In this series, I’m compiling some of the quips and one-liners that I’ll use with my students to hopefully make my lessons more memorable for them.

When discussing the Laws of Logarithms, I’ll make a big deal of the fact that one law converts a multiplication problem into a simpler addition problem, while another law converts exponentiation into a simpler multiplication problem.

After a few practice problems — and about 3 minutes before the end of class — I’ll inform my class that I’m about to tell the world’s worst math joke. Here it is:

After the flood, the ark landed, and Noah and the animals got out. And God said to Noah, “Go forth, be fruitful, and multiply.” So they disembarked.

Some time later, Noah went walking around and saw the two dogs with their baby puppies and the two cats with their baby kittens. However, he also came across two unhappy, frustrated, and disgruntled snakes. The snakes said to Noah, “We’re having some problems here; would you mind knocking down a tree for us?”

Noah says, “OK,” knocks down a tree, and goes off to continue his inspections.

Some time later, Noah returns, and sure enough, the two snakes are surrounding by baby snakes. Noah asked, “What happened?”

The snakes replied, “Well, you see, we’re adders. We need logs to multiply.”

After the laughter and groans subside, I then dismiss my class for the day:

Go forth, and multiply (pointing to the door of the classroom). For most of you, don’t be fruitful yet, but multiply. You’re dismissed.

I'm a Professor of Mathematics and a University Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of North Texas. For eight years, I was co-director of Teach North Texas, UNT's program for preparing secondary teachers of mathematics and science.
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