Posted by: thebylog | September 30, 2005

Teaching Math

My hardest class this semester is Classical Analysis. I’ve had some excellent math teachers in my career as a student; my first calculus teacher stands out, for instance, for the straightforward clarity of her lectures. But the teacher
for this Analysis course is better. I think it’s safe to say that he’s without doubt the best math teacher I’ve ever had. Ironically, it’s a little extra significant that I like him so much because I had a predisposition not to, because of the difficulty we had getting into his class in the first place as well as a couple of things I heard and observed during that process. But he’s excellent, and I’ll give you a couple reasons why.

When he comes to class, or even when he talks about math outside the context of the classroom, he gets this little grin on his face like he just can’t wait to start talking mathematics. He acts like there’s nothing he’d rather do.

The other significant thing that makes his classes interesting is how he contextualizes the material he teaches us. The math we do in this class isn’t the type that you do with a calculator – it’s all symbols and precise definitions and
proofs. These can be exhausting as well as dry (that’s all in your outlook). But every once in awhile, he stops writing furiously on the blackboard and just talks about what he is or will be teaching us. He tells us why it’s important or where it came from or how it connects with another concept we will study or have studied. It provides significant motivation for the subject matter being presented in addition to keeping my interest level high.

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Responses

  1. I had an instructor like that. I though of him very well. He offen stop in the middle of something, like the way you said about yours.

  2. Your description inspires me, By. Right now I’m subbing an Alg I/II class for Melvin Lehman while he’s gone to Poland. I enjoy the students more than the material, but I’d love to have someone remember a math concept because it was clearly taught with passion.

    Teaching math with delight. This is not easy for me.

  3. Humm. I had a pretty good algebra class in HS, but the teacher was also the my spanish teacher, my SS teaching, Biology teacher, principle…

    Kinda tells you what kind of school I went to.

  4. i can relate to that one…
    challenges, by. you took ’em and you can handle ’em. 🙂
    -q


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