Thursday, October 29, 2009

Editing party

No fewer than six of my 280 students met with me for two hours in the Math Lab this afternoon to go over the "Watchwords" appendix to our textbook (or "TeXbook," as the students are starting to call it...the watchwords consist of fifteen simple words [like "and," "if," "since," and the like] with precise mathematical meanings and which are often misused, especially by beginning students) and Chapter 3, on set theory.

I had to squelch squeals of glee at some of the conversations that were going on, dealing with the logical flow of the sections in Chapter 3 ("No, Cartesian products have to come first, because the author of the cardinality section is making use of the product in their example." "But we could just modify that example, or get rid of it." "All that has to be true is that ordered pairs come before products, since they're defined by ordered pairs."). It was for the first time today that it fully struck me, head on, how much this exercise is forcing the students to become completely aware of in the interconnections between the various topics we've been studying.

"Are you going to try to get this published?" asked one of the students from last semester's 280 class.

"I don't know. I'm going to try to get some folks to talk about it at the conference at Elon in March, and I'm going to promote the hell out of it. It's a big project, and a big deal, and I think they should all be proud of their work."

"Yeah, I'm sure people at other schools would like to see it."

"Even though it's not going to be perfect, and it's going to be rough and have mistakes, and it's going to look like it was written by fifteen different people (mostly because it is written by fifteen different people), it's going to be authentic. And ultimately that's where its strength lies."

Keep it up, my young friends and colleagues, and I'll keep bragging on you!

Tomorrow: donuts!

1 comment:

Abacus said...

Donuts.... *drool*