kitchen table math, the sequel: Math 55

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Math 55

source: Harvard Mathematics Department 21, 23, 25, or 55?

Burden of Proof


Jo in OKC said...

Yes, really. It's probably the most famous math class in the US among math-y kids.

Allison said...

which part were you reallying? that it's taught by a prominent mathematician?

math 55 is "the" class that math majors at harvard take, and harvard is still the number 1 school for the mathematically precocious who intend to be mathematicians. This class is for kids who went math camps and did number theory as young teens, kids who get awards on the Putnam, etc. Those who stay with it and don't drop out almost always stay in math and go on to get math phds from the top schools.

But I'd be shocked if there were any math courses in the major not taught by faculty at Harvard, and basically nearly everyone there is either well established--there aren't a lot of young faculty there at any given time.

Anonymous said...

Very late to this, but I think she was commenting on the "whose teaching ability can vary from year to year."
It's unusual for a college to admit in print that you might get stuck with a bad teacher.

Catherine Johnson said...

Yes to Anonymous: I am "reallying" the bit about prominent members of the faculty whose teaching ability varies.

Catherine Johnson said...

This write-up alone, the fact that it appears on a harvard website, should be enough to send Harvard admits to Princeton and Yale.

Or SUNY Buffalo, for that matter.

Catherine Johnson said...

If you're a big enough brainiac to teach Math 55 in the first place, you're a big enough brainiac to improve your teaching.

Allison said...

That's the problem: prestige counts more than teaching in math, and students have been brainwashed to think the same way.

It took me YEARS to realize that the teachers whose teaching style meant sitting in lecture thinking "WOW, this" is amazing, I get it" which faded 90 seconds after leaving the room, and left you unable to work a single problem on the problem set, were not great teachers, not good teachers, but actually poor teachers. YEARS. For years I thought they were the best teachers.

Worse, students of bad teachers become bad teachers, naturally. They've never seen anything else, and they don't see what the problem is with bad teaching.