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Hey Colin, I appreciate your report and hope to hear more of them. Just so you know, I had a teacher like that in high school geometry. She had us do the assignment from the night before and had us read the book to get the instruction. (Luckily we had a good book, but still...) I went to the head of the math dept and complained and said that she doesn't teach, she expects us to do everything. His response: "This is a wonderful opportunity to learn." My reaction (unstated at the time) was the same as yours. Why not stay home then? Why have a teacher? You'll probably hear this excuse again in your lifetime. It's a shame it's happening to you. This is a good forum to ask questions about math, though, in the meantime. -- BarryGarelick - 02 Oct 2005
Colin, Thanks for doing this. It gives us a fresh perspective (as well as reminding some of us of the horrors of high school math class.) I had a few teachers like that. Unlike Barry I didn't have the nerve to think that maybe it was the teacher that was the problem. -- SusanS - 02 Oct 2005
Good lead! -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Oct 2005
That's ridiculous. -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Oct 2005
If Christopher ever gets a teacher like that there will be Open Revolt in the Ranks. -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Oct 2005
This is a wonderful opportunity to learn. And I say this is a wonderful opportunity to stop paying this teacher's salary. -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Oct 2005
I had exactly ZERO teachers like that, ever. I've never even met a teacher like that. Disgusting. -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Oct 2005
Great essay, Colin! Thanks for writing it! -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Oct 2005
Barry's right; this is a GREAT place to ask questions. In fact, I plan to ask a couple myself later on today. -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Oct 2005
Now I'm bugging my sister to write about her daughter's experiences with CONNECTED MATH and a completely unhinged teacher last year. Things got so bad that my sister pulled her daughter out of school altogether, 6 weeks before the school year was over. She told the principal, "I look forward to the truant officer coming to my house." Needless to say, the truant officer didn't show. -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Oct 2005
The parents of kids in this class need to be screaming and yelling. -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Oct 2005
hey, colin. keep 'em coming.
i never had any teachers quite as irresponsible
as the one you've described ... but i had
any number of 'em who were just about as ineffective
as yours appears very likely to turn out ...
one of the things that contributed (quite a lot
in my estimation) to me eventually turning pro:
hang out with the math-heads (in school ...
you're currently a vital participant in
the hippest online math ed community
in the known universe ...). and always remember what aunt mimi told john lennon:
"a guitar's all right ... but you'll never make a living with it." -- VlorbikDotCom - 02 Oct 2005
Colin Stinks doesn't it. This is what you can DO about it. First, get a good textbook - I like Sullivan's Precalculus which you can buy very cheaply on half.com in an older edition. This book is well designed for self-study. Consider dropping the course and taking it at a local university in the evening (if there is one). Find a tutor - maybe some retired engineer in the neighborhood will help out if you cut his grass. Get far enough ahead of the game so that you are not wasting class time floundering around. Do whatever it takes to get a good teacher for AP Calculus next year. Figure out who is likely to teach it and how your schedule can be manipulated so that you can have this teacher. Colin, this is your opportunity to demonstrate to yourself and the rest of the world that you are ready and able to take charge of your life and make things happen. -- KtmGuest - 02 Oct 2005
you're currently a vital participant in the hippest online math ed community in the known universe Hey! That should be our motto! -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Oct 2005
CatherineJohnson - 02 Oct 2005
KtmGuests, if you're still around, here are the 2 Sullivan books on precalculus I find: Precalculus: Graphing and Data Analysis (2nd Edition) and Precalculus (7th edition) I assume you're talking about the latter? -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Oct 2005
CarolynJohnston - 02 Oct 2005
CarolynJohnston - 02 Oct 2005
He really likes physics, he tells me. So I'm psyched about that! -- CarolynJohnston - 02 Oct 2005
Sullivan's a good choice. I've seen the text. Much better than Demanna, Waits and Texas Instruments. And Colin: If anyone at your school tells you that your precalculus class is "a wonderful opportunity to learn", let us know, pronto. Carolyn: I've seen this calculator based atrocity before; believe it or not it shows up in the pages of NCTM's standards (PSSM). For all of you: High school wasn't the only time I heard that refrain "wonderful opportunity..etc". At U of Michigan, I was taking advanced calculus and the professor teaching it was FOB from Poland. A brilliant mind, but no one had taken into account his English speaking capabilities, which were zero. I complained, again to the head of the math dept. (Seems to be a pattern with me). After some minutes of an apology which amounted to "Welcome to the real world" he said the magic words: "This is a wonderful opportunity to learn." Now, mindful of the whining would-be engineer's essay on Joanne Jacob's blog, I will take responsibility for my shortcomings in that class. But I have to say, about a year ago I tried to plow through that book again. It's "Advanced Calculus" by R. Creighton Buck. Lemme tell you, you don't want to trek through those mountains without a shirpa. -- BarryGarelick - 03 Oct 2005
Ooooh... Buck's advanced calculus book. When I was first at LSU there was a geriatric professor (a very good one, actually) teaching advanced calc out of Buck. "It's a little book," he told the students on the first day of class. "It has almost no volume at all. But it's so dense you can hardly pick it up." -- CarolynJohnston - 03 Oct 2005
i also "studied" with buck.
(what the heck; i was a cocky undergrad
and still thought you weren't supposed to work hard.
i went to all the lectures and then waited
until the last possible minute to try all the homework.
got me through (one semester) with a B.
but of course i didn't get much out of it ...). anyhow, it's a great book. i refer to my copy
probably at least a couple times a year. -- VlorbikDotCom - 03 Oct 2005
Yes. I recommended Sullivan's Precalculus and not the other. This text is full of good advice on how to learn math and it is structured to facilitate self-study. For example, every example in the text is keyed to specific exercises and the student is advised to work a keyed exercise immediately after working through the example. When I taught the course, I never used my calculator projector, although at times I made suggestions as to how students - whose previous course relied heavily on these things - might use their calculators profitably. -- CharlesWilliams - 04 Oct 2005
Barry I complained, again to the head of the math dept. (Seems to be a pattern with me). After some minutes of an apology which amounted to "Welcome to the real world" he said the magic words: "This is a wonderful opportunity to learn." Now, mindful of the whining would-be engineer's essay on Joanne Jacob's blog, I will take responsibility for my shortcomings in that class. But I have to say, about a year ago I tried to plow through that book again. It's "Advanced Calculus" by R. Creighton Buck. Lemme tell you, you don't want to trek through those mountains without a shirpa. I have no qualms about whining. Teachers should teach. Period. If they don't want to teach, we don't need to be paying their salaries. If an un-taught advanced calculus course is a wonderful opportunity for a student to learn, I say it's also a wonderful opportunity for the professor to take an unpaid leave of absence. -- CatherineJohnson - 04 Oct 2005
Charles W This text is full of good advice on how to learn math and it is structured to facilitate self-study. Thank you! That's fantastic. I've already got my own copy ordered. -- CatherineJohnson - 04 Oct 2005
There is a big difference between not teaching, such as what Colin's teacher is doing, and a teacher expecting the students to pre-read and begin doing problems before the material is formally taught, suac as what some high school tecahers and most math profs do (or at least used to do). Wasting valuable class time reviewing problems is not really productive. I believe that in many of the high performing asian countries the student is expected to review his own homework. However, forcing kids to do a little pre-work tends to elevate the level of discourse when the new material is taught. -- KDeRosa - 04 Oct 2005