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Decoding The Teacher’s Intentions

, , , , , , , | Learning | March 26, 2022

In the spring of 2020, I was in my fourth year of college and finally got around to taking the freshman stats class for my program. The first class went well, as the instructor was nice enough; he was a grad student excited about teaching his first class on his own. He showed us how to download a program I had never heard of, all while singing its praises and talking about how eager the math department was to start using the program and how they planned on implementing it for most math classes going forward.

It took a long time to download and he wasn’t able to show us how to use the thing until the next class period in two days, so I decided to open it up and dink around with it. The navigation was next to nonexistent and there was no graphing function; even inputting the simplest of math problems resulted in errors.

When I arrived at the second class, there seemed to be a bit of tension in the room, especially when the instructor opened the program and started typing equations using nomenclature unlike anything I had ever seen before in my life. There was murmuring at the tables as students confirmed to each other what they had been suspecting: he was coding.  

I broke into a cold sweat as the girl beside me followed along. Did I accidentally enroll in a stats class for Computer Science Majors? Was there a major shift in high school requirements for math in the four years since I had graduated? 

Thankfully, my panic was short-lived as literally everyone else began to inform the instructor that they had no idea what the heck he was doing. 

The next period, we were provided with detailed instructions on how to use the program, but it surprised no one when it was dropped from the syllabus entirely within the month. 

I am still puzzled by their intentions now, almost two years later. Did they really think they would be able to teach us both coding and stats in one semester? Or did they think that every eighteen- and nineteen-year-old in the country knew the basics of computer programing? Our instructor took it all in stride, at least, and adapted without complaint.

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