Thursday, 15 December 2011

Welcome to Math Class

Since its the end of the semester, I was told by someone in my math group thought it would be a great idea to recount the adventures of my first college math class. Since it was called Intro to Finite Math, I was not expecting to be challenged greatly over the course of the next few months, but my expectations were turned upside down. So here's a typical day at Math Class. 

I sit down in my desk in the third row from the back. No one is in it, which I guess is typical because there's only 3 people in that row, but it's 1 1/2 minutes until class starts. Oh, here comes Mikayla. Yay, I won't be alone. Except she looks like she might fall asleep walking up to her seat. What about the other person in my row, you ask? I have no idea what her name is, and half the time she sits a row down with her math group. In fact, my row is where the people who don't have a place to sit go. 

Oh, class is about to begin. Tony has his hands folded and is looking around the room, waiting for people to be quite. He's very patient, which probably comes from the 60 years he's been teaching, or his numerous grandkids (which we all know by name now). Most people get the idea and stop talking with their neighbor. But of course, there are the 5 people, and always the 5 loudest people, who are completely oblivious to Tony's signal. Ok, it's kinda subtle, but STILL. Anyways, some students decide to kindly let these people know that class is about to start by shushing as loud as they possibly can. Thanks. That was really helpful. However, it works. Then (or someone he asked before) prays to begin the class. 

Here we go. 

Ok, everyone is quiet and listening intently. Oh hey, Tony has something written on the chalkboard today to keep our attention. It's some mathematical formulas and examples. And he explains them. Fairly well. There's some stuff I don't quite get, but I blame that on the inconsistencies between the Alberta and Saskatchewan ciriculum. Most of it makes sense and refreshes my grade ten memories of math. Ya, it's fairly basic stuff, but remember, I haven't done math in 3 years. I need refreshment. 

Tony is doing one of the examples and asks the class what the answer is. Believe it or not, no one answers. This is part because it's still kinda early in the morning (and some people have been up since seven), but another part is because Tony's pretty much deaf. You have to yell the answer from the back row, and if he doesn't hear you, you have to say it again. It gets kinda embarrassng when you yell the answer 5 times and it ends up being wrong. So i stopped speaking up in class. Wait, does this mean Dayton actually used to speak up in class? Max three times. It didn't take long for me to go back to old habits. But then Tony makes a joke that he doesn't know what he did to scare the class already, and we all laugh a little. Then someone answers. THANK YOU. 

However, it wasn't soon enough. Along with old guy ears and an old guy back, Tony has an old guy mind. He loves telling stories of his family. That last joke reminded Tony of a story of his kids, or grandkids, or great grandkids, or whatever. I can't keep track of all of them. But the story is good. Then he bugs one of the front row kids (usually Mark. He's a go-with-the-flow kinda guy) and we all laugh. Tony makes sure to let him know that he was just bugging though. He even once picked on me in class (and I thought I was in the safe zone) about something. After class as I walked out, he let me know he was just bugging on me and wasn't picking on me. I laughed and said it was fine. Obviously he has never met Brian Gobbett. 

Well, at least we got in a good 25 minutes before Tony got off on his stories. And though I enjoy them, his explanations of math usually deteriorate rapidly after the first one. He usually tells around 3-4 stories a class. Maybe that's why he has us work in small groups at the end of class. Anyways, I now don't quite understand what's being talked about and it's not because I fell asleep. I don't think I ever dozed off in this class. Other classes...well, that's another story. For a much later time. But Tony keeps going and people start to lose interest. I start doodling. I look up for a second to see that half the other people in my vision have little swirlies on their pages. Awesome. That means my Math Man is better than all of them. Mikayla looks over at my drawing of a superhero and I have to give the explanation of how he was created. She then realizes its a superhero and not a man with a mustache and M shaped hair. Freshmen...sheesh.  

With about 20 minutes left in class, he breaks us off into small groups. These are 4-5 people we are paired with all semester to work on projects and other assignments, as well to help each other out. What's so good about math groups? Well, Kevin is an accounting tutorial leader. He's pretty much a math machine. But, alas, he hates teaching it outside of tutorial. Thanks, KO. Then the buck is passed to me because I still have retained much of what I learned in high school (thanks, Mrs. Owen Brown).  So I start working on the stuff Tony said to do. Then we get talking. Really, the math group time at the end of class is a great excuse to not do work, but to make us look good, I do a little bit, just in case Tony makes it up the stairs to check on us. Which he usually doesn't (old man back, remember? Oh, also old man knees, and legs, and feet..). Then Mikayla says I should write a blog about Math class. Hmm...

Then Tony says class is done. It's a 50/50 chance that I'm content with the stuff I learned today or hate life because I don't understand a darn thing. Tony always offers a friendly smile, though, which usually helps the mood. However, this class has made me realize that a good teacher makes all the difference. My high school math teacher was the greatest. You can't argue against that. I won't let you. Tony was a good professor, but many people struggled with basic concepts that I had learned in high school, then had to explain to them, which wasn't made easy because Tony had left me partially confused as well. His most repeated phrase was "I'm not teaching math, I'm teaching you how to teach little children." So I guess he did his job. We had to teach each other a LOT. 

So thanks, Tony. You made math entertaining. 

2 comments:

  1. "Obviously he has never met Brian Gobbett."
    Ha, one of Briercrest's jewels.

    ReplyDelete