DID YOU KNOW? If you drink one can of soda every day for six months, you will gain fifteen pounds more than you would have gained not drinking that soda.
Thanks to Shilpa for telling me that dubious bit of information that she found in a women’s fitness magazine at the Z-Center while working out.
So if you’ve been listening for these past few blog entries, you know that I have 6.003: Signals and Systems on Junior/Senior P/D/F, a well-known but surprisingly little-used option that you can exercise twice during your last two years at MIT. I also have a 6.003 p-set due tomorrow, but that seems less important than blogging right now. I might just print out a copy of this entry and submit that.
So in 6.003 there are three kinds of classes that I’m supposed to go to per week.
In lectures, a tenured and world-renowned professor will stand up in front of the class and give a 50-minute presentation with overheads. He doesn’t usually stop for questions, but a couple times students have stopped to ask him questions and he’s been glad to oblige. He’s not at all stuffy, though. One time to introduce the concept of the Fourier Transform, he gave a 10-minute talk on the life and times of Optimus Prime. Because just like Optimus Prime can be a truck or a robot depending on what he needs to do, a function can be in the frequency or time domains depending on what you need to do. I have lecture twice a week.
In recitations, a non-tenured faculty member or lecturer gets up in front of a group of about 15-20 of us and works through practice problems on the board. She often stops and asks for input from the students on questions so we get in the habit of solving problems ourselves. Sometimes she assigns small group exercises that we then talk about as a class. She encourages questions and always stops to answer them at length, and if she doesn’t have time for a particular question in class she’ll send an e-mail out to all her students with the answer, or cover it in the next recitation. I really like her. I have recitation twice a week.
In tutorials, a computer science grad student hands us a worksheet with a bunch of problems on it. There’s anywhere between three to eight of us there at a time. We then work on those problems individually and he walks around and gives us specific help as we go. Sometimes the kids who are taking the class on P/D/F are kind of lazy and don’t work very hard, but he’s always willing to give us extra help and spend as long with people as they need. I have tutorial once per week.
All of these individuals–professor, recitation instructor, and TA–have weekly office hours, too, in case you need extra help on a problem set or have a specific question, and you’re particularly motivated and want to go talk to them yourself.
But I’m not particularly motivated in 6.003. That might be a problem. I’ve completely punted two of the p-sets so far. Out of six. Hey, I had better stuff to do. And I got a B+ on the test, so I’m not too worried about it. Yet. I think every MIT student really appreciates the fact that drop date doesn’t occur until about the 11th week of term.
My real problem is that I’ve been skipping basically all of the tutorials. The first week I forgot to look up what room it was in, so I just didn’t go instead of facing the shame of walking in late. Then I went for two of them and met my really friendly and only slightly awkward TA, Matt. And then I didn’t go to the next one. I think I had something actually important to do. Then the next time I was really hosed from an ICE pset and I fell asleep in the library and woke up 10 minutes into tutorial. And I was just like, “ennh” and I went back to sleep. So then I decided that I was too ashamed to ever see my very nice, slightly awkward TA again. One time he even e-mailed me to ask if I was going to turn in my one p-set and I was like, “Uh, no, it’s on P/D/F, but thanks for your concern!” and he was like, “Okay, but work on the problems because there’s a test next week! Thanks for letting me know! *nice, slightly awkward smiley face*”
So today he was walking into lecture (conveniently, we have tutorial right before lecture) and I went a different way to avoid him, because I go to MIT and if there’s one thing three years of MIT have taught me, it’s that you can often hide from people when you don’t have adequate social skills to downplay an awkward situation. Right. But then I was shocked–SHOCKED! when he came over to me specifically and said “Oh, SAM, here’s your p-set back! I just thought I’d give them all out while we’re all here in class.” This was one of the four that I actually did, of course. Then he laughed his nice, slightly awkward laugh and crept away.
I felt really bad and I was decided to write a blog entry tribute to him–that’s when I thought of this awesome entry title–but then I looked over five minutes later and noticed that he was already asleep, 5 minutes into lecture! Even I can usually do better than that. I kept glancing over for the entire lecture and, yep. He slept through the whole thing.
So, nice, slightly awkward TA, I’ll cut you a deal. I won’t tell the professor that you slept through his entire brilliant lecture today, and you can give me a B on this week’s homework assignment. Okay?
I wish I were as cool as Mitra.