Teachers Beware: Maths Geek Alert!

Much to my relief, it turned out that it wasn’t me who had to watch out for our son armed with Adam Spencer’s: Big Book of Numbers.

It was his teachers.

Nothing gives a kid more joy than finding out something, anything their teacher doesn’t know… no matter how remote, obscure or incredibly difficult it might be!!

Mister with Adam Spencer

Mister with Adam Spencer

After all, teachers know everything and unlike the rest of us mere mortals, they even have eyes in the back of their heads. (My son’s Kindergarten teacher truly had him convinced!)

Anyway, in a scene reminiscent of a scene snatched straight out of an Andy Griffith’s book (see notes), my son lifted an equation from the Big Book of Numbers and approached his teacher.

Maths Geek let loose in the classroom in the days before whiteboards.

Maths Geek let loose in the classroom in the days before whiteboards.

Unfortunately for her, her didn’t ask her about how you cut a pizza in 29 pieces with only 7 cuts.

He’d used that one up on Adam’s visit at the school (see previous post: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/the-journey-of-a-thousand-books-sets-sail/).

Instead, referring to Sierpinski numbers, he asked her: 78,557 x 2 11 + 1=?

When she, not unsurprisingly, didn’t know that off the top of her head, he asked another teacher.

He didn’t know either.

Guess who loves maths?!!

Guess who loves maths?!!

Boy was he excited! That was almost better than winning Lotto!

By the way, in case you like to know the answers to such equations, the answer is in the book: 160,884,731. By the way, Spencer also let’s you know that this is also 12,275,749 x 13.

I feel like sending his teachers a sympathy (or is that an empathy) card.

Meanwhile, his friend challenged him to work out 2 to the power of 50 and he was beavering away at that challenge in an exercise book when I ran into him at lunchtime at school.

I can’t tell you how relieved I am that the school is bearing the brunt of this Book of Numbers juggernaut.

After all, I am still struggling to master 10 digit arithmetic!


That said, I have gone a few rounds of chess with him this week. He is finding playing against Mummy quite a “different” experience. His father has taught him a few strategic manoeuvres, which we’ve both half-forgotten. So, what with me being more creative than logical, our chess games, you could say, get a bit off track. It’s a case of Rafferty’s Rules with “chase the horse”, “waltzing with the king” and a full theatrical performance. After long grueling matches, we’ve even had a stalemate, when we each were somehow left with just our kings. However, usually these long extended clashes eventually wind up with the king cornered and then I guess it’s “off with his head”.

So for my next conundrum, why haven’t either of my kids approached me with question related to the thesaurus?

Probably because I’d be on my own turf there and actually know what I am doing!

xx Rowena

Andy Griffiths & I photographed at the Sydney Writer's Festival in 2012. I did an amazing writer's workshop with him.

Andy Griffiths & I photographed at the Sydney Writer’s Festival in 2012. I did an amazing writer’s workshop with him.


Andy Griffiths is one of Australia’s most popular children’s authors. Andy is best known for The Treehouse series, the JUST! books and The Day My Bum Went Psycho. Over the last 20 years Andy’s books have been New York Times bestsellers, adapted for the stage and television and won more than 50 Australian children’s choice awards. Andy, a passionate advocate for literacy, is an ambassador for The Indigenous Literacy Foundation and The Pyjama Foundation.http://www.treehousebookseries.com/modal/author/

13 thoughts on “Teachers Beware: Maths Geek Alert!

  1. roweeee Post author

    I’m definitely with you, Monika. He also picked up a love of the Alex Ryder series so I went and bought him the first book in the series today. Felt a bit grumbly about buying more books but then bought an extra book while I was there. Somehow, we seem to have a house full of books and keep needing to buy more.
    Books are like that! xx Rowena

  2. Tails Around the Ranch

    But think of the wondrous time spent reading and talking about them. Then you can share them with others when you’re done or start a lending library. It’s all good, book acquisition is never a bad thing. πŸ™‚

  3. merrildsmith

    It sounds like you are all having fun–and how wonderful that your son is so excited and gets to share his excitement with others.
    My husband just retired after 37 years of teaching math. He loves all math things, and he would have had fun with your son. Math is NOT my subject–and our daughters take after me on that one. πŸ™‚ As for chess, I don’t know know how to play, but I remember our girls making the pieces talk, dance, and sing—especially “the horse.”

