The darndest things

A few days ago, I was grading a Calculus quiz and came across the following statement: “the function is discontinuous at x=3 because there is an asmatope (sic)”. I thought it was hilarious, and I still marked it as correct. The point is, from looking at a graph the student was able to identify where the function was discontinuous and why, they just couldn’t remember the exact word for it. After some thought, I realized how many of the names we give mathematical objects are unlinked from their meaning when you first start learning them (and I mean, asmatope is pretty darn close to asymptote, right?). ¬†This has made me be more intentional and direct about why things are named the way they are. Sometimes, though, the name comes from ancient Greek, Latin, is a German word, and it might be harder for the students to associate with a particular meaning. In the end, you learn these things, but some¬†amusement is to be had (sometimes by all of us in the classroom). Sometimes, they come up with clever ways of using these names, which is also quite amusing. Here are some of my favorites.

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Posted in funny things students say | 6 Comments

The tenure adventure continues

A couple of weeks ago, I submitted all my materials for my tenure application. Now comes the time where I obsess about what I could have done differently, what people are going to think about this or that, and whether I should have included/excluded that classroom activity, talk, poster session, etc. The list of things I can worry about goes on and on, but the truth is there is nothing I can do about this now. The documents have been submitted, and very soon my colleagues are going to start deciding whether to keep me or not. What I wanted to do with this post, given that I cannot do anything for myself at this point, was to “pay it forward” by telling anyone who might be going through this in the near future some of the lessons I have learned. Some of these seem really obvious, but they are easy to forget when you are stressed out.

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Posted in tenure | 1 Comment

Miss Representation*

A few weeks ago, I attended the AMS Central Fall Sectional Meeting in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. It was my first time co-organizing a Special Session (so yes, I can now cross that off my bucket list). Initially, we invited a pretty diverse group of people, although a few had to cancel in the last minute. In the end, we had seven speakers, 5 of which were female (two of our male speakers dropped out, it would have been more even if they hadn’t). My co-organizer, Ursula Whitcher (now a recurring guest star in this blog), mentioned this as a fun fact to Georgia Benkart, associate secretary of the Central section. What she had to say surprised us very much.

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Posted in conferences, minorities in mathematics, organizing a special session, women in math | 3 Comments