Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Last Daily: Course Reflection

My favorite aspect of the course was going through the history of mathematics, and learning about the people who were behind many of the subject's major milestones. Doing this seemed to give math a more "personal" feel, whereas in other courses we simply learned the subject matter in a sort of sterile and objective fashion. Although the material in other courses was certainly interesting, not knowing anything about its history or the people who discovered it gave math an even more impersonal feel. For this reason, I feel like a course like this would be great as an introductory class that fulfills the general education requirements of the university since discussing the history and people of math gives it a more accessible tone, especially for those who view their algebra requirement as a torturous stepping stone toward another major. In any case, I enjoyed the multi-disciplinary focus of our course and thought it enhanced my appreciation for math by bringing it into perspective with other areas of study.

It might be difficult to reconcile this with what I said above, but I think I would have enjoyed the course a bit more if we had gone into some deeper mathematics. I certainly learned a lot of new things and thought many of the results were interesting, but the rigor and depth of the math we did in class wasn't very demanding. I think this is partly due to the fact that we covered a lot of the history of math, and many interesting results (like those from the Ancient Greeks) weren't as complex as what I came to expect from courses like discrete math or real analysis. Making the class more rigorous would also be difficult since we haven't all taken the same courses throughout completing our math majors. For instance, I never took a geometry class while it seems almost everyone else had, so if we went deeper into geometry I'd likely be "out of the loop".

What helped to remedy the relative lack of depth with regard to mathematics in this course was the ability to choose to some degree what we completed for our daily and weekly assignments. Although it certainly didn't seem to be required, I enjoyed the opportunity to go deeper into the math behind some of the topics we learned about in class for these assignments. With the ability to choose the exact nature of our assignments we could dig deeper when we wanted to learn more and had the background to do so, or we could explore related things like the topic's history. Exercising our mathematical abilities at some point in the semester was also guaranteed by the semester requirements for the assignments, which I think should be expected in a senior-level math class. Overall, I thought the course was well-planned and covered a lot of interesting material in a logical order, while the assignments gave us great flexibility to individually learn more about the topic in a way that kept our interest.

1 comment:

  1. It's my hope that the choice helps compensate, but I know that's not the same as doing some tough proofs in class as well. Our class was a little more opposed to that kind of work as a whole so I maybe shied away from it more than what was needed. Something to work on!