Friday, March 8, 2013


Almost the end of the day.
Last class of the week.
I had prepped well.
Much preparation.
Exhaustive prep.
Exhausted me.

I entered the classroom.
Lectured for 45 minutes, uninterrupted.
Much vim and vigor.
The madness overtook me.
The students watched; I professed.
A blizzard of truth.
They were struck with awe.

Finally, I stopped.  I asked the students if there were any questions.  Any questions.  Any.  But there were none.  (Usually, there are questions.)

After I stood there for a minute in silence, I gestured toward the door and thanked them for coming to class.

They exited.  I looked down at the desk, dazed.

I had slept very little Wednesday night, so I was quite tired.  I sat down in the chair, put my feet up on the desk, leaned back, and stared into the empty room.

That was one of the truest lectures I'd ever given in Rodent Calculus III.  I wish I had recorded it.  Such lucidity and brilliance.  So well explained that all the students clearly understood and had no questions.  Gauss and Leibniz would have been proud.

Fifteen minutes later, I was still sitting there staring nearly mindlessly. And it was then that I realized:  I had just given the calculus lecture to the Hamster Statistical Infurence for Non-Majors class.

No wonder there were no questions.

So I went home and fell asleep.


  1. Similar thing happened to me many years ago.

    I taught two classes in the same room, to many of the same students.

    I realized that I had given the wrong lecture after mixing up the two classes. Turned out to be on the one topic that could arguably belong to both courses.

    All's well that ends well.

  2. Oh, Bubba. That's some bad luck.

    Students missed their chance to legitimately ask, "Will this be on the exam?"

  3. Replies
    1. It seemed more like a manic spewing of truth--pristine and concise.
      And all of the students were wide awake and attentive.

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    3. Wow, let your prejudices loose, Froderick.

      I lecture about half the time.

      My comment to Bubba was along the lines of YOU lecture.

      I can see how you could misunderstand my inflection, but I cannot believe how rude your own assumptions are about everything that's not a "checkable" discipline.

      It always disappoints me when someone I look up to reveals something as shallow as your bias about what HAS to be some of the disciplines where we sit in circles. Gross.

    4. Dearest Frod. Please tell me you don't actually think that.

    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    6. Frodo, all the scientists at my college patronize me, so your remarks are not surprising. Disappointing to me, but not surprising.

      And Hiram never told you lecturing was bad. He was saying BUBBA is bad, unless I miss my guess.


    7. Extremely bad form, Frod. I've long been a great admirer of your posts and comments A cheap and disingenuous shot at the humanities is beneath you, and is not in keeping with the spirit of CM.

    8. I am sorry I ever said that. I have now removed it.

      And now, it is time for me to take another hiatus from CM. See you next year, folks!

    9. In memory of this historic event, I am creating the "Frod Flounce"--an original meal:

      1. Squeeze an entire lemon into a glass of bourbon. Pour into a teapot. Shake like a tempest.
      2. Scramble three eggs.
      3. Pour half a cup of mustard on the eggs.
      4. Consume quickly.
      5. Yell "Hail Frod!"
      6. Burp.
      7. Shed tears (unless neighbors or children are present).
      8. Repeat until unable to repeat

    10. 9. After waking up sober on the kitchen floor tomorrow, delete previous message and write a new message.

    11. I find this to be ridiculous. I honestly always liked Frod, but this dramatic leaving the page is laughable. Why is it people think they need to make an announcement about it? He has said something ridiculous. Others have noted it, and he's taken is big glass telescope and gone home.

      Oh, coming back in a year. Please hurry. What will we do without you.

      Now I want to leave. Let me get my bullhorn.

    12. Plus, he threatened a hiatus a couple of weeks ago in the comments.

    13. On other forums it's called a "suicide." The 'suicider' is not allowed back.

      Sorry to see this happen here.

    14. Frod, I missed the post, but you have been a very kind and collegial member of this community for quite some time. Interweb snark is hard to resist sometimes, and we all have our "secret" biases (sometimes secret even to ourselves, or at least not self approved) which are perhaps more prone to come out in places like a semi anonymous internet forum. I look forward to your return.

  4. A true laugh-out-loud moment (with ya, Bubba, not at ya).

  5. Oh, my. There but for the grace of teaching 4 sections of the same class (with minor variations, so I do get the chance to accidentally instruct APA style users in using MLA, and vice versa -- and yes, that happens, regularly) go I.

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  7. And inquiring minds want to know: are you going to tell them, or just carry on as if nothing unusual had happened?

    Be honest, dammit.

    1. If his students were truly on the ball, one of them would have put up their hand and asked "Does this have anything to do with the class, because I read ahead?"

      Because that class lacks a Skolnick, I sentence it to twenty years. IN SIBERIA.

    2. @Cassandra: If they don't ask, then I probably won't bring it up. If they ask, then I'll be forthright. (I'll be honest, dammit.)

  8. I did that once too, but the students told me about 3 minutes in and told me I was teaching the wrong stuff (they knew which other course I taught). Actually, they didn't really tell me. Someone started to laugh, then more started to laugh, and coupled with the looks of confusion on the whole rest of the class I stopped and said "what's up?" and then they let me know.

  9. Rodent Calculus! Now my favorite thing is to model the rodent's back as a smooth 2-manifold and apply the De Rham Cohomology (sorry if I butchered the name).

    Take as many wedge products as possible and ignore the rodent's screeches.

  10. I didn't know you were a mathematician, Bubba! In that case, and especially if you're a pure mathematician, it's excusable.

    1. Ich bin ein Berliner. I am Spartacus. I am Hugo Chavez. I am a mathematician. I am a hamsterfurologist. I am Gaga. I am an underwater Wittgensteinian equestrian basket-weaver. I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice.

    2. Bubba is large, he contains multitudes.

    3. Yup. Apparently, after JFK made his famous speech in Berlin and made his famous declaration, cartoonists were quick to portray him as such.

    4. I am the eggman. Goo goo gajoo.

  11. The most important question is: did you laugh when you realized it?

    I've committed some doozies, mostly of the harmless sort where I let the class out twenty minutes early because some classes end on the hour and others at 10 past or 5 to or 20 of.

    My best Classroom Senior Moment Ever was when I presented a brilliant and up-to-the-moment lesson, complete with slides from the professional journal article, about a discipline-changing discovery in the news THAT DAY. I presented it at 9:40, and then to the 11:05 class, and then again at 1:20, and finally at 2:35. Only problem was that the 1:20 and 2:35 presentations were to the SAME STUDENTS. Yep, I began that class with the discovery, and then towards the end said, "And did you hear? . . ." and did the show again.

    And I was very impressed that they'd been keeping up with that discovery and could tell me a lot about it. They were by far my most informed students of the day.