One of the baristas at a coffee shop I frequent is taking organic chemistry this fall. Since I enjoy the material, I offerred to help her review for her exams. So, every other Sunday afternoon or so, I meet her after her shift is finished and we review the things which her class is covering. Here are my thoughts on her class, now that I look back with a lot more experience in the subject, both as a tutor and a student:
- Her professor is lazy and refuses to use, teach, or accept line drawings. This is ridiculous – by not introducing students to the notation that everyone else on earth uses, they are unable to read anything except for the class notes which he prepares. Textbooks, review books, websites, and other resources are completely lost on her.
- The professor told them not to read their book or do any problems from it because it would confuse them.
- No mechanisms. They’re learning about substitution reactions right now, but they don’t know they’re called that. What’s worse is that he introduced radicals at the same time, so I had to explain to her how they were two completely different things. She had no idea why chlorine “substituted” for hydrogens. I was aghast – I didn’t see radical chemistry until the last month of second semester.
- No real instruction in nomenclature – how do you communicate with other people if you don’t know the names of what you’re dealing with.
- Six weeks into the semester, and her professor has yet to mention or discuss resonance.