Lesson 1: Kinematics. Timing FAIL.

You must spoil before you spin well. Or, the first pancake is always a lump, as we say in Russia. For me it wasn't very difficult to reach an understanding with children. But the limited time appeared to be the hardest challenge.

OK, I hadn't prepared well for this first lesson in my life. I just looked through 15 problems on kinematics in the "Yellow Book", the workbook of the Summer School, selected and solved about 10 of them that covered the most important cases. But it's very hard to have time for 10 problems in 2 academic hours (90 min.). And it becomes impossible if some time is required for greeting and explaining the theory. For some reason I just didn't realize it.

We managed to consider only 5 problems during the lesson. Only a half of the planned number. But we considered them thoroughly: every problem was solved on a blackboard by a different person, and every question from the class, even stupid, was answered.

Looking backward now, I think that for the first lesson in my life it was conducted well. I overcame my shyness, and a habit to speak very fast. But after the end of the lesson I was very disappointed that the plan was not fulfilled. Of course, insufficient coverage of the subject is a slip, but I made an incorrect conclusion. I should have concluded that I need to choose only a few problems, but the ones that cover the subject uniformly. Instead, I decided to give children more problems in a lesson, but reduce the time per one problem. Implications of this mistake will be shown in later posts.

— written on August 20, 2011


  1. Timing is the issue for every lesson. My own solution when conducting classes in university (i.e. Mechanics) is to thoroughly consider several tasks/problems even when they do not cover every single point of the corresponding theory.
    Only in such a way you can provide your audience with the basic understanding of the theory principles and they will be (possibly) able to step further by themselves.
    But anyway Summer School has the overwhelming mass (mess?) of theory that absolutely in no way cannot be thoroughly considered at the lessons. That's a great trouble indeed.
    I tried to somehow deal with it on my lectures by I cannot say they were indeed useful from the pure academic point of view - the information seemed to be high-concentrated, although sometimes interrupted by fairy tales :)

    P.M. Umm... well, if my commenting here doesn't correspond to the kind of responces you planned for this diary, just ask me to stop, it's really OK :)

  2. 1. I will try to use your advice in the future. Anyway, I have come to almost the same decision. But the idea about 'step further by themselves' is original, I didn't think about it in such a way, thank you.

    2. Yes, it seems like teaching in the Summer School would be easier if we had less topics to study. I think that Chemistry in Summer School is given in a better way: they cover only one topic, the structure of atom. And cover it so good that it is not studied again in Winter School. But we try to squeeze a semester-long course of classical mechanics into 5 lessons. Crazy :)

    3. I find your lectures great anyway. Even though I haven't visited them, only looked through slides. They were not boring, and it's the key to success in Summer School. If the lecture is too difficult or too monotonous, no one will listen, everybody will sleep. I think you did everything right. I even recommended your slides for preparing for the control work in my class :)