Venting - College Coding

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Hi! Hated high school, hate college more somehow. Arrogant professors who are often wrong (not just because I want them to be but because a simple google search proves me right), illogical criteria, and mind blowing leaps through curriculum.

Firstly, understand that I'm doing well in college. Doing good enough that I'm getting scholarships and aid that more than pay for classes. But the stupidity makes me want to throw college in a trash can.

Firstly, professor asks why computers use binary. I say that that's really the only way to implement it. He says no, we could apparently implement the decimal system or hex if we wanted to and shot me down. He's explanation? Because binary is very easy. He lacks everything. It's not easier, its simpler. Simple because you're only using 2 numbers, harder because large numbers are unreadable long strings of 1s and 0s. Putting the decimal system into computers? SURE! Lets just redo how everything works, get rid of transistors from CPUs and what(?) - Measure voltages to come up with numbers!? Afterwards, I lost ALL POINTS on 2 questions on an assignment after making simple mistakes. I SHOWED I understood the concepts, got every other question correct, but tiny little mistakes resulted in a wrong answer. His excuse? "I'd of taken off more points for bad handwriting." This isn't English, philosophy, or whatever. It's a computer logics class. I LITERALLY ONLY WROTE NUMBERS. It wasn't a work of art, but far from unreadable. Arrogant and unwavering.

Now, for my CS class. We have to use a HORRIBLE system to run our code. First, connect to the server, put our code on the server, connect to a different thing, then run our code through that (All This To Run Code On Some Linux Thing They Have). Now, that's a horrible way of doing it in my opinion, but honestly that's really just me. I can't criticize this system beyond the fact that I simply don't like it. (Just Realized fabs() didn't work for another reason. Their compiler has failed me before, but this one was my bad) However, what I can criticize is the HORRIBLY OUTDATED compiler! I ran my code on Visual Studio, ran fine. I put it on their thing (removing the extra #include needed for Visual Studio) and it gives me an error. I didn't understand it at first and tried several things. It ended up being what? It thought the function "fabs()" WAS A FUNCTION CALL TO A FUNCTION I HADN'T DECLARED. How old is this compiler that it doesn't have fabs?!

Maybe hating this system with a vengeance will make life tough, but I will continue to do so. My high school teachers weren't amazing, but they weren't as close-minded and stupid as some of these professors. Don't get me wrong, some of them are super understanding, nice, and competent. I have some professors who aren't really intelligent or anything, but they're respectable at least. It's frustrating beyond words being at the mercy of someone I can't respect. Universities get away with too much.

TL;DR: I want to kill myself everyday. Happy thoughts.

Any college experiences to share?
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Firstly, professor asks why computers use binary. I say that that's really the only way to implement it. He says no, we could apparently implement the decimal system or hex if we wanted to and shot me down. He's explanation? Because binary is very easy. He lacks everything. It's not easier, its simpler. Simple because you're only using 2 numbers, harder because large numbers are unreadable long strings of 1s and 0s. Putting the decimal system into computers?
Sorry, but your professor is at least partly right. The reason why computers are binary is because binary circuits are easier to implement and more reliable. If you have a voltage and you need to be able to tell which state it's representing, telling apart two different voltages is much easier than telling apart ten or sixteen different voltages.

SURE! Lets just redo how everything works, get rid of transistors from CPUs and what(?) - Measure voltages to come up with numbers!?
I mean, the question (as you're telling it to us) is not "why do computers continue to be binary?" The question is "why are computers binary?" If there was a very compelling reason to stop making binary computers and start making decimal computers, do you really think we wouldn't do it? That already happened once when we switched to binary in the 50s/60s. The first computers were decimal, not binary.

However, what I can criticize is the HORRIBLY OUTDATED compiler! I ran my code on Visual Studio, ran fine. I put it on their thing (removing the extra #include needed for Visual Studio) and it gives me an error. I didn't understand it at first and tried several things. It ended up being what? It thought the function "fabs()" WAS A FUNCTION CALL TO A FUNCTION I HADN'T DECLARED. How old is this compiler that it doesn't have fabs?!
Is it possible you might have forgotten to include <cmath>? I get those kinds of errors often when switching from MSVC to GCC, because sometimes you use (say) std::string and forget to include <string>, but you do include <iostream> which in X compiler includes <string>, but in Y compiler it doesn't, so you end up with errors. This is why it's always a good idea when writing portable code to try compiling your code in multiple compilers.


