Count the Dots!

I’ll be nice, and not name names, but there was a time, when I taught at another school, when I had in-school suspension for half a day, every school day, for an entire semester. It sucked.

There was a senior in this high-school version of, well, jail, who was working on Geometry homework. I was trying to help him — and to get him to think for himself. (I’m always trying crazy stuff like that.)

To do the problem he was working on, he had to know what three times eight equals. He was 18, or perhaps 19, and a senior. I was not willing to simply tell him the product of three and eight, because . . . that’s just ridiculous.

I told him to draw a row of eight dots on his paper. He did. I told him to draw another such row beside the first row. He did. I told him, finally, to add a third row. He did, and gave me an utterly blank look.

I said, “Now count the dots.” He did.


Even though he got the correct answer, he was still furious at me for, well, possibly the rest of his life, which may or may not still be going on. We haven’t kept in touch.

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