Hello Professor!

I was shopping at the open-air market on Saturday when a voice called out to me - Hello Professor WiseWoman! I turned, but could not place the face. But when he said his name, I remembered him.

He was one of my first students, one who had complemented me on my German, but pointed out that I was always making grammar mistakes by using female endings on nouns such as "programmer", "customer", "author", "manager" etc. When I said "Yes, I do that on purpose," he had replied "But I feel so left out." My response was just "Yes, indeed. But I do have two male terms I use: secretary and doctor's receptionist". He had been flabbergasted at the time.

He had his young son on his arm, I asked where he was working. Still the same place he started after getting his degree. And then he began to thank me - for the very visual way that I teach programming. He remembered some of the props I use to this day, and he said it helps him visualize what is going on in the computer. I normally get the "This isn't the way to teach programming!" complaint from the young code warriors, so this was wonderful to hear.

And he thanked me for making them write reports. Ones in complete sentences, explaining what they were doing. This is so important. He also complained about math class - there they were, learning about matrices and not understanding what they were good for, when there are *so* many cool applications of matrices around.

We are currently discussing how we can get our math teachers to use good examples from applications when they teach, but normally, they are not aware of these, and so blissfully teach pure mathematics. Any ideas how we can teach our math teachers?

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