Course Expectations

Welcome, Padawan. Ms. Soo here. If you are taking a class with me, you will need to familiarize yourself with my course expectations, along with a bit of Star Wars terminology.

A Padawan of the Jedi Order achieves the rank of Jedi Knight upon successful completion of the Jedi Trials. The Trials consist of nine parts: teamwork, isolation, fear, anger, betrayal, focus, instinct, forgiveness, and protection. Mathematics is no different; it is a fundamentally human endeavour. It can lull us into a false sense of certainty one moment and plunge us into deadly waters the next. It is both the source of unsolved mysteries and the tools which we use to solve them.

Learn to master the Trials and feel The Force awaken within you. The journey of mathematics is not a particularly easy one, but it is an exciting one, and one worth pursuing. I’m excited to be on this journey with you.

Attendance and Participation. There four types of content in this course.

  • Classes: Show up. This is the first and most important first step to getting the most out of your learning experience. Once you’ve mastered the art of showing up, step two is to be present
  • Videos: These are provided as supplementary resources for live or synchronous classes; or primary sources for asynchronous learning. They will be helpful for students who
    • a) Missed a class and need to catch up,
    • b) Need to review a topic with guided instruction, or
    • c) Are looking to enhance or refresh their understanding of a particular topic
  • Curated content: The catch-all term for all the readings, handouts, outlines, activities, course documents, links to relevant resources…etc. provided.
  • Classroom community: The most essential and beneficial element of this course is our classroom community. You are not in this alone; you are part of a community of learners who will learn and grow together.

When Are We Going to Actually Learn Math? In this class, I will ask you to do some things that may seem unrelated to math learning. I will ask you to notice, wonder, estimate, and make predictions. You will engage in tasks that don’t “feel like math.” When this happens, you must start to question your assumptions about what it means to do and learn mathematics. I ask you to trust the process. Some of the activities and tasks we will be doing might not make sense at first, but are designed for your benefit.

To err is human

Alexander Pope

Errors = Learning. I am human, and I’ll assume for the time being that you are too. As human beings, are prone to making mistakes; that is expected and encouraged. Mistakes are a part of the learning process. When we make mistakes we strengthen neural connections in our brains. If you catch yourself making a mistake: own up to it, identify why the error happened, and find a way to avoid making the same mistake next time. If you notice a classmate, or your teacher (yes, even me) making a mistake: politely point out the mistake and try to ask a helpful question (e.g. What did you mean by…? How did you…?). We can all benefit from the mistake, no matter the source.

Fun. You will be required to work hard, but it is also mandatory that you have fun in this class. After all, learning is an effortful and active process. I promise you that if you engage in this class and with our community of learners, we will have fun together.

Process > Product. Mathematics is not about answer-getting, though maths class certainly does contain a good deal of that. What’s more important, however, is understanding the hows and the whys behind the whats. This means that good mathematical communication will be required of you. A good place to start is to avoid the use of the word “it”. “I divided both sides of the equation by two,” is clearer and more precise than “I divided it by two.The second thing to remember is to be precise with your use of mathematical terminology. “The lowest point on the graph” can instead be expressed more accurately as, “The vertex of the parabola given by y equals x squared (y = x2).”

Image credit: @howiehua

Requirements. Here are two true statements: 1) You have your own agency. 2) Everything is optional. If something is required in the course, it means you will need to do it in order to pass, but that is not the priority.

Homework. You will have homework assignments. Take them seriously. No, they aren’t graded (and why should that matter anyway?).

This might seem like a revolutionary idea for some. Discretion advised.
But seriously – #goals

Community. Participate in our community. You may do so by asking questions, helping your peers, taking part in class discussions, … etc. Cliche as it is, you get what you give. If you add value to the community, you will receive value.

Finally, know this:

YOU are NOT alone.

WE are a community of learners.

If you need help, ASK for it. 

If you want to RECEIVE value, GIVE it.

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