austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command

Last week started up classes, with my new two full-term classes. The first one was the same subject, statistics, that I'd taught last year, but in this case it's a normal-length course and so it was, comparatively, huge. The quick-term course had a mere 16 people officially enrolled, and that swiftly dwindled to about a dozen who showed up on any regular basis. This class had the fire code maximum for the classroom, 35, enrolled, and while a few weren't there, I was still facing down my biggest mob of students in ages. I admitted to feeling outnumbered as the class began; they didn't seem to know how to take that.

I also started a second course, an introduction to algebra class. It would be less prep work to teach two of the same course, but I figured I want to have as many different courses as possible on record as I go job-hunting. Maybe it'd be better to have taken, say, Calculus I instead of statistics, but I also didn't want to throw out everything I'd learned or used last term either. This is a smaller class, but it's got the better classroom, one I can more easily and naturally wander through the desks and glare at students who think it not extremely obvious when they take out their cell phones.

(You know how you thought you got away with nodding off in class, doing things like hiding your face with your fingers? You would have been less obvious to your instructor about your sleeping if you changed into footie pajamas, dragged a bed into the classroom, made a mug of hot cocoa, lit a candle, stretched out yawning, and blew the candle out. Your cell phone use is even more obvious.)

Both my classes this term are in the math department's building, part of the original (1960s) campus, so there aren't fancy things like motion-sensitive lights which turn themselves off, or whiteboards. That's right, I'm teaching these classes under chalkboard rules, and I'm liking that too.

The head of the department (and dean of the science/math faculty) popped in on my first intro to algebra class, and asked how everything was going. I promised that everyone would be hopelessly confused within minutes, and he told my students how I was going to give them an excellent grounding in --- was this statistics? Algebra? --- algebra. I think some of the students might have come to believe he knew who I was. (We've met for brief interviews twice.) After he left, one asked who that guy who dropped in was. I was kind of enchanted with how the moment managed that kind of awkwardness where it wasn't actually awkward but nobody felt exactly right either.

Trivia: English Reverend Dr Hales attempted to discourage tea consumption by showing that if the tail of a suckling pig were dunked in a cup of tea, it would emerge hairless. Source: Radar, Hula Hoops, and Playful Pigs, Joe Schwarcz. (I can't pin down just which Hales this is, and Google is being Google Groups over it. I believe this to be the Stephen Hales who worked in the 18th century, but take that for what it's worth. But tea has been suspect for a very, very long while.)

Currently Reading: New Dimensions #2, Editor Robert Silverberg. Silverberg is, to my eye, rather hilarious in explaining how in this 1972 volume it includes stories from those pesky young writers like Gardner Dozois, who are unlike the rest of their generation in not being inarticulate boobs. Stay young, folks!


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