College Math Teaching

March 13, 2015

Moving from “young Turk” to “old f***”

Filed under: calculus, class room experiment, editorial, pedagogy — Tags: , , — collegemathteaching @ 9:09 pm

Today, one of our hot “young” (meaning: new here) mathematicians came to me and wanted to inquire about a course switch. He noted that his two course load included two different courses (two preparations) and that I was teaching different sections of the same two courses…was I interested in doing a course swap so that he had only one preparation (he is teaching 8 hours) and I’d only have two?

I said: “when I was your age, I minimized the number of preparations. But at my age, teaching two sections of the same low level course makes me want to bash my head against the wall”. That is, by my second lesson of the same course in the same day; I just want to be just about anywhere else on campus; I have no interest, no enthusiasm, etc.

I specifically REQUESTED 3 preparations to keep myself from getting bored; that is what 24 years of teaching this stuff does to you.

Every so often, someone has the grand idea to REFORM the teaching of (whatever) and the “reformers” usually get at least a few departments to go along with it.

The common thing said is that it gets professors to reexamine their teaching of (whatever).

But I wonder if many try these things….just out of pure boredom. Seriously, read the buzzwords of the “reform paper” I linked to; there is really nothing new there.


December 20, 2013

Semester grades are out…

Filed under: editorial — Tags: — collegemathteaching @ 7:50 pm

Cue e-mail messages saying “professor, I’d like to meet you over semester break to “discuss” my grade.”

Cue my answer:


I do tell them I’d be happy to meet with them at the start of the next semester to SEE their final exam…I’ll even give them a copy. I’ll be happy to discuss how they can improve their performances and to enhance their mastery of the material.

And yes, I give them their test averages prior to the final exam so they can check to see if I have the grades recorded correctly.

But the reality is that many have no interest in improving their performance; they merely want a higher evaluation given to their current performance.

That is human nature, I think. Fair evaluation of one’s performance can be painful…for ALL of us.

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