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Comment Re:Mathematics is a tool (Score 1) 1010

Anytime a professor offers an outside of class time "problem solving" session shortly prior to a test, they are letting you know they failed to teach all of the problem solving skills and especially never related practical knowledge. While I can appreciate the dedication it demonstrates on the part of the professor, they should be doing their jobs and putting it in the classroom to begin with.

Wow, I can't believe how wrong this is --- clearly you misunderstood your role in the classroom as a student. In class, a professor should explain the concepts and techniques, but you shouldn't expect them to teach you step-by-step methods of how to solve every single problem in the subject area --- there isn't enough class time for that.

The most important part of the learning process happens outside of class --- when you work and struggle towards learning on your own by working through the problems. Your professor in class is a guide in your learning journey, but they can't do the learning for you --- you need to put in the effort yourself!

When a professor schedules an extra "problem solving" session, they are letting you know they can't be there to hold your hand through that most important and difficult part of the learning process --- the part where you work and learn on your own --- but they understand that you probably got stuck at some point in that process, and are willing to spend their own valuable time to help you get unstuck.

Comment Re:A Mathematician's Lament (Score 1) 1010

You have a fundamental misunderstanding of how teaching & learning works. Rote and memorization are essential first steps --- get the techniques down, so that you can free up your higher-level reasoning for understanding. You will never understand math if you can't do math.

I guess you would also ask sports coaches to stop doing drills in their practice sessions?

-- Doing practice lay-ups and free-throws over and over is so boring, let's just explain to the kids how to do them, and then throw them into a game.

-- Practicing your swimming strokes is so boring, let's just explain to the kids how to swim, and then throw them in the pool and the swim meet, and they'll do just great.

Yeah, right.

Your analogy about painting is way off, as well. Have you never heard of artists practicing techniques by copying works by the masters? Never seen an art student in a museum with a sketchbook in hand?

The problem with most students is that they expect to be taught, but they don't expect to have to put any effort themselves into learning. Then, when they don't learn, it must have been the teacher's fault...

Comment Re:How math is taught (Score 1) 210

Having sat through a number of maths classes, and lectures, I find that the people teaching the subject, often fail to appreciate that what they find easy is not necessarily the case for others. This means they don't show the necessary steps or fail to find techniques to facilitate the understanding. Sometimes its almost as if they want to make maths hard to learn. Of course people end up get anxious since they end up feeling stupid.

Having taught a number of math classes, I find that the people taking the subject often fail to appreciate that learning math takes a considerable amount of effort outside of class. You should not expect to go to math lectures for three hours a week and have the subject poured into your brain in that short amount of time. You should expect that there will be times in a math class when you don't understand what the instructor is saying. It is your responsibility as a student to go over and reconstruct what the instructor did in class. Keep track of the things you didn't understand and then actually spend some time thinking about them! If you still can't figure them out on your own, then ask questions about them later.

Although we talk about car analogies here, in order to make things easy to understand to the, I find the same can benefit maths. By trying to understand what the skill set of your audience is and adapting the teaching helps. For example the 'sum' sign looks hard until (if amongst computer people) you explain its just a 'for each' with addition and the 'pi' sign is a 'for each' with multiplication. In certain cases it is equivalent to the linguistic differences between English and Chinese, in that they both can talk about the same thing, but the way in which they do so is not the same.

Math is taught in an abstract way because that is its power: we want mathematical facts to be as widely applicable as possible. If all the instructor teaches is car analogies, then that is all the students will learn, and will end up being lost when they need to apply the same facts to chemical processes, for example. As well, an instructor is usually not guaranteed that all his/her students are computer science majors, so tailoring examples to the audience is not always practical. There isn't time in class to come up with one analogy for the biology majors, and another analogy for the chemistry majors, and then make it really abstract for the math majors, etc. Again, it is the student's responsibility to grapple with the concepts and notation on their own, and if they still can't figure it out, then ask for help!

Comment Re:reasons why gmail isn't the best idea (Score 1) 439


Not if you have a legally binding contract with them in which Google agrees that they will NOT read your email. My institution is also considering switching to GMail, and I recently attended an FAQ presentation on the process. One of the points stressed is that the contract with Google will explicitly state that university data is the property of the university and/or its faculty/employees, and that Google can't touch it other than actually providing the contracted services.

Comment Re:Sorta related question. (Score 1) 563

Ticket draws are different than lotteries. With lotteries the number of possible winning numbers is fixed, so buying more tickets (with different numbers) increases the size of the numerator while the denomenator remains fixed, so playing two sets of numbers truly gives you twice the odds of winning. With ticket draws, every ticket you buy increases not only the tickets you hold but also increases the total number of tickets in the drum to be drawn from, so your increase in odds is not just a multiple.

For example, suppose there is a draw where 99 tickets have already been sold. You buy one ticket, so now there are 100 tickets sold and you have a 1/100 chance of winning. You buy another ticket (before anyone else does), so now you hold two tickets out of the 101 tickets sold, so your chances are now 2/101, which is *slightly* less than twice your chances with just the one ticket.
PC Games (Games)

Submission + - Man Dies After Marathon Gaming Session

loserMcloser writes: A Chinese man has died after spending three days in an internet cafe for an online gaming marathon session. He apparently fainted and died at the cafe from exhaustion. The moral of the story: don't forget to take a few catnaps during those multi-day all-nighters, coding or gaming or otherwise!

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made. -- Jean Giraudoux