Third-Year Math Major Forgets How to Spell Numbers

Written by: Micah Gilbert

“Why can’t I just use the letter ‘x’ to represent every number I have to spell? That would be so much easier,” remarked Calculus.
Photo by Julia Wong

Barry Calculus, a third-year math major at UC San Diego, was recently admitted to Student Health Services after claiming that he has completely forgotten how to spell numbers due to the heavy workload brought on by the math curriculum.

Tenured math professor Greg Graphe gave his thoughts on his students forgetting how words like “seven” are spelled. “This is a very new issue, but it’s been increasing like a diverging sum in our student body in the last few years,” he said. “These students can write about homeomorphisms and topological differentiation all day long, but then I get an email asking about ‘problem number fore?’ It’s probably because kids these days are too busy having sex instead of doing differential calculus.”

When asked how he’s coping with this new difficulty, Calculus said, “I haven’t thought about it too much because it really hasn’t impacted my life. Just writing the Arabic numerals gets me pretty far, and when it gets too strange, Roman numerals always have my back. The problem is other people, mostly. My idiot cousin didn’t know what ‘Happy IVth Birthday’ meant! How can he succeed in this world? That’s a fundamental skill he’s lacking.” Calculus has also started to bring other math symbols into his everyday life, which he said has led to trouble in situations like telling his family to reserve a flight on Delta Airlines, or asking his parents to cosign on a car loan, which Calculus did by drawing a picture of the cosine function and silently pointing at it.

According to Calculus, students are taking inspiration from him and choosing to willingly forget basic aspects of their education in order to make more mental room. Ray Theon, an aerospace engineer and early adopter of the “forget-me-naught” method, said, “Bro, I never realized how much space in my brain ‘lefty-loosey, righty-tighty’ took up until I forgot about it. In my opinion, I think we should just stop teaching it. Who uses that crap anyway? Screws as a whole are pretty overrated. Glue and tape work way better. Well, I’ve gotta go figure out how to secure the wings onto this plane I’m designing.”

Sigmund Sum, a business psychology student, also discussed how they’ve participated in this trend. “As a business major, I do a lot of math and I could definitely get by with forgetting the more basic stuff. But I still need the really advanced equations like y = mx + b. I also think that we should do away with accounting. Just check your bank account balance in the app every couple days and you’re good.” Sum continued questioning exactly what “economics” and “business” were, but was quickly dragged away by two professors and made to repeat “Economics is a real science” a thousand times.

Calculus has also started a club that would act as a place for students to share tips about forgetting extremely basic parts of their major, and discuss how doing so has improved their lives. “The second or third meeting was when it got strange. A ton of professors showed up and started talking about how they willingly forgot about the fact that you can’t quiz students on things you didn’t teach them, or how they forced themselves to lose all their knowledge on using Canvas. They seemed much too happy about it. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea.”

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