Friday, August 18, 2006

I walked up the lane of the street they call Straight,

Cursing myself 'cause I got there too late.

Well, I'm done with teaching for the summer. Since the professors like to enjoy their breaks, they have graduate students teaching the math classes for Berkeley Summer Sessions. Mine was Math 16A, Calculus for Non-Scientists.

As I said before, teaching is hard. Rather, teaching is great, but lesson planning is arduous and dangerous. In retrospect, I should have altered my focus for the course from understanding math to applying math. Next time I teach 16A, more word problems and 'cheat sheets' and extrinsic motivation, fewer 'come on! isn't this awesome?' moments.

My students seem to think I did all right, notwithstanding my hellish exams (to my chagrin, one student dropped immediately after the midterm, presumably because she thought she'd failed it; she earned a B on the test). More importantly, they definitely learned a great deal in a few short weeks. But there's a long way for me to go as a teacher.

Also, I figured out my taste in music: Pretentious! First, bands who mess with rhythmic/tonal weirdness are more interesting to my ear than bands whose melodic lines I can memorize quickly. If your song is about your life, or some relationship, or anything particular and common, your lyrics/arrangement/guitar solo has to be pretty good to catch my ear. But if your song is about the dehumanizing effects of technology, or time travel in the shadow of Vesuvius, or the challenge of facing God in a suffering world, or if your song sounds like it could be symbolic of something greater, you might have me hooked. It takes me a while to establish the nakedness of a particular emperor in folk/rock music.

So, um, it might be unwise to trust my taste in music. Nevertheless, I've been listening to a few albums lately that make my weird heart go pitter-pat: Blueberry Boat by The Fiery Furnaces, The Soft Bulletin by The Flaming Lips, Illinois by Sufjan Stevens, and Castaways and Cutouts by The Decemberists (all of which account for my nonstandard post titles of late).


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