You know, I’d thought, “Just keep this blog positive! No need to complain about anything that may arise. There’s so much GOOD about this experience”, blah, blah. Anyway, something happened today that wasn’t positive, but this blog is an “account”, really; a diary of the events (and you guys love blood, amirite??)
My experience so far with the professors and TA’s has been just incredible. I’m in awe of the time committed and the concern-with-you-learning-the-information to which they dedicate themselves. I would be nowhere near where I am today without their help.
Today, I had a run-in with one of the math TA’s during Discussion. He’s been generally sour guy, banging his chalk against the blackboard to jot down formulas quicker than you can take notes and giving clipped answers whenever a question is asked. OK, I thought, so what? He’s got a depressing personality; I’m still going to ask questions as frequently as I usually do and just ignore his attitude. So today I asked a question about factoring a segment of an exercise he’d done on the board and he said,
“Well, in grammar school we all learned that you have to factor to get x to zero.”
I made some noise in my throat like a laugh and he went on to bang another problem on the blackboard.
I couldn’t believe he’d just shamed me about asking a question. I’ve never encountered that before at UCLA (or in HS, for that matter, except from my Alg. 2 teacher who kept saying, “You should already know that” every time a student asked a question.) I just think that’s the worst thing you could do as a teacher. I mean, you can even not know what you’re talking about and still that would be better as a teacher than ever shaming a student for asking a question.
Anyway, I started to tear up in Discussion. Jesus. Had to tell myself that there was no fucking way I was going to cry in class and pulled myself together. Discussion ended and I walked out, hoping he’d notice my disapproval. I sat outside with a classmate from another class for a minute and then walked back into the Discussion classroom. He was in there alone now, erasing the board.
“I just wanted to tell you that you were a total dick before.” He looked surprised. “When you implied that what I was asking should have been learned in grammar school?” I continued.
“That not what I meant.”
I looked at him.
“I just meant”, he continued, “That sometimes we have to be reminded of past math stuff.”
“I hardly think anyone in grammar school is learning calculus.” (Yes, yes, for the most part. Simmer down.)
“We’ll the factoring…” He trailed off.
“I don’t think anyone is factoring calculus equations in grammar school, either.” I countered. “You’re going to find that people are not going to ask questions in your class at all down the line because no one is going to want to feel like you made me feel in class today.”
Then I walked out. Blah, blah, blah. Now I’ve had too many people I respect tell me I should let the department know. I’d thought I was just being “sensitive”, but apparently I’m “letting them know” tomorrow that there’s a dick-on-the-loose .
(I pass no judgement on the grammar school class pictured above. They may well be learning calculus. If they are, I’m impressed and I hope they carry on the good work.)