Why you really do or don’t want me as a student…

Of the classes I took this last semester, there’s only one I haven’t blogged about at least once.

Masochist that I am, I went and took “Applied Calculus”, even though I’d gotten approval to count my previous semester of calculus (about 8 years ago) as fulfilling the mathematics requirement for graduation. The “applied” in the title of the class caught my eye, and after speaking to the instructor before the semester to find out what the class was like I decided that if there was time and money left I’d take the class. So I did.

Although I’d rank it as only the second most useful “Mathematics” course I’ve taken so far, Dr. Wolper was one of the best mathematics instructors I’ve had up to this point, so I’ve got no regrets for having spent the time and money to take it. I suspect I’ll remember a lot more of it than I did of the previous calculus class.

Anyway, getting to the point of this post:

There are times when I am unable to restrain myself and answer homework or exam questions in a terse, boring manner, regardless of the subject. If you’re an instructor and are wondering if you want me in your class, here is something to judge by.

Calculus (for those who don’t know) is more or less the math you use to deal with when, how, and how fast things change. In practical terms, when dealing with real-world applications this often means dealing with a graph of some data. A number of homework (and exam) problems this semester dealt with questions along the lines of “what would a graph of such-and-such a situation look like and how would you interpret it?”. Here’s one from early in the semester:

This was my answer:

You may judge for yourself whether this is a good answer or not…

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The Author is (currently) an autodidactic student of Industrial and Environmental microbiology, who is sick of people assuming all microbiology should be medical in nature, and who would really like to be allowed to go to graduate school one of these days now that he's finished his BS in Microbiology (with a bonus AS in Chemistry). He also enjoys exploring the Big Room (the one with the really high blue ceiling and big light that tracks from one side to the other every day) and looking at its contents from unusual mental angles.

2 thoughts on “Why you really do or don’t want me as a student…”

  1. Nice. I like to do this too, but one of the best examples I’ve ever seen was by my friend Tara, who was taking a music class ‘Form and Analysis.’ Basically, the class consisted of breaking down musical works into it’s subforms and analyzing how the composer worked everything together. She had the brilliant idea of narrating it like a sporting event.

    I once had a math teacher pull a sort of reverse on me. I had him for three different classes (junior high, high school, then college). Well, he got to know my mom, and they had to trade stories about the things I would do, and then one day in class, I received a homework assignment that contained a problem working out the maths behind a certain incident I had with my rocket, a failed parachute deployment, and my grandparents guttering. Let’s just say my rocket went ballistic and then so did my grandmother… But the math was interesting for that level, so it all worked out well.

  2. Hey, at least it was a practical problem then…

    I could probably recycle a few homework issues as blog posts. I’ve got one pending requests to blog an essay on Descartes and Berkeley. I did use a lab report from the Pathogenic Microbiology lab as a blog post a while back, too, now that I think about it…

    Then there was the lab for Microbial Physiology, where each lab report was written in a different style (it was assigned that way, not something I arbitrarily chose to do.) One, for example, was supposed to be in the form of a children’s story. Another in the form of a comic.

    (Sounds silly, but it DID promote actively thinking about the process and how to explain it without regurgitating technical phrases.)

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