Sunday, June 21, 2009

Isosceles or not?

Abcissa, ordinate, corresponding angles, trapezoids - if all these ring a bell and if you actually remember what they mean without using google or wikipedia, then you can give yourself a pat on the back for having been a diligent student and your school math teacher can be really proud of his/her teaching !!

So what made me think of the Cartesian coordinate systems ? A question from my colleague asking if I would be willing to tutor a 16-yr old on a Sunday on these topics to help her prepare for her 'board exams'. I readily agreed and did not think too much about it until Saturday. On Saturday morning I am out grocery shopping and I notice 2 teenagers on the road, dressed as weirdly as possible and talking in an equally vile language. It was then it hit me that I had probably committed myself to a herculean task - teaching a teenage girl a popularly-hated subject before a popularly-dreaded exam and to make this more interesting, I was going to teach her in German !!! Talking about gleichsenkliges Dreieck (isoceles triangle) and Drachenviereck (a form of quadrilateral) is a whole new game, trust me !

When I went to the girl's house on sunday afternoon I smell something very familiar and as her mom very warmly welcomes me into the house and takes me to the dining room I see hot sabji and basmati rice on the table. The surprise on my face turns into relief causing broad smile when I see a really shy and cute girl, petting her cat, walk into the living room with a pleasant smile. The girl introduces herself, thanks me for taking the time and asks me if I would like to join them for lunch. She begins lunch with a prayer :). The sabji is not spicy but tasty and while I am trying to figure out how the Brazilian-German family (mom is from Brazil and dad is a German) is having such a lunch, the mom proceeds to explain that she spoke with my colleague, found out I was an Indian vegetarian, googled for a 'simple' recipe and prepared it for me ! Before I even had a chance to show how overwhelmed I was, the mom comes in with a Brazilian dessert - a layer of milkmaid, a layer of Brazilian chocolate (very different from any chocolate I have had so far) topped with a layer of pista icecream. Although my head was screaming calories, my mouth was watering and the taste buds won !

After the sumptuous lunch, we sat down to study and she shows me the problems she has trouble with - I was so excited when I realized that I could solve them all without batting an eyelid (and hence could also explain it to her) - there was the parabola intersecting the straight line at 2 points which together with another point on the x-axis form a triangle and our task was to determine if it was an equilateral or an isosceles and then, there was the weirdly shaped garden formed from 3/4th of a circle and a trapezium whose area we had to figure out and many more exercises that totally made me feel like I was in class 8!! I was also amazed at how she was allowed to use a scientific calculator and a book of formulae (and I remembered how we use to go with our worn and battered-from-use clark's table for our exams!). Interestingly she always spent a lot of time searching for the right formula - the focus was only the concept, once you figure out the concept you look for the charateristic equations or the area formulae in the book, instead of in your own RAM like we used to do !

After 3 hrs of math, we decide to take a break and her mom comes in with coffee and chocolate lemon cake...was heavenly ! While I am thinking how many rounds of jogging would burn those calories off, she gives me a box with some cake and another with some dessert we had had for lunch. To top it all, she asks me how much she owes me for the tuition and I am flabbergasted ! Noticing this expression she says 'Its not fair that you spend your precious time for nothing' and I tell her 'Noone cooks so much for a tutor and if she can cook so much for someone she had never seen in her life then I can spend a couple of hrs teaching her daughter' and it was time well spent - time that I would have otherwise spent dancing or blogging at best or eating/sleeping at worst !

In short, a great Sunday, now I am keeping my fingers crossed about the girl's exam and her results....
Hit Counter
Website Hit Counter I had decided to have a counter only after I hit a 1000 views and since it happened last week (as on 14 Dec 2009), now is the time to see some stats :)