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the little red regents book

This is in part a response to this post from unitarymatrix that I have been thinking about but haven't had time to write down.

Perhaps I just had a run of bad luck at the 'tute. The kind of help I needed at the time wasn't always available. What I really would have appreciated was a good set of sample exam problems with solutions (including explanations). As far as computer science requirements went, 6.003 (signals and systems) and 6.041 (probability) had taped sessions of instructors solving problems at the board. (BTW, 6.041 is no longer required for a CS degree.)

A key difference between Stuy and MIT was that there were many more exams per semester at Stuy than at MIT in the science and math classes. I remember my earth science teacher (John Orna) actually gave two tests on consecutive days. His justification was that there was so much material he needed an extra day to test us on it. Some people feel more exams are more stressful, but I would rather have more exams because a low grade on one has far less effect on your overall grade. There actually was a movement sometime while I was there to allow departments to give exams only on a specific days (e.g. Wednesdays for foreign languages, Tuesdays for sciences). Most of the teachers complied, but one, the notorious Phil Fisher (he once gave someone a grade of √2) refused on the grounds that he didn't feel the restriction should have applied to him.

So I was looking around amazon.com to see if Regents Exams are still published. (In New York State, for most subjects, you had to pass these exams in order to graduate, regardless of how well you did in the class.) I found one that has a similar syllabus to the Trig Regents. Just glancing through it I see that calculators are allowed. We weren't allowed to use calculators; there were tables of logarithmic and trig values instead. There would usually be a problem that involved linear interpolation, which is what you needed to use when a value fell between two values in the tables.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 10th, 2006 02:30 pm (UTC)
I'd heard of Fisher, but never had him for any of my classes. He had earned a reputation for bullying students, and I enjoyed battling with those sorts of little tin gods. :-)
Jan. 11th, 2006 04:40 am (UTC)
Honed your skills for life in the business world, I'll bet.
Jan. 11th, 2006 02:42 pm (UTC)
It certainly helped. While I've met some terrific people on Wall Street, I've met my share of clowns, screamers and bullies, too. However, I've learned that when they don't get similar kinds of responses, they tend to back down or improve their behavior. I have a current colleague who had a reputation for yelling, cursing and whining, and I've seen him do it with some other colleagues. However, he's never done it with me, because I never curse in the office, never raise my voice, and make it clear that such behavior is unprofessional and unacceptable. Behaving professionally and doing one's job well can defang pointy-haired bosses pretty effectively. :-)
Jan. 11th, 2006 02:26 am (UTC)
I remember Regents exams around June. Gosh, I haven't studied that hard since Stuy. I feel all those knowledge and good grades was wasted. I don't feel smart or useful anymore. It seems school sometimes don't correlate to the success they promise us. I wish I studied less and made more friends and hung out more, because I sacrificed a lot of growing up for good grades that doesn't seem to get me much anywhere now. I don't know if anyone else felt this way. Or is it only me?
Jan. 11th, 2006 06:26 am (UTC)
My guess is a lot of people feel this way. I actually had a boss for a while at AltaVista who'd also gone to Stuy. We were ruminating one day over how despite all of our hard work we were getting hardly any respect.

BTW, what part of NYC did you grow up in? How did you get to school?
Jan. 12th, 2006 04:21 am (UTC)
I echo this lack of respect for good school out here in the west. Going to stuy, bronx science (ducky from pretty in pink went there aka jon cryer on two and half men), and brooklyn tech or those fancy private schools means something out east. It's not that I think we are entitled. But I feel sometimes others out of jealousy either try to snub us to prove that a good school doesn't mean anything. Even decent top 50 colleges out here is nothing it seems or grad schools, because most people out here don't go to college and see street smarts or people smarts as the key ingredient to success. I like that the wall street and the law industry have the fast track and the criteria to accept only top schools and actually value that. I also don't like the reality of success seems to be more closer to how to kiss ass, how to bully others and put people in their places, step over others in any dirty manners, get you to the top. Or maybe I'm just stupid and not good at politics. I let people step all over me and I'm too passive and chickenshit to fend for myself or raise my voice.

I took the subway to school from Lower East Side/outside of chinatown. There were only two or three other kids from my area that went to Stuy from the same train station, but we were in different grades. I loved hanging out at the Village after school and wish I hung out more instead of studied and followed the kids to go out of state to school and be free from my parents. Now I'm such a wimpy old maid without social skills.

The best would be to have stuy grads create a company together. Wonder how many are out here in Cali? In different countries? In other states?

Maybe the industry we chose - the computer industry doesn't value schooling and grooming people up into the ranks and job security, which I really don't like at all. I do respect Microsoft for testing logical deduction in their interviews with the brainteasers which is similar to law school logic puzzles. I also find working with others from good schools tend to be able to grasp my thoughts and ideas faster and with ease and vice versa, while others don't get it as quickly or dont follow the same pattern of thinking. It may be the way our schools taught us to analyze and think.

I don’t want to sound like an entitled elitist snob and I have met one or two high school grads who are extremely brilliant without having gone to college, but they are very professional and well read too and sharp without kissing ass. I probably am saying all this out of emotions instead of more formulated thoughts, so I must apologize ahead of time if I offend anyone.

Sorry kind of grumpy today.

Jan. 12th, 2006 06:36 am (UTC)
There's a Yahoo group StuyvesantWest that has 221 members, mostly in Southern California.

You are stating a lot of things I've felt over the years. It's an accomplishment to leave the old neighborhood and get an education, and there is nothing wrong with being proud of it. Unfortunately, people tend to interpret that pride as snobbery. Also, many California schools are not very good. When I meet someone who hasn't read very much, I'm aware of the distance between us. I can't, and don't want to, pretend it's not there. Add in a culture that gives great value to conformity, and it's no wonder we get frustrated.

After years of trying to make a go of the corporate thing, I recently gave up and started a small service business.

Class of '76
Jan. 13th, 2006 08:56 am (UTC)
I sometimes think I should start my own business. At present, I don't have a good idea for a business. Also, it is very risky, especially when people like VCs are involved.
Jan. 13th, 2006 08:45 am (UTC)
I echo this lack of respect for good school out here in the west. Going to stuy, bronx science (ducky from pretty in pink went there aka jon cryer on two and half men), and brooklyn tech or those fancy private schools means something out east.

In all fairness, there is some respect for good schools out here in the west. At least here in the SF bay area, people seem to respect schools such as Paly (Palo Alto High) and Gunn High. I don't know much about high schools in SoCal but it's possible most people haven't heard of Stuy or know nothing specific about it. OTOH, I'm not sure if it's a good idea for someone to treat someone in a particular way just because they went to a certain school; ideally, people's facts and opinions should be considered on their own merits.

Maybe the industry we chose - the computer industry doesn't value schooling and grooming people up into the ranks and job security, which I really don't like at all.

I don't think there is much security in the computer industry. Also, companies that sell software or services that are software-based are primarily selling an idea and a concept that they want the consumer to buy into. If they can sell the concept they can hook the user. The quality of the software matters less than the acquisition of the customer. In such an environment, the ability to plan and organize a software effort is less valuable than the ability to quickly throw something together that attracts customers (and investors).

Unfortunately, I have to cut this short but perhaps I will return to this in the future. Thanks for the feedback.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )