Friday, August 10, 2007

"Intentional Errors"

A found a \sout{nice} funny (I think) post on Intentional Errors by Flip Tomato, an American Physics student in England.

It made me laugh for a numerous reasons. Lecturers will probably be pulling their hairs out upon reading my post, but I'm a beany chicken who is not 'confident' enough to speak up in lectures. I don't know why - is it the fear of appearing dumb, if in fact I've actually said something foolishly ridiculous? Or is it because I can feel the eyes of everyone upon me if I do say something.

I remember a sets, numbers and function lecture on permutations last year. Now I could compute permutations but that was about it. So during this lecture, Fizz and myself were 'whispering loudly' where two was sent to and so on. We were able to whisper loudly since we were sat near the front, and that due to me as well! However, then the lecturer had turned around and asked, 'WHY?'. Yes, it felt like he had shouted this to us. I'd frozen and looked towards Fizz to answer. Fizz had looked behind me, in case the lecturer had asked someone behind us. I'd then pointed at us and gestured whether he meant us, and he made it clear that he had meant us. He waited patiently as I waited for my tongue to untie itself. In the end I'd spluttered that pi sent one to three and then delta sent it to two. (No, I don't remember that - just making it up!) After this I didn't say another 'loud whisper' during the lecture, but meekly whispered to myself.

Why, I don't know! On an another occasion, with the same lecturer, we were doing Euler's totient function. (is that what it's called?) The previous lecture we'd worked out that \phi(100)=40. I had remembered this since I hadn't followed something in the proof during the previous lecture, and had spoken to the lecturer about it. So when asked what \phi(100) was, I had said 40 but this time loud enough to be heard, but not loud enough to be spotted! This lecture was one that I'd particularly enjoyed since I also remember the calculus lecture on that day as well. We were using Euler's Theorem (and Fermat's Little Theorem) to work out things like 4^100 mod 7 etc. The lecturer had made a question up (I think) and asked something along the lines that we might need to use our calculators. I didn't have a calculator on me, and to Milo I had gestured that this was because I had one in my head! The lecturer had spotted this, and so it was me who had to say what 32^2 etc were (and that using my head). How did I manage it eh, since we all know that my brain has no such calculator!! Milo to the rescue it was, who did have a calculator, which found itself on my lap. :D

That's enough of my trip down that memory lane, but even during that lecture when I had said something I'd whispered it 'loudly'. The lecturer could barely hear me and kept on saying, 'I hear a quiet 3 over here' and when he did know it was me saying the answers, I had to say them three times to be heard. Once again, it was really nerve wrecking. * (BTW - the calculator was spotted and found guilty on three charges. Its always sad when a good calculator turns bad... and me, well I was found not guilty of course! I hadn't put the calculator on my lap. :D)

The stupid thing is that I never learn to keep my mouth shut! However, saying what number goes in a certain place is not too difficult a thing. It is when asked why that I freeze. I also find that if I don't understand something that has been written, I'm unable to say so during the lecture. This is also true if I do spot something that looks 'dodgy' on the board. The 'dodgy' things (i.e wrong signs etc) I mention to Fizz and if someone else hasn't already pointed it out, Fizz does. I mean someone eventually does point it out, so it doesn't have to be me right? Most times it is me who is wrong, and after my personal battle with what I've written, I put a star next to it and try to speak to the lecturer at the end about it. (I tend to struggle over a trivial point at times - one being that c(u.v) doesn't equal cu.cv, so it makes sense to keep quiet.)

In my second semester, I found myself in the same position in Linear Algebra lectures. In the last lecture I had \sout{said} whispered the words, 'eigenvalues' and at the end of the lecture, a girl who was sat in front of me had turned around and said, 'I can't believe that it was you who said that! I'd never thought that day would come...'. :D Hehe, I've spoken to her on a few occasions and well she knows my bouncy self you see. It's just that there are about 300 people present! I'd laughed with her and joked that was I expected to shout?

The thing is that this problem only exists in lectures, and not in my supervisions. In the beginning I wasn't as vocal in my supervisions and was the way I'm like in lectures (loudly whispering what I think is the answer). However, after I became familiar with my class mates I became OK. If I didn't understand something I did mention it and did ask questions. (What I didn't do was that if it was explained and I still didn't understand it, I sometimes used to play along and hope that it did eventually click!) The way I learn maths is rather weird. I hope to talk about that in another post, but naturally you can't expect anything I do to be normal! I think I get intimidated in lectures by the people I don't know. I need to sort this mental problem out, since although I can survive, the problem will grow. The thing with my 'confidence' is that its simply weird as well. :D (Just like everything else related to me). If I knew everyone then I don't think I'd have this problem, but the chances of that happening are zero.

I'm not as bad as I make out to be, but there is something else that sounds embarrassing. (I'll try to splutter it out though). Since I've discovered the beauty of maths (when I found the right motivation), I have somewhat become obsessed by it. For some reason I've tried to hide this 'obsession' from the 'real world' and my outlet for it has been this blog. I'm no genius and I think that I enjoy the fact that I have to work hard in maths to get somewhere. It's the same as the Bob the Builder work that I enjoy doing. I like it because you start with a wall, and then you have no wall (sometimes). Because of this I do spend too much time (according to many people) doing maths, sometimes getting no where. I guess we're all on different terms with maths, and during the year my ambitions were sky high.

I don't really know what I'm getting at, but I think because I've been trying my hardest to 'not' let on that I love studying maths, and that I enjoy studying it, I become tongue tied. I know its stupid, but I've never really spoken to anyone who sees what I see in maths. We all complain about exams, homeworks and I sometimes join in myself but that is all everyone seems to be doing. I know we can't always talk about maths, but where is that positivity? Apart from the work shop module and talking to the Tweenies or lecturers (and someone called Bilbo) about maths, I haven't really ... talked much. That is why I probably don't want to 'let on' that I'm obsessed with maths. I know I'm from another planet, which is probably one reason for this, but I reckon I should stop making excuses now!

It's not everyday though, that I find the need to speak, and I don't think I'll ever say more than one number or word if I have to. I think another reason for this is that I normally talk fast, and when I'm nervous, there's no stopping me! (That's probably why I have to repeat everything on more than one occasion). With all this is mind, if the lecturer from that other post was to deliberately make a mistake (which I surprisingly spotted!), and there was a small group of us, I would probably just ask, 'Is that meant to be whatever you've written'. (That's what we used to say in our supervision class if the need arose. :D)

Sorry about this lecturers, (who might ever lecture me), but I only do 'loud whispering'. If you ask any questions and notice someones head disappear, it wasn't me! (and if I do have any problems, I'll most likely, much to your annoyance, try to speak to you at the end!) I know it's stupid of me to stay quiet if I do notice something amiss, but that's why I always tell Fizz who does speak up. :) Problem solved eh? Lecturers do hate it as well, since once after I'd gone home and read my notes, I'd spotted something that didn't make sense. So at the end of the next lecture I had asked the lecturer about it, and he was annoyed since during the actual lecture one student had spotted the mistake(?) but not pointed it out because of being scared. That sounds awfully familiar. :o I wonder how things are going to be like in the second year.... (I think that the size of the class is going to be smaller then so it might not be as bad).

So what would you do - sit quietly and approach the lecturer at the end, or say something if you spotted a mistake? Or if you had a Fizz next to you, would you tell Fizz to speak up?

*During that Calculus lecture I think we'd been talking about Green's theorem. I was once again spotted nodding my head when the lecture said something about wanting recipes. :o

1 comment:

beans said...

This one seems to have become considerably long!