I mostly teach remedial pre-algebra and basic algebra, although I also taught myself (basic) stats one step ahead of teaching it to the students. I try to be a decent teacher (and I think I am), but the students won’t work, won’t learn, and can’t/won’t do math. So I decided to make them write instead. (They can’t/won’t do that either, but sometimes a change is as good as a rest.)
I had them read the merest snippet from “A Mathematician’s Lament,” which is basically an essay about the current terrible state of math education, and write a two-page response paper reflecting on their own experiences. For students who had not been in class, I not only posted the assignment to the Blackboard equivalent we use, but also emailed the assignment to the whole class directly.
This was one absent student’s response to me, over email. She signed her name (no closing), but other than that, this is the email in its entirety.
I'm sorry but why are we writing a paper in a math class? I thought this was an Math class not an English class?! I hate math already your making me hate it even more! This is ridiculous!!!
Q: So, here’s my question. If you had no fear of consequences, how would you respond to this student’s email? And in the real world, how would you respond?