Saturday, November 03, 2007

Super Saturday IV

I'm not sure why I got up at 6:30 this least I got a head start on the grading. I'm halfway through the Calc HW at this point, but 280'll call this afternoon.

At this moment I'm sitting in Zageir 227, 45 minutes remaining before our fourth Super Saturday session begins. I've got nothing to do for a bit, so I thought I'd take a moment to check in here.

How'd the week wind up?

In 280 we talked about injectivity and surjectivity, concepts that are substantially more puzzling in the abstract than they are in the familiar context of real-valued functions. We had a bear of a time working through a proof of the equivalence of the two most frequent characterizations of injectivity. There was something about the subtlety of the contradiction that was tripping up even the best and the brightest in the class. The confusion likely had to do with the convoluted structure of the statement we were trying to prove. Roughly speaking, the statement looks like (A B) ⇔ (CD), for various statements A, B, C, and D, so at one point we're dealing with a hypothesis that looks like (AB) ∧ C. Say huh?

In Calc I we rapped about the way a function's graph is determined by its derivatives. On Monday I'm going to have them do a few exercises as a class to drive home the meaning of properties like concavity and inflection, and how they relate to increasing and decreasing.

Oh, by the way: they made substantial recovery on their exam revisions, raising the class average to roughly 77%, up from the woeful 68% last week. Several students offered touching apologies or narratives on their submitted revisions. Magdalena, for instance, mentioned how she saw herself in the inner monologue I included in the post following last week's grading frenzy. "Oh my god, he's inside my head!" she said. She vows never to become so reliant on the solutions manual again.

They're good kids.

Newton v. Leibniz takes place a week from Monday; this coming Monday I'll get the rough drafts of their "arguments," many of which I will share with opposing teams so that each legal team may adequately prepare a defense having had access to the other's evidence and data. So far most of the teams seem to be functioning pretty well together, with a couple of exceptions. There's been a little tension stemming merely from personality differences present in one or two of the groups. In a perfect world, perhaps... know, when I was a student, I didn't so much like working in groups. I didn't have to do it all that often, but when I did, I got it done with as soon as possible and moved on. I can't say now how I must have come across to my teammates. Bossy, maybe? Headstrong? I hope not. I know that I'm the sort of person who wants to get it done "right," even if that means that I have to take the entire project onto my own shoulders and do every last bit of the work myself. Better that than that the project turn out shoddily because one of my teammates had the audacity to not be as smart as I was.

I suppose I might have been bossy, without meaning to be.

And I wasn't always my sweet current self, either. Though sarcasm is my native language, over the years I've learned to tone it down with others whom I don't know so well. Sarcasm, spite, vitriol. My mother loves telling the story of how I frustratedly called one of my kindergarten colleagues "stupid" because she couldn't grasp the nuances of the game I was trying to play with her. I was insufferable as a young 'un, but I've gotten more mellow with age.

Why can't we all just get along?

More later...I'll let you know how my first session of the departmental Moses Learning Circle went yesterday afternoon (short version: I'm not so sure my colleagues are sold on the claim that mathematical literacy is a civil rights issue, or the claim that improved numeracy is a societal panacea), but for now I've got to get ready for the SS kiddies who'll be here in a few minutes (Tallulah and Deidre are already here, ready to lend a hand).


No comments: