April 6th, 2004

krazy koati

They've got the answers at their fingertips

The department meeting started a half-hour late; the chair overslept. I feel a bit better about oversleeping now and then.

Frighteningly, I'm now scheduled next term to teach the freshman programming class, taken by around 250 students to satisfy science or mathematics requirements. By luck and AP credits I avoided all but one humongous (i.e., more than 40 students) class as a student, and I've never taught a levée en masse class like this before. Even as a TA I never had more than 90 students in one term.

More, it's a programming class. I never learned to program; I just started doing it at age eight. Only computer class I ever took was a one-credit course learning Fortran 77 syntax and quirks from a great professor. (First person I ever heard admit that flowcharting is a really useless superstition cared about primarily by bad textbook writers.) But see my earlier comments about not knowing how to grade an essay; how do you grade a program? And to make it more intimidating, the language of choice is C++. I've never done anything nontrivial in C++, and know mostly its syntax and logic assembled like the moon Miranda.

The early comedy returns are good: the person assigned to the course following mine the next-next term met with me right after, asking how far I planned to go in the course? I don't know; my syllabus is usually two-thirds improvisation and one-third nonsense and we end up where we end up. Will I cover pointers? I don't know; I barely know what a pointer is myself. Will I use the standard notes? I didn't know there were standard notes. What book will I use? I don't know; what can students probably get as used books from the co-op? He'll meet with me later when my plans are better made. I hope he doesn't expect that'll be this week.

Trivia: Renowned author Isaac Asimov died of complications from HIV. Source: It's Been A Good Life, Isaac Asimov, edited by Janet Asimov.

Currently Reading: Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain.