My memory is bad. Absolutely, horrifyingly, devastatingly bad. Oftentimes, I wonder if I have dissociative amnesia that happens to flare up on a regular basis. Or, if, every so often, I receive a blow to the head that knocks out all my memories. Either way, I only vaguely remember the style and techniques of this particular professor. I remember the class was mostly lecture in format, we had three tests, and many trees were killed for the amount of handouts he gave us. But, what I do remember, what I am certain that I remember, is that he made learning statistics fun. Or, as fun as learning statistics could be.
I have never been a “math person”. It is one of the reasons for why I went into psychology. I knew math was involved, but it was crunched using a computer, so I would never have to do it, or even see it being done. Nevertheless, I feared the math of psychology, statistics, a required course. The first day of class, all I felt was impending doom. I equate the feeling to what I imagine of small fish near hungry sharks or my dogs near my vacuum. It was not a pleasant wait until class started.
A picture of me on the first day of class. (Emotional interpretation required.)
But, I will always remember his opening statement to the class (a paraphrase, as I don’t remember his exact words): “Statistics is your friend. He’s awkward, but he is your friend.” And, although I did not believe it at the time, he was right. Through that class, statistics became my friend. My professor sprinkled lectures with funny examples, simple metaphors, and true empathy. Knowing the daunting (and dreary) nature of statistics, my professor broke it down step-by-step, detail-by-detail, mouse click-by-mouse click. Even though I wish I could remember more about my professor’s teaching (just one or two illustrative anecdotes would be nice – but all that exists is static), I do believe I have held onto the important piece. He made statistics so easy that it became fun. So I learned a great deal. Sure, I was not competent, but I was confident.
A picture of me on the last day of class. (Emotional interpretation required.)
And, with that confidence, built from my professor’s class, I read one of the largest statistics books known to man (Field’s Discovering Statistics – which I highly recommend) and taught my own statistics class when I became a graduate student. My opening statement for my own class? “Statistics is your friend. He’s awkward, but he is your friend.”
Until next time: bye!