Dear Math Teachers:

Monday will be February 5, 2007. That’s 2/5/07. You know what to do.

Update: I’ve been too obscure.

On Monday, the bell rings. You dash in from where you were greeting kids outside. It’s obvious to the kids you’re more excited than usual. You skip your usual starting class routine and say, “Today, kids, is a very important day. Do you know why?”

They play along.

“We’re having a test!”

“You got a girlfriend!”

“No and no,” you say, and take more guesses, stretching this thing out as long as it’ll stand. Kids keep guessing. They can’t help it. You haven’t looked this excited about anything ever.

No one gets it. “Maybe I’ll clarify,” you say. “Today is a very important date.”

You up the ante with a single foil-wrapped piece of chocolate to the first kid to figure it out. It’s a simultaneously triumphant and deflating moment for the kid who does.

“Oh,” she says. “The month plus the day equals the year.”

You go berserk! Everyone in the class — Todd and Rick, included — feels a bit had, but your enthusiasm carries them along. “Do you know how many times a year that even happens?”

Some students answer “12!” without thinking and you let other students do your dirty work of pointing out why that is most definitely not the right answer.

After the class has figured that out, you talk about multiplication. In your older classes you talk about which year exactly contains the most instances of month x day = year. (I believe we’re talking about 2024.) If you’re feeling ballsy you try division.

Once it’s done, everyone realizes that we’ve been making much ado about basically nothing, but we have been thinking some fairly complicated thoughts about numbers since the bell rang.

At least that’s how things went last January.

I just know I’m not gonna sleep tonight.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. Guess I’ll be waiting until March 4….. Here I was trying to find the third derivative of something.