The kids at Tanigawa are funny sometimes. Yesterday, in one of my third grade classes my teacher gave the students half the period off to study whatever work they wanted (because high school exams are today). Some kids talked, some kids studied English, and some kids studied math. I wondered around helping with English questions and then a girl on the cleaning crew asked me a math question. After some seriously limited translating (the basic mathematical symbols are the same but function words like “parallel” and “bisect” are different) I got her on the right track and she said she didn’t need my help anymore. Another girl on my cleaning crew then wanted me to help her with algebra; which was much easier because it has less function words than blasted geometry! It was an easy problem: find the coordinates of the point C such that it lies on both the lines y=x +4 and y = .5(x^2). Your basic “set equal and solve” low level algebra. I’m not knocking the girl’s ability, after all, to her low level algebra is high level algebra, but this is pretty easy stuff when you have done it for around 8 years. So with some explaining in English and a LOT of gestures (which I am fluent in now) I showed her why you can just set the two function equal to each other, solve for x (she wasn’t ready to know you could have also solved for y) and then plug that into one of the original two equations. The fact that I knew this dazzled everyone in the room. My English teacher was amazed, the students were amazed, people outside on the street passing by the school were, no doubt, amazed. All were thunderstruck and marveled in my greatness.
Today in class I was handing out papers and counted one row incorrectly so they were one paper short. A girl said in Osaka-bens (Osaka slang of Japanese) that she was one paper short, or something to that affect. I said sorry, and got her another. My teacher was wowed, and asked if I understood what she said. I understood the gist of what she had said enough to answer yes, this razzle dazzled the kids that I could understand Osaka-bens. It wasn’t too hard because the word for “one” was more or less the same. The fact that I could not repeat what the girl actually said only added to the kids’ amazement. I tried to explain that it was the same with them, that they often understood me even if they could not say it themselves. But it still seemed amazing to them.
Now students are telling me that I have a “big head” and a “good head”. At first didn’t understand what they meant and wanted to say something sophisticated like, “SHUT UP! YOU have a big head!” But they mean I have a big/good brain. That is another kettle of fish entirely. Now I want to say something sophisticated like, “Well, I am Andrew Magnum: Super Genius”.