An “Interesting” Apology

Last week I apologized for using the word “interesting” in class.  I was introducing a new type of radical simplification, when I said, “Here is an interesting problem.”  Before I knew it, my subconscious prompted me to continue, “I apology for using the word “interesting”.”  These  reasons came afterward.  Roughly I said, “I apologized because one, I don’t expect any of you to be really interested in this type of problem and two, I don’t really find it interesting myself.”  I got a few laughs and we went about our business.

I think my use of the word “interesting” in this context was an affectation and a remnant of a bad habit.  The sentence  has a tinge of talking down to students which I want to avoid at all costs.  I am trying to purge my classroom behavior of all such constructions.  Writing this serves both as a reminder and as a penance.

By the way, I will never apologize for expressing a genuine positive emotion.   If I happen to get the slightest spasm of embodied joy as I work a particular algebra problem , I want to share that  feeling with my students.  So I am occasionally  exclaiming, “Wasn’t that cool?!” and the like.  A few eyes roll but most students smile at my evident delight.


About jrh794

I am a sixty-five year old math instructor at Southern Oregon University. I taught at the College of the Siskiyous in Weed California for twenty-six years. Prior to that I worked as a computer programmer, carpenter and in various other jobs. I graduated from Rice University in 1967 and have a MS in Operations Research from Stanford. In the past I have hand-built a stone house and taken long solo bicycle tours. Now I ride my mountain bike and play golf for recreation.
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