Oleg Chertov

What courses do you teach?

“Calculus,” “Theory of Functions of a Complex Variable,” “Machine Learning,” “Project Management.”

Where were you born, what school did you attend?

I was born in Kryvyi Rih, one of the longest cities in the world. My first eight grades passed in the common school 95. Grades 9 and 10 I spent in the math class of the same school. The head of the Studio Kvartal 95 Volodymyr Zelensky studied in this very school. Number 95 in the name of the Studio stands for this school number.

What were your favorite subjects at school?

I liked various ones. Took part in math, physics, foreign language, history contests. I didn’t quite fancy chemistry and biology. I graduated the school with honors.

What college did you want to enter, and what did you want to become?

Back at school, I was keen in programming. You see, in our math class, we had some programming classes. At that time, you could become a programmer only if you majored in applied math. I certainly didn’t want to leave for Moscow. In Kyiv, leading unis were KPI and T. Shevchenko SUK. I chose KPI for SUK, since I never really wanted to be a teacher. Who would guess I’d become a university lecturer. :)

I studied at the Control Systems Faculty, at the Applied Mathematics Department.

How did you become a lecturer?

When I was a postgraduate student, they started letting me teach some courses as an hourly pay job. Later, it became a part of my full time job.

Did you go in for sports?

When I was a child, I used to do very “related” sports, chess and… weightlifting.

By the way, my first weightlifting coach later trained an Olympic champion, and afterwards became an Italian National weightlifting team coach.

Do you like to travel?

My travels are primarily connected with my scientific work or my job. I visited the US, Singapore, Germany, Great Britain, France, Czech Republic. When I’m on vacation, I also go traveling with my family. I do enjoy traveling, but there is no place like home.

How do you spend your pastime?

If I’ve got some free time, I spend it with my family. I’ve got a small book collection at home. When I get retired, I will read those.

If all the art pieces disappeared off the face of the Earth, which book, music piece, and movie would you salvage?

As for the music, without a doubt I would save the mother’s lullaby. Some sentimental Ukrainian song.

As for books, I would choose Fazil Iskander, his Sandro of Chegem or any other book.

My choice of movies depends on the current mood.

Actually, the question implies that there has occurred some disaster, and you need to save yourself. In this case, I would choose weapons and food instead of books, in order to protect myself and mine.

Do you regret expelling students?

From a humane point of view, I do regret. Obviously, expelling a person might sufficiently influence his or her life. Typically, I expel students in two cases. Either a student’s chosen a wrong major, and he or she needs to be expelled in order to find a place in life, or a person merely doesn’t want to study.

How do you treat those who reinstate several times after having been expelled?

Actually, I believe it is OK to reinstate as many times as one wishes. Sometimes a young person doesn’t understand what he or she needs. So he or she applies for a job, and in due time returns. It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, it’s how many times you get back up.

How do you think the students treat you?

I guess quite differently. And it’s the way it ought to be. If everyone likes you, it seems suspicious. I believe someone doesn’t like me, someone may even dislike me a lot. Someone, however, is thrilled with my way of teaching.

A teacher has to fulfil his main goal, i.e. light a person like a candle, so that this person likes his or her job, likes to study. When eyes glow, it is of utmost importance.

In the recent years, I come across some students who’ve got no interest in life at all, simply no-in-te-rest-at-all. That’s too bad, because a person doesn’t self-improve. You need to do this for the whole life, you know.

Do you learn anything new from your students?

Surely. In fact, during every single class you learn something new. Very rarely professional stuff, of course, but it happens sometimes too. Students can ask such questions you wouldn’t even dream could possibly arise in the first place. To answer these questions, you need to come up with interesting examples, approach the problem from another angle. Those students, who attended my practical calculus classes, might recall that we often intentionally solve different problems not by one method but two, sometimes three different methods… Until we reach an optimal one.

On the other hand, from a philosophical viewpoint, any conversation is mutually beneficial. It doesn’t matter whether you talk to an adult or to a child.

Do you believe the overall level of students decreases from year to year, and what could cause that?

One hundred per cent true. I can see it with my own eyes. I read calculus for over 20 years now (intermittently). Different students often write the same quizzes, and the progress curve steadily decreases. It is defined by a whole lot of issues, weak student motivation being the prominent one.

How would you like to change the educational process?

I think we will change, together with the students, our approach to the entrants.

I wish people entered our Department because they really wanted to do the job we teach for. Not some random visitors. I mean it’s better to have less students, but more motivated ones.

Also, we will establish cooperation with our students who work in the field.

Practical experience shows this is not always the case that overachievers in high school remain so in college. Sometimes, young people that didn’t study well at school set concrete goals regarding their job. And they graduate from KPI with honors, become great professionals. So, in my opinion, the most important thing is that our students be motivated.

Do you have favorites among students?

No, certainly not. I always split the students into those who are more bright, less bright, and somewhat in between, but only from a pragmatic point of view. I do that to find a particular teaching approach to each and every one. Besides, being a “favorite” is in no way connected with having high knowledge. You can be a bad person but a good specialist.

Which character traits do you value the most, and which ones do you despise?

For the students of our Department, motivation and determination, integrity, good manners, and civility are expedient. For instance, I can unmistakably tell my students entering a classroom from the students of other departments. From the very first class, “my” students are used to always let the ladies go first.