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Jerzy Dydak

Posts: 31
Registered: 12/6/04
Posted: Jan 9, 1997 8:58 AM
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I have a general comment on Alan Schoenfeld's story
posted a few days ago.
A simplistic view of any human activity is that of a
continuum ranging between total chaos and rigid bureaucracy.
I have taught in math departments of
4 universities in this country; in one of them
there are no syllabi for basic calculus courses as faculty
felt that it would cramp their style (Q: Can you name the state this
U is in ?), in another each syllabus follows the following
pattern: on day X cover section Y of book C with homework
consisting of odd-numbered problems in the range of 1-50
(remember: C is always a constant, and X, Y are variables).
I hope this illustrates what I mean by total chaos and rigid
bureaucracy. It is a matter of personal preference where each
of us feels comfortable. Personally, I believe creativity
is stifled by moving too far toward the bureaucratic end.
It is refreshing to hear from Alan Schoenfeld about his struggles
with bureaucrats.
The whole discussion started by Bill Thurston's question
on what do we intend to accomplish in undergraduate teaching.
Clearly, such discussion is needed if not desperately needed.
The ironic twist is that those of us who plan to continue
our academic careers as administrators will inevitably codify
the discussion in the form of the syllabus you see above.
Jurek Dydak
Math Dept, University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996-1300
phone: 423-974-5325
fax: 423-974-6576
email addresses:

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