Aside from the English language being my favourite subject at school, I also had an interest in maths, although I wouldn’t say I was an ‘Einstein’ at it. I would say I was a moderate student when it came to maths. Even with the many after-school tuition, my level of maths remained the same. No teachers could make me better in the subject. It wasn’t until I met *Mr Ackerman, my maths teacher in Year 9 (8th Grade in the American system) at Patana.
At first, Mr Ackerman looked like any other teachers. He seemed friendly, energetic and strict all at the same time. It was our first lesson and we were taught algebra. There were around twelve of us in the class. Halfway through the lesson, Mr Ackerman suddenly stopped teaching, and out of the blue, he asked us, “Would you guys like some coffee or tea?” The entire class remained quiet and still. Everyone glanced at one another, confused. Just like me, we all thought Mr Ackerman was joking. Then he said, “Come on, guys. I’m serious. I don’t have all day. Coffee or tea anyone?” Everyone continued to remain quiet and still. Then after a short while, someone said with much hesitant, “I’ll have a cup of tea please.” Mr Ackerman said, “Tea, right. Anyone else?” And then one by one, including me, we all started to tell Mr Ackerman what we wanted. It was then that we all knew he wasn’t joking. A few of us went to the staff room to help Mr Ackerman carry the hot beverages back to the classroom. He even brought some biscuits for us. Someone even asked if he could get into trouble for what he was doing. Mr Ackerman’s fearless response was, “Trouble? Why would I be?” Meanwhile, I could see pupils in the other classrooms watching us with curiosity through the wide glass window as we carried mugs and cups of all kinds and sizes back to our classroom. Once we had all settled down with our hot beverages, the lesson continued as Mr Ackerman picked up from where we had left off. Since then, we would regularly have coffee and tea in maths along with biscuits or slices of bread with butter and jam. And Mr Ackerman never got into trouble for what he did for us.
We soon realised Mr Ackerman was one kind of a teacher. Even though he spoiled us, you would think that we didn’t take him seriously. Well, wrong! In fact, we respected the way he went about teaching us differently that we listened and obeyed him. He told us that he wanted us to relax and see maths in a more enjoyable light, which would explain the coffee and tea. He always had our attention. He taught the class with such positive energy. As for me, he made maths easy for me to understand rather than speaking and teaching me in mathematical terms. He had turned maths into a storytelling so that we could understand and enjoy his story. My grades in maths soon improved rapidly and I could understand and work in a fast-paced manner, especially when it came to the challenging topics. I felt like a star pupil. We also found out from Mr Ackerman himself that he did not give his ‘special treatment’ to all of his classes, only to those who he thought deserved it. We felt privileged. Of course, those who knew about his ‘special treatment’ but did not get any were extremely jealous.
Unfortunately, we only had Mr Ackerman until the end of Year 9. And it wasn’t long after I started Year 10 that my grades in maths went back downhill, back to where they had been before Mr Ackerman came along. Maths was never the same again.
Here’s a cuppa to you, Mr Ackerman.
*Please note Mr Ackerman’s real name is strictly protected.