I think a lot of things in life come down to a cost-benefit equation. I went to university a couple years but stopped because, for me personally, the perceived cost (not monetary, because university is free here, but in terms of time and effort) and the perceived benefit simply did not add up. I reached that conclusion and I was not even miserable while going, just super exhausted. I think you should consider these questions:
* Why am I doing this? Am I doing it because I want to do it, because someone else wants me to do it, because I think I'll get or achieve something, or why?
* Is it worth it? This one's probably the hardest one to answer, and it may be risky to get it wrong.
* Can I achieve similar results by other means? I think a lot of people just look at college and university as the default and don't stop to think if there are more efficient or even more effective methods to achieve their objectives.

Now, obviously I'm not advising you to quit college, nor would I expect you to accept that advice. I don't know you nor your situation. My advice is for you to look seriously at what you're doing and ask yourself whether it makes sense. Sometimes we can find ourselves doing something stupid not because we're stupid, but because [various reasons] and we just went on in autopilot, never stopping to think if we're doing something stupid.
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Why Use Binary? - Computerphile
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thrx3SBEpL8

Where did Bytes Come From? - Computerphile
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixJCo0cyAuA&t=36s
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I wrote a lot then this website got rid of it when I pressed "Submit." I'm very sad.

Sorry, but your professor is at least partly right.


Thanks for the reply Helios. The professor wasn't talking about circuitry or anything. He was literally referring to binary math. I was the one talking about internals, with the CPU having transistors that are on or off, 1 or 0. I was being sarcastic about counting voltages, as if to say, "What if decimal was simpler? How would you implement it?" You could say we could go back to the decimal system, but there were plenty of reasons to ditch it to begin with. I think (I could be wrong) that if somehow you turned a modern computer into a decimal computer (overlooking the incompatibility of literally everything), it would be slower. More transistors would be used to create base 10 sequences. A boolean is binary perfect, on or off. To represent that in decimal, you'd need 10 transistors to be off (I think - could be completely wrong). But my whole argument was that 1s and 0s are the best implementation in computers, easy, fast, and reliable. His whole argument was binary math is simpler.

And yes, I forgot the cmath header. Visual Studio didn't require it so I wasn't sure why the compiler wasn't seeing it. Still hate the process and the compiler though. To compile Visual Studio you press Ctrl + F5, to compile on their thing you have to run 2 lines in a terminal and can easily mess up the first line.

When it comes to college, I see tons of people walking around with no real drive other than a feeling that this is the road they HAVE to take for some reason. For me, programming is what I want to do. But if I tried teaching myself more than what I already have, I'll likely be overwhelmed of all the stuff I don't know yet and would become stagnant, not making a lot of progress. University will force me to go learn more than I otherwise would have (I hope anyway...). Also, skills + a degree will likely be a nice combination for employers. It's a 4 year program so I don't have much to lose by going and hopefully a lot to gain. Not to mention that everything is paid for through my scholarships.

Wanted to mention that I fix my CS professor's code every time it doesn't work. He's nice but not at all competent. I don't know how university is getting away with hiring some of these people. One professor had basically only one qualification to teach African American Studies, that she was black. Literally dissed Columbus (Like she'd be able to navigate the ocean), dissed Lincoln (Unappreciative much?), and basically said I was black. Now I'm getting into this again!

Thanks for the insight Helios, made me look back and reflect. I'm miserable and angry all the time I'm at university, but it'll be worth it. Already have people wanting me to intern during sophomore year. Thanks again for listening and giving your advice, it's always valued!
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if somehow you turned a modern computer into a decimal computer (overlooking the incompatibility of literally everything), it would be slower.
Well, that's difficult to say. I suppose it would depend entirely on how you perform the "conversion".

More transistors would be used to create base 10 sequences.
I'm no computer or electronics engineer, but since binary sequences are approximately 3 times as long as decimal sequences that represent the same value, decimal arithmetic circuits could be 3 times smaller than binary circuits.

A boolean is binary perfect, on or off. To represent that in decimal, you'd need 10 transistors to be off
I have no idea how you come to this conclusion. If a transistor is now holding a decimal value (which I don't think is how transistors work, but let's ignore that), why would you need ten decimal transistors to hold a binary value? A decimal digit holds as much information as 3.3 bits.

