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Short Story

The Number Mix-up

Nisha Daniel

Meena ma’am never went wrong with her numbers. Everybody knew that. So what was happening this morning?
She was teaching class II and was making such simple mistakes that even the students spotted them at once.

She looked again at her colourful equations. Her class VIII students had recently gifted her a board with magnetic numbers. There were numbers and signs in different colours. She was quite happy with them because they were attractive, and easy to change. She could keep making equations and removing them without a dusty blackboard.

“How can 2 x 4 equal 6?” she asked her star pupil, looking at the latter’s notebook. The girl meekly pointed at the board. It read 2 x 4 =6. Meena ma’am turned red. She couldn’t believe she herself was making such silly mistakes. She thought she must be unwell to be making such mistakes. She gave the class free time for the rest of the period and sat down.

She made sure she got enough rest that night so that she would be fresh and alert the next morning.

The following day, she greeted her class cheerily. She began the class and found that she was making just as many mistakes as the previous day.

“How can I be doing this?” she asked herself. She was quite convinced that someone had messed up her mind.
So the next day, she invited another teacher, Vanitha ma’am, to sit in the class to check if she was making mistakes.
Vanitha ma’am slipped into a seat near the board, and quietly helped Meena ma’am correct the mistakes she made.

The class did not notice anything.

After the class, the students hurried outside for the recess.

Meena ma’am looked at Vanitha ma’am sadly. “I am no longer a good maths teacher. I think it’s time I quit,” she said.

But Vanitha ma’am just laughed and laughed. She laughed till her sides ached.

“Meena, you are just so clumsy!” she said.

Meena stared. What did she mean by that?

“Look, let me show you what you did,” Vanitha said, walking up to the magnetic board. She picked up some numbers and signs and made an equation. Then, as she moved her hand, her metal bangles moved signs and numbers on the magnetic board. The plus sign became a multiplication sign, and a minus sign became plus.

“That’s the disadvantage of magnetic board!”

Now Meena laughed too. “What a relief! At least I know my brain hasn’t started rusting yet!”

Teacher’s Corner

Here’s a cool way to learn the nine times table! It’s fun, and your class will always re-member them right.

Place both hands palms down on the table. If you want to calculate 9 x 7, bend the 7th finger (assuming that the little finger on the left hand is 1, the ring finger is 2 and so on — counting from left to right). The answer is 6 (all fingers be-fore bent finger) 3 (all fingers after bent finger). 63!

It’s simple, and can be done even in the exam hall!

“Go down deep enough into anything and you will find mathematics.” Dean Schlicter

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