This piece first appeared in issue #15 of the APA WTFB, released in February 1996. Original contents © 1996 Christopher E. Barat. Revised contents © 2001 Christopher E. Barat.
[Note: The first three lines of this thing are taken verbatim from an actual encounter that I recently had with a student. Rather than stewing about it, I've decided to have a little constructive fun with it.]
SCENE: A computer lab in the Virginia State University Mathematics Department. Dr. Barat and a New (Female) Student are both sitting at terminals, doing some work.
NEW STUDENT: Excuse me, are you a professor here?
DR. BARAT: Yes, my name is Dr. Barat. I teach in the Math Department.
NEW STUDENT: YICK! You know, I always hated math, 'cause I was never any good at it!
[Flash of an interdimensional gate opening: a large number of "Disney Afternoon" characters appear, to the sound of a thunderclap]
SCROOGE MCDUCK: Curse me kilts! We canna let this insult pass, can we, lassie?
GADGET HACKWRENCH: Golly, no! We've got to help our old friend, Chris!
DR. BARAT: What are you guys talking about?
SCROOGE: This student has joost insulted math, lad! Canna you respond by telling her how important math is to us Disney Afternoon characters?
DR. BARAT: Hmm, the comment was so remarkably inconsiderate that I was simply too stunned to think of that approach! Why don't you guys handle it -- I have to finish this syllabus.
SCROOGE: Gladly! Young lassie, wi'out a clear understanding of math, none of the Disney Afternoon business folks could keep their financial books in order!
PETE: Or cook 'em!
DAVID XANATOS: Exactly. An understanding of the intricacies of financial manipulation -- or, should I say, management -- requires a thorough grounding in algebra, calculus, and other types of mathematics.
SHERE KHAN: Indeed.
OWEN: It would seem as though those who actually put businesses' plans into operation and oversee their day-to-day tasks need a firm grasp of mathematics, as well.
FENTON CRACKSHELL ["popping up" in typical fashion]: You can count on that!
NEW STUDENT: Really?
REBECCA CUNNINGHAM: Yes, of course! I have to do all the meaningful work around Higher for Hire, so of course I had to pick up math along the way.
GADGET: Golly! And if you want to get into engineering, or inventing, or maybe even tinkering, you have to know something about math! Otherwise, your left-nozzled framistan won't have the proper quasi-lateral dimension to fit into your right-handed doodlethingie... or something. Wait, I can fix that...
GYRO GEARLOOSE: Don't worry if you can't get all those technical terms quite right, Gadget. We inventors still need to have a good, practical understanding of mathematics in order to purchase enough supplies, make adequate plans for building our inventions, and determine whether or not we can make a profit by building them!
NEW STUDENT: Gee! I thought that maybe if I majored in Engineering Technology, I could avoid taking all those math classes and just take Engineering classes.
GRUFFI GUMMI: You gotta face it, kid -- even if you want to get into a job like carpentry and home repair, you gotta know something about making measurements, and that's math.
KIT CLOUDKICKER: And if you think that a keen job like airplane navigation will get you out of math class -- forget it! Navigators have to learn just about as much math as anyone in order to figure out where they're going and how to get there.
LAUNCHPAD MCQUACK: Ya mean, I've been doin' math all this time and didn't even know it?
DARKWING DUCK: Quite true, LP! Even we crusading canards have to conquer calculus! Otherwise, I'd never be able to figure out how to maximize the number of 8 x 12 glossies I can produce to spread my fame around St. Canard, given limitations on film budget, exposure size, camera aperture size, and...
DR. BARAT: Enough's enough, Darkwing! If that didn't convince her of the virtues of math, probably nothing will.
PRINCESS JASMINE: If nothing else, she should think about taking mathematics as part of a well-rounded education. We in Agrabah should know -- we and the other Arab cities are busy helping to preserve Greek mathematics right now.
NEW STUDENT: Hmm...I still don't know if math courses are worth it...
BONKERS D. BOBCAT: Kid, kid, kid, of COURSE it isn't worth it. Why, when I got to be a Toon Cop, I didn't need to know a THING about math!
NEW STUDENT: Doc... WHERE DO I SIGN UP?!