    Also–I was confused by your mention of Andy Griffiths. I thought at first you were talking about Andy Griffith, the American actor. Hahaha.

  4. roweeee Post author

    I can so relate to your daughters’ approach to chess and it reflects on their love of literature and acting. My husband and no doubt yours as well, would cringe watching us play chess. Yes, the game might be about trying to grid-lock the opposition’s king but we have a host of deviations.
    I did a writer’s workshop with Andy Griffiths at the Sydney Writer’s Festival a few years ago, which was hilarious and awesome. I think it only cost me $80.00 to attend so it really was cheap and so worth it. I took along a huge pile of books for him to sign for the kids and as you saw, had my photo taken as well. He really puts a lot into nurturing children’s literature here.
    I have heard of actor Andy Griffith but am more familiar with Melanie and that’s turning back the clock a bit.

  5. roweeee Post author

    Thanks so much for that Norah. I’ll show it to him. He likes the Alex Ryder Series as well, which was another relief. You need strong powers of persistence, an iron core and a soft heart to be a parent. Challenging! xx Rowena

  6. Norah

    I’m not familiar with the Alex Ryder series. I’ll have to check it out. Parenting is definitely a challenge. Fortunately most survive! :

  7. abyssbrain

    I’m not familiar with Adam Spencer so I think that I’ll check some of his works later.

    That’s an awesome story though πŸ™‚

    Nah, the teachers don’t know everything :). In my case, teachers were always so annoyed with my know-it-all personality back then, especially during math, science and history classes. God knows how many times I corrected my teachers back then. This made a lot of my formers to not like me and some even took it personally. It’s funny that even when I was the top of the class, most teachers were still not fond of me. That’s why I was really glad that I was able to enter university a lot earlier.

    In hindsight though, I can now understand why they found me annoying!

    Is your son good at chess? If he has the potential, he should start to read more chess books, play against the computer and create an account at chess.com to further increase his skills.

  8. roweeee Post author

    Thanks so much for the chess tip. I’ll let him know.
    I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for teacher’s having a maths guru like you in their class. My husband and a few of his mates used to take on their teachers and even the uni professors as a bit of a sport. That’s quite good in a way because it really extends you but would put a lot of pressure on the teacher.
    Our daughter can ask endless questions. She’s almost 10 and has a very fast brain and while this is great, it can be hard to juggle with life and time pressures elsewhere. I’m just greatful that we have Google to help.
    I have always found that she asks the sort of questions I’ve never even considered and are really out of the ordinary. When she was 4 she asked me “how” leaves fall of the trees in Autumn. It wasn’t why, Turns out the trees release a hormone or chemical which in effect snips off the leaves.
    My husband is always asking how things work and I think she has his mind in that way. My mind tends to focus more on people and what makes them tick…or more that likely looking into the people who have their own beat so I can understand them better..and myself.
    I was born with hydrocephalus which was undiagnosed until my mid 20s. By this stage, it had become quite symptomatic and I had 6 months of living in a sort of twilight zone before getting a shunt. That largely overcome the symptoms, although there are some residual issues. This explains my interest in how people think.
    Anyway, my husabnd has just arrived home so I’d better be sociable.
    Take care & best wishes. I’m enjoying chatting.
    xx Rowena

  9. abyssbrain

    Yes, I agree that it makes teaching and learning more fun. However, most primary and secondary school teachers here in Hong Kong don’t like to be corrected and criticized by their students.

    Fortunately, university level is a different story. Most of my professors would definitely take on the challenge especially during my PhD studies. For example, I have debated with a professor for hours after the lecture about the philosophy of mathematics :)…

    It’s always nice to have a curious kid around since they can do the “thinking outside the box” on a whole different scale.

    I’m glad to know that your health is better now.


  10. roweeee Post author

    Talking about thinking out of the box, our son won a prize for being able to stretch a jelly snake the longest two years in a row. At first, I was thinking “that’s nice” but as he explained how he did it and stretched the snake to something like 41 cm on his fourth attempt and he had a whole strategy for doing it, I was rather impressed.
    You did mention thinking outside the box! xx Rowena

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