpreted as depicting a stereotypical situation involving the behaviour of 'women in maths', but the sentence implies that the character of the teacher is doing the reinforcing of this stereotype 'despite being female'; i.e. that the teacher is operating outside the role of her character, outside the narrative context!. The final clause 'despite being female herself' makes it even more strange, because it implies that because she is female she is more likely not to 'reinforce' or cause this behaviour in the situation i.e., the women talking; or that because she is a female character that is also operating outside the narrative (!!!!), she is less likely to reinforce the stereotype because she is more likely to be offended by it 'as a viewer'. It is very ambiguous and confuses the two aspects of the reality.

  16. this is an awesome blog. definitely following this

  17. In some way the these posts are good to reduce the created sexual stupidness about a class rooms and teachers. I think the directors of x films will care to arrange black boards and environments after learning the subjects.......... Better the Maths teacher turns to biology teacher in which the film makers may have better knowledge....

  18. I've seen this particular scene online before (the name of the film was not mentioned) and from what I can remember, the male student in particular was certainly glad that he didn't skip math class that day. I must give kudos to the instructor for her very hands on approach in bringing the classroom together for a more effective learning experience.

  19. As these photos come in, you might also want to comment on the students:teacher class ratio, which appears to be alarmingly good.

  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

  21. Someone know name of this film? Or maybe actors?

  22. Perhaps S stands for "side", and A for "Area" of a square. That would also explain why S<0 values were not considered.

  23. Squigley - Yes, by writing a blog criticising others' mistakes I am putting my head above the parapets somewhat.

    My point is that a female maths teacher would perhaps have struggled against the stereotypes of women in maths all her life, so one might expect her to spend more of her time encouraging her female students instead of just letting men continue to dominate the subject.

    4/10 - Don't keep adding clauses to sentences because, like this sentence, this can make them difficult to read as when the reader gets to the end he, or she, may find it difficult to remember, despite his, or her, best intentions what the beginning of the sentence was all about, rendering the whole thing unintelligible, despite being female herself.

  24. Good God this is almost euphoric, I can't stop laughing! Just the idea alone that someone would critically analyze the background props in pornography for errors with such a serious tone is in itself brilliant. You sir, are a poet and a scholar.

  25. Any1 know name of this movie PLZ? I want to check out math myself on video, I don't belive in pictures :D

    Great blog btw! Defenetly following this! :)

  26. @Blackboards.

    Did you mean: More of her time than she currently spends on encouraging the female students, or more than she spends on encouraging the male students?

    Okay, we have a deal; you learn how to write proper sentences and I will shorten mine to suit your limited attention span. I think that your parody of me, which employed an overuse of incorrectly placed commas to stand for the addition of sentential clauses, was truly disgusting. It also failed to make its point due to the fact that I can indeed read long sentences. Although you might have found it difficult to read for yourself while you were writing it, you did not succeed in making it so for me.

  27. Squigley - There are two approaches. The first is that she only has a finite amount of working time, so spending more time with the female students will mean less time with the male students. The second is that she will use her own free time to help the female students after class, thus not depriving the male students. Either approach raises interesting questions about positive discrimination.

    And the 4/10 comment was actually aimed at myself.

  28. I strongly believe that A is for "Anal" and S is for "Sex"

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