Trusty Servant May 2019 No.127 - Page 4

No.127 subtract 20%. Multiply by 1.2 and multiply by 0.8.’ I’m sure the pair of you, grown prosperous on the manipulation of compound interest we taught you at Winchester, still do it the Funky way: 1.2 × 0.8 = 0.96, so a 4% decrease. The Algebra Wars would not have been so prolonged had the anti- Funkies - Colin Upton (86-09) and Peter Krakenberger (73-13) were the vanguard - not been such successful teachers. Eventually James Sabben- Clare (Coll, 54-60; Co Ro, 68-00; HM, 85-00) asked Stefan Hopkinson (Chaplain, 73-90 & Yoda from Star Wars avant la lettre) to intercede. Stefan was himself one of the shock troops in an intellectual war, the one against sexual hypocrisy. He had given evidence for the defence in Regina v Penguin Books, the Lady Chatterley trial, and his sermons could be Lawrencian too. In one, he rejected the thesis that self-abuse caused blindness and baldness, but then added - waving his spectacles and rubbing his bald head - ‘Except in my case.’ But even Stefan was baffled by the passions generated by the cold equations. John Smith’s reckless courage reached its zenith when defending his methods to Dr Nicholas Tate (HM, 00-03). John had written to Dr Tate, then Chief Executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, and godfather to the unlamented AS-level, to explain that a half-way exam would divorce calculus and applications, which Newton had developed in tandem. He was to have ample opportunity to make this point directly when Dr Tate became Headman. To be fair, Tate had already begun to repent. Sitting on my sofa in Chawker’s he said, ‘It has become clear that the big mistake in A-level reform was modularisation. That took place during a period when I was out of the office.’ Meanwhile his Mathmã department defied his AS exam by having up to 12 of somebody-else’s modules examined The Trusty Servant at the end. Funky was summoned to Moberly Court and told the department would examine AS in the usual way. Readers should voice John Smith’s rejoinder in the nasal accents of the East Riding. ‘Or not.’ And we didn’t. QUESTION 7. Factorise 3x 2 + 7x − 10. There is a ‘magic method’, beloved of the anti-Funkies, and I have left it for my last reader, stood on the burning deck whence all but you have fled. I’m looking for two numbers that multiply to make and add to make 7. Got them! –3 and 10. Now split the middle term according to the magic numbers: 3x 2 + 7x − 10 = 3x 2 − 3x + 10x − 10. Now factorise each half using common factors: 3x(x−1)+10(x −1). A common factor has magically appeared: 3x 2 + 7x 10=(x − 1)(3x + 10). As John Smith’s bitterest opponent said, ‘The boys should have a method that always works, no matter how hard the quadratic is.’ Of course, nobody who is any good at mathmā uses the magic method at home. You and I write (x )(3x ) think of two numbers that multiply to 10, stick them in, multiply out to check (without requiring the intermediate working, which was the point of Question 2) and all done in five seconds; yet they teach the laborious magic method all over the world, except perhaps in a corner of Uganda that is forever Funky. John Smith’s departure for Lake Victoria brought a truce in the Algebra Wars. Hugh Hill (83-17) saw merit in letting excellent classroom teachers do what they thought best. We appointed some practitioners of the magic method, and boys even found it was safe to bellow SOHCAHTOA again. I saw John Durran the day before he died, but we didn’t talk about algebra. Instead he vouchsafed an account of his first brush with Mark Stephenson (Co Ro, 59-90; Fellow, 92-96), in a 1950s blizzard outside the roughhouse they 4 were to share, but, like the Giant Rat of Sumatra, it is a story for which the world is not yet prepared. And for some ten years it has been the turn of the last in the apostolic succession from Thwaites and Durran. Peter Cornish arrived in 1987, having beaten me to his previous job at Haberdasher’s Monmouth on the spurious grounds that he played the clarinet better than I played Rugby football. He is as admiring as I am of the approach of John Smith, and he found in Paul McMaster (Coll, 76-80; Co Ro, 90-), himself the pupil of John Durran, a highly effective assassin. In fact, McMaster is Funky-cubed because he doesn’t let the boys touch a calculator until they’re in V Book. The mildest of men (except when his teams are 3-3 at Eton going in to ‘Fergie time’) Paul won the Algebra Wars without having to bomb the enemy back to the Stone Age. He has given us hundreds of questions, each as imaginative and ingenious a miniature as the illuminated initials in the Winchester Bible. Done right, they are effortless, with no need for a calculator; done wrong and they are impossible to finish in the time. These questions honour the heroes of post-Sputnik Mathmā, Sir Bryan Thwaites, John Durran and John Smith, and all my colleagues in the department that Peter Cornish has led, and I dedicate the last question, one of Paul’s, to the Funky Preacher who fixed my algebra, to the SMP, and to you, my remaining reader. Remember it is for JP at Christmas, is to be done in seconds, and no calculator! QUESTION 8. A right-angled triangle has hypotenuse 169 and another side has length 119. What is the length of the third side?