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Share something non-fannish you are passionate about with your fannish friends.

Oh, man, I am SUCH a geek. Yes, in the 'reads sci-fi, has strong opinions about Star Trek, has programmed my own computer games and played D&D and WhiteWolf campaigns' way, but in other ways as well.

I remember a few summers back I was taking an intensive graduate-level physics class designed for current in-service science teachers. Six hours a day for six weeks, with a great combo of labs and discussions. One morning I was burbling on excitedly about this great arguement I'd gotten in with my partner, Stevie, the night before, about possible explanations and implications of the discrepant results I'd gotten the day before in a lab about constructive and destructive interference between waveforms. And then I noticed the room had come to a halt, and everyone was staring at me, wigged out that THAT was my idea of a good time when I got home after a day of labwork. But ... it really is, you know? I like understanding things.

Well, I call it that. Basically, I was 12 when I decided that human beings made no sense and my best possible option for a fulfilling life while surrounded by them was to intensely study people. Reading, drama, and constant people-watching has allowed me, over the years, to model most human behavior pretty accurately. Sometimes I can even make decent predictions about their internal motivations, and figure out when they are, oh let's say, sad or angry or tired. It plays into my writing, too. I can set up models for imaginary people just as easily as I can for real ones! Then I call them Muses. It's handy.

Teaching Math
As some of you know, I teach 7th and 8th grade math at a small, inner-city alternative school. I am very, VERY passionate about that. Not so much about the math itself. I'm not one of those people who enjoys logic problems or puzzles. The reason I am so passionate about teaching math is because, if a kid leaves 8th grade without a solid understanding of algebra, their chances of graduating from high school and going to college are significantly decreased. Doors that should be open to them are slammed closed and locked shut.

I see it as my job to hand those kids the keys, because Algebra is considered an advanced, honors course, and it has generally NOT been offered to poor students of color in the USA. Many of my students come to me at the start of 7th grade believing they can't 'do math'. By the time they leave me at the end of 8th grade, they know they can, and they have the algebra credit needed to qualify for college-prep programs in high school. I put a huge amount of time and energy into my job, because it can make a real difference in my students' lives.

So, how about you? What are you passionate about?



( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 8th, 2012 02:14 am (UTC)
Deeply cool!
Jan. 8th, 2012 02:53 am (UTC)
Jan. 8th, 2012 02:19 am (UTC)
Wish I'd had a teacher like you. I was always awful with math, and it was only after I grew up, I realized that it was mostly because no one gave a damn. I loved things like physics, but my lack of math sorta stopped that in its tracks :)
Jan. 8th, 2012 02:57 am (UTC)
Gah. Yeah, that's often the case, especially with young women.

So many times parents tell me, "I was never any good at math."

I always respond, "Obviously you never had ME as a math teacher!"
Jan. 8th, 2012 02:27 am (UTC)
You're a math teacher? That is incredibly awesome. My husband has always wanted to do that, and may still someday. Two of my three sons are mathletes.

I'm passionate about art. It's the only thing I can do, really. I can't solve for 'x'. (I dabble in writing too but am still learning that craft.) This year, I hope to get a gallery "career" kicked off, but we shall see. I have a Masters Degree in painting, sold a few things. I don't really feel the pull to teach, but maybe someday. I've recently done covers for digitally published books, art for rpg interiors, ccg art, but I'm trying to weed off some of those lower-paying gigs in favor of better money and more interesting projects.

I'm passionate about Westerns and the Civil War. I'm passionate about travel but I don't do it enough. ;) Annnnd, that's it? Yeah, that's about it!

Thanks for sharing! Cool stuff.
Jan. 8th, 2012 03:01 am (UTC)
I am! It's surprisingly intellectually challenging, when you don't just tell kids, 'Do it like this,' but actually try to undersand and work from each student's individual strategy.

I didn't know you were a professional artist. That's so cool! I like road-trips, myself. Completely unscheduled, driving around the country and checking out anything that catches my eye.
Jan. 8th, 2012 02:35 am (UTC)
My physics knowledge is not that advanced but I find much of it to be kind of romantic, especially resonance.

I can completely relate to your reasons for being attracted to anthropology. It's a large part of why I want to study anthropological linguistics.

As far as the teaching: go you, so very much!

