Monday, September 17, 2007


Everyone's got a limit.

I'm not sure what it was that got me going this morning just before the start of my first Calc I section, especially since by and large the students are turning in the homework regularly, and, by and large, they're doing pretty well on it. Despite this, I felt the need to take a few minutes and "lecture" on efficient time management.

What set me off? It was probably one of the students' willful misunderstanding of the point of the Conundrum Conversations exercise ("It's explained quite clearly on the assignment sheet." "I lost the assignment sheet." "The assignment sheet, like everything else for the course, is downloadable from a meticulously well-maintained website."). That, and the excessive dilly-dallying I'm getting from a couple of the students as they hold off on installing Mathematica 6.0 (a several-hundred-dollar value, available to them for free) on their personal computers, thus taking the installation disks out of circulation to their classmates.

The worst part is that the kids in question are so obviously intelligent. I just want to take 'em by the shoulders and shake 'em awake, screaming at them, "Moses on a pogo stick, people! Have some self-respect! Take some pride in the work that you do!" Oy.

"How long do you think I spent in grading y'all's homework this weekend?" I asked. A couple of people proffered somewhat accurate guesses, in the 5-10 hour range; the true figure was about 6.5 hours. "At 15 minutes a problem [a copiously generous allotment], the 11 problems I assigned last week shouldn't have taken more than about three hours. Maybe four hours, if you're having particular difficulty with these concepts, which is perfectly understandable. In any case, I wouldn't think you'd need more than four hours to complete the homework. Spread over seven days, and you're not even talking half an hour a day. If I can devote over six hours to your assignment, do you suppose you can devote three?"

To my students from Section 1: I'm sorry for lecturing at y'all, but I feel it was overdue. Please remember that I love you guys as a class, and that I'm happy with your homework, for the most part. Most of you are finishing it, and many of you are doing so very well. Please understand that I only want the best from you, and I don't think I'm quite seeing that from many of you yet.

But with a little more carefulness, and a little more time, I think you can all shine a bit more brightly.

So let's do it, huh?

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