Literally dissed Columbus (Like she'd be able to navigate the ocean)
Well, Columbus couldn't do it, either. He failed at his task, remember? He was looking for a shorter route to Asia based off an inaccurate unit conversion that yielded a circumpherence of the Earth that was off by almost 40%. It was blind luck. It's like building a rocket to go to the sun against everyone's warnings, missing, and hitting a planet made of strippers.
The thing with Columbus is that he accurately navigated the ocean. Similar to your rocket comparison, the odds of actually hitting a continent (like the odds of randomly hitting a planet) are very low. The fact is, looking at ocean in all 4 directions for months and being able to navigate based on only a few factors and complex math isn't an easy task. He failed to hit India because he calculated distance, angles, and such. He couldn't calculate a continent being in the way. I wasn't specific, but she said something about him being good at math then said, "But apparently not because ..."

based off an inaccurate unit conversion that yielded a circumpherence of the Earth that was off by almost 40%

Not sure where you got that. There were several people with different measurements of the Earth. Even some of the more accurate ones were accurate by luck. But really, we can only know that they were accurate since we know what the circumference actually is now. The true math that he was known for was "dead reckoning" - a method of navigating the ocean which he used to navigate the unexplored ocean. Navigating the ocean was not something you could just be lucky doing. His navigation was right, his prediction of the size of the Earth was wrong.

When talking about decimal computers, I'm really jumping to conclusions. I said I could be completely wrong because I actually have no idea what I'm talking about. It was an assumption made up as I was typing. Reading back to my "10 transistors need to be off" statement, I also don't know how I got to that conclusion. Still, binary offers for simpler circuitry and convenience in ways I don't fully understand. Still learning so bear with me. The reason I was frustrated with the professor was that he didn't address any circuitry, he just talked about binary math, which is what he's teaching. While that does translate to simplicity in how the math is done in computers, he talked like that was the whole thing. Never talked about voltages or transistors. I don't know the specifics, but I know there's more to it than what he said.
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the odds of actually hitting a continent (like the odds of randomly hitting a planet) are very low
I'm not sure what you mean. Continents are not stochastic processes. Either they're there, or they're not. In the case of America, the only difficult part of reaching it from Europe is moving fast enough and having enough supplies. As long as you keep heading sort of West (with a wide margin of error) you'll reach it.

He failed to hit India because he calculated distance, angles, and such. He couldn't calculate a continent being in the way.
The continent is irrelevant. He'd have neved reached Asia because there were no ships large enough and fast enough to make the trip at the time. That's why nobody wanted to finance the voyage, everyone knew it was a suicide mission. And they were absolutely right. If America didn't exist, the entire crew would have died in the middle of the Atlanto-Pacific ocean.

Not sure where you got that.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voyages_of_Christopher_Columbus
Moreover, Columbus believed that one degree represented a shorter distance on the Earth's surface than was actually the case – he read maps as if the distances were calculated in Italian miles (about 1,480 meters). Accepting the length of a degree to be 56⅔ miles, from the writings of Alfraganus, he therefore calculated the circumference of the Earth as 25,255 km at most, and the distance from the Canary Islands to Japan as 3,000 Italian miles (3,700 km). Columbus did not realize Alfraganus used the much longer Arabic mile (about 1,830 m).

The true circumference of the Earth is about 40,000 km, a figure first established approximately by Eratosthenes in the 2nd century BC, and the distance from the Canary Islands to Japan 19,600 km. No ship that was readily available in the 15th century could carry enough food and fresh water for such a journey. Most European sailors and navigators concluded, probably correctly, that sailors undertaking a westward voyage from Europe to Asia non-stop would die of thirst, scurvy or starvation long before reaching their destination.


There were several people with different measurements of the Earth. Even some of the more accurate ones were accurate by luck.
Erm... No. It's not like ancient scholars were just making up numbers. Eratosthenes' method will give you a very accurate measurement as long as you can get sufficiently accurate measurements of distance and direction between the two cities. It's just basic trigonometry.
And there were no measurements with as much error as Columbus' calculation, although there was some confusion of units caused by bad copies and translations through the centuries.
Again, wrote a lot and it got erased.. Gonna paraphrase myself due to lack of time.

Continents are not stochastic processes. Either they're there, or they're not.


Navigating the ocean takes skills. Once you're lost at sea, it doesn't matter where anything is or how close they may be, you wont reach them if your not really lucky. Contrary to how it may seem, "It's not that easy to hit a continent." ~ John Green.

