Most interactions with humans quickly brings out my anti-living-people bias. Teaching does is a bit faster than usual, though. And I think I’ve finally figured out why: I have–comparatively–very little experience with people trying to do what I do but who aren’t very good at it.
Before college people never really tried to do math/science things. (Or at least if they did they never talked to me about it.) And in college the people trying to do math and science around me were usually at least as good as me with at least as much background as I had, and often were better than me and had more background than I did.
So now I have very little sympathy for my students. I can’t even fall back on pre-college experiences, like a number of other grad students. Instead my position is something like R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket, and I’ve already damn near screamed at students, “What makes you want to serve in my beloved science corps!” And not many friends or students would be surprised if I opened class with a sermon like the following:
If you human filth leave my course, if you survive the midterms … you will be a calculator, you will be a instrument of science, praying for integrals and derivatives. But until that day you are pukes! You’re the lowest form of student on Earth. You are not even human fucking beings! You are nothing but unorganized grabasstic pieces of amphibian shit! Because I grade hard, you will not like me. But the more you hate me, the more you will learn. I am hard, but I am fair! There is no bigotry here! I do not look down on engineering, physics, mathematics, biology, music, economics, or even asshat philosophy majors! Here you are all equally worthless! And my orders are to weed out all non-hackers who do not pack the math to serve in my beloved Corps! Do you maggots understand that?
Amazingly, students don’t respond well to this attitude. Equally amazingly, it doesn’t actually make me feel better to berate them more. Admittedly that’s partially because, unlike in basic, they can’t drop mid-course if they can’t cut it.
I suppose I should be glad that so far the limits of me getting more conservative as I age have been desiring sustainable policies and realizing I have a sadistic inner Lee Ermey aimed straight at people struggling to learn things I’ve known for around a decade.