Letters: Judging a course by its title

Re “Can’t tell a course by its title,” Opinion, Feb. 24

Rob Stephenson is right about course titles that may not convey exactly what a student learned. A subtitle would make “Street-Fighting Mathematics,” a class he cites that I teach at MIT, more understandable. The book the course is based on is subtitled, “The Art of Educated Guessing and Opportunistic Problem Solving.”

Even so, it got a one-star review from a reader who was upset that it did not contain “remedial activities for street kids.” You pays your money and you takes your chances.

Sanjoy Mahajan


Cambridge, Mass.

The writer teaches electrical engineering and mathematics at MIT and at the Olin College of Engineering.

I note — wistfully — in Stephenson’s piece that Occidental College is apparently offering a course in Stupidity.

Had that not been a mere course offering but rather a degree program, I think that I might have had a fair shot at graduating summa cum laude as an undergraduate.


Jon Keates


There is a certain irony in the fact that Stephenson is identified at the end of his essay as “a public voices fellow at the OpEd Project.”

Donald Schwartz

Los Angeles


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