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.

Today’s entry is courtesy of Season 1 of The Simpsons. I’ll tell this joke just after introducing derivatives to my calculus students. Here is some dialogue from the episode “Bart The Genius”:

Teacher: So y = r cubed over 3. And if you determine the rate of change in this curve correctly, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
[The class laughs except for Bart who appears confused.]
Teacher: Don’t you get it, Bart? Derivative dy = 3 r squared dr over 3, or r squared dr, or r dr r. Har-de-har-har! Get it?

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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