I felt compelled to write and let you know that I have finally found a use for the algebra equations you taught us in ninth grade. I am sure you recall my telling you, “It will be a cold day in Hell before I will ever use algebra.” You will be pleased to know that it is a brisk 10 degrees outside today. You see, I decided to knit a sock. Not just any sock, but one custom-fitted to my foot.
I first picked out my yarn and needles and then sat down with the instructor to start knitting. Imagine my surprise when she starting writing down an algebraic equation to determine how many stitches I would need to cast on. I shouted, “Get out! That’s algebra!” To which she gave me a startled look as if to say, “Well, yeah, duh” and the other students actually had to shield their eyes from the brightness of the light bulb that had blinked on over my head.
Oh sure, I’ve done mental math to figure things out all my life. I’ve even designed things like buildings and spent several years in drafting class. But I honest to goodness, during all the 27 years since your class, had never made the connection between the equations you made us copy over and over and over on paper to an actual practical purpose. Ever.
So I am writing to suggest that from now on, you ask your students to knit socks. Just think of how much of a difference it could have made in my life. I might have been a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon.
Okay, maybe not, but you know what I mean.