i am awesome. somebody buy me a drink.

“midterm” report.

actually we’re more like two-thirds
of the way through (my one-shot
Discrete Math class at Big State U;
try to keep up)… but the custom
on this campus is to refer to
all-exams-other-than-the-final
as “midterms” (which strikes me
weird since where i came up we
sometimes had bigger-fuss-than-usual
exams in the middle of the term
[and called ’em “midterm” exams]).
maybe it’s a semesters-versus-quarters
thing. (but i’ll bet you money that
this usage persists long after the
upcoming switchover to semesters…)

i’ll go ahead and remark since it’s
on my mind that i still haven’t been
compensated financially for any of
this work. we walk by faith not sight.
there’s, what else, this third-party
computer interface whereby one is
required to divulge information
about one’s (so-called) bank account;
supposedly certain events then
occur over the internet… “automatic
deposits” i’ve heard ’em called…
and one’s later transactions are
“covered”. well, i’ve tried to
co-operate. twice now; we’ll see
with what success. anyhow, by some
miracle my phone (don’t get me started)
eventually… days late… delivered a
“voicemail” message from somebody in
(the tellingly nay damningly named)
“human resources” office… somehow
the e-check was refused at my bank and so
(according to this guy, on the phone, later)
they’ve sent an actual 3-D hardcopy check.
to my official address where i go
only about once a week so i’ll see
about it on monday. it’ll be about
a third of the quarter’s pay and
much the most money i’ve earned
in over a year so i’m pretty jazzed.

meanwhile, there’s a pile of grading:
the second “midterm”. on writing proofs.
and i’ll have ’em marked up by tuesday
evening when class meets but for now
i’m gonna let ’em age a bit.

the first exam was about logic and went
quite well… this is a *very* well-prepared
group by my standards (even in the pros
[from ’92 to ’96] i sort of specialized
in the survey-for-nonmajors stuff; once
i was sent down to the minors, it was
mostly “remedial” stuff) and the course
is pretty well-designed for students
at their level of the game.

my best move was finding the online course notes
for the guy who co-ordinated the course a few
quarters back (and taught at least one section
of his own): there is, more or less of course,
*much more material* covered by the sections
of the text we’re given to go over this quarter
than one can find time in class to discuss,
so i’ve followed this much-more-experienced
instructor’s choices of topics-to-stress
(as revealed in his exam-prep problem sets)
pretty closely and, so far knock wood,
with pretty good results.

meanwhile, the whole thing is overall
much mathier than the only *other*
Discrete Math class i ever taught
(back in the pros at Churchy Small
Liberal Arts College [now styling
itself a “University” but i digress]).
that one was more about compter-head
stuff like algorithms and data structures.
they’re quite a bit alike in requiring
students to be very careful with
definitions and stuff like that
i suppose… and i haven’t looked
at my notes from that long-ago
stuff for quite a while so they
might be even more alike than i think…
but some readers might naively believe
there’s some actual area of study
called “discrete math” and i’ll just
go ahead and strongly hint here that
they think it in error.

you get enough stuff in one of these
monster textbooks to keep even the
brightest of a class of college kids
busy for *years*. and for much the same
reason that to get a decent phone,
you’ve gotta sign on for years at
a time (even if you have no very
realistic idea of being able to
*pay* for it for that long let
alone of getting any useful service
without working like a wageslave
for untold amounts of very frustrating
time and no certain reward whatever):
“more waste faster” rules the roost.
but like i said. don’t get me started.

anybody worthy of the name “former math prof”
could bang out a text that would cost a small
fraction of what ours does and serve their
class just as well. i’ve done something
very like this myself for one of those
survey-for-nonmajors courses. there’s
even some overlap between that long-ago
work and the course at hand (as i’ve already,
in some sense, remarked).

and anybody worthy of name
“fit to survive in the present
economic climate” could probably
find a way to make it *pay*.

but concerning that of which
we cannot speak, it’s best
to STFU.

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  1. >but some readers might naively believe
    there’s some actual area of study
    called “discrete math” and i’ll just
    go ahead and strongly hint here that
    they think it in error.

    Thank you. And the same for finite math. I’ve taught finite, and could easily teach discrete, but I don’t think I know the difference between the two courses.

  2. vlorbik

    both are “the stuff you don’t get in calculus
    (that we nevertheless want you to know
    before you go off and pursue some other
    major)”… and that’s about it as far as i see.

    my current discrete class is much more like
    the “transition to advanced mathematics”
    course i taught at Churchy LAC than it is
    like the “discrete” class there.

    this is very much a good thing for me;
    very much the stuff *i* want to talk about
    before students go off and pursue another
    major… or even with future math majors
    (very rare in my usual circles alas).

    the smith, eggen, st.andre book
    “a transition to advanced mathematics”
    was the text in that earlier course
    by the way & i recommend it.
    probably it’s expanded into another
    dinosaur by by now but in the mid-90’s
    anyway it was the lean-and-mean right stuff.

  3. I won’t be teaching a class like that any time soon, so the book probably wouldn’t do me much good. If I ever teach linear again, it might be useful if it gave me ideas about how to teach students how to do proofs.

    Wishing I felt awesome…

  4. blag

    they mailed me a check (and i deposited it…
    then spent it). today i got the call:
    they’re mailing my second check as well.
    (my second attempt at setting up the
    autodeposit also failed; i’ll need an actual
    human to get this done evidently; why
    are we not surprised.)




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