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During my Dad’s career as Professor of Computer Science and Physics at Bethel he self published (and printed out only one copy as far as I can figure out) 5 books from his lecture notes. Much of what follows is from that.


Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From

R.A. Carlsen, College Professor (Part 1 of 2)


Just when students become useful, they graduate. *** If you teach undergraduates long enough, you become one. *** Students test you. They want to see if you really can do this stuff that you teach. *** It’s always best to solve problems at the lowest level. *** There are two basic ways of learning physics: the inductive and the deductive (mathematical) method. We take the latter approach which means that we start with a set of axioms . . . The approach works well with students that are mathematically sensitive and being Christians, had and added advantage because they are used to an axiomatic structure for living which, clearly, is modified by the concept of grace in the New Testament. *** Analyze, then build. *** I used to tell my students at Michigan that Moses not only brought down the Ten Commandments from Sinai but that Maxwell’s equations were written on the back! *** Physics is best at describing the physical world rather than explaining it. *** In the beginning, God created the rectangular coordinate system. *** Realize that launching a course is one of the hardest things to undertake. *** The student has as an objective: to pass the course with a reasonable grade. The faculty is interested in the student becoming interested in ideas. These two objectives are in conflict at least in the beginning. *** Just one remark about grading. I know what an A student looks like. He/she has a very large bushy tail and bright shining eyes. This person gets an A and all other having a total number of points equal to or greater than this individual. The thing about grading is to be consistent. The B’s are something less than A’s and anyone making a reasonable effort should not get less than a C. *** Be creative in your thinking. 

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April 2009