What It Feels Like to Have Wonderful Readers

Most of all, it’s been wonderful reading your stories. Far and away the most common response – and my favorite type to read – has been: “Ah yes, I remember the time that happened to me…” Your tales of academic struggle run from elementary school to research postdocs, from mathematics to English Lit.

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What It Feels Like to Be Bad at Math

Instead, failure is born from a messy combination of bad circumstances: high anxiety, low motivation, gaps in background knowledge. Most of all, we fail because, when the moment comes to confront our shortcomings and open ourselves up to teachers and peers, we panic and deploy our defenses instead. For the same reason that I pushed away Topology, struggling students push me away now.

Fistfuls of Sand (or, Why It Pays to Be a Stubborn Teacher)

This is a story about one small compromise that I refused to make, a stubborn act that paid off, though I didn’t expect it to. The setting is a Calculus classroom, but I hope the story will resonate with anyone who spies something dubious in the rigid and widespread assumption that learning can be endlessly itemized, carefully quantized, and instantaneously measured.