New Math

imagesFor those of us who are not officially enrolled students but are certifiably nosy, there is no more satisfying time of the semester than “intro classes.” This is when each professor gives a half-hour, hypersonic, lickety split, college-on-coffee run-down of their whole class. If you spent two solid days going to intro classes, you would probably be totally exhausted but smart enough to score in the 95th percentile on your GREs. Some of the classes that jumped right out at me this semester were Sex and Gender in Late Medieval Europe, Philosophy of Poetry, and Agroecology Seminar. Senior Justin Harrison is teaching a class called Nobody Loses All the Time: Obsession and American Crime Film, and the new anthropology professor Rebekah Park is teaching Introduction to Human Rights and Anthropology, which is sure to be popular. So which intro class did I willingly chose to go to? Topics in Algebra, Trigonometry, and Calculus—yes, math.

julie_rana_lrNow, as the two of you who read my blog regularly will know, I am no Pythagoras myself, preferring less mathematically rigorous activities like thumb-twiddling, navel-contemplating, and watching lichen grow. Seriously, differential equations give me hives, but this class was different. Math fellow Julie Rana, who graduated from Marlboro in 2006 as math professor Matt Ollis’ first Plan student, has totally revamped the class to be more accessible and flexible and…well, more Marlboro. I mean, students can choose from Julie’s carefully crafted units to meet their needs, whether that’s preparing for the GREs, incorporating some math into their Plan, or just getting back onto the ol’ math horse after being kicked off in high school by teachers with the social skills of an avocado. Julie is just so excited about the course, the new units she has developed, and math in general, and that excitement is contagious. You know, not contagious like the flu or dysentery or even like a yawn, but like laughter. Julie is teaching another contagiously exciting class called Math and Art, which sounds so cool it could make me get over my math allergy for good.

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