I was all set to do some commentary about this column when something funny happened in one of my Algebra 2 classes today.
Students were working on their assignment, which included solving the inequality |ax+b|is less than c. One girl came up to my desk for assistance, not sure where to begin. We went over what we'd do if a, b, and c were given, and she knew the correct steps. I told her to perform the same steps in the general case. She looked at me quizzically and said...wait for it...
"But there are no numbers."
You know? Just reading it here, it's not as funny as it was at the time. You just had to hear the tone of voice and see the look on her face. I got a kick out of it.
Algebra--the intensive study of the last three letters of the alphabet.