He'd have neved reached Asia because there were no ships large enough and fast enough to make the trip at the time.


Very true. My argument is that if if he could have made it there somehow, his navigation and calculations would likely have led him to the West Indies where he wanted to go.

Erm... No. It's not like ancient scholars were just making up numbers. Eratosthenes' method will give you a very accurate measurement as long as you can get sufficiently accurate measurements of distance and direction between the two cities. It's just basic trigonometry.


EDIT: You're right in saying that the method will produce correct results if given accurate measurements. The issue is getting those measurements.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_geodesy#Hellenic_world

There were several factors off about Eratosthene's calculations that happen to mix in ways that allowed for a small error margin. Not only that, there was Claudius Ptolemaeus who also had his own calculations at the time which were way off. The whole reason we can look back and say that his calculations should have been used is because we have the actual measurements to compare it with today.

I'm not saying Christopher Columbus made good decision in this regard, he didn't. I said not sure where you got that because I'd never heard of that before. Could be true and I trust you, but really I was arguing about his math skills in navigation and such.
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Once you're lost at sea, it doesn't matter where anything is or how close they may be, you wont reach them if your not really lucky.
Like I said, the only difficult part about going from Europe to America by sea is being fast enough. You simply can't get lost. Just aim away from the sun in the morning and aim towards the sun in the afternoon. Eventually you'll either reach America or run out of supplies. What exactly do you think is the alternative? That you'll go all around South America through the Drake passage by accident? Now, that would take a lot of luck.

There were several factors off about Eratosthene's calculations that happen to mix in ways that allowed for a small error margin.
Eratosthenes' false assumptions (the sun being at an infinite distance, the Earth being spherical, etc.) will indeed introduce errors in the calculation, but as long as you have sufficiently accurate measurements of the distance and directions of the two cities, you can keep the error below 1%. I encourage you to try out the math yourself.
It's difficult to say exactly how accurate his own results were, because the exact defintion of the stadia has changed over time. Nowadays it's believed his values may have been off by 10-15%, depending on the size of the stadia alone. I'd say 10% using only shadows and camels is quite respectable.

Not only that, there was Claudius Ptolemaeus who also had his own calculations at the time which were way off.
Ptolemy didn't calculate the size himself, he merely used a version of Posidonius' numbers. Wikipedia says the value Ptolemy used in his Geography was 180,000 stadia, but I can't tell where this number comes from, other than it might be a misreport by Strabo. Posidonius actual result is supposedly 240,000 stadia, which with the units he would have used comes to less than 5% short of the true value (approximately 1000 km short).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posidonius#Geography,_ethnology,_and_geology
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth%27s_circumference#History_of_calculation
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eratosthenes#Measurement_of_the_Earth's_circumference

I was arguing about his math skills in navigation and such.
Yes, and I argue that he utterly failed at navigation. Navigation is about knowing where you are, how fast you're moving, and how long it'll take to reach your destination. Columbus error about the size of the Earth means that once the voyage was well under way he had no idea where he was or how far away he was from land, let alone his destination. To me that makes his a terrible navigator, regardless of how well he could judge his speed and heading.
Well this is escalating.

You simply can't get lost. Just aim away from the sun in the morning and aim towards the sun in the afternoon. Eventually you'll either reach America or run out of supplies.


Assuming the sun is in a perfect universe. But simply, the sun vaguely rises in the east and sets west. That's why that one navigating method that starts with a "c" (forgot the name) uses the moon, sun, and stars in combination. In the end, following the sun would be a long journey that lands you somewhere completely unknown, perhaps without people. The journey Columbus took (which lasted way longer than they'd of liked already) was going to take much longer following the sun. Granted I'm not sure they were taking the shortest route (since if they used a flat map they'll be taking a correct but slightly longer route and I have no idea what he used, though I assume a globe in which case this doesn't matter), but his navigation allowed them to take a speedy journey without follow an ambiguous sun. This was important even more so back then since taking a long route could mean never making it to your destination.

Nowadays it's believed his values may have been off by 10-15%


Didn't realize people thought that. It's true that the methodology is accurate, the issue is that people can't know for sure whether or not he's right until they have the actual answer to go by. If the math had cleared all doubt, Ptolemaeus and others wouldn't have come along to try and figure it out for themselves. Hence my view that the only reason we know he was accurate and was that this was the measurement to go by comes from the fact that we now know the answer.

