Monday, June 27, 2011

The Right Answer

Dear Internet,

As a math major, I find that many of my mathie friends are resistant to the idea that I would choose to take an English course as an elective instead of, perhaps, a class that does not require the writing of essays.

I questioned my choice, too, nearer to the beginning of the term and particularly when I was writing the first essay due in the course. It seemed like a lot of work to choose to have on top of some demanding major courses; not to mention the fact that you can never find "the right answer" in an English class!

I found that frustrating nearer to the beginning of the term. Class time consists mostly of superficially fruitless discussion. By the end of class, there is never a conclusion to be drawn about the text we read as a whole. What the hell is the point?

I discovered that point today, and it is really quite elegant. We discuss the stories to help each other think more deeply about them, and then - and this is the best, most beautiful part - we find our own "right answer." And each person's "right answer" can be different from each other person's "right answer!" And that is perfectly fine! In fact, it's encouraged! For the first time in a long time, perhaps for the first time in my life, I feel that I am being taught how to think for myself instead of the "right way" to think.

I do not, however, find this to be contrary at all to my love of math. I love to find "the right answer." I love to be told that I have found "the right answer." I love solving the puzzles presented to my by my professors. This leads me to propose that, fundamentally, there are but three differences between math class and English class:

1. Math class presents puzzles in the form of logic and mathematics, whereas English class presents puzzles in the form of stories and essays.

2. Math professors have "the right answer" to the puzzles. English professors do not.

3. In math, you are graded by the correctness of your answer. In English, you are graded by how well you can argue that your answer is right.

It is because of this I argue that every math student should take English classes and vice versa. Math teaches you to always search for the truth. English teaches you that, sometimes, the truth is what you make it.

Some people will disagree with this. Perhaps your truth is simply different from mine.



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Busy Summer.

Dear Internet,

Well, the summer term is in full-swing, and damn is it busy. Several assignments per week, plus English readings, plus two marking jobs, plus the occasional essay and midterm have made this term fast-paced and stressful thus far. This month, in particular, is ridiculous. Not only do I have something due nearly every single day, but my weekends are booked as well. Last weekend: first aid training. Weekend before that: Hitchens debate. This weekend: traveling to Boston for the weekend. Weekend after: orientation stuff.

Not only is it busy, but it's also HOT. This is the first summer in my life that has been/will be spent nearly entirely living in an apartment without air conditioning. We've had a few ridiculous heat days so far, and let me just say that I really hope that they continue to be sporadic and don't last the entire months of July and August (although I'll be home for most of August anyways). At least it's not Toronto - that was utter hell, in case you missed those entries from last summer.

I don't really have very much clever to say because all the work has robbed me of the ability to think properly. This is the busiest summer I've ever had. I would just take it day-by-day, but there's so much to do that I have to always be thinking like 2 days in advance. Luckily for me right now, that means that my mind is in a place where my work for the week is done. Now I just have to wait for time to catch up...