Archive for May 12th, 2010

My dear fellow nerds…
I’m  getting tired of people devaluing the learning of mathematics.  I may be a math professor by trade, but I’m a mom as a primary occupation.  I STILL value my educational background.  My education has altered the way that I think.  I may not have used the Wronskian method in years in a practical application, but I am thrilled that I have a degree that requied me to exercise that skill set.
Why is it weird that when I was swimming with my son and he asked me how much do you have to push down on a 20″ beach ball to keep it submerged, I told him that the same amout of force to lift (4/3)pi (10 inches)^3 of water in the air?  Why is it weird that I refer to the graph of f(x) = (2/3)^x when I discuss in a lactation class why one ought to nurse a baby instead of pumping to bottle feed?  Why is it weird that when I discuss how I can save more money by buying smaller volumes and using a stack of coupons instead of buying in bulk, I describe the intersection of two linear functions?  Why is it weird that when I sewed a purse with a geometrical print, I used the theorem that the diagonals of rhombi are perendicular?  Why are these weird?  I’m a mom.  I also happen to have an education.   This is how it is relevant to my occupation.
Pick an occupation.  Why do people wear an underdeveloped mathematical skill set as a badge of honor?  I have heard so many times, “Oh I’m not good at math.  That’s why I’m a ________________.”  This also identifies math as a talent instead of a skill set.  Why is math the mysterious academic subject with this distinction?  That’s another issue entirely.
Honestly, I have NEVER needed to diagram a sentence outside of an academic setting, but I often use parallel sentence structure.  I have only needed to spell C-Z-E-C-H-O-S-L-O-V-A-K-I-A once (I guess this makes twice) in my adult life, but I still value my sixth grade spelling class.  I have not balanced a chemical equation (fun!) since I was fifteen, but I can discuss why I don’t want to feed my children high fructose corn syrup.  I have not calculated mass and velocity, but I can describe to my children how to aim the bowling ball to recover a spare from a split (and describe why they are not allowed to cross the line in terms of the coefficient of friction).  I have not recited the Bill of Rights since the eighth grade, but reference them often when discussing current events.  I am a different person because of my education.
My point is that the who-really-uses-this-stuff-we-learn-in-school? arguement is lame.  Of course, you’re not going to have to disect a frog at work today.  This doesn’t mean that academic endeavors are useless.    It’s not the individual activities that make a person educated; it is the essence of education that alters a person.  To the people who say that they don’t use the education that took so many years to aquire, it’s a shame that you have wasted your time.  For someone to get an education to build a resume, then disregaurd the fine tuning of the mind and drive for accpmlishment that accomanies that education, the resume is a ruse.

My dear fellow academians…

I’m getting tired of people devaluing the learning of mathematics.  I may be a math professor by trade, but I’m a mom as a primary occupation.  I STILL value my academic background.  My education has altered the way that I think.  I may not have used the Wronskian method in years in a practical application, but I am thrilled that I have a degree that required me to exercise that skill set.

Why is it weird that when I was swimming with my son and he asked me how much one must push down on a 20″ beach ball to keep it submerged, I told him the same amount of force to lift (4/3)pi (10 inches)^3 of water in the air?  Why is it weird that I refer to the graph of f(x) = (2/3)^x when I discuss in a lactation class why one ought to nurse a baby instead of pumping to bottle feed?  Why is it weird that when I discuss how I can save more money by buying smaller volumes and using a stack of coupons instead of buying in bulk, I describe the intersection of two linear functions?  Why is it weird that when I sewed a purse with a geometrical print, I used the theorem that the diagonals of rhombi are perpendicular?  Why are these weird?  I’m a mom.  I also happen to have an education.   This is how it is relevant to my occupation.

Pick an occupation.  Why do people wear an underdeveloped mathematical skill set as a badge of honor?  I have heard so many times, “Oh I’m not good at math.  That’s why I’m a ________________.”  This also identifies math as a talent instead of a skill set.  Why is math the mysterious academic subject with this distinction?  That’s another issue entirely.

Honestly, I have NEVER needed to diagram a sentence outside of an academic setting, but I often use parallel sentence structure.  I have only needed to spell C-Z-E-C-H-O-S-L-O-V-A-K-I-A once (I guess this makes twice) in my adult life, but I still value my sixth grade spelling class.  I have not balanced a chemical equation (fun!) since I was fifteen, but I can discuss why I don’t want to feed my children high fructose corn syrup.  I have not calculated mass and velocity, but I can describe to my children how to aim the bowling ball to recover a spare from a split (and describe why they are not allowed to cross the line in terms of the coefficient of friction).  I have not recited the Bill of Rights since the eighth grade, but reference them often when discussing current events.  I am a different person because of my education.

