Math Teacher’s Lesson Causes Worldwide Dispute

Ethan Chun

On October 19, 2021, a John W. North math teacher, started a new lesson for her class to introduce them to trigonometric ratios.
Trigonometric ratios are easily simplified into the acronym SOH CAH TOA. The acronym represents the three basic trigonometric functions and each functions’ formula and is a mnemonic device created to assist the memorization of the formulas. The acronym is broken down into sine = opposite/hypotenuse, cosine = adjacent/hypotenuse, and tangent = opposite/adjacent. The math teacher taught SOH CAH TOA to the class by putting on a skit for them, a skit made to grab their attention. The math teacher acted like a young Native American that would attempt to gather the attention of the gods to learn about the secret chant.
In the skit, the young Native-American ventured a mountain in search of the gods’ secret chant. After their successful climb of the mountain, they would camp out on the top of the mountain and continue to pray and learn about the great secret chant. Eventually, the “rock god” left a trail of rocks for the native to follow. The trail gave them the first part of the chant, SOH. With the knowledge of the first part of the chant known, they continued to pray to learn the rest of the chant. Continuing with the skit, the teacher would act as if a “water goddess” responded to her prayers and provided the second part of the chant, CAH. Out of excitement, the teacher playing the role of a young Native-American began to jump around the classroom. The teacher began skipping and hopping around the room, climbing on top of desks, jumping down from cabinets, and wound up stubbing their toe on a counter. After stubbing their toe, the teacher continued to hop around class yelling, “Ow, my TOA!” After they calmed down from the pain, they realized that the full secret chant was “SOHCAHTOA.” The knowledge of the full chant allowed them to decline down the mountain to return to their village. As they returned to their village, they repeated the chant, SOH CAH TOA.
The math teacher taught this skit to teach her students SOH CAH TOA and wanted them to memorize the acronym to easily remember the trigonometric formulas. Afterward, a video of the entire skit was published onto many different platforms of social media, and the news of what happened spread. Many people felt that the teacher was mocking indigenous culture and were openly stating their opinions on social platforms like Twitter and Instagram. The video of the math teacher’s skit reached the school district and the math teacher was exited from the class. Antics are currently under investigation.
“She had taught SOH CAH TOA very similar to what I remember. It was about a boy going on an adventure and learning about the different parts of SOH CAH TOA. I remember her jumping around all over the classroom. The major difference between how she taught it before and this year was the whole theme. Before the skit wasn’t based on indigenous culture. She didn’t pretend to be a young Native-American venturing a mountain to learn about a chant. It was just a boy, and it didn’t relate to indigenous culture,” according to 2021 graduate Nicole Myung.
Days following the video’s spread across social media a protest was held outside of John W. North. On October 21, 2021, a crowd of people gathered with boards and posters demanding the removal of the teacher.