One Week and my Comfort Zone

March 4th, 2013, 6:25 am PST by Greg

I have now officially completed one week of teaching: the discrete math course last Thursday and Monday morning. Web development Monday night.

The discrete math course is going fine. It’s material that should be near and dear to my heart: my undergrad was math and computer science after all. The problem is that it just isn’t. I have moved on and prefer my CS with computers in it now. Not that this is a serious problem, it’s just hard to get excited about discrete math at 8:00 am.

I’m just back from my first web development course. Having not taught the material for 6 months (or started the course for 10), I had started to forget the feeling. Teaching web stuff (or programming languages: CMPT 470 or 383 in the SFU lingo) feels good. It was like a old sweater (old boots? custom-tailored clothing? What’s the expression?). Finally, something that was right bang in the middle of my comfort zone.

After all the (good) weirdness of the trip, then adjusting to China, then to ZJU, then to discrete math, it was such a contrast. I could have stayed up there and talked about web development until I dropped from exhaustion.

My big worry about this class was their English level. The math course is DDP students, so they have taken extra English courses, but I wasn’t so sure about this group. Judging by my internal engagement meter, they seem just fine. That’s a load off.

At some point during the class, I asked (begged) if someone could get the campus VPN craziness to work under Linux. [I have been working in Windows, which is also not comfortable.] After class, about 10 kids came up and assured me that it was easy. In five minutes, my laptop connected to the VPN under Ubuntu. [To be fair, it was easy: if you already knew how, and were on the cc98 message board, and could read Chinese.] That’s one more big step into my comfort zone.

When I got home, I had a rum and diet coke, using the Tanduay we got in the Manila airport (for $2$4, double the in-town price). It isn’t much to sip straight, but mixed with coke, it’s a damn serviceable rum. More comfort. [Mom and Dad: you’ll be pleased to know that I still often give a thought to Glen when I have a rum and coke.]

So there you go: web development, Linux, and rum. That’s apparently my comfort zone.

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