November 24th, 2008


teaching and learning

One of the things that's interesting about doing teaching and learning at the same time is that I get to experience the teacher-student interaction from both sides. Which is, y'know, obvious. But today I have been dealing with particularly bizarre questions and misunderstandings from my students, which has made me wonder whether any of my teachers look at my questions in the same way. So I'm all paranoid now about stupid things that I might have said or done recently.

Leaving aside the totally WTF thing that one of my students said about broccoli this afternoon (she thought I had a piece of mouldy broccoli on my desk when actually it was one of the poppy seed knot bread rolls I eat every day – because I would, of course, keep grey/brown broccoli on my desk instead of putting it in the food recycling bin like a normal person), I've had some annoying misunderstandings lately. This morning we were studying chirality and my student entirely failed to grasp the thalidomide example. He kept saying things like “but why did they use the drug if they knew it was poisonous?”, and I had to keep repeating how the scientists at the time didn't know that thalidomide had two enantiomers, and it was tested thoroughly on healthy male adults, and that the “wrong” enantiomer is only dangerous to unborn babies. And then he argued with me how the birth defect had to be genetic, and I was trying to explain how it was thought to be a developmental defect rather than a mutation (although this is now debatable as some thalidomide victims have had similarly-damaged children while others haven't). Except it was first thing in the morning and my brain wasn't working, and I've only just thought of the fact that we only grow arms and legs once, so it could just as easily be the chemical environment in the uterus at fault. Duh.

I hate the fact that I'm not a morning person but I get forced to deal with mornings occasionally. It's so difficult to get any sense out of my brain before about 3 pm. Thinking is so much easier late at night when the intuitive leaps of logic exist, which is why all my best work gets done after 10 pm. I suppose it's no wonder that I think morning people are mutants when they go to bed when my brain is at its most active, and why I have so much trouble even attempting to go to sleep then. Ah well.
baratron again

Random vignettes about my strange college life.

The other day I was in the lift at Goodge Street tube station with some UCL students. (I know they were UCL students because they were talking about their lectures – and one of them had a UCL bag). One of the girls was wearing a pair of beautiful purple velvet ballet shoes. You can tell they were beautiful shoes because I noticed them – me, the woman who doesn't really care about footwear. She was bemoaning the fact that they had been soaked with water and were now ruined. I had some sympathy because they really were quite delightfully purple, but had to wonder why someone who studied in London thought it appropriate to wear non-waterproof shoes in November. It's not as if torrential rain is exactly uncommon here...

I managed to freak out my course director slightly today with my amazing psychic ability to know where he was despite the fact the room he was in a) was not his office and b) had an opaque door. Collapse )

Am currently trying to decide whether I am a genius or an idiot. I oscillate between the two positions at a rate of knots, sometimes espousing both positions multiple times within a single minute of a lecture. For some reason, my brain just isn't willing to deal with the intermediate perspective – that I am a person who knows some things but not others. I wish I knew where that all or nothing approach came from.