I Am Your Student
Today, we hear about how education needs to be revamped to meet the challenges of our ever-increasing technological society. Everyone needs to learn how to code, to think in an out-of-the-box manner and to keep learning no matter
where you are in your career. The world of technology stands still for no one and even the best coders can be left behind unless they constantly update their skills.
Math, too, is seen as intimately associated with computer programming but that’s not exactly correct because there are very few things you need know in terms of math when it comes to languages such as Python. Just get that order of operations (“Please excuse my dear aunt Sally”) set in your mind, get a book by Charles Severance or Zed Shaw (first one free, second on Amazon) and you can conquer this new career.
Try it and see what it’s like. But, remember, persistence is key here and you can’t do it without toughing through what, at first, seems like a foreign language. You CAN do it and Severance has MOOACs and Shaw has a DVD with his book.
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Students who are truly fortunate get, at least once in their lifetimes, a professor who remains a beckon of light in a world of darkness. We who listened to other students and took courses with Dr. Elazar Pedhazur at NYU at their strong suggestion have been in that fortunate group.
Dr. Pedhazur, who died two years ago after a battle with Alzheimer’s, was a truly respected, giving and, in many ways, incredible man. I don’t know where he was born, but he was a member of the underground in Israel during its founding, a spy there (so they say), a writer, an elementary school teacher in the US (while he worked toward degrees in mathematics during the night), and wrote one of the seminal textbooks on multiple regression analysis and a college professor.
He didn’t go to department meetings because he felt they were a waste of time but he told his students that they could come to his home on weekends, if they had problems in their stat work. I recall him saying, “Once you are my student, you are always my student.” Anyone who took him up on his standing invitation for individual tutoring found bagels and cream cheese waiting for them, too. His wife was also welcoming, I’m told.
During my many years earning my degrees, I have never heard so many peers tell me that I “must” take his course and that I would benefit enormously from it. They said I’d have to be sure to take it NOW because he might retire and then I would miss out. The recommendations never seemed to end. Everyone with whom I had classes gave me that advice. Isn’t that odd? I thought it was but decided to take their advice.
I surely benefitted and gained a new respect for the discipline and an enduring admiration for this man who came in wearing checked pants to a packed auditorium. Where, except possibly MIT, do they teach multiple regression in an auditorium where every seat is taken? His were over their registration, but he permitted those who couldn’t get registered to sit in, anyway. Want to tape the lecture? Of course, if you want. Education was something he thought everyone was entitled to and he did more than his part to insure they received what he had to offer in his courses.
A true mentor to his students, he has earned for himself a place in the memories of thousands of students. His mantra was that there’s nothing so complex that you can’t teach it and, if taught properly, you can learn it. Great advice for anyone who is in education or is helping anyone learn anything.
I only learned of his passing today when, just to check, I did a Google search and his memorial page came up. I knew he was in failing health, but I didn’t think I’d see that notice so soon. But I know he had a full life and we are all the better for having known and studied with him.
Au revoir, professor. We surely miss you.