Wednesday, August 3, 2016

review of math history 1 and 2

I was and am interested in the subject.  I didn't like the class, and I blame that entirely on the teacher.

He made us sign in and out.  The class met once a week.  He said we had to be there for 3 hours per week, although we could make up the time if we were late or something.  That was nice.  But the majority of the class work was like stuff you'd do in elementary school.  Like little word puzzles where you get clues to letters and then unscramble them to spell out "archimedes" or something like that.  Those kinds of things are fun to do sometimes, but they're not really fun to do for an entire one, two, or three hours.  He didn't just have a set amount of work.  If you finished the worksheets he had given out, he would go get more.  They were literally just busy work, to fill up the three hours.  He also assigned real math problems, from the textbook, but those were usually for homework, not to be done during class.  We studied a bunch of different numeral systems, which was part of the class that was actually interesting.  He made everyone take a turn at the board writing a number in the numeral system had just studied, and the number had to be something significant to you personally and you had to explain how to write the number and why it was important to you.  The part where he demands that you share personal information with a roomful of strangers is the part I strongly object to.  I also object to spending so much class time on that in general because it's a waste of time similar to the worksheets.  He didn't have us turn in assignments every day; instead he said we had to keep them in a 3-inch binder with dividers for each week, and he intended to grade them halfway through the semester, at the same time that he gave us a take-home midterm test.  The test required us to make copies of a bunch of tedious homework problems.  So the same problems had to be in the binder and also on the test.  He said he had pinkeye and couldn't grade because he couldn't see and he didn't actually grade the midterm tests or binders until after the semester was over.  One of the questions on the test was "write your age and the year you were born in all the numeral systems we have studied so far this semester".  As I already said, I wasn't comfortable with him demanding personal information, so I made up a fake age and chose a corresponding birth year, and wrote those in all the numeral systems.  It was more than half the points of the test and he counted it all wrong simply because I didn't use my **real** age, as if my real age were any of his business.  He said I could redo the test, though.  Because of his pinkeye, he gave everyone an incomplete in the class, and a take-home final, and he said he would change your grade after you brought the final to him and he graded it.  I was so annoyed with him about my midterm test grade, combined with the fact that I'd just found out that a math BA was useless, that I decided not to work on the class anymore and I got an F in it.

Every class, he was always going on about hot water and hot cocoa.  He kept hot water and hot cocoa in the closet and was always interrupting us to shout about it.  "We've got hot water and hot cocoa in the back!  Go get your hot water and hot cocoa!"  And he would talk to us like how teachers usually talk to 5-year-olds.  "We're not talking about pie the dessert, we're talking about Pi the number!"  And he asked us stupid questions and stood there staring until everyone answered in unison.  "Six times seven is, what, class? ............"  and people would stare back at him, look around at each other like "are we really supposed to answer that?" and then finally everyone would say "42", or whatever the stupid answer was he wanted.  He didn't treat it like a senior level college class.  He treated it like an elementary school class.

The book for the class was interesting, and the stuff about numeral systems was interesting.  Taught by anyone else, this could be a good class.  But I never saw it taught by anyone else.

In a later attempt to finish a math degree, I took math history 2.  I thought, this time since I know how stupid he is, I know what to expect, I can deal with it.  I was wrong.  I couldn't deal with it.  I ended up dropping that class.  It had all the same problems.  That is to say, he, the teacher, did all the same stupid things.

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