I promised, faithful few, that I would describe my classes a bit, whether you want it or not. Every semester I try to do a little rundown on current scholarly pursuits, and this is this semester’s report. There are 3 sessions, or semesters, during summer; each session is a 16 week class squeezed down into 5 weeks. The good news first: 5 weeks gives me the same credit as a corresponding 16 week course during spring or fall. The bad news is that every day of class is similar to a week of class, and every day of homework is similar to a normal week of homework. At least that’s what they say. I’ve found the homework load about the same—but it seems I have to take a greater effort to actually learn the material, and not just pass the class.
I’m not ashamed about the classes I’m taking now. After all, I came here to learn Math and English, particularly Statistics and Literature Survey, which happens to be precisely the two classes that I am taking at the moment. I have a super-cool professor in Stats class—one who is not afraid to tell lame jokes often and make huge deviations from course content. (Today we spent 15 minutes analyzing which states of the US to sell to pay off national debt. The conclusion was to swoop Canada’s border south and lose Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan while keeping the west coast, sell Alaska to Canada, and make Florida into an island for the Chinese.) This tells me he is normal guy. For a Math class, this is very abnormal as the Math teachers are sometimes the people who teach Math –not because they want to, but as a last resort to stay off of the streets. Overall I’ve been very impressed with NAU’s professors; they have a lot of freedom to teach the course the way they want to, and most use this liberty to make the course interesting, fun, and useful. They really do give outstanding lectures. Maybe that’s a benefit of a liberal school.
Quantitative Reasoning is the formal name for the Math class. I was so excited about the class that I bought the textbook ($114) a month in advance and worked most of the way through it. Sorry, folks, maybe this explains why I have little social life?? It’s not full-on statistics (that comes next semester) but kind of an introduction and merging of probability, statistics, linear programming, modeling, and management science. I’ve finally left algebra behind, thankfully. What we do in this class is take banks of raw numbers and find relationships among them. It sounds pretty basic, but there are infinite ways to look at numbers. There are complex formulas for everything from managing the Snow Owl population to charting a route for the mailman. My PR (personal record) for longest formula happened this morning: half a notebook page filled with a single formula.
Assignments in Literature Survey are to read 3 books and approximately 40 short stories in the 5 week class duration. Each of these works will need to be ‘essayed’ on, so I have many, many essays coming up in the near future. I wrote 4 short ones yesterday, and will nibble on the pile some more this afternoon. The readings are written by ethnic writers; these happen to be Native Americans (hey, it’s Flagstaff), Black Americans, Asian Americans, and Latino Americans. I enjoy reading Black literature, but have read little from these other groups. ‘Twill be interesting.