the intersection of calculus and big sideburns

Well I started the first week of mutton chops by growing what were essentially just slightly big sideburns (down to the bottom of my ear, but wide at the bottom instead of even with the top), but Sharayah called foul, so since then I've been growing proper mutton chops. Once you get past the itchiness stage they're not so bad. I've at least gotten to the point where I don't think I look bizarre every time I look in the mirror. Still, I'll be glad to shave them this Friday (don't worry, there will be pictures taken before they're gone). It's just too much work to keep them shaped the right way and making sure they're even. Also, they are mutton chops, so... do not want.

Teaching a class has so far been an interesting experience. I'd say it's very easy to teach but very hard to get students to learn. Some of them are self-motivated and I don't have to worry about them. Others, though. They're tough. I can be thoroughly convinced that I've made something clear, and then someone will ask a question that proves... well, that it's definitely still murky to them.

I think the main problem is that many of my students don't have the proper foundations. There are just so many things that you already need to know when you get to calculus that they seem to have never seen before. I can't say whether that's their fault or the fault of their previous teachers. At any rate, the big problem is that many of my students don't have the prerequisites for my course. Maybe they have them on paper, on some transcript, but they don't have them in real life. Somewhere along the line, some previous teacher did them the disservice of passing them in a class where they didn't learn what they were supposed to. I don't think they've been done any favor when they're told they understand all they need to and they really don't. It's also the system as a whole's fault. I understand in high school there's huge pressure on teachers to pass all of their students. I guess you look bad if students fail your class? Still, I think some of my students have been set up for failure by being inadequately prepared and simultaneously being told that they're doing just fine.

End rant.

Still, overall it's been a positive experience. I think it's confirmed to me that I'd like being a professor, though it's also proved to me that I'd very much prefer to teach more difficult classes with students who actually want to learn math. Presumably math majors, although being a TA for discrete math in the spring taught me that apparently math majors also ask what the point is of learning to prove things... Well, if you don't want to prove things, then you don't really like math. That's what math is. Otherwise it's just a bunch of arbitrary rules that someone made up and now we all memorize (that is not the case!). Anyway, if plans work out, I'll be doing original math research and, yes, teaching math. If a student comes along every so often who tells me they used to hate math, but now I've made them like it (this happened to me!), maybe it won't be so bad.

when the rockets came to life

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