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2 July 2007 / April

An afternoon of organization and nostalgia

I’ve learned that you’ve gotta go where life takes you. For instance, today life took me to five hours of organizing old school papers.

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Although not everyone’s idea of a good time, I find organization, like stoichiometry, strangely soothing: settling yourself on the floor with a mess, flipping through the pages and their corresponding memories, stacking them (the pages; memories aren’t stackable) neatly as possible, stuffing the rejected ones into the recycling. And there were a lot of rejected ones; I was ruthless in my pruning.

Except with Earth Science. It was tough doing anything to Earth Science, which is why the 8th grade stack (top right in the above photo) is the biggest. That, and, damn we did a lot of writing in 8th grade English. But anyway; throwing Earth Science papers out would be like walking up to your best friend with a chain saw and saying, “I noticed you’re gaining weight, so why don’t I relieve you of some of those appendages there.”

On a related note: Before PB’s study guides, there were Ms. VV’s review questions. I remember how everyone hated those things. And collaborating on them the day of the test on the way to DeWitt from IHS… ah, good times.

I particularly got a kick out of going through Math stuff from 6th and even 7th grade. I have pages and pages of problems where we practiced arithmetic with integers, to say nothing of what seemed to be at least 3 units on percentages. Isn’t that a bit like practicing the alphabet over and over– but in 6th grade?!

Well, in 5 years I’ll probably say the same thing when I look back on those Precalc quizzes on the unit circle. (Either that, or I’ll say “Huh?” and go back to practicing the piano. You never know.)

And they were all worksheets too– which doesn’t seem very weird until you think about how much of high school math consists of just lecture notes and textbook problems. In 6th grade we got all those handouts with word problems and those really bad jokes. The only times we got worksheets this year were when our textbook failed to live up to Steve’s lofty standards of mathematical mind contortions.

It was the same with Social Studies, too– lots of worksheets. We were just too stupid to distill the information on our own, I guess, without Mr. E’s smiley face-littered illustrations helping us along. High school needs more smiley faces. 🙂

At one point, I was going through papers from Math in 6th grade (to distinguish from “6th grade Math”, which I never really took…), when suddenly I exclaimed, “Hey! It’s calculus!” And it was. Kinda:

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The totally illegible scribble above the “W” in the top left is, believe it or not, my signature. It has actually improved since then.

The title reads, in my teacher’s handwriting (we couldn’t even title graphs on our own, it appears), “Which 355 cm^3 Soda Can Requires the Least Aluminum?” Clearly, this is an optimization problem that we did by brute force, calculating surface areas from radii and looking for the lowest, rather than just signs analysis of the derivative.

Isn’t progress wonderful?

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One Comment

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  1. Dumb Violist / Jul 3 2007 9:47 pm

    Re. Precalc: The latter.

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