Friday, October 03, 2008

Mathematicians Are Trained to Notice Patterns

Secret message to the smartest student in my morning class: I get it. You don't really like math, and you aren't that psyched that you need to take this class to fulfill some stupid requirement. I know that you're way smarter than everyone in the class and this comes easy to you. You can learn the material without trying. You're probably smarter than I am, too. I'm OK with that. I spend my summers with people who are way smarter than me. Many of them have articles about them in the wikipedia that go on and on about their impressive accomplishments.

And, yes, I know, if you went to one of the top-tier schools, you wouldn't be so bored in class. We do things slow around here. People around here talk slow, eat slow, and even teach slow. When someone told you that you can get just a good an education here as you can at Harvard, you shouldn't have taken that at face value. Now, if one of your parents taught here and could navigate you through the petition process of not having to put up with most of the crap that the typical undergraduates have to deal with, that would be another story. But unless you know how the game is played, it's going to take you a few semesters to figure out how to work around the system. In contrast, at somewhere like Brown, there's no mandatory crap. You can pretty much do what you want from the time you show up.

But my point being, I've noticed that you aren't coming to class on Fridays. This is really easy for me to observe. Aside from being professionally trained to find patterns, the homework is due on Fridays, and you are never there to turn it in. Are you living it up and enjoying the vast social opportunities offered each evening by your fellow students? Just don't feel like coming to math class on Friday? Whatever it is, it's likely to bring you down to a no-effort-B+ when you could have earned a minor-effort A.

I've been invited to a party next weekend, and I'm pretty sure that one of your other professors is going to be there. I'm going to ask her how you've been doing in her class (much more in your area of interest). If you're doing fine in there, I won't say anything. But if you're also neglecting her class, I might try to figure out what's going on.