Ptolemy didn't calculate the size himself


That's what I've read. Some of these sources aren't very reliable and some of these people seemed to try and mimic Eratosthenes' calculations.

Yes, and I argue that he utterly failed at navigation. Navigation is about knowing where you are, how fast you're moving, and how long it'll take to reach your destination.


A respectable view point. However, I see navigation as being able to accurately cross your terrain with calculation. The point is that he was exploring. When others have explored, they may not have been sure of their destinations! He was testing a hypothesis and his navigation skills show since he traveled perfectly as if he'd of landed in the Indies. Perhaps arrogant and crude, but his navigation skills weren't questionable. After all, once he knew where he had landed, he was able to voyage there confidently several more times. Though I suppose we could agree to disagree.
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@zapshe
I share some of your bad experiences with university. That said, professors aren't necessarily teaching something they are anything more than "knows it exsits" and is considered part of their discipline cohort.

This is because there is a need to teach low-level (CS 100-200) programming courses, but the only staff (professors and students working with those professors) are there working on research that has nothing to do with basic <language-X> skills, or know very much about how transistors actually work. It doesn't matter — because said professors aren't making the university lots of research money by knowing those things.

Research grants is where the money is at.

Students-taking-basic-courses comes second to that.

The trick: perform in the class, help other students understand the class material, keep your head down if your professor wants to pick on you, and let it pass.


I am responding, however, because after reading through this thread I sense another issue: you.

You seem to have an inflated sense of self knowledge, lending towards arrogance.

Don't get me wrong: this is not to say that you aren’t very intelligent and capable. But you don’t seem to recognize when to put your pride down and accept that some things might not be as they (have, do, or have always) appear(ed) to you.

Case in point: you are arguing about Cristóbal Colón with an Argentinean. Fact: most American and UK peoples know squat about the a--hole, what he accomplished, and anything about how he did it. Latinos grow up with him looming much larger over their world than we do.

Beyond which you’re both arguing against a different premise, leading to your lack of communication.

You got angry with your professor for making dumb statements about how computers are implemented when you knew better. Guess what you are doing to helios?


Step back, breathe deep, and remember — it really doesn’t matter that much.

(I'd go so far as to say “at all”, but that would be me being arrogant instead.)


TL;DR: I want to kill myself everyday. Happy thoughts.

I do hope you are not serious, that you are just using an unfortunate figure of speech.

Remember, no matter how sucky people can be, or life, or whatever, it is never worth giving it up.

In fact, not giving up is probably the most important thing to learn in life. Because life isn’t always nice, at all. Wonderful moments only come now and then. Everything else is putting up with other people, and doing your best to avoid the ones you really can’t stand.


It is okay to vent. I clicked on this thread because I wanted to read your rant, potentially identify with the issues you are experiencing, and contribute something fun to the conversation about my own experiences (the few bad ones, at least). Reading rants is, at times, enjoyable. It helps us to feel better about ourselves and readjust our perspective away from ourselves, to remember that other people have sucky times too and that we aren’t the only ones dealing with other people’s crap.


I wrote a lot then this website got rid of it when I pressed "Submit." I'm very sad.

Most of us on this forum have learned to Ctrl+A, Ctrl+C before clicking ‘Submit’. That way we can just paste our (otherwise lost) text with another ‘Reply’ attempt.


I can sympathize with your frustration. I have little tolerance for other people being dumb, and I often don’t express myself well when they are.

But being intelligent does not make me smarter than people who know their business. I usually find that just letting people say what they will, even if insulting, insane, misguided, ignorant, or just Profoundly Wrong avoids most unnecessary conflict.

I post this here because I experience Profound Occurrences Of Stupidity on the internet every day, and often have a difficult time participating in online discussions with others because of it, and just wanted to share my own perspective with you.

Hope this helps.
Duthomhas: I got the same impression you got right off the bat. It doesn't help that I've seen my fair share of posts that throw blame at the instructor of a class ("my instructor doesn't teach", "my teacher doesn't know anything", etc.). Honestly, that kind of talk is a red flag for me. To some extent, because I've been guilty of the same thing.

