June 01, 2005

Are you being serious?

Sorry, life keeps getting in the way of blogging.
Must do better.

Maybe a recent tutorial tale will amuse...

I was trying to help students follow the procedure for insertion in tree structures that use a balancing mechanism. At one point in the insertion, you need to figure out whether you need to do a rotation on the tree or not (a rotation being a restructuring manoeuvre on the tree that rebalances it), and if so, what kind. To figure it out, you have to look at a certain bit of the tree, and see whether it is in a straight line, or whether there is a bend in it. So I was happily describing these two options as "straight" or "kinky". I wasn't putting any sexual innuendo in there at all, nothing at all inappropriate was said, I was simply using the terms straightforwardly and in their non-innuendo sense to describe the two cases for rotations.

The reactions of the students were funny. One or two of them I could see were reacting slightly to the words, and it's as if their thoughts were saying

"Straight or kinky? Does the tutor realise the usual context of those words? Sniggger.... oh actually the tutor is not laughing, the tutor is taking this all really seriously, oh ok, we can be adults too, we'll concentrate on the trees"
Watching them try to smother their giggles and act all responsible was funny (and also good, it's good that they did concentrate on the material). I played it entirely straight-faced and didn't let my own laughter (at their reaction) surface. To add to the merriment, one of the students whose first language is not English asked me what the word meant, and I explained about "kinky" meaning "bent".

With any luck, they might remember insertions better that way!


At 11:53 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooh, insertions, sir? Suit you, sir.


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