Tall, Dark, and Mysterious


Two quick stories about my classes

File under: Those Who Can't, Queen of Sciences. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 11:08 am.

1. Yesterday, a handful of students from my late morning class arrived in class bedecked in holiday garb - goblins, witches, and ghosts were the most popular. “Miss,” one student said, “are you dressing up as anything for Hallowe’en?”

“Yeah,” I replied, “I’m dressing up as a math teacher.”

Twenty-five students rolled their eyes at me.

“Come on,” I challenged, “what are you more scared of - goblins, or next week’s test?”

They concurred.

2. My university has an odd way of scheduling classes, and as a result, many of my students have only my class on Fridays. Consequently, many of my students have recently fallen ill to the Friday Flu, an illness that afflicts approximately five times as many students on Fridays as it does any on other day of the week.

Eight days ago, ten students - out of twenty-eight - showed up to my late afternoon precalculus class. Nearly all had been present for their test two days earlier, and over twenty were there the following Monday. I wagged my finger at the Monday crew, informing them that I’d given a full fifty-minute lesson the previous Friday, and that I had trouble believing that all of them had perfectly legitimate reasons for being away that day. They were appropriately sheepish, but as any math teacher knows, lessons tend to sink in better when they’re presented in more than one way.

We’re covering functions these days, and I presented them with some graphs of increasing and decreasing functions. Anticipating the frequent, “what does this have to do with real life?” query, I gave an example: “For instance, we can look at a graph that gives Friday attendance as a function of time.” I had the data from the past seven weeks: 34, 30, 27, 22, 20, 14, 10. “The larger the value for t,” I said, “the smaller the number of students at time t.”

Twenty-three students showed up yesterday.

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