Thursday, April 26, 2012

Overheard in the Math Lab

In addition to teaching at the college, I also tutor at our Math Lab.  This job is both rewarding and frustrating.  Some days I leave very proud of my work; other days I leave very disappointed by my lack of grace and patience.  But one thing that's almost always a given:  I will hear or see something interesting.

Below are some of the things I've heard or seen in the Math Lab recently.  Let me be clear, my intention is not to make fun of any student.  Think of this as a "Kids Say the Darndest Things:  College Edition."
Student:  If physics makes sense to you, then chemistry won't. Just like if you like geometry, you can't do algebra.

Apparently liking geometry and doing algebra are now mutually exclusive.
Student coming up to the tutor table:  So, are you good at math?
A problem a student worked:
I just love the third line.

Student to a man with his PhD in mathematics:  Are you a math tutor?
Professor:  I try to be.
Me:  What's zero minus zero?
Student:  2.
(Me:  frantically trying to figure out how to salvage that answer)
And how does one plot a y-intercept at (-infinity, infinity)?

Me:  What does x^2 divided by x simplify to?
Calculus student:  One-half!
Me:  Maybe let's try that again.
Some of my favorite repeats:

"So, can you show me an easier way to do that?"

"Can you just write it and I watch?"

"I've only missed like one week of classes..."


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