Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What do you want?

This post title is the third in the series of references I've been leaving all week. I think that I'll stop at the end of this week, partially because lines 6 and 7 are very hard to fashion posts around.

I have a student attending class today from my partner's department who I can't seem to discourage from taking my class. I should point out that my partner and I are in very different fields. We are in departments that don't really have reason to talk to each other.

He claims that there are a lot of students from his department taking my class. Whether or not that's true, it is irrelevant as to why he wants to take my class. His purported reason is that he has to take class A for his degree. He has sat in class A, and finds it too abstract. I suggested to him that he take class X, the prerequisite for my class, and something that can be a plausible prerequisite for class A. He claims that he has had a course by the name of X in the university he has transferred here from. I know the syllabus of class X. I think there is a problem here in the naming scheme. I point out to him that class X covers the necessary material at the appropriate level of abstractness, unlike the class he took, which was more concrete.

He won't budge. My class it is. He has heard that my class teaches abstract thinking. But not just the quarter that I am teaching, which, for reasons I cannot fathom, I know that some people in this student's major choose to take. He wants to take the entire year. He doesn't want to audit, he wants to register. This will ask him to master skills that he has no hope of ever needing, unless he drastically changes direction.

I'm left asking, really sir, what is it that you want out of this year? But, at the end of the day, I believe the student knows better than me what he/she needs, and if not, well, its his/her funeral. I'm wondering how long I'll see this student.


  1. No one here is exactly what he appears... (But that doesn't mean that I know what I'm talking about.)

  2. Mathgirl, you are correct again. These are lines from the monologue at the beginning of season 4 of the science fiction series Babylon 5.

    For the rest of you, If you haven't seen it, and would like to watch a series that flows like a novel, I recommend it. The first couple seasons are available on Hulu.