I would say that I'm passionate about scripted TV, horror fiction and graphic novels. So, stories basically.
Jan. 8th, 2012 03:03 am (UTC)
*laughs* An in-depth knowledge of physics gives one a surpringly rich language of metaphor. Unfortunately, most of the world will have NO IDEA what you're talking about!

Anthropological linguistics? Interesting patterns and trends over time, there. Stories! Yes! I have to say, though, I find fanfiction is beating the pants off most published books I've tried picking up recently.
Jan. 8th, 2012 02:39 am (UTC)
MATH! Math math math. I sort of thought I didn't like it, right up until I got conned into tutoring it. And now I'm all, "no, seriously, kids, watch these complex fractions partially decompose, it's NIFTY!"

Which is to say, it's still not something I sit around and do for fun, but I am deeply, deeply enthusiastic about making sure that the kids I get who think they're bad at math end up knowing that a) they can totally figure out algebra and use it, and b) there are endless reasons that knowing how to do that is a good thing. One of them--a kid I've been tutoring for three years now, starting with remedial algebra and geometry--is working on getting two A's in a row in Calculus this year, and it's sort of brilliant, watching him solve derivatives. He still doesn't love math, but he's at least come to believe that he can work through a problem and even try something new without panicking.

(Er. But I do love logic puzzles. And symbolic logic. And proofs. And word puzzles. And systems theory. I think that's just that I really get a kick out of figuring things out, though. It's not the math, it's the construction of the puzzles. Much less messy than people, and with the bonus of stupid puns and sometimes learning new words.)
Jan. 8th, 2012 03:09 am (UTC)
MATH! It IS nifty! And students are so responsive to enthusiasm, so it's great you approach it that way. Excellent about your tutored student acing Calculus!

try something new without panicking SO much yes to this.

Yeah, the problem with logic puzzles, for me, is that it always feels like I have to translate the problem from Earth-logic into Me-logic. The satisfaction of figuring something out, when it was HARD, is downright addictive. Give students a taste, and it can change their whole self-image.
Jan. 8th, 2012 03:00 am (UTC)
I am deeply moved by your paragraph about teaching. That is so awesome.

And wow, I wish I'd had someone like you teaching me algebra. It was the first thing I ever encountered in my whole life that didn't come easily, almost effortlessly, and nobody saw that I needed help getting through that and learning how to think hard on things that weren't easy, and so I simply assumed that I couldn't do it. I still have lingering math fear left over from that experience.
Jan. 8th, 2012 03:15 am (UTC)
Yeah, a lot of kids hit that point in algebra. And then many of them AVOID it, because it make them feel stupid. I truly believe that anyone who can function in society can master basic algebra. It might not come easy, and the way it's being taught at first might not work for you. But you CAN do it.

I can teach any given concept 2, 3, 10 different ways until I find one that makes sense to a particular student. And then the real trick, the one that I'm working on now, is to get my students to the point that when they leave me and go on to high school, they are able to find those paths for themselves, translating problems and concepts in a way that plays to their own intellectual strengths.

Jan. 8th, 2012 03:21 am (UTC)
And that makes you about a hundred kinds of awesome. ♥

In my case, I eventually figured out that I had problems with algebra because I couldn't visualize it. (Geometry, OTOH, was easy and FUN OMG. Visual, right? Right.) I still wonder if there's a method of teaching algebra for people like me. I mean, I did go back later and tackle it and I did okay, if not brilliantly, but it was still always hard.
Jan. 8th, 2012 03:31 am (UTC)
Oh, absolutely! Hands-On Algebra, Undo Tables - we could totally make it work!
Jan. 8th, 2012 10:08 am (UTC)
These are awesome! I've been lecturing the last couple of weeks (well, with a break for the holidays) and it's been so much fun, especially when I get feedback from students who appreciate me. Although really, some of the secrets to lecturing well are simple, such as: watch the students as they're taking notes, and don't go on until they've finished writing down what you've just said/written on the board, because that will stress them out.
Jan. 8th, 2012 10:33 pm (UTC)
I have to teach my students how to take notes. It's kind of hilarious. We go very slowly, and I talk about abbreviations, and how to choose what info to write down, how to make the most important stand out, etc.
Jan. 9th, 2012 11:23 pm (UTC)
Yay physics and math! Geek sistahs unite!
Jan. 10th, 2012 03:53 am (UTC)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )