‘Right-brained’ student experiences ‘left-brained’ class

Chronicle Staff

By Shayna Freisleben

I generally classify myself as right-brained. I am not inherently mathematically or scientifically minded, and I’m more partial to humanities classes, so I walked into AP Computer Science A with the notion that I would be entirely uninterested in the topics and that the subject matter would be over my head.

As I took my seat on the outskirts of the math computer lab, notebook in hand, I watched students stride into the classroom, laughing with their classmates and entirely upbeat for a sixth period math class. The class is testosterone-dominated: of the 14 students in the class, there is only one girl.

But as I listened in on the first few minutes of math teacher Jacob Hazard’s lecture, I realized that the class explains, discusses, and dissects our generational sustenance — the computer. Well, obviously, hence the name of the class, but the syllabus essentially creates the programs that make our computers function. One of the labs was to create various forms of a box score for a news website.

The best aspect of the class was easily the positive classroom dynamic. The students in the class, primarily sophomores with a few juniors, clearly wanted to be in the class. They were constantly asking insightful questions, challenging the new topics and utilizing critical thinking to grasp the concepts at hand.

For such dense material, the class is incredibly light-hearted. Hazard jokes with his students, remains patient when they venture off topic and takes a fun approach to computer science. There were no bored expressions in the room, only  pure excitement and a desire to learn.

The class is based on interactivity, with students often working on lab exercises on the computers.
The actual concepts are easy, Hazard said; relaying them in many different ways is what takes the most work. The topic of the day dealt with interfaces and polymorphism.

While the lecture for me might as well have been in Tagalog, there was constant participation among members of the class.

If there was a question, there was no hesitation to ask. Students interjected thoughts, inquiries, opinions and methods of use.

Moreover, the class is easy-going. There’s no intimidation factor. Even as an outsider, I felt welcomed.
“It’s just a really great, loose, fun class,” Hazard said when I asked him if the classroom dynamic was always this genial.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself in my short time with the class, which I could never have envisioned myself saying.