Over the years, I have found that one of the students’ greatest criticisms of any math class is their claim that they didn’t learn anything. Therefore, sometimes as part of their final, I have the students list ten things that they have learned. These items can be anything at all in relation to the class. They are allowed to write their list ahead of time and bring it to the final if they want. Most observations are quite normal, but some make for interesting reading. It has been a while since I have shared any, so I thought I’d do so here.

1) I learned that night jobs + early morning classes = failure.

2) I learned that studying for a test actually helps you do better.

3) I learned that when I feel good about a test I probably did bad.

4) I learned that 9 A.M. is too early for class.

5) I learned that following what a professor does on the board and being able to do it at home are two very, very different things.

6) I learned that it is enjoyable to think and talk about math when I understand it. If I’m not enjoying talking about it, I don’t understand it.

7) Professor Howard’s cow is so cute. And she is gentle, even with a million students milking her.

8) That hard work pays off over time, but laziness pays off now, if you want to have fun. But in the end you only get out of something what you put in.

9) I learned that I am way too shy. I had one of the prettiest girls sitting next to me for a while at the beginning of the semester, and even though she flirted with me, I still never asked her on a date. How pitiful. I have worked on it since. I’m not going to let that happen again.

10) I learned that being able to take a 3X5 card to the testing center doesn’t mean you don’t have to study.

11) That some people have big egos and get huffy when you sit in their normal seat.

12) I learned that historically a lot of mathematicians went insane. Tells you something, doesn’t it?

13) I learned that you shouldn’t take a weightlifting class before a math class or you won’t be able to think for half of the class.

14) I learned that if you are taking a test and you don’t seem to be able to do a problem, sometimes if you attempt it, then what your teacher wrote will come out from the deep recesses of your brain to the end of your pen.

15) I learned too late, at the end of the semester, that I was actually supposed take a different class.

16) I learned that cramming two chapters into one week results in minimal comprehension.

17) Believing you can do something is not a substitute for learning to do it.

18) When writing teachers emails, always use proper English. Don’t act like he’s your buddy. (Professor Howard sends them back and with corrections to help you learn English. Who would have guessed that from a math teacher?)

19) A calculator is only as smart as the person who uses it.

20) The last week of the semester I learned that Professor Howard had provided us the answers to our homework preparation quizzes so we could check our answers.

21) I think I figured out how I can tell when Professor Howard’s wife is out of town. What he wears doesn’t match.