Plea from a first year Mathematics TA.

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Farabor
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Plea from a first year Mathematics TA.

Postby Farabor » Wed Oct 02, 2013 12:42 am UTC

/rant on
Dear prospective students preparing to enter a math class,

Please read the prerequisites listed in the course catalog. These aren't there just to make you spend more money or more time. Contrary to popular opinion, mathematics actually does build upon itself. Among other things, this means that if it's been 3 years since you've last done a class and you're about to take a course later in the sequence, this means you should perhaps review the material you allegedly are stating you know BEFORE attempting to learn new material, not in the middle of a 16 week college semester chock full of new concepts. Also, if you fail to grasp a concept in one section, for the love of all that one holds holy, do not merely say "bleep it" and move on....as quite likely, that material will be necessary for future work.

/rant off.

*sigh* I'm working in the tutoring center of my university, and we're getting students trying to learn calculus who don't know algebra. The worst I've encountered is one who didn't know that six halves was equal to 3....It's like trying to build a house and you don't know how to swing a hammer. GRR!

Krealr
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Re: Plea from a first year Mathematics TA.

Postby Krealr » Wed Oct 02, 2013 3:25 pm UTC

Welcome to the joy of math tutoring. :D

I've been working with high school students for almost 7 years now. I still die a little inside every time a student grabs a calculator to do something like 8 / 1 (and writes down 5 without batting an eye)

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Izawwlgood
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Re: Plea from a first year Mathematics TA.

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Oct 02, 2013 4:05 pm UTC

As a bio TA I had similar experiences. When we're discussing which point mutation to make to the protein to disrupt folding, saying "Wait, DNA controls what proteins are like?" means you have missed a few essential steps.

In a developmental biology course, a fellow graduate student was appalled at the notion of using genetic markers to track populations, claiming it was impossible to identify an individuals genetic heritage by their genetic profile. There were some... underlying political grievances... she was probably railing against, but still.
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Username4242
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Re: Plea from a first year Mathematics TA.

Postby Username4242 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 6:00 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:In a developmental biology course, a fellow graduate student was appalled at the notion of using genetic markers to track populations, claiming it was impossible to identify an individuals genetic heritage by their genetic profile. There were some... underlying political grievances... she was probably railing against, but still.


Yikes.

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Re: Plea from a first year Mathematics TA.

Postby Pingouin7 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 2:15 pm UTC

Farabor wrote:The worst I've encountered is one who didn't know that six halves was equal to 3...

*cringe*
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I'm not. I do my part in the fight against peanuts by destroying them with my powerful teeth. Take that peanut! How does being digested feel!?

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Re: Plea from a first year Mathematics TA.

Postby ahammel » Thu Oct 03, 2013 2:21 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:n a developmental biology course, a fellow graduate student was appalled at the notion of using genetic markers to track populations, claiming it was impossible to identify an individuals genetic heritage by their genetic profile.

What.
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Izawwlgood
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Re: Plea from a first year Mathematics TA.

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Oct 03, 2013 3:03 pm UTC

Some context may be required; the student was a full blooded Mohawk, and very proud of, and very sensitive of that heritage. We were covering something or another, and the professor said something to the effect of 'You can track *racial heritage* [as opposed say, genetic lineage or region of origin or population migration]...' and then corrected the statement. The student resented the notion that people could be genetically identified by where they hail from, I suppose? Or that genetic lineage was a thing? Or that American Indians were historically genetically separated from, say, the Irish?

It was weird... Especially because her interest was more molecular than cellular.

I don't mean to hijack the thread, it's just funny when people are missing the fundamentals in a way that baffles. It must be more evident in math than it is in biology.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

Krealr
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Re: Plea from a first year Mathematics TA.

Postby Krealr » Thu Oct 03, 2013 3:53 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I don't mean to hijack the thread, it's just funny when people are missing the fundamentals in a way that baffles. It must be more evident in math than it is in biology.


Part of it is just how basic some of the things they are missing in math seem. It would be the equivalent of a student not being sure if a dog is a plant or an animal.

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Re: Plea from a first year Mathematics TA.

Postby eSOANEM » Mon Oct 07, 2013 1:33 pm UTC

I have heard tell of some soon-to-be mediaeval historians who were unable to tell whether the transcription of a charter in front of them was written in German or Latin.

Not being able to understand either I could understand, but not even being able to distinguish the two? When you're applying for mediaeval history? *shakes head*
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