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Because there aren’t enough stupid arguments regarding same-sex marriage

A few months ago, when George W. Bush won a historic victory with a campaign that called for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage for all eternity, progressively-minded Americans gazed longingly at the 49th parallel, and many contemplated moving here. Little did they anticipate that Canada’s inferiority complex would drive our Parliament to try to outdo our neighbours on this…

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Precalculus And The Case Of The Missing Children

Absenteeism is a tricky problem to deal with, because by its very nature, lecturing your students about how bad it is invariably reaches the wrong audience. It’s only a problem in my precalc class, partly because precalculus is an evening class; however, attendance in precalculus last semester was crap as well, when I taught it at a perfectly reasonable time…

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Infinitely many kilometers per liter

At the beginning of the term, I was unhappy with my teaching schedule: sixteen hours per week, thirteen of which are spread over two days, and the other three of which are spread over another two days. I didn’t anticipate one huge benefit of that until the term began: my light teaching days don’t leave me ready to collapse at…

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Two thoughts on the statistics quiz

Last week, Rudbeckia Hirta at Learning Curves posted a handful of definitions of the Pigeonhole Principle, as given by her students. Go read them if you haven’t already: they’re not only spectacularly incorrect, they’re also bizarre, incoherent, and could rival the output of The Random Sentence Generator. I was jealous. My students’ incorrect answers just make me cry, not laugh. I said as much…

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Apparently problem solving isn’t my forte

Last weekend, I took my new laptop to Vancouver, and when the two of us returned to Island Town, the sound system didn’t work. At all: I couldn’t play CDs, I couldn’t use headphones, I couldn’t get any audio on streaming videos. And this is a new computer! After several iterations of the Universal Computer Troubleshooting Procedure (shut down computer;…

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Trying to make precalculus work

My precalculus students wrote a quiz today. On the top of the front page I’d given the instuctions Solve the following equations for x. Show your work. If I’d instead typed Hey, kids! I’m under the impression that you know how to solve quadratic equations, but if you convince me otherwise, I’ll give you ten dollars! I would have received the exact same…

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The time I asked one of my students if I should fondle her breasts, and I’d do it again

It took three comments for my post about students’ excuses to devolve into a conversation about boobs (thanks, Daniel Lemire and TonyB), so here’s my story about students and cleavage: One day, back at my grad school, I was subbing for another teacher’s calculus class. At the end of the lesson, one girl approached me after class to ask me a question. I didn’t…

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Excuses, excuses

Jo(e) is playing a game with a list of ten excuses her students have given her and other teachers over the years: Rules for the game: Replace any that you feel like replacing. Add excuses that your students have given you. Try to stick to ones that you know to be real. Put an asterisk by all the ones you’ve added. That has…

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Cluelessness: A Study in Three Parts

Part I: The Student Who REALLY doesn’t get math: As in, the one who asked me last week, in all earnestness, “to what extent” she would “have to use equations” in my class. I managed, in a feat that should surely mark me as a force to be reckoned with in the domain of improvisational theatre, to eke out a coherent…

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