Truths, feedback and priorities

… [the elves] have perfected the art of saying one thing and meaning another. Many times they only reveal part of the truth and withhold the rest.

(in the context of a language where you cannot lie)

I never finished reading Eragon, but that line stuck with me. It was my first exposure to lying by omission.

I eventually saw refinements of “100% truthful” lies with Yes Prime Minister (the link shows the Howard controversy where this technique was used in real life).

TA feedback is always a rough time, regardless of the type of feedback that you get. Rather like life, effort never really factors into evaluations, and sometimes it’s quite the opposite instead - the more visible, the more of a target.

This is especially true for the people who deal with struggling students the most; who choose to have office hours on deadline day, for whatever reason. So despite putting in more effort and time, they end up bearing more of the brunt of student frustration.

On TAing in general… the link is now defunct, but there was a stats PhD student here at CMU who blogged about TAing: don’t put too much effort into it. Your advisor won’t appreciate it, your students won’t remember you, your research will suffer, ultimately TAing is just a sacrifice. This is the approach taken in many courses, especially outside of SCS and when the TA is a busy PhD student. I’ve personally experienced this twice: my assignments only being graded during finals week (2 months or so after submission), and sketchy office hours (TA didn’t show up sometimes, and usually couldn’t answer anything about the assignment anyway).

The worst part is that he wasn’t wrong.. so it especially sucks when you see someone get negative feedback when you feel that they’re actually trying. oh well. I still have the same viewpoint as before - nothing unexpected, after all - so I’m not too jaded yet, I suppose. Or would that make me too jaded to care?

On my end, my actionable feedback is one request to speak slower. Still working on that.

Speaking of speaking, the topic of languages came up. As far as preference rankings go, English is probably 3/5 on my list of languages-including-dialects. Well, at least I get a reasonable amount of opportunity to speak in my second choice. Would be nice to speak my first choice here, but I suppose that’s unrealistic.

I was advised today that I’d need to pick eventually, between ML and DB - that I’d need to let one go. I know that. But I honestly don’t know where my interests lie right now, so the best I can do is to be upfront with the people I’m working with - no elven truths.

Doesn’t help that I recently got sniped by reservoir sampling. Parts of PNC are making me really enjoy math again, lack of ability notwithstanding.. maybe I can tank another C and take CDM some day.

Also reminds me of some advice which I received over break; to let go. Good advice all around, I suppose.

Written on March 24, 2018