Sprite’s mentor, Paula the Physicist was visiting again and was very pleased to learn that Sprite had taken her advice about talking to Prudence.
“You remember you said we would talk about boredom sometime?” Sprite said “Can we talk about that now? Prudence says she gets really bored in class and I did not know how to help her”
“I do not think it would be a good idea to tell her to do what I do” Sprite continued “because sometimes it gets me into trouble.”
“What do you do when you get bored?” asked Paula. “I cannot imagine you acting like the class clown or flicking paper balls around the room”
Sprite laughed. “No” she said “I play Boredom Bingo.”
“It is a game I invented to help me concentrate when the teacher is talking about stuff I have known for ages. You see teachers tend to repeat facts several times so that everyone will understand. And sometimes when the lesson is really boring Intellectual Dabrowski goes to sleep under the desk and I tune out and if the teacher does say something new I miss hearing it.”
“So I draw up a three by three or five by five grid and when the teacher says a fact I write it or draw a picture of it in a square. Then every time she says that same fact I put a tick in that square and when she has said it 7 times I cross out that square. When I have a whole row or column of crosses or I have crosses in all the squares on the diagonals I win and usually the lesson is nearly over.”
“Why does playing Boredom Bingo get you into trouble?” asked Paula.
“Well Intellectual suggested that I should put a few extra phrases in the boxes in the grid that would alert me if something new was going to be said or if there was something I could research later. For instance he suggested adding the word ‘like’ because it could mean a simile or analogy was coming which would interest me”
“But sometimes Intellectual still gets bored and goes to sleep and Imaginational Dabrowski steps up to help me play Boredom Bingo.”
“Imaginational suggested adding all the things the teacher says a lot like ‘literally’ and ‘actually’ and ‘Um’ and also putting in some words that I would like to hear so that I would not miss them if they were said. So I put in words like ‘astronomy’ and fractals’. It also makes it harder to complete a line or column”
“Today our regular teacher was away so we had a relieving teacher for maths. She did not want to go on to any new work so she reviewed basic arithmetic. She called the lesson ‘Amazing Arithmetic’ and she wanted the kids to chorus ‘THAT’S AMAZING’ after she said really basic facts. I did not think it was amazing at all and Intellectual Dabrowski said “Oh pleeeeeease!” and vanished under the desk.”
“So Imaginational stepped up to help and we added Amazing to one box on the grid.
Then it turned out that the word ‘like’ was the word that she used as a filler in the way some people say ‘Um’.”
“By the time the lesson was half way through ‘Amazing’ and ‘like’ and most of the facts had at least seven ticks and a cross out. I was thinking that if I swapped the position of the ‘like’ box with the position of the ‘astronomy’ box I would have a bingo! And I thought I could allow myself to do that because I do ‘like astronomy’.
And Intellectual Dabrowski woke up and said that Arithmetic was very useful for calculating stuff for Astronomy but the numbers were usually much bigger and followed by ten to the power of huge numbers. And, of course, the same could be said for Nanotechnology but the numbers were followed by ten to the power of minus numbers.”
“And then I realised that I had yelled ‘BINGO!’ out loud and everyone was looking at me.”
“And the teacher said ‘It sounds as if Sprite has discovered an Amazing Arithmetic fact. Let’s go round the class and each say what Amazing Arithmetic Fact we have discovered today.”
“And one by one all the kids stated a basic arithmetic fact and everyone chorused ‘THAT’S AMAZING!’ and when it was my turn I could not think what I could say that related to the lesson. Intellectual Dabrowski mumbled that I should tell her it is about scale and plus and minus powers of ten. But that would show that I had been daydreaming.”
“Imaginational said I should tell her how many times she said the words like and amazing in half an hour and therefore what the rates of likes and amazings per second would be. But I knew if I said that I would get sent to the principal for being rude”
“Whatever I said would get me into trouble so I didn’t say anything. And she asked why I had said Bingo and I said it was not important now and everyone laughed at me.”