However, I honestly don't know that much about Columbus, and some of what I said in this thread I had to look up. It's true that his voyages are covered more thoroughly in elementary school than in English-speaking countries, but I haven't been in elementary in almost twenty years. And honetly the quality of what is taught is suspect, since the flat earth myth, popularized by Washington Irving, is widespread, even in the curriculum. At least it was when I was in school. No one should trust anything I or any other latino says about Columbus just because it was they who said it. Arguing is perfectly fine and I enjoy it, although I prefer it when the other party can cite some light research, rather than just their own mis/conceptions, that way everyone can learn.
You seem to have an inflated sense of self knowledge, lending towards arrogance.
Don't get me wrong: this is not to say that you aren’t very intelligent and capable.


Thanks, I'm aware of how I am. I'm fairly arrogant I agree.

You got angry with your professor for making dumb statements about how computers are implemented when you knew better. Guess what you are doing to helios?


Like I said, I have plenty of professors who say dumb things or don't seem to know much. I don't get angry at them for that, they can still be respectable people. I got angry because he wasn't willing to listen and arrogantly shot me down. Something I don't do. If I'm wrong, then I'm wrong and can accept that. At the very least I hear out and can discuss.

I do hope you are not serious, that you are just using an unfortunate figure of speech.


I want to, but it doesn't mean I will!


But being intelligent does not make me smarter than people who know their business.


I wouldn't pretend to. I'll never know how to be a doctor, electrical engineer, and plenty of other stuff. The professor taught what he knows, didn't tell him what he taught was wrong. However, if we look at my African American Studies professor, she literally contradicted other things I've learned. Someone has to be wrong, and Google/common sense is a friend.

Hope this helps.


Maybe not as you intended but I am glad you replied. Thanks for the advice.

My tone may come out harsh in text even though I don't mean it like that.
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Duthomhas wrote:
Fact: most American and UK peoples know squat about the a--hole, what he accomplished, and anything about how he did it.
Didn't he circumcise the world with his 40 foot clipper?
Just got home.

Didn't he circumcise the world with his 40 foot clipper?

Pretty much. I heard a lot about horrible things he did, but such was the time I suppose.

It doesn't help that I've seen my fair share of posts that throw blame at the instructor of a class ("my instructor doesn't teach", "my teacher doesn't know anything", etc.). Honestly, that kind of talk is a red flag for me.

Not sure if you were indirectly referring to me or not. If you weren't then ignore this I guess. I've already had some horrible instructors who couldn't teach if their lives depended on it. For example, CS professor didn't even show example code to students who had never coded in their lives and then went on to give what would be relatively difficult coding assignments for them. But I'd never blame the professor if I were to fail, that would be my fault. As for a teacher not "knowing anything," there's a whole different argument for that. I don't know how education works where you're from, but professors can be a bit wacky here. Literally two people can take the same class yet be taught different material (in subjective courses, not things like math). I know for a fact that a lecture on how Abraham Lincoln was an asshole for the emancipation proclamation isn't something the professors were taught. It's their own opinion included in the curriculum. The reason she was upset about it was because she doesn't understand politics, government, or tensions. Not that I'm an expert, but I was taught these things by someone who did understand these concepts.

However, I honestly don't know that much about Columbus, and some of what I said in this thread I had to look up... Arguing is perfectly fine and I enjoy it, although I prefer it when the other party can cite some light research, rather than just their own mis/conceptions, that way everyone can learn.

Same here. Doing research to prove a point is important because both parties come with their bias. Know that I highly respect you and admire your coding/logical thinking skills.
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In that passage in particular I was referring to posts I see on this forum from time to time. "My professor doesn't teach, please help me solve this problem" followed by a show of zero effort doesn't really make me sympathetic for the author.

But I'd never blame the professor if I were to fail, that would be my fault.
Good. That's a good attitude.

I don't know how education works where you're from, but professors can be a bit wacky here. Literally two people can take the same class yet be taught different material (in subjective courses, not things like math).
Heh. Actually we have the exact same thing here. They're called "cátedras". As you say, professors can put in more of their personal biases in humanities, but even in science and mathematics courses you can have wildly varying quality depending on the cátedra you sign on for. At least in the exact sciences faculty they have a review system for professors, which can keep that sort of thing in check, to some extent. I think other faculties don't even have that.
Lol, I see. Well, glad we all talked and discussed. It was nice.
Cátedras
In the US, teaching assistants are called, well, Teaching Assistants/Teachers Assistants (TAs for short), and they are usually students, though not necessarily.

