No respect

I gave the last lecture in my Fourier class today. I think the course started alright, but I seemed to be losing the students for the last few lectures (not helped by the fact that three of the ten hours of the course were 5-6pm on Fridays, but a good workman doesn’t blame his tools…). Trying to get some immediate feedback (although still too late to do this year’s cohort any good) I handed out sheets of paper and asked them to write down, anonymously, something they understood, something they didn’t understand (a request greeted with an uncomfortably loud giggle) and any other comments. Although I only got about a dozen responses, there were some commonalities: indeed the first half of the course (Fourier Series) seemed well-understood, and the second half (Fourier Transforms) much less so; I should try to include more examples of the use of the methods (which will require changing the syllabus a bit), and more explanation of what the mathematics mean.

But one remark stood out: “Your handwriting is really bad. And you smell. Sorry.” Further comments — perhaps from readers who might have some knowledge of the subject — welcome.