November 17th, 2005

krazy koati

You load sixteen tons

I seem to have hit a nasty loop where I have a long and productive day at the office, and come away without substantially less work to do. Much of this is that I gave my students maybe too much homework for the last few weeks, and now have several long and difficult assignments I have to grade and write coherent answer keys for. I don't much like making LaTeX-typeset answer keys, but students greatly appreciate it and supplementary materials like that underscore to the hiring committee my dedication to my students. Also it helps me catch the most likely errors students make if I have to think out not just the answers but exposition.

To my frustration I noticed in working out one assignment there was a typo in a differential equation, making that problem harder and not accurate for the physical situation it was representing (in a way that wasn't obvious until the heavy lifting was done). I turned that into a great hook for the class, though, by saying there was an error and if you looked at the answer you'd realize what it was and how to fix it; so far nobody's e-mailed me with an identification of the typo. The typo by itself isn't particularly frustrating, but I noticed in my old class notes that I gave the same problem when I taught the same course two years ago, with the same typo in my assignment sheet.

And here's one of those not-difficult student issues. One of the ``ghost'' students, who's never shown up for class since the first two weeks, nor turned in any assignments except the first homework and the midterm, turned up yesterday with homeworks two through the one due tomorrow. I'm willing to let people turn things in a day or two late, for cause, but three months? When the answer keys have been on the class web site since the week after their due date? When the web page download summary -- there are times I really like the online class supports here -- shows the student downloaded all the answer keys three days ago? It's not the cheating that bugs me so much as the lazy cheating.

Trivia: In 1901 there were 26 manufacturers of (detachable) shirt collars and cuffs in Troy, New York. Source: Troy: A Collar City History, Don Rittner.

Currently Reading: The Longest Battle, Richard Hough.