Mathochism: The trouble with blurters

One woman’s attempt to revisit the math that plagued her in school. But can determination make up for 25 years of math neglect?

The Youthful Professor continues to impress me with his ability to get through material and avoid digressions. He is also quite good at ignoring diversions, which is a skill I wish I had.

As it turns out, there is more than one loudmouth in the class, who likes to talk along/over the professor, and blurt the answers out loud. And of course he sat right next to me! I had to restrain myself from hissing “Dude, it’s not a game show. You don’t win cash and prizes for yelling out that that equation factors to (x + 1)(x – 6)” at him. Sigh.

I have hopes, though, that this guy may not get to stay in the class, since he is one of the class crashers, and there appear to be only two spots available. Just my luck, and he will stay. But I may have a secret weapon. There is a very assertive young woman sitting on the other side of the blurter, and coincidentally right next to the Russian blurter I mentioned in my last entry.

This assertive young woman stopped the Youthful Professor during the first session to ask if we would get a break. During the second session, she stopped the Russian blurter in mid-blurt with a well-placed “would you please not do that?” He professed ignorance at first, and was a bit defiant, but I noticed he was a lot quieter after that.

His silence, of course, COULD have been a result of the more powerful blurter next to me. It may also have been due to the fact that yet another young woman asked him to shut up later. If I weren’t so annoyed by him, I might have mustered some sympathy. But it’s best to nip this in the bud, before someone smacks him.

At any rate, I am hoping these two ladies will dispatch the newest blurter as quickly as they did the Russian one. It may be worth it to plant a bug in Assertive Young Woman’s ear at break. You know, the break she insisted on, and was definitely heard by the Youthful Professor. I say this because, when asked by another student who decides the break, YP pointed to her.

“That girl.”

Even one week into this class, it’s clear where the power is gathering.

All text copyrighted by A.K. Whitney, and cannot be used without permission.



  • Stumbled on this via Feministe (yay shameless promotion Sunday!).

    I’m currently a math grad student, and what you’ve describes really fits in my experience, both as a student and a teacher. There are always these loudmouths in math classes who talk too much and think they know everything. However, very rarely are they also the smartest students in the room. The best students are usually the ones absorbing the material patiently, and asking frequent pointed questions. I hate that good students are often intimidated by this, and don’t realize that they have the potential to be much better and more successful in math!

    Anyway, I found reading this spot on in terms of my experience. I’ll try to stop by and see how you’re doing. Good luck with your class!

  • Thank you. And thanks for reading!

  • I also stumbled onto this from feministe. I’m about to return to university (after a spell on the other side as an academic) and would be mortified to find myself being a blurter. I hope that I’ll be more ‘assertive-middling-woman’ with good questions.

    good luck with your class!

  • Being aware is the first step! I worried also, as an older student, that I would be insufferable. But I tend to keep my head down and ask questions as needed.