"very good, but language poor" - comment on my math exercise

i find people who are resistant to change highly interesting, and i have a soft spot for them... since i was young i seem to have had this idea that people are determined, that they eventually become the type of people they were meant to be by god, genes, or some traumatic event in childhood. only later in life do i realize that you do have some control over the person you want to be... by working hard, making plans etc... but what happens when you don't WANT to change?

this is the dilemma that's thrown back at me whenever i encounter my real analysis teacher. i cannot decide if she has contempt or a slight fondness of me, because she's especially pedantic and always comes up to me to point out my mistakes. (ordinary people would probably think i suck, but no, to me this means that i am special. i helped her arrange chairs in class once, that must be it.). someone said somewhere that when people tell you you're screwing up, you're doing fine. it's when people don't notice anymore that you're in trouble. i don't quote his name because i remember seeing someone aged 25 quote someone in all seriousness (it wasn't a joke or something), and thinking, shit, at 25 you shouldn't be quoting anyone anymore. (unless they're funny) it just shows your lack of authority and ability to improvise intelligent comments. her class is an exercise in pedantry, of using the precise terminology at the right time "that's a norm, not a distance". i've come to appreciate the pedantry, because after all this is a course in rigorous proof, and what i write does sound ridiculous at times... and so, i slowly come to appreciate the grammarians approach to mathematics. it belabours me sometime, the obvious, but i guess this was what 19th century mathematics was all about, proving the obvious so that you won't screw up in unusual cases.

anyway, the irritability that surrounds her when people use the wrong term (many who have not learnt mathematics in english as a first language) does prevent people from speaking up in class. she is practically ancient. how many teaching evaluations must have come and gone and not touched her, moved her to change... or perhaps it is too old for that... and although i wish i had a better teacher teaching me topology, the protective instinct in me thinks that she has survived so many bad teaching evaluations, and she looks so frail, and innocently schoolmarmy that i cannot think what she would do if not teach mathematics. she doesn't look like she enjoys it, but she doesn't look like she'd enjoy anything else. she arouses my extreme sympathy.

attending my ma200 class is also another case where i am exposed to the full sarcasm and ego of mathematics tutors. i shan't elaborate... i also attended ma200 lectures for the first time in ages today, and i realized we were already at laplace transforms. i've watched the mit lectures, but interestingly he was going through another seemingly pedantic problem in point-mass probability. but interestingly, that's actually the prelude to the dirac delta function. we won't actually cover it in our courses and nobody will know that we covered the dirac delta function because we aren't physicists, but there you go. when you give something a name, it's would probably be more noticed. guys, we actually learnt the dirac delta function today. as it was, it seemed like it bounced off the empty seats of the lecture seats today, and i blame the vastness and dark lighting for swallowing up whatever academic enthusiasm is left in this school.

i realized that in some respects, i am a realist. i have a pretty low ex-post cost of regret, and this means that unlike my personal tutor, and his advice for me, there is no way i am going to make a random spray of applications to the top schools. it's targeting for me.

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