I was substitute teaching in a junior high math class today. It was a last minute thing because the regular teacher’s grandmother died yesterday. There was no lesson plan or seating charts which always makes it hard. It was made even harder because the children in these classes all had behavior problems. I guess somebody thought that it was a good idea to put 30 children with behavior problems together.

The last class of the day was the worst. I had to have someone from the office come down because one student would not stop talking. Then the whole class decided they would not stop talking. The vice-principal came down and apologized. He said this class had a lot of problems.

So where does the math idiocy come in? During the first period, the office found the worksheet I supposed to be teaching the students. On one side of the sheet, there were a few stories, and the students had to draw a graph to match the story. On the other side, there were graphs, and the students had to write a story that went with the graph.

These were very simple graphs and stories. One was a graph for a lemonade stand. It showed the profit starting below zero and then going up into positive territory and increasing over time. The profit then went straight down before it started climbing again. One of the stories was about having to cut grass. The person cutting the grass cut it at a constant pace, stopping to take a break halfway through the job. The students had to draw a graph to match the story. They also had to write a few sentences where they made-up how much grass there was to be cut at the start , the pace it was cut, and the length of the break.

The students had a lot of trouble with this assignment. This understandable. If I was on all the behavior altering drugs they claimed to be on, I doubt I could think straight either. I did my best to help them and try to keep order.

After all hell broke loose during the last period, a couple of other teachers came in to help. One problem, they were not math teachers and could not understand the assignment - even after I explained it to them. One of the teachers said, “Sorry, I am not a math teacher.” Well, I am not a math teacher, either. Not being a math teacher is not her problem. Her problem is she is a complete moron. She, and the other teacher, have no business educating students if they cannot understand basic graphs.

I have complained before about an English teacher that was not aware of the writing of Flannery O’Connor. Some posters felt it was a little extreme to fault an English teacher for not knowing the work of O’Connor. What do people think about this situation? Am I overreacting, or is it just unacceptable that a person that cannot read basic graphs is a teacher of any subject at any level?