Columbus’s wake in Latino-America
My friends must be, as a cohort, very highly educated Latinos. Some of them are the ones who set the record straight on Columbus for me. (Actually, IIRC, one of them basically hates Columbus and makes sure everyone knows it every Columbus Day.) I don't know if it makes a difference, but most are from PR, Mexico, or Guatemala (and I do understand that there are very poorly educated people in those places as well).

An Example of Bad
I had a professor who was some kind of expert in data flow and algorithm design. That said, he had absolutely no capacity for teaching. He couldn't use any programming language that I knew of. He didn't seem to have a clear goal for the curriculum. And he didn't communicate well either. In class he would:

  1. Give bad example to illustrate vague concept
  2. Tell another dirty joke to the girls sitting in front
  3. Repeat, ad nauseum

I honestly tried to keep up, thinking there would be something I would need to know that came out of his mouth at some point, but eventually I stopped going to class when it became abundantly clear that my grades wouldn't improve from any kind of contact with him. The number of vulgar jokes I was subjected to, on the other hand...

I have no idea what he did professionally outside of academia. Don’t care, either.


And Now to End on a High Note
My final year of school I took the course again, and this time the professor was the Chair of Computer Sciences (or, was, I think the chair changed the year before I had class with him).

In any case, Mr. Shende (https://shende.camden.rutgers.edu) was an exemplary instructor. I learned a lot from his class, and he made you work for your grade, which you could only learn by unequivocally showing that you understood the material. And he had genuine interest in your success. If you made an error, he would give it back and make you work on correcting it. Being late was less important than being correct (though I suspect that was only for students who demonstrated effort).

I remember one day when some of the class were kind of groaning at the task he set us, and he stopped to talk. And he said, paraphrasing heavily, “Look, I remember being lost when I was learning this stuff too. Because it’s hard. But I’m going to help you, and all you need to do is try and work with it. Not all of it will necessarily make sense by the end of this course, but most of it will.”


@zapshe
You’re not going away, are you?
’Cause, don’t do that.
In the US, teaching assistants are called, well, Teaching Assistants/Teachers Assistants (TAs for short), and they are usually students, though not necessarily.
A cátedra isn't a person, it's a particular way to dictate a course, put together by a professor working as a director de cátedra. How much freedom the professor has may depend on the specific course. The curriculum of important courses, such as Analysis I, which is taken by Physics, Mathematics and CS are set by the faculty and can't be changed much. At the other end of the spectrum, a professor might give once every two semesters an optional course on some obscure subject that only they can teach, so they'll have ample freedom to set the curriculum.

We call TAs "ayudantes de cátedra". Some courses with lots of students will have several categories of TAs. The lower categories of TAs are generally students in the latter half of their progress towards their degree, and they do "grunt work" such as guiding students with assignments, grading exams, etc. The higher categories of TAs generally have degrees but are not doctorates or professors, and may dictate roughly half of the classes in a course, and they'll also do grading. A professor or PhD (who may or may not be the directory de cátedra) may dictate the other half.

My friends must be, as a cohort, very highly educated Latinos. Some of them are the ones who set the record straight on Columbus for me. (Actually, IIRC, one of them basically hates Columbus and makes sure everyone knows it every Columbus Day.)
I can't speak for other people, let along in other countries, I can only speak for the education (about Columbus) I received, and IMO the flat earth myth still being around (it might have changed by now) is inexcusable.
And yeah, Columbus is seen by a lot of people (myself included) as ultimately resposible for the genocide of the American natives. Even if you disregard that, he was not a particularly pleasent governor (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Columbus#Accusations_of_tyranny ). I'm sure descendants of natives are especially unfond of him.
You’re not going away, are you?
’Cause, don’t do that.


Don't worry, I'm too self-important to go anywhere.

Thanks for sharing your story Duthomhas!

I can't speak for other people, let along in other countries, I can only speak for the education (about Columbus) I received, and IMO the flat earth myth still being around (it might have changed by now) is inexcusable.


I've heard people debunking the flat earth myth, but I had never even heard of it before.

EDIT: Speaking of TAs.. The one I had for Calculus 1 last semester was WAY better at teaching the material than the actual professor - who couldn't really speak English and RARELY went over examples. The professor literally spent most of the time explaining the theory behind Calculus rather than actual examples to understand it. Passed anyway but not an experience I want again.

EDIT2: The compiler we use at university is running C++98.... A variable I declared like this "double t{};" gave an error.. I want to blow up everyone who was in involved in making this compiler and chose to never update it. Maybe it's not a big deal, but when you hate something you can't help it.
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