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Letter to the editor


Dear Editor,

I was on campus the other day walking behind two math professors when one loudly proclaimed to the other, “What’s the point of hiring a bunch of people who publish things in journals that nobody reads?”

As a math graduate student eagerly exploring ideas for a possible thesis topic, I was especially disheartened to hear such a small-minded statement coming from a professor in the math department, of all places.

Firstly I’d like to address the concept that publishing in obscure journals is unimportant.

Some of the most important scientific discoveries start their lives in these journals.

I will concede the fact that much of the material published in such journals goes unread; however, everything of scientific importance also exists within these publications, so it can be concluded that publishing in journals is an efficient, accessible way of advancing science.

To dismiss research so blindly as a waste is a frightening thought indeed.

Secondly I’d like to foment trouble and posit that the implication of the overheard exchange is that being a good teacher and publishing papers are mutually exclusive activities.

This binary way of thinking is simply untrue, and rudimentary at best.

I believe a teacher should be a master in his or her own field; and yes, that might entail doing research and publishing findings in those pesky journals.

My goal is to learn from masters in their respective fields.  I certainly don’t want to be mentored by people who think publishing in math journals is useless.

I can’t imagine this ideology would positively affect the masters degree program in mathematics at CSUN.

I hope that such sentiment is not pervasive at the university. It smacks of a dumbed-down approach that has no place at an institution of higher learning.

Bernie Boscoe


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  1. I’m wondering why there’s a difference between “correct English” and “journalism English.”

  2. Bernie Sep 21, 2010

    Aaron, I’ll concede this point if you get an English professor to agree with you. I’d like to hear from “them.”

  3. Bernie Sep 21, 2010

    Aaron, most unfortunately in English, because we don’t have a gender-neutral form of ‘their’ that works with people, we must choose a gender. “His”, or “his/her” are equally as correct in my sentence. But “their” is improper subject/pronoun agreement. I’ll bet my life on it. Your style of usage is becoming quite common in spoken English, but it is plain wrong. Teacher is singular, teachers plural. Consensus does not equal something being correct. If consensus was the deciding point of proper English, my gosh I can’t imagine what newspapers would look like.

    Here’s a source:

  4. Jenny Sep 21, 2010

    The consensus was that the singular “teacher” agrees with the plural “their”? Okay!

  5. Bernie Sep 20, 2010

    I’m just irritated “they” “edited” my letter to read “I believe a teacher should be a master in their own field”, which is grammatically incorrect. My original statement was “I believe a teacher should be a master in her own field”.

  6. Jenny Levin Sep 20, 2010

    Great letter. I had a high school math teacher who was a fine educator. The only problem was he didn’t know math. When in doubt, I say let’s err on the side of expertise.

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