The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

Many of us university instructors are scrambling to adapt our formerly face-to-face courses into online courses. This, to allow “social distancing” in response to the Wuhan Flu pandemic. Rebecca Barrett-Fox urges us “Please do a bad job of putting your courses online.” I’m absolutely serious. For my colleagues who are now being instructed to putContinue reading “The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good”

You can teach yourself

Tara Westover gives the Big Reveal about education My parents would say to me all the time: you can teach yourself anything better than someone else can teach it to you. Which I really think is true. I hate the the word “disempower,” because it seems kind of cliché, but I do think that weContinue reading “You can teach yourself”

Feynman’s 4-Step Learning Process

From the man who showed up rocket scientists, a simple checklist: pick a topic you want to understand and start studying it pretend to teach your topic to a classroom* go back to the books when you get stuck** simplify and use analogies Exactly the technique I use to “get smart” on lots of stuffContinue reading “Feynman’s 4-Step Learning Process”

Ooo, ooo! I have a better idea!

Those wily Brits have identified some major stumbling blocks in their education system: Schools are removing analogue clocks from examination halls because teenagers are unable to tell the time, a head teachers’ union has said. Teachers are now installing digital devices after pupils sitting their GCSE and A-level exams complained that they were struggling toContinue reading “Ooo, ooo! I have a better idea!”

When all you have is a hammer…

…everything looks like a nail. Daniel Lakens, the 20% Statistician, takes a rare but easy shot at statisticians and null hypothesis significance testing. Our statistics education turns a blind eye to training people how to ask a good question. After a brief explanation of what a mean is, and a pit-stop at the normal distribution,Continue reading “When all you have is a hammer…”

Seven Pillars

Wisdom hath built her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars.  –Proverbs 9:1 I just finished Stephen Stigler’s The Seven Pillars of Statistical Wisdom, and I’m daunted–and embarrassed that I waited so long to read it.  Stigler gives us a structure and taxonomy to statistical thinking* that gives us the “big picture” of statistics.Continue reading “Seven Pillars”

Some Hard Stats about University Teaching

Thinking about becoming a university professor?  Read Kevin Birmingham’s “The Great Shame of Our Profession” before making definite plans. A 2014 congressional report suggests that 89 percent of adjuncts work at more than one institution; 13 percent work at four or more. The need for several appointments becomes obvious when we realize how little anyContinue reading “Some Hard Stats about University Teaching”