Friday, February 5, 2010

Back to school

These are the notes my husband scrawled as he tried to help me understand the one page handout our professor passed out on why the mean minimizes the sum of squared deviations.

The numbers and symbols have a way of simultaneously freaking me out (and making me want to tune out) and making me feel strangely accomplished and fulfilled when I understand what they mean. By the end, I think I did understand the handout and I may even have identified a mistake on the professor’s part (or perhaps I’m still not understanding).

I’m taking an undergraduate statistics course. It’s a little below what I could handle, since I took both stats and econometrics in grad school. But it was what was available right now and will hopefully serve the purpose of just getting me reacclimated to this subject and to its practical use. It also has a very quantitatively able professor and a bunch of students who recently graduated high school with 5s on their statistics AP tests and brains 15 years less aged than mine. So I think there will be plenty of challenge.

I have to admit that I enjoy being back in the classroom. I’ve already accepted that I’m a lifelong student. I think back on what I wish I could do over. I really wish I’d paid attention to calculus in high school and in college. The fact that I didn’t is hard to make up for and has been following me around for years. Now, I sit in the third row, arrive on time, do all the reading, make every effort to not miss lectures (unfortunately, I have to miss some for work), and take the time to make sure I understand a handout full of numbers and symbols.

The professor says he’s an ubernerd. He definitely outdoes me, as I know he can whip around pages of odd symbols and he does it with aplomb and glee. But I’m feeling like a pretty good nerd.

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