I am a post-bacc pre-med student, and I was very frustrated taking Professor Kim's summer 1211 class. While he is a nice man and a fine person, and I appreciate his ability and desire to know everyone's name, his spoken English was very simply a hindrance to his being accessible to someone with an abstract question about this very abstract branch of mathematics. Forget about asking theoretical questions about the topics, or using any decorative language or complex clauses in your questions to discern the general point behind certain statements and theorems. I found myself simplifying the questions I asked in order to accommodate him, when it is he who should be accommodating the students. There are certain expectations I have of a college professor that Professor Kim simply lacked.
After two weeks in the class, it was also clear to me that he does not appreciate it when questions are asked during his lectures. This problem is compounded by the slow pace at which he moves through the verbiage of the material. He spends an inordinate amount of time writing definitions--in admittedly beautiful handwriting--on the board, and his asking students to read passages and definitions from the textbook serves no purpose in a college course. If he were to move through the material at a comparatively quicker pace, there would be more time for questions and further examples of tough topics so as to increase overall class comprehension of the material. Outwardly he seemed annoyed by students' questions, both during class and during office hours, which I believe is unacceptable from a Columbia University professor. Never have I felt such a palpable hesitancy in the air of the classroom on the part of the students to ask questions on account of a professor's rhetorical abilities.
In addition, Professor Kim's text of choice, Devore's Probability and Statistics for Engineering and the Sciences, is easily the worst college text in any subject I've come across. (I encourage all to read the reviews on Amazon.com; this text received a paltry 2 1/2 stars averaged from about 40 reviews.) As an English major, I was consistently baffled and angered by Devore's curt explanations of the topics, and the giant leaps in logic he takes when explaining the material. Such leaps create proportionally huge gaps in student comprehension. He has no qualms with laying a few theorems out before his readers, and then expecting them to glean all the innumerable nuances by reading his problem examples--whose solutions also consist of giant logical leaps that serve only to confuse a careful reader. The author strikes me as someone who enjoys reading his own writing--because he understands it better than anyone. But in so appreciating his own writing he forgets his audience.
This horrendous text and Professor Kim's (in)accessibility were my main concerns. I can fully understand that certain students to whom tough math comes more easily are charmed by his general temperament and desire to incorporate harmless tidbits of philosophy, science, and history into his lectures. However some important professorial qualities--patience, rhetorical competence--are undoubtedly lacking.