The Square Root Club

If you’re a teacher, I have a short story that you can share, adapted to fit your own style, that you can use to address the biggest issue with teaching … students learn what they want to learn.  Creating interest in mathematics for teenagers can sometimes be a challenge.  One of the easiest ways to do so is with humor.  The following story is actually true, but humorous, and I think will create some curiosity and thus learning opportunities for students. 

I believe the appropriate audience would be pre-algebra students learning about square roots up to algebra students learning about square roots.  Anyhow, if you find this helpful, please let me know. 

The Square Root Club

My daughter, a senior at the University of Arizona, called and said she’d uncovered an issue in math that is both absolutely impossible and yet, true.  My interest piqued, I listened attentively as she asked if I’d ever heard of the square root club.

 

The square root club, I was informed, is a club of dubious membership.  To become a member the square root of your GPA must exceed your GPA.  What a delightful treat this was…and to think, I’d never heard of such a thing!

She continues to tell me that she met someone who was a member.  I asked her how she knew, because certainly her friend would be ignorant of his membership.  Surely, someone in the club would not be smart enough to be aware of the fact, right?

That’s what she said was the funniest part, the part that was seemingly impossible!  He knew about it, even made up the name of the club himself.  He was no longer a member, just graduated with his bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA.

Note:  GPA (grade point average) is calculated by assigning a numerical value to letter grades.  An A is 4, B is 3, C is 2, D is 1 and an F is zero.

The moral of the story is that grades don’t reflect potential, they reflect what you show you know.  Many high school students get by with intelligence but never work.  Upon arriving in college they are overwhelmed, never having had to work hard or apply themselves.  Before they know it, they’re buried and there’s no quick fix like there can be in high school.

To that point, nobody cares about someone’s potential, not even your mother. Imagine your mom told you to clean your room.  Because she told you to do it, she believes you have the potential.  However, if you do not clean it, she will be satisfied by the fact that you could have cleaned it.

Now of course, the question being begged here is, what could his GPA have been?

4 thoughts on “The Square Root Club

  1. I was in that club with one semester’s grades. HOwever, because my overall GPA was still above 2.0 because I had lots of credits, there were no academic consequences.
    THe next time the catalog came out, they’d changed things: I’d have been on academic probation. I’m thinking that I inspired a change in my institution…

  2. Yeah, clear communication is a good thing, right? We all seem to function better if expectations are easily understood!

  3. Great video. Some wry humor. Bottom line: Students MUST apply themselves and commit themselves to practice, practice, practice.
    Another rule: Do not get behind! Get help! If possible work ahead and try to refine one’s understanding by classroom work.
    Another trick in high school is to work on homework during slack time during the school day.

    • Thanks. My daughter and I were cracking up. Apparently the kid who told her about it ended up graduating with a 3.0 from college, but that first semester he had only 1 D, the rest Fs.

      Kids can certainly get the majority of their work done during the school day, unless they’re in all honors classes, which would be their choice.

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