austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Maybe then they'll listen to what you have to say

Since I'm not currently employed and not particularly teaching anything, you'd think that would mean I wouldn't have things like preparing for the end of term to deal with. It didn't quite turn out that way. My mother is teaching as an adjunct, and it happens to be a heavily statistics-oriented course. This has a fair number of her students terrified, although she's been very explicit that she doesn't care if anyone knows any formula in the book because nobody actually has actually done any of the formulas by hand since 1987 except as a punitive measure. If you've ever looked at multivariable analysis of variance, you understand why computers and databases are more of a blessing than anyone could ever express in words.

So she had an idea: since there's a heavy mathematics component, why don't I keep my hand in academia by offering tutoring to students? I don't mind that, other than the minor awkwardness of serving effectively as the teaching assistant to my mother, particularly since to date only two people have actually asked for my help. One person had no noticeable change in his grades on the next exam; the other saw her score jump about thirty points. (The -- well, an -- ironic thing is she kept asking me about parts of the course I was wholly unqualified to explain, like how to read its research papers.)

That's expanded, though, in that the last class of the day she likes to do a ``Stump the Professor'' things wherein anyone can ask anything from the book, and if she can't answer it, the question-asker gets five bonus points on the final exam. Her inspiration: why don't I come along so that there's two professors to stump, for a possible ten points? Plus, this way, she could defer any questions about the book's actual content to me, since she hasn't read it and has no intention of reading it (although she doesn't mind plucking examples right out of it, I've noticed, including exam questions with only tiny changes in wording). So in my spare time the past couple days I've been reading the book, over and over and over, in the hopes that (a) I'll get mathematics type questions where I can bluff my way through, and (b) that I've found the things people are likely to think of as ``they'll never memorize this'' trick questions. I wonder if I should learn the ISBN.

Trivia: Clarendon Press distributed 49 copies of Max Muller's Passerine Birds between 1860 and 1882. 40 of the copies were given away. Source: The Meaning of Everything, Simon Winchester.

Currently Reading: Radar, Hula Hoops, and Playful Pigs, Dr Joe Schwarcz.


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