September 21, 2010 § Leave a comment
The last 9 days of my life have been focused around an intensive quantitative survey called Math Camp. It was offered as a voluntary pre-term course to all students entering the social sciences graduate fields to either strengthen existing quantitative skills or be introduced to new quantitative concepts that the department encourages the students to have a better mastery over.
Over the 9 days we studied complex sets, numbers and functions, single-variable integral and differential calculus, matrix algebra, multi-variable calculus and probability & statistics. Of the different quantitative fields, I have the strongest background in statistics, which was strengthened further this summer at my internship at a polling firm.
I was most surprised at how much retention and comprehension power I had over such complex topics just over the span of 9 days. The course was filled with nearly 6 months worth of instructional material, condensed into 9 days. What I really took away from it was the idea of setting a higher standard of instruction and assuming far more capacity to excel from students than has been the norm in my academic career thus far. I have found too much time wasted and too many goals or skills confounded by the idea that students are not smart enough to grasp concepts, students need to be spoon-fed or some perverse form of lack of confidence. I found great merit in the confidence the instructor had in his pacing and abilities as an instructor and in us as the students. I do not claim (at all) to be have mastery of the concepts I was introduced to, but I am sufficiently impressed by the ways in which this model of instruction succeeded.