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I had an utterly flattening experience in freshman college "Calculus for Scientists & Engineers" or whatever it was. I struggled with pure math, but excelled in physics courses using that same math (I get it when I can play with it, but not when I just have to think about it, I guess?). Anyway, I get to that first calc class and the professor is a dude who hadn't taught below graduate-level math for a long time, but got stuck doing intro calc due to staff needs. He was an older dude who would come in exactly on time, never looking up at the huge classroom & sat his briefcase down, turning around to immediately start scrawling on the chalkboards and muttering fantastic incantations. I remember being completely blown away and confused as I wrote down everything he wrote and tried to keep up, until he would then turn around briefly and say "and therefore, obviously..." and turned back around to continue muttering & scrawling. "Obviously" what??!?? Most of the class muttered and looked around uneasily to see if they were the only ones totally baffled. Well, I was one of the totally baffled and unfortunately, I think it was possibly that singular experience that veered me away from engineering as my childhood-long ambition and toward what ended up still being very rewarding: music. Weird, I suppose. Now, I know tons of science things, programming & such, but I'm all self-taught. I really wish I had found a way to make it through those early calculus years to see where that life could have lead. (I'm also from back when "pre-calculus" was only barely showing up in high schools. I had geometry, trig. & algebra, but no calculus before college... ugh. That was brutal!) Anyway... why am I typing all this here?? Thanks for sharing again, Wil. Wonderful, as always. :) Paul
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Dec 1, 2009