Unless you're a bit of a sad person like me, there is every chance that the thought of "doing" spreadsheets doesn't have you leaping for joy, extolling Life and declaring that we live in the best of all possible worlds.
So it was with some surprise that during a lesson in which I'd told Year 8 (approximately 13 years old) to crunch some sports data using spreadsheets, there was suddenly a real buzz in the room.
"Let's work out the average now!", shrieked one excited youngster.
"No, let's do a rank order!" her friend answered.
I thought to myself, "I didn't know kids would get so excited about cricket scores. I wonder what's going on." (I can be a bit slow sometimes.)
On investigation it transpired that some of the girls had decided that cricket scores were not the most rivetting subject in the world, and had instead decided to rank the boys in the class on attributes such as height, sense of humour, looks and so on, to try and find out who was the most desirable boy in the class.
The next thing I knew was that the boys decided this was a good wheeze, and did a similar thing themselves.
Fortunately, the end-of-lesson bell went about 6 minutes later, and in subsequent lessons neither the kids nor I spoke about this event.
It was difficult for me because I didn't want to encourage them to rate the opposite sex. On the other hand, they were not only fully engaged, but also using the formulae I'd given them properly, and discovering new ones for themselves (in particular the Index and Match functions to get a rank order).
What I learnt from this incident
I learnt two things. First, if you teach the subject properly then students will find little else in life as delightful as a Max, Average or Sum function.
Second, if the work you set is boring enough, the law of unintended consequences decrees that the students will probably find ways to liven it up a bit. Low level disruption like throwing a chair across the room I can cope with. But trying to explain to an Ofsted inspector why the kids are ....
Well, I still have nightmares about it.