5 Types of Human Grad Student

Martin Joos, Head of the Dept. of Germanic L & L, UW, Madison, WI, freaked out his entering graduate students by administering little tests upon meeting them for the first time; he was not so much interested in their smarts as their problem-solving personality type (in his typology). Example: he would write down the first few odd numbers, "1  3  5  7  9  ..." Then he would reckon out loud, "1 plus 3 is 4, plus 5 is 9, plus 7 is 16... What is the sum of the first 60 odd numbers?" His typology, based on the response:

Type I. Defense, anger, refusal.

Type II. Collapse.

Type III. "Oh, yeah, we had a formula for this in school..." (Needless to say, he didn't care if they could remember a formula or come up with an answer.)

Type IV ("Engineers"). They'd think a few seconds and then answer, "3600."

Type V ("Mathematicians"). They'd answer instantly, "360."

9 comments:

  1. I'm probably in either the Type II or Type III category, though with a little time and effort (but not under duress), I can be Type IV.

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  2. Just a word on the Type I: While I know that I am not the smartest man, I am also not one to give up. If I am posed a challenge, I will do whatever I can to find the answer. If I don't know the answer or am simply incapable of providing an answer, then I will eventually admit defeat. So I must revise my answer, I would fall either under Type II or Type IV, but not Type III.

    I did fall under Type III in your last experiment, but only temporarily. I eventually realized that I am a Type II in that experiment (I was clearly out of my element).

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  3. You're an order of magnitude off.

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    Replies
    1. John, to whom are you replying? I hope it isn't to the "Mathematicians", because that was the whole point.

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  4. That description is too kind to Engineers.

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    Replies
    1. I'm an engineer, and you're right. It took me nearly thirty seconds.

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    2. It took me a lot longer.

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  5. What about the non-human grad students?

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    Replies
    1. They must be further subdivided into language-speaking and non-language-speaking, also into finger-possessing and non-finger-possessing.

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