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Dec 05, 2013

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learning

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Nice article in Nature on Richard Feynman’s lectures: Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about The Feynman Lectures on Physics, the book in question, is that it was nearly strangled at birth. Robert Leighton, chair of a committee tasked with spicing up the physics teaching at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena in the early 1960s, […]

Dec 03, 2013

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quote

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“The growth of the Internet will slow drastically [as it] becomes apparent [that] most people have nothing to say to each other,” the economist Paul Krugman wrote in 1998. “By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s…. Ten years from […]

Nov 21, 2013

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learning, quote

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“One of the things that is extremely challenging to my teaching now is the possibility that there are some things you can learn only from experience and can’t be taught. The pathos of teaching is that some things can’t be taught – and one of them might be political judgement. I don’t think that’s a despairing […]

There is an interview with Sir Christopher Snowden in the Times Higher, with the title.’ The only was is up, but there are different routes.’ The ‘up’ refers to university fees, and comments on views from the  VC of Oxford that fees need to go up. Funding for HE is a complete mess,  and the […]

Oct 29, 2013

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medicine

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This paper, “Urologists’ Use of Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer” by Jean M Mitchell, caught my eye. Not my normal bedtime reading but… First, a single author paper in the NEJM. How refreshing. Two of my first three publications (one in the BMJ) were single author papers. Traditions of science change, but in my […]

“The place to begin may be the US Senate. At the end of July 2012 the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labour and Pensions presented an 800-page report, the culmination of a two-year investigation into ‘for-profit’ higher education institutions.?1 The senators found that at such institutions a mere 17.4 per cent of annual revenue was spent […]

Oct 23, 2013

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medicine, research

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I wrote an article just published in Clinics in Dermatology: Why we should let “evidence-based medicine” rest in peace [paywall]. The abstract is below. Will people let it RIP? No, because as Bruce Charlton has written, EBM is Zombie science. You cannot kill zombies, because they are dead already: they are the undead, they will not […]

Simpon Jenkins in the Guardian: Willetts has celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Robbins report with a pamphlet questioning one aspect of the expansion it stimulated. Pre-Robbins, British universities devoted 60% of their time to teaching and 40% to research. Now those percentages are reversed, so that universities are “lopsided away from teaching”. Only in the former […]

Oct 09, 2013

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universities

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The NYT reports: In its case with the trade commission, Apple accused Samsung of violating four patents, including a design patent for the general look of an iPhone — a rectangle with rounded corners — and a utility patent for detecting when headphones are plugged into a device. And you wonder why companies now feel […]

Christopher Bigsby’s advice for entrants to the university business: “Do not mention contact hours. If asked, say: it depends what you mean by contact. And hours.”

Oct 05, 2013

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universities

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One of the most telling of Rich deMillo’s insights into US universities is how a 1$ research outlay, costs an institution 2.5$. The difference—1.5$— has to come from somewhere. In some instances this will be endowment funds, but in others it will be money allocated for teaching. I do not know of comparable figures for […]

There is a more subtle view on this than I had earlier appreciated. See this piece by Pasi Sahlberg. This is not just about school teachers  either. In many under-performing nations, I notice, three fallacies of teacher effectiveness prevail. The first belief is that “the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its […]

Stanley Fish in the NYT discussing two cultures of education reform. The problem is that I lean both ways. I now add the phrase “learning outcomes” to the list of words and phrases that should never be used, along with “stakeholders,” “imbricate,” “aporia” and “performative.”)

Aug 31, 2013

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learning

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I came across this talk by Daniel Willingham soon after a faculty discussion about medical exam format: the tension between assessment and sampling on the one hand, and the tendency for people to overgeneralise from particular contexts (bluntly: people keep talking about generic skills, when I  think they are much more context and domain specific). […]

Well, who says there isn’t enough quantification in biology and medicine. The quotes below are from ‘The Southern Star’, a journal not to be missed if you want to move in fashionable circles in West Cork (sent by my sister in law, Sue, who lives in a Welsh castle close to Castletownsend). Most freckles per […]

Aug 26, 2013

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learning

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Daniel Willingham blogs about this, with some data. The results are not surprising. Laptops may not be a good thing for those using them or even for those around them. I used to think that med students would have good study and learning habits. Now I am not so sure. As for squeaky pens and […]

Aug 18, 2013

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quote, universities

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“When we have public debates about the needs of higher education—the future of higher education—not coincidentally they track with the agendas and recommendations set forth by the Gates foundation, by McKinsey & Company, by the New America Foundation,” he says. “These are considered independent resources, but basically they’re putting out PowerPoint presentations—and the rest of […]

Aug 13, 2013

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learning, medicine

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Medical education in Brazil has been extended by two years. Previously, it involved four years prior to medical school, and six years at medical school. Graduates are now forced to work for a further two years in public hospitals with a temporary medical license. Brazilian medics are not impressed, viewing it as a way of […]

Aug 13, 2013

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miscellaneous

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There is a profoundly disturbing article about the trial of Amanda Knox, in the New York Review of Books August 15, 2013, penned by Nathanial Rich. Amanda Knox, was the American woman accused of a horrific murder of a young British woman in Perugia in Italy. Her original conviction was overturned, although the final outcome […]

Aug 09, 2013

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universities

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Two snippets from the Times Higher Education on August 1st stuck in my mind. In the first, there is an account of some work published by Ron Johnston from the University of Bristol (paper in the Political Quarterly). With student fees of £9000 per year, and living costs leading to a notional 50K debt, a […]

Jun 28, 2013

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universities

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In the European Union, 23.2% of people ages 15 to 24 (roughly 6 million people) are unemployed (1). Surprisingly, EU youth unemployment is higher in countries where more young people have university degrees…… Youth unemployment in the European Union reminds us that there is a deepening mismatch between what the labor market needs and what […]

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