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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Back to School Week: Day One

For the next week, my posts will be purely autobiographical. Feel free to tune back in next week if you begin to grow bored with me.

Today began with Physics (Calculus based.) There are about 80 people in the class and there's a good chance that I'm the oldest. Most of them are either Physics majors or engineers of some kind. The teacher seems pleasant enough, insisting that we call him by his first name, Paul. His teaching style is somewhat discombobulated. He pulls examples out of the air, rather than preparing them ahead of time. Because of this, he often confuses himself. Much of the class consisted of us struggling to follow his running monologue. I did a lot of erasing, and in the future, I probably will let him get a bit ahead of my note-taking in order to preserve rubber.

I was not surprised that technology is going to factor heavily in the course. For starters, people don't answer questions with raised hands anymore. I have to purchase a radio-frequency clicker that will allow me to answer multiple choice questions. It feels a bit like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Also, all homework is done online. Since I purchased my textbook via Amazon, I did not receive the passcode for the homework database. I will have to buy it stand alone from the website.

After class, I watched as he answered a handful of questions. He was patient and willing to restate himself. This is something that I'm going to have to work on as a teacher.

Between classes, I got my student loan refund and deposited it in the bank. I also timed out the trip from school to work. It took me about 20 minutes, and even with a new apartment, I expect to be able to do it in 30.

I had learned in Physics that lab classes will not meet until next week, so Statistics would be my last class of the day. The demographics are very different from the first class. Out of roughly 20 people, 6 of them are obviously much older than me. I can tell those older people are going to annoy me. Several of them talked nonstop, in that lonely, awkward sort of way that people advancing in years tend to do. I'm sure one day I will fall victim to this verbal diarrhea, but for now it is irritating. There are also many more women in this class, close to 50%. This tells me that the class is probably required of many majors, including biology and history. I know that sounds chauvinistic, and I hope my regular readers know that I wish that were not the reality. Like it or not, women are not currently flocking to the STEM fields. I hope to change that, but for now, I think it's a fair assessment that the math in this class will be geared to a wider audience.

So that was Day 1. I'm still on cloud nine, and part of me really can't believe that I'm finally back in school. Tomorrow, I have Java programming and that's it. Hopefully, my deposit will have cleared so I can buy my clicker and do my physics homework. If not, I could be off to a bad start.

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