His cursing was imaginative and perfectly timed, and he put down many a student who deserved it. There were 400 of us to one of him, and we were completely outnumbered.
He had a chair at the front of the auditorium and would often sit in it and pontificate on topics completely unrelated to calculus. No one dared interrupt him, or even move, because even when in a good mood, he’d single you for embarrassment. One day he decided to quote lines of his favorite poetry and took turns pointing at various hapless students, stupid enough to be sitting near the front, and scream, “Who wrote that?!” No one ever knew – we were science majors, for God’s sake – and that would lead him off into a rant about our general uselessness as human beings and the declining state of the educational system. His comments on the American military machine were brutal; his conspiracy theories, exquisite.
But MAN, could that guy teach calculus. Once the class was in a state of utter silence and complete rigidity, literally perched on the edge of our seats and ready to flee in case he was packing heat that day, he would step to the overhead projector and work his magic, and the formulas would flow directly from his pen into our left brains. All of his military experience came in handy here, because so much of learning calculus is understanding how the formulas describe real-world calculations of force, trajectories, rates of change, and the like. All of our examples revolved around cannons, tanks, and shotgun shells.
About 150 students survived till the end; they gave the professor “wildly positive evaluations.”