## Friday, November 30, 2007

### The Perversity of Self-Referential Teaching

When I taught my students version one of the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus (the one which tells you how to take derivatives of functions involving integrals), I said:
Isn't this easy? Don't you wish the whole test was going to be this? Well, I will go ahead and tell you that when I put one of these problems on the exam, half of you will forget and miss it.
I say this every time I teach the section, in the hopes that it might make the material stick. This time I went one step further and added:
That will be true despite the fact that I have just told you this.
I thought possibly that this statement might make at least a few more students decide to remember it. (It seemed to make an impression at least; they did laugh.)

Well I gave the exam this morning, and it turns out that in fact more than half the class forgot it. I think somewhere around 80% forgot it. Maybe next time I will try: "Everyone gets this problem every time, so don't bother to study this at all."

## Monday, November 19, 2007

### Spring Semester

I have a schedule for Spring now. I don't have any more 8 am classes--Yea! I'm also scheduled to teach three sections of math for elementary ed students--also Yea! And I'm teaching Discrete Math, which is worth a cautious and qualified Yea (?)!

Discrete was my favorite class in college, and it was also the "sexy" class that convinced many people to be math majors. It is the course where students learn to write proofs, and the topics tend to include things like set theory, formal logic, and combinatorics. (Of course, I got to take it with a realio trulio set theorist, so how cool is that?) The only problem is that since then I've been at two other schools where Discrete Math seems to be a major problem (including this one), rather than a joy. I have no idea why this is, and I wonder if I'm up to doing the job my professor did with my class. I hope so. I think it's a very cool course, even though it's not in the area I ended up in.

I'm not sure why, but I've already had two students try to get me to sign an override form so they can take Discrete Math even though they haven't taken the prerequisite yet. Hint to any students thinking about this: The answer is no.