26 October 2016

I Think I've Found A Way To Express It

Let's say I decide I want to learn Calculus.

I go down to the local community college that offers such classes and try to sign up.

Before they take my money they ask, "what math have you already taken?"

If I am uncertain about my abilities, there's a test.  If I need to brush up on my algebra then I take those classes first.

Do you know what they don't ask me to do?

Take the kindergarten class on arithmetic if I show I already know how to add and subtract during the test.

The paradigm for shooting classes seems to be to assume that unless you've attended their arithmetic class, there's no possible way you can know algebra so you must take that class first.

Even when they don't have such an attitude, they don't seem to be able to communicate what they are teaching at their various levels so that I can make a self assessment about which class is most appropriate for my default skill level.  There doesn't seem to be a test I can take that will place me either.

It's so very frustrating.  I want to expand what I know, but I also don't want to spend money on needless remedial teaching.  That'd just make me bored and cast a pall on future classes.

Never mind the eyewatering cost of most of these classes!  Heck, if they were cheaper, maybe I wouldn't worry so much about relearning something.

Speaking of those costs; where are the classes priced for the people who make minimum wage delivering pizza or behind the counter at the Kwikie-Mart?  The people whom are far more likely to encounter someone with a gun pointed at them than someone who can casually plunk down $1,000 and take a week off three times a year.


  1. Not sure I follow the logic. Any bozo can teach a class and hand out a certificate, but errors in Calculus are rarely fatal. If I'm teaching something where said errors can have fatal consequences (and I'll likely be prosecuted by some ambulance chaser in such an event), I'm going to make damn sure we're all on the same footing.

    If in doubt, blame the lawyers.

    1. How do you determine how much I already know? Do you even try to find out? I mean you make more money making me learn something I already know, right?

      The analogy is that a community college isn't going to try to teach me something I already know and tests to place me in the appropriate classes.

      Calculus errors often kill people. What math do you think engineers are using?

  2. Well then, you could do a one-on-one session to see how much you know...I'm sure the instructor, for a fee, will be happy to provide the test. Issue typically is cost and availability; been there done that.

    While we're at it. The cost of the classes is due to the cost of insurance (blame the lawyers) as well as the scarcity of those willing and able to hold the classes. Streisand the singing pig doesn't make millions because of her addled brain, but the scarcity of her talent.

    And Angus, the operative word is "rarely," and such math errors are typically caught by in field trials (just ask the NorK's). Failed firearm field trials typically involve blood.

  3. Angus

    Actually I couldn't agree more.

    I've a 'certain amount' of training and experience (30+ years working for Her Majesty in X and E Sqdrns) so when I wish to 'further hone' my training/experience (or just see what everybody else is doing – over there) it can 'grate somewhat' when you get the exact same majority basic 'this is which end the bang comes out of – and even more basic' spiel Every. Single. Damn time! (I fully understand why they do that, they 'have' to teach to the lowest common denominator until, and unless, there is evidence that it isn't required)

    The problem is though that unlike calculus (military training, or most academic or professional training for that matter) there isn't an agreed 'core curriculum' or 'stages of development', let alone approach or emphasis (and to 'test' the level of a potential student you've basically got to run them through the identical equivalent of those self-same classes). I've been to 'a few' classes and, good as all the trainers were, there was always some major variations in almost every aspect of the training they offered so any such test 'one' performed would vary widely from what the 'next' would probably demand (and they'd therefore 'require' you do theirs too).

    Could it be 'consolidated', could there be a commonality of 'curriculum', stages and achievement? Of course, but the major issue with that is that it would require a massive 'bureaucracy' (when is there ever any other kind?) to 'agree' and 'enforce' any '(let's be honest – costly) 'certification' of training 'levels', no? Then you'd get the normal/guaranteed 'stifling' of innovation/development as well as major 'increases' in cost and a (guaranteed) concomitant limiting of the numbers of 'certified' trainers.

    Nope, I for one prefer the lesse faire/individual current situation to any of the realistic alternatives (as much of a pain, waste and as costly as it is).

    I suspect the only option for someone of 'limited means' and 'restricted time' is to hopefully find a 'non-professional' local with the knowledge and skill. There are a surprising number who'll 'donate' training to 'the right kind of' people (then the only issue becomes ensuring they're genuinely skilled/knowledgeable rather than a wannabe of course). But that's neither easy, or going to happen very often.

    Either that or hope some of the trainers start ensuring there is some 'reciprocity' in their training … some of 'the big names' generally do this already, but if it became more common ... I wish!


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