Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Calcumility?

As I walk into the classroom, the first pang of fear hits me. What if this isn't my class? I head to the front row, eyes fixed to the floor, avoiding any contact with the other men and women in the room. The seats are all taken. The front row is never full on the first day of class...

I sit in the middle of the room.

Eventually, fear overtakes my ego and I whisper to the boy next to me, "hey...is this Math 95?"

He nods yes and returns to his novel...something smart and wordy. I notice that he's already bought the textbook. He's also got out a pencil and paper. He's ready for class.

The professor is an older man and he looks like a cross between a cowboy and a sage. His face is wise and mysteriously cloaked behind a heavy, dark beard. His Lee jeans and brown leather belt fit loosely over his lower half. He looks at his watch...at the clock...at the class...back at his watch.

I understand what he says for the first few minutes of class. I'm familiar with the syllabus; I've already printed myself a copy. I can navigate the ins and outs of introductions and expectations like a champ. I'm a good student.

When the lesson starts, I lose any shred confidence. All I hear is "the delta delta epsilon in delta epsilon delta. Delta delta delta epsilon." What the hell is delta? What the hell is epsilon? What if this is how I feel all semester?

3 comments:

Julia said...

I can't for the life of me remember what epsilon is all about, but delta is definitely a differential. Probably a partial differential? In which case, partial differentials were fine when we did them in high school, but there comes a time when they go BAD... You may have reached this point!

Amanda said...

In this case, they're both used in the definition of limits. Either way, I'm just not used to that definition. I understand the concepts...I'm comfortable with limits in that sense. I just don't know how to translate this new language that they're being defined in. It sounds like gibberish to me...

:) Oh well...there's gonna be a time when I run into something I just can't wrap my brain around.

Brian said...

I remember a similar experience where a professor held up a textbook, Calculus for Biology, and I thought it was a joke (I nearly laughed out loud). Turns out I was wrong and I thought my head was going to melt by the time the first class was over. I dropped it and signed up for Topics in African Prehistory instead.