A story about a teacher who changed my perspective, change my life.
“An awesome Math teacher is hard to find, difficult to part with, and impossible to forget.”
The early introduction of Math for me is horrible. Back in primary school, it was never my favorites. All my teachers are labeled “killers”, so “fear” is the most associated with it. I remembered that I really really really… hate “mencongak”. It’s an exercise where the teacher is sounding out loud addition/subtraction in a particular order, then the students will have to write down the answer. I’ve never got a good score for it. I see it as pointless in real life. I’ve never put much attention towards Math in primary school. Until one day, I entered junior high school and met him.
The Point System
My first impression of him is that he’s an old man, considering his white hair. But his spirit for teaching is like young blood. He teaches Math with a very different (radical I would say) approach. He was using a “point system”.
Every student will get a point for every “involvement” in the classroom. That includes  answering a question,  finishing an exercise or homework, or  solving math equations. Twice a semester, the accumulated point will then be “normalized”, converted into a “score” that will be considered as a test. The calculation will be done relatively for each class. For example, if class A has students with top 3 point as follow: 15 point, 12 point, 8 point — and class B has students with top 3 point as follow: 8 point, 7 point, 7 point. Then it will be converted to:
- 15 point --> 100
- 12 point --> 95
- 8 point --> 90Class B:
- 8 point --> 100
- 7 point --> 95
- 7 point --> 95
Hope you get it 😅
Searching For Point
There are three ways to increase your point.
- The fastest one got it
He will prompt a question or ask someone to the front of the class to solve an equation. Then when certain “keywords” come up like “go” or “next” — we raise our hands. The person who he thinks raised their hand first gets the chance.
- Deck of cards
Each of the numbered cards is representing the student’s absence number. By picking a card, there’s a random chance for a student to get an opportunity to get a point. I still remember the sequence:
- ♥️: 1–10
- ♦️: 11–20
- ♠️: 21–30
- ♣️: 31–40
The most interesting one. The rules are  correct answers → +2 point,  wrong answers → -1 point,  no answers → 0 point. On certain occasions, there is even a “special” question where we can wager our point.
Because of this approach, Math is not boring anymore. It’s more like a game to me. The competitive spirit within me roared. I remembered that I was in 1st place in my class several times.
I’ll never forget this day for the rest of my life. It’s when I discovered factorial technique all by myself. When we enter the chapter on “probability”, he gave us a brain teaser which leads to a question “so… how many combinations are there if there are n human and m seat?”. Whoever can answer correctly, will get a bonus point. The whole class is searching for the answer. I do my best, it’s just logical thinking and inference but I got my answer. I encouraged myself to go to the whiteboard and write down my answer. After that, he asked me a bunch of questions like “how I manage to come up with the answer?”, assuming maybe I peeked into the book cause the class hasn’t gotten that far yet. I explained it in the way I understand it, like telling a story. “So first I do this, and then do that…”, I said. A brief silence… then a word comes out “All right! That’s correct.”
“Holy s*it!” (only in my mind obviously). I can’t believe I was right. Later on, he explains to the class that what I just did is called the factorial technique which is common in permutation and combination. Did you believe it? You just witnessed that an 8th grader is capable of grasping complex mathematical concepts. That’s what happened if the teacher is willing to give their students a chance to try and think.
Had it not because of him, I’m sure I’m still going to hate Math, which is ironic given my dreams to pursue a career in computer science heavily rely on math. You can never imagine how much confidence I got from the experiences in junior high. Had it not because for him, I think I will never become a software engineer, cause I will just give up on math.
So if you happen to stumble upon this story sir, and read it, I just wanna say… “Thank you, Pak Yudi!”. Thank you for your ways of teaching which got me out of the fear of math. You made math seem so fun. Thank you for giving me those unforgettable moments. Thank you for believing an 8th grader to search for their answer, and grasp the concept by themselves instead of spoon-feeding them with formula. All the respect, I’ve given it to you.
Thank you Mr. Yudipoi 😄