Are You Ready For Some Football?

My first ever college football tickets. Go Dawgs!

Many of us, myself included, have it pretty easy. And so it’s been interesting to see what people’s “Corona/quarantine” breaking-points have been. For some, who I believe are VERY pampered, it came early: “I don’t know when I’m going to be able to travel internationally again! I had so many countries I wanted to visit this year.” Cry me a river.

For others, it was “All my favorite restaurants are closed!” to which I thought, “Whoa! You have way too much expendable income” slash “Learn to boil water.”

For others still (and now, we’re moving to friends outside academia), it was “The NBA playoffs were postponed.” [Though they’re on again as of the writing of this post, and though players make millions a year…having been to Disney World relatively recently thanks to math competitions, I can tell you it’d take at LEAST $500K to convince me to isolate myself indefinitely in ‘the Magic Kingdom.’]

I started my quarantine/isolation on March 9. It took almost six months for me to have a similar #firstworld breaking point.

My breaking point is college football, or lack thereof.

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Posted in attracting math majors, conferences, networking, social aspects of math life, Social situations with students, work-life balance | Leave a comment

Video Killed the Radio Star

My new stylish shield.

It’s almost time to return to fall classes, such as they are. I feel very lucky to be where I am: my institution is not forcing us to teach in person if we do not want to. The students also are under much more control than at other universities; they all are undergoing a mandatory 14-day supervised quarantine after a tiered and staged arrival, and they all will be issued masks which they literally will be ordered to wear. I also am very lucky to have a decent personal supply of Clorox wipes, gloves, masks, and even a face shield.

Having said that, I made a very difficult decision not to teach in-person. Continue reading

Posted in classroom design, classroom management, Creativity, online homework systems, teaching, technology, technology for teaching | 1 Comment

A Case for Pre-College Outreach

The future Sheldon Coopers of America. Personal photo from 2014.

Historically, mathematicians never dealt with any students who were not legal adults. While now there has been an increase of math circles and (summer) math camps and math competitions (epsilon is greater than zero…), mathematicians working with and for those entities is NOT acknowledged in a meaningful way. Those activities, despite the significant amount of time they can take, are grouped under “service”: a miscellaneous category for anything that isn’t obviously teaching—specifically at your one and current employer—or research. These activities aren’t even preferred forms of service, deemed inferior to service to the department or the university.

You get more credit toward tenure volunteering to serve on a 10-person curriculum committee that spends 2 years identifying five new calculus textbooks than you do volunteering to spend two years worth of Saturdays leading middle-schoolers through non-traditional math activities.

We can do so much better.

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Posted in attracting math majors, bias, math circles, mentoring, minorities in mathematics, outreach, tenure, women in math | Leave a comment