Gratitude


I was terrified of my year 11 maths (2) teacher. Maths (2) was ‘applied’ in the sense of practical trigonometry. Maths 1 was pure, in the sense of abstraction. You know, early aspects of Newton’s calculus. That teacher was amiable. Newton, he scoffed, ‘very vague; let’s not fret overly.’

Whereas, Mrs Clayton in Maths 2 wanted trigonometric concepts applied to real life 19th century problems. Then and there. In the late 20th century. And you would be detained after class if not displaying sufficient enthusiasm for the topic.

She terrified all the boys, not just me. Being dragged up to the front of class at a lesson beginning for an ‘impromptu test’ scarred many of us.

But I am now grateful to Mrs Clayton. She taught us trig, no doubt about it. I still remember her insistence, her tests and public shaming. We got it in the end.

I use that knowledge today. It is fundamental to navigation. I use it all the time when sailing. I’m very grateful, Mrs Clayton.

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