My point is that the who-really-uses-this-stuff-we-learn-in-school? argument is lame.  Of course, you’re not going to have to dissect a frog at work today.  This doesn’t mean that academic endeavors are useless.    It’s not the individual activities that make a person educated; it is the essence of education that alters a person.  To the people who say that they don’t use the education that took so many years to acquire, it’s a shame that you have wasted your time.  An education assumes the fine tuning of the mind and drive for accomplishment. Otherwise, it’s a waste of ink on a résumé.

After teaching my classes last night, I made a rare stop by Walgreens.  The cashier obviousl did not understand the purpose of coupons.  They had a buy one get one free sale and I had a buy one get one free coupon.  Used together should make both free.
So I had to explain the diffrence between a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon.  Then, the when we got to the BOGO issue, she said, “But you wouldn’t have to pay anything for it.  So you can’t use it.”  I said that yes I can.  The deal I’m making with the manufacturer is not contingent on the deal I’m making with the store.  She called a manager who called out to accept the coupon at face value before he made it to the front.  She STILL argued, “But she won’t have to pay anything for it!”  He quieted her by saying, “this one time.”
I am very proud of myself for not yelling at her, “THAT’S THE POINT OF COUPONS!  THE ‘NOT PAYING’ IS THE WHOLE REASON FOR ME DOING THIS!”  But I didn’t yell.
Even after the manager left, she grumbled, “but you’re getting stuff for free.”  Being mindful of the line behind me, I redused the earfull that I gave her to be completed by the end of the transaction.  I said, “I have no problem leaving the entire order of $16.88 (a record high for me) on the table and retrieving my coupons and going somewhere that has no problem granting me the deal.”  She snarked, “Yeah, well, he said, ‘this one time’.”  I relpied, “He ALWAYS says, ‘this one time’.  If he ever stops saying, ‘this one time’ then I’ll go somewhere else.”  With a righteorous indignnce, she said, “well, the store is losing money because of it.”  I calmly replied, “No it isn’t.  The manufacturer will reimburse the store.”  She nodded to affirm.  The transaction was complete.
Now, in a different media, I say FURTHERMORE, the manufactuerer GLADLY entices me with a coupon in hopes that I will become addicted to their product and the store GLADLY entices me with the sale to get me to spend $16.88 and use $10.34 in manufacturer coupons that they can redeem.  Why do some cashiers have a personal problem with me getting a good deal?
So, I ask cashiers everywhere, WHAT’S IT TO YOU?   Your store is making money, the maufacturers are getting their products into homes, and I’m taking care of my family.  My savings are not coming out of your paycheck.  You’re getting paid by the hour, not by commission.

After teaching my classes last night, I made a rare stop by Walgreens.  The cashier obviously did not understand the purpose of coupons.  They had a buy one get one free sale and I had a buy one get one free coupon.  Used together should make both items free.

I had to explain the difference between a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon.  Then, when we got to the BOGO issue, she said, “But you wouldn’t have to pay anything for it.  So you can’t use this coupon.”  I said that yes I can.  The deal I’m making with the manufacturer is not contingent on the deal I’m making with the store.  She called a manager who called out to accept the coupon at face value before he made it to the front.  She STILL argued, “But she won’t have to pay anything for it!”  He quieted her by saying, “this one time.”

I am very proud of myself for not yelling at her, “THAT’S THE POINT OF COUPONS!  THE ‘NOT PAYING’ IS THE WHOLE REASON FOR DOING THIS!”  But I didn’t yell.

Even after the manager left, she grumbled, “but you’re getting stuff for free.”  Being mindful of the line behind me, I reduced the earfull that I gave her to be completed by the end of the transaction.  I said, “I have no problem leaving the entire order of $16.88 (a record high for me) on the table and retrieving my coupons and going somewhere that has no problem granting me the deal.”  She snarked, “Yeah, well, he said, ‘this one time’.”  I relpied, “He ALWAYS says, ‘this one time’.  If he ever stops saying, ‘this one time’ then I’ll go somewhere else.”  With a righteous  indignation, she said, “well, the store is losing money because of it.”  I calmly replied, “No it isn’t.  The manufacturer will reimburse the store.”  She nodded to affirm.  The transaction was complete.

Now, in a different media, I say FURTHERMORE, the manufacturer GLADLY entices me with a coupon in hopes that I will become addicted to their product and the store GLADLY entices me with the sale to get me to spend $16.88 and use $10.34 in manufacturer coupons that they can redeem.  Why do some cashiers have a personal problem with me getting a good deal?

So, I ask cashiers everywhere, WHAT’S IT TO YOU?   Your store is making money, the manufacturers are getting their products into homes, and I’m taking care of my family.  My savings are not coming out of your paycheck.  You’re getting paid by the hour, not by commission.