Students Wonder How They’re Supposed to Write Apologies on Math Tests if They’re Learning Remotely

Students of the anxious and bad-at-math communities have expressed concern over where they are meant to write apologies on their math tests if they are learning remotely this coming school year. “Not actually going back to school is going to be weird,” says rising junior Molly Byrne. “I’ll really miss having lunch with friends, and I don’t know how my chem lab is even going to work, but most of all, where am I supposed to apologize to my math teacher when I absolutely shit the bed on one of my tests?” And Molly isn’t the only one feeling in the dark on this important question. “When you’re bombing a math test, the only appropriate course of action is a handwritten apology on the test’s margins,” says rising senior Max Rotstejn. “Everyone knows you keep your poker face while you hand in the test so your teacher doesn’t ask you any questions, then you can go cry in the bathroom if you really need to.” “The crying will be easier than ever now,” adds Max. “But the note of apology will be nearly impossible.” Pressed by students to address this shortcoming of remote education, one San Diego based vice-principal suggested students could email apologies to their math teachers following particularly disastrous tests and quizzes, but his offer was met with severe criticism. “It’s insulting,” says Byrne. “Sending an email completely misses the point.” “The on-the-test apology is a way to repent without shining the light of confrontation on your failure,” she adds. “My ‘Algebra 2’ teacher is supposed to just know how ashamed I am for not remembering literally any formula I needed on the test. If I sent her an email she might actually, like, respond. That would be mortifying.” But while clearly cathartic for certain students, do the apologies serve any necessary educational purpose? “It’s probably a good thing for anxious test takers to not be spending their already limited time on crafting an apology for their wrong answers,” says math teacher Sandra Ortega. “All I want is to see my students succeed, and guilt over not grasping a concept isn’t productive.” “But at the same time,” Ms. Ortega adds, “some of those notes were pretty funny.”

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