an unceremonious end

Tuesday I will have my Biostatistics final, and that will signal the end of the first math class I’ve ever had in which I’ve felt like I “got it.” I’m fairly amazed at how much I’ve enjoyed myself thus far.

I did hand write an entry in my paper journal that I never got around to typing up. It was about my feelings after taking the exam. Essentially I felt like I’d done well, but probably made a truly silly error on a very simple question, but my angst and anxiety over the whole thing was ill-founded since I got a 99. It’s a little hard to argue your own stupidity with results like that.

I still get frustrated with myself over how insecure I feel about my performance on all this. There’s no reason to feel so ill at ease when I seem to be coming up with explainable answers, and I understand why the numbers are going in the direction they are. I even had a couple of moments in class where I asked questions that went into the why of what we were doing, or sought to explain why some of our assumptions were or weren’t working. Those aren’t the kinds of questions I’d expect out of someone who doesn’t get it, or someone who is hanging on and barely scraping by, but I still feel that way about myself.

Oh, that 1 point that I lost on the exam was over the silliest thing in the world, and I have been chuckling about it for 2 weeks.

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve flown through the information, but it has still been very engaging, and the professor has remained quick witted and thoughtful in his explanations. He emphasizes so much that he wants us to understand why things are going on, and he wants us to see the beauty of the math going on. He doesn’t want us to care about the grade so much. I know this grade is the balancing point for the crux of my admission into the grad school program i’ve been taking classes for, but I can’t help but agree with the professor. The skills I’m learning are so wonderfully applicable to the kinds of things I’ll be working through as soon as this fall when I work on Introduction to Sustainable Development.

I’m going away at the end of the month, and getting geared up for that has been a challenge to my concentration, along with getting tied up in the various levels of excitement going on around my house, but this class has still given me a swift kick in the pants to get engaged in and stay engaged in math. That is something I was never expecting to find this summer, and something I’m really happy to have stumbled across.

I had a TA last semester tell me I was crazy to take this class through the Harvard Summer School. Maybe it was crazy, or a little riskier because I’d have to come out with a higher grade than if I took the class elsewhere, but I think all things considered, and granted the professor that I have, I made the absolute best choice I could have for a great approach to math. Wonder if I can track down the same teacher for linear algebra or multivariate calculus at some point… while I trust myself to be able to get excited about the material I know that I’d still need a teacher with the same kind of approach I’ve had this summer in order to keep me engaged. Unlike the environmental stuff where the teacher can be boring to tears and I can muster the excitement, I need to soak it up from someone in terms of math because I don’t see the reason to be excited nearly as often.

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