College Math Teaching

September 18, 2014

Today’s student: communication and e-mail

Filed under: academia, editorial — Tags: — collegemathteaching @ 5:50 pm

Academia:
This is a good guide on how to NOT e-mail your professor (fictional student; e-mail is a collage of actual e-mails)

The professor says something interesting:

And before you go thinking that Anderson is publicly shaming the student: ‘cartmanrulez99′ a fictional creation, based on “two or three poor emails put together,” explains Anderson on YouTube. “I would never post an email of a student to the Internet nor would I suggest anyone else ever doing that.”

Yep. But this is interesting too (emphasis mine):

Moreover, he adds, he’s not youth-bashing. “In my opinion, each and every generation is smarter than the previous generation,” he writes. “I have seen that first-hand in my twenty years of teaching. If you think that there were no dumb people in the past, think again.”

The emphasis is ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE FOR ME; that is, the current students don’t appear to be smarter to me. BUT….there are mitigating factors at play here:

1. I went to a very selective undergraduate institution. Then I served in the Nuclear Navy; my fellow officers were taken from the upper 20 percent of graduating classes in engineering and science programs. Then I got my Ph. D. at a division I research place.

Therefore, the average student I see at my “median ACT of 25, median calculus ACT of 29-30” isn’t as talented as the people that I went to college and beyond with.

2. We teach service courses including mathematics for non-technical majors. See point 1.

BUT: it is true that today’s A student is pretty good, at least the A students in mathematics and science are.

And yes, we had presumptuous idiots in my day too…though we didn’t have e-mail until I was almost done with graduate school. 🙂

3. Concerning the 20 plus years I’ve been here: we’ve had ebbs and flows in student quality. The current class appears to be an “up” class. This ebb and flow probably wouldn’t be seen by a professor who teaches at an elite university or at a larger state university.

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