Home > math education > Exploit me some more please

Exploit me some more please

July 22, 2012

I’m back home from HCSSiM (see my lecture notes here). Yesterday I took the bus from Amherst to New York and slept all the way, then got home and took a nap, and then after putting my 3-year-old to bed crashed on the couch until just now when I woke up. That’s about 13 hours of sleep in the past 20, and I’m planning to take a nap after writing this. That’s just an wee indication of how sleep deprived I became at math camp.

Add to that the fact that my bed there was hard plastic, that I completely lost touch with the memory of enjoying good food (taste buds? what are those?), and that I was pitifully underpaid, and you might think I’m glad to be home.

And I am, because I missed my family, but I’m already working feverishly to convince them to let me go again next year, and come with me next time if that would be better. Because I’m so in love with those kids and with those junior staff and with Kelly and with Hampshire College and with the whole entire program.

Just so you get an idea of what there is to love, check out one of the students talking about his plan for his yellow pig day shirt which I luckily captured on my phone:

And here’s a job description which always makes me laugh (and cry) (and I only worked there the first half):

When people haven’t experienced HCSSiM, we worry about being able to explain adequately the unusual commitment required by the exploitative position. The workday is long and challenging; it is also exciting and rewarding. A senior faculty and 2 junior faculty members actively participate in the morning classes (8:30 – 2:30, M-S) and evening problem sessions (7:30 – 10:30, M-F) of each of the c. 14-student Workshops (7/2 – 7/20 = days); they prepare (and duplicate) daily problem sets; they proofread notes and program journal articles, and they write evaluations; they offer constructive criticism; they attend the afternoon Prime Time Theorems (a 51-minute math-club type talk, over half given by visitors) and give 1 or 2. The staffing and most of those teaching opportunities (chores) apply to the 2nd half of the program when students take a Maxi-course (8:30-11, M-S, and 7:30 – 10:30, M-F, 7/23 – 8/10). During the 2nd half of the program, students also take, consecutively, 2 Mini-courses, which meet from 11:17 until 12:30 for 7 days and which have no attached problem sessions; many minis are created or co-created by junior staff. Except for Kelly and Susan (who are on call) the staff live in in the dorm (Enfield this year), join students for meals and recreational activities, provide transportation and counseling and supervision for students, and help to get the program to sleep around 11:17. There is virtually no hope of getting any research done or of maintaining an outside social life. In spite of (with some because of) the preceding, the job is exhilarating as well as exhausting; we have repeaters, and there are a lot of good math teachers out there who credit HCSSiM with teaching them to teach.

Categories: math education
  1. Sara
    July 22, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I just finished reading your lecture notes. Thanks so much for sharing them; it was a great read! (And now I’m inspired to get out my old class notes, and see how much I remember/can re-learn.) I hope you can come back next year!


  2. Benji
    July 22, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Maybe this has something to do with the lyrics running through my head:

    Sometimes I consider my pace, I’m reminded of a train
    Gathering speed for the climb to the pass in whose shadow
    It already lies, a small metal dragon approaching
    The ever present ascending rise to the Seventh Mountain

    Can you wonder what lies beyond? Though you’ve been
    There before and forget about the effort and the strain

    (snatched from http://www.metrolyrics.com/thoroughfare-gap-lyrics-crosby-stills-nash.html)

    I need to gather up some speed for tomorrow’s class. No sweat, it will be only 2.5 hours!


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