I sat on my file box in front of the white-board and leafed through today’s lessons, penmanship, a random scientific question, reading assignment and math. I do this each week-day and I’ve been teaching these things since the mid 1980s. I have changed curriculum now and again, and I learn or relearn these things with my student.
Today, I flipped open the math book to where the ruler holds the page. It was investigation day, the topic was outside my lifetime of experiences.
The first part of the lesson involved test scores and a Stem and Leaf Plot. I thought maybe the text writers got confused and slipped in an English Grammar or Creative Writing Topic. I was okay, brave even, as I read the explanation of upper quartiles and lower quartiles. I could apply it to the craft of story building if I mulled it over.
On the next page, the scorekeeper had taken the numbers and quartiles onto something called a Box and Whisker Plot and my writerly imagination was wild with anticipation. I have never in all my years of doing the simple day to day, more than one, bigger than that, what time is it, math doing, heard of a Box and Whisker Plot. To make it worse, as I scribbled on the white-board, I kept spelling it Box and Whisper.
I do not think I taught the lesson well and it is going into the notebook as a topic whose probability of need is an extreme outlier. At least, if someday, at some job, sitting next to a co-worker upping the nerd scale, he can say something like, “but can you show me a Box and Whisper Plot?” And besides that, what if the Hokey-Pokey is what it’s all about?