Saturday, April 25, 2009
Greg and I were in a used bookstore last week and overheard the following conversation:
Customer: How much is this book?
Proprietor: All books are half priced.
Customer: So how much is this book?
Proprietor: All books are half of the original price.
Customer (looking at the book): The original price on this book is $9.99. How much would this book be?
Proprietor: Well, the price of the book would be half of $10.
Customer: So how much would that be?
Proprietor (more than a little curtly): You take $10 and divide by two, so $5.
I wonder how often the proprietor has that conversation. I do appreciate he tried to make it a teaching moment, with the whole "divide by two" instruction. That reminds me of a conversation a colleague had with a student this week, which went something like:
Student: How big is Mars?
Professor: It's about half the diameter of the Earth.
Student: What do you mean?
Professor: Mars is about half of the diameter of the Earth.
Student: I don't understand you.
Professor: You take the Earth's diameter and you multiply it by 0.5.
Student: Why didn't you just say so?
Sunday, April 19, 2009
I know things are rough financially on our students right now. I appreciate that you take their finances into account when helping them schedule their classes. However, would you please refrain from telling students to not consider entire MAJORS because it would cost extra time and money? Telling a student that he/she should not be a science major because they'd have to spend an extra year catching up on math and it would cost them some extra money (and at a California community college, we're talking an extra $60 in fees for the math classes in question) is fiscally irresponsible for that student in the long run. It's like punishing the student for going to a crappy high school or having bad counselors in their past. I do sympathize with your intent and acknowledgment of the poor economy, but dampening the goals of the students with deficient backgrounds who want to go into high-tech/high-wage-potential majors does a disservice for all of us in the future.
Thank you for your time,
Science Professor (who is seeing dwindling numbers of science majors)