By Kate, age 15, PennsylvaniaLike most people who attended bad schools during their childhood, I am useless when it comes to math. I have never memorized the multiplication table and see no reason to unless calculators suddenly cease existing. My geometry skills are pathetic, resulting in my inability to score more than 580 on any of the SAT practice tests I've taken in my room. Over the years, I've worked to improve my math skills; now, at least, I am able to do most algebra. However, my persistent work has not been enough for my parents. Each year, they insist that we hire a math tutor to drill basic math skills into me.
My first math tutor was a sixty-year-old, slightly overweight woman whom we shall call Kat. Kat enjoyed talking to herself and working through problems in front of me without allowing me to see the paper she was writing on. This proved to be an ineffective method of teaching, as I was only able to see the equation and her answer. However, none of these small injustices could compare to The Great Book Theft of 2004. One day, my mother and Kat began discussing a delightful series I was enjoying called Horrible Histories. Each book in the series discussed a specific period of English history and included funny comics that were clearly meant for children. For some reason, Kat decided to borrow all of these books and read them. I thought this was odd even at the tender age of 9; these books were clearly not age-appropriate. My extremely polite and trusting mother decided to lend Kat the books for a few weeks. Not only did Kat never return the books, but she also chose to share with us that she kept the books in her bathroom and read them there. I continue to hold a grudge.
My next tutor was named Susie. She was a lovely person. Except for her utter lack of intelligence, I liked her. Susie often lent me various Chicken Soup for the Soul books from her library, all of which were carefully labeled with her name. I found this naive and charming, as I was planning to (and did) carry off the Gradual Book Theft of 2006. Susie continued to lend me any book I wished, though it soon became clear that I would return roughly none of them. If you are ever in need of Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul 2, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul: Tough Stuff, Chicken Soup for Every Mom's Soul, Chicken Soup for the Adopted Soul, or Chicken Soup for the African American Soul, give me a call. I have all of them, as well as practically every other book with that title. To this day, I'm unsure why she even owned those books. Susie was a white, single twentysomething who did not own a cat. Perhaps these books were her only source of joy and I stole them. Qué será, será. Anyway, I really liked all of the Teenage Soul books, especially Tough Stuff, because they all talked about pot and I felt like a really cool sixth-grader.
My last (and possibly most ineffective, though Susie runs a close second) math tutor was Chet. I deeply hated him to a degree that is difficult to describe. During our sessions, I often fantasized about various methods of physical harm that I might employ in the future. When I did manage to pay attention to his convoluted explanations, I often wondered why I had bothered to make the effort. He went on long tangents about various geometry topics that made absolutely no sense to me. To be fair, I have no attention span, and I would often only hear about 50% of what he blathered on about. Still, I heard enough to understand that he was an idiot and did not own books that I could steal. After my discovery of his utter uselessness, my friends and I stalked his Facebook profile and made fun of every aspect of his life, from his dog (a malnourished Chihuahua who looked like he belonged in one of Paris Hilton's tote bags) to his parties (which were attended by the teachers at my school, automatically making them lame). Even now, as I think about Chet, I get an unmistakable urge to hit something. 12+ years of Quaker school has apparently made me more aggressive.
This essay is not meant to insult any of the amazing tutors I have had over the years. I only want to degrade the ones who were worse at math than I was. This was, unfortunately, most of them. Currently, I have managed to convince my parents that I don't need a math tutor. If this changes, you will know, since I will probably write an offensive essay about it.