In Response to: A Combustible Mix 

Thank you for the thorough coverage of Maitland Jones’ adventure with NYU. As an orgo student in the early-mid ’90s, I’ve pondered why this exceptional professor faced such negative feedback. Perhaps his NYU students had adopted the habit of skipping over material they found too difficult, since next week’s topic would likely be a new chapter, and they could get by with some weak areas.  I think this could work in most classes, and it’s an intelligent way to cope with a large workload. However, in organic chemistry, every class builds on the foundation of the previous one, continuing the structure for future classes.

Any neglected material would leave a gap that couldn’t be overlooked but would impair the student’s entire grasp of the subject. Once a student figured that out, they would likely be daunted by all the work to go back, comprehend that first difficult week, and then get caught up on all the following weeks; and they would just give up. Jones’ comparison of orgo to a language would support this idea: Suppose one week you just found verbs too hard and decided to let that week slide?

Kelly Glostott ’95
Milwaukee, Wis.