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Math Shenanigans

My Junior year of High School they offered a Statistic and Probability class for the first time. Anyone who had an 80% or higher in their Sophomore math class could participate and as the slotted teacher was someone I had previously had I knew him to be both fun and engaging.

I remember taking to the topic like a fish to water and quickly found myself immersed in the idea and the related concepts. We were required to have a TI-85 graphing calculator for class use and we quickly learned that you could code simple games into them. Some of the nerdiest of us would develop guessing games, trivia and drawing executables.

I took full advantage of this tool developing rudimentary apps that incorporated the lessons learned into shortcuts for getting answers for each unit. Wanting to be above board I told my teacher what I was working on and he felt that if I knew the subject well enough to code my way around it that he would allow it. The quizzes and tests were open book and calculators were allowed.

The tests were long and drawn out usually taking the entire hour so most folks found them grueling. Using my new found shortcut I could finish in less than half that. My fellow classmates took notice and began approaching me about sharing my secret.

I was torn, my father was had taught me to profit off of my work/intelligence but I knew Mr. Reed would frown on it as THEY had not put the time into learning it I had done. Peer pressure got the best of me and ultimately I agreed and once I had the next app ready I sold the file for $5 each. Good quick money and the admiration of my peers I thought.

“One person can keep a secret, but not two.” ― Ernest Cline, Ready Player One

As I should have suspected this quickly got out of hand and the first few people proceeded to share with all of their friends. By the time the test came nearly the whole class was finishing early. The teacher took note and held me back after class. There was no point in denying it and he understandably expressed frustration and disappointment.

I still look back at that in shame, the ~$25 was not worth it and I let my need to satisfy others and fit in control my actions. Calculators were still allowed after that but no custom programs were and he would check everyone's custom folder before he handed the tests out to make sure they were clear.

I still finished the class with a high A and was a minor legend amongst my classmates but I burned a bridge and showed weakness in my integrity. Still I learned an importance lesson.


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