1994 Backwards Is 2006

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AuthorTopic: 1994 Backwards Is 2006
Infiltrator
Member # 3040
Profile #50
quote:
Originally written by Slippery Salomon:

quote:
Originally written by Sirrus:

Off-topic: Salmon, posting pyramids get topics locked. I kinda like this topic. So the pyramid should probably end. Thanks.
Off-topic: Aran, my joke was ill-concieved, apologies to all.

5755 = 7614 ?

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5.0.1.0.0.0.0.1.0...
Posts: 508 | Registered: Thursday, May 29 2003 07:00
Dollop of Whipped Cream
Member # 391
Profile Homepage #51
Yes.

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"Tyranicus is about the only one that still posts in the Nethergate Forum." —Randomizer
Spiderweb Chat Room
Shadow Vale - My site, home of the Spiderweb Chat Database, BoA Scenario Database, & the A1 Quest List, among other things.
Posts: 562 | Registered: Friday, December 14 2001 08:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #52
quote:
Originally written by Lt. Sullust:

quote:
Originally written by Randomizer:


It's like when they hire a new college professor. In the interview process the question of whether you can teach is never asked. It's what is your area of interest and what kind of funding can you bring in to the department.

From what I've seen usually they have them do a guest lecture for a class in front of several members of the current faculty.

Faculty candidates invariably have to give a talk about their research, but it is pitched at a faculty level. Some places also ask for a lecture on an undergraduate topic, but this isn't common. The attitude is usually that anybody intelligent enough to do research should be able to figure out how to teach acceptably well, so there's no real need to assess this separately.

In most cases I'd say this is true. The problem cases are the people who just don't care about teaching, and these ones would make the effort for a job interview, so you wouldn't be able to screen them out that way.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 4153
Profile Homepage #53
quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

The attitude is usually that anybody intelligent enough to do research should be able to figure out how to teach acceptably well, so there's no real need to assess this separately.

In most cases I'd say this is true.
The problem cases are the people who just don't care about teaching, and these ones would make the effort for a job interview, so you wouldn't be able to screen them out that way.

I'd like to disagree with the italicized part... I've personally had a few professors who don't have a clue how to actually teach, and my friends have had even more. I know of a few who are just generally incompetent.

There's also the problem of researchers/professors having to teach outside of their incredibly specialized topics, and failing miserably at it.

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Gamble with Gaea, and she eats your dice.

I hate undead. I really, really, really, really hate undead. With a passion.
Posts: 4130 | Registered: Friday, March 26 2004 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 6785
Profile #54
Actually my observation about teaching was from a professor doing the interviewing for a new hire. I've had a few that can't teach or at least outside their area of interest. I was always glad when I missed having them.

I heard of a Nobel prize laureate whose two best lectures for the year occurred on the days that the view graph machine was broken and he refused to touch a piece of chalk. He was actually understandable when he couldn't resort to pages of equations.
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 455
Profile #55
A curious thing about Mussolini: he didn't actually make the trains run on time. He just ruled in a way that appealed to people who liked to be able to say that at least the trains were running on time. These people, apparently, are still with us now.

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Forgive them, for they are young and rich and white.
Posts: 265 | Registered: Saturday, December 29 2001 08:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #56
I've heard the same about Mussolini and Fascist trains still being late. I wonder if anyone has any evidence either way.

About professors teaching, obviously there are lots of professors in the world, and nobody has seen a significant sample of them. Certainly some are very bad. Some of these are old guys hired in the seventies, when anything that moved could get a university chair. Most of the rest are quite smart enough to do better if they wanted to, and the problem is that they don't care. I wasn't saying that this doesn't happen, just that you can't screen it out at an interview.

It's also worth bearing in mind that there are limits to how much any professor can do with a course, especially some courses. A lot of college level material is just really hard. Professors with charisma can make a course amusing, and any professor can make tests and assignments easy. Students tend to like those things, but they don't have anything much to do with learning the material. Some people are so gifted at teaching that they can make a real difference even in very tough subjects. But complaining that not everyone does this is like complaining that most professional athletes aren't superstars. It's really hard to do it that well.

I don't think tenured faculty are a big problem for North American college teaching. A bigger problem is that quite a few courses are taught by inexperienced grad students and adjuncts. And large departments generally pay no attention whatever to these people or the courses they teach.

Now there are some brilliant grad students, and some extremely competent adjuncts. Some of them have long-term contracts and tons of experience. But there are also courses that get taught, time after time, by brand new PhD's who have failed to secure either post-doc or tenure-track positions. These people find themselves facing huge lecture halls full of early undergrad students, with no experience, no training, no mentoring, and no support. They are teaching stuff that they themselves have been taking for granted for years, and facing for the first time the very difficult task of explaining it to people who are mostly much less naturally talented at the subject than they are. Their pay scale ranges from very modest to totally pitiful. And the next semester they'll probably be gone, doing something totally different somewhere else, no matter how well they do at this course; and they know it.

I say all that having seen it from every side now. The German system has an approach that might perhaps be better. In every university there (that is, here), there is a whole category of permanent academic positions that are dedicated primarily to teaching rather than research. They don't have the clout or prestige of the research professors (who also teach, but not as many courses), but their jobs are secure and their work is respected. How is quality control exercised once they have their permanent jobs? This I'm not sure about. But the ones I know seem to do a good job.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #57
quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

I don't think tenured faculty are a big problem for North American college teaching. A bigger problem is that quite a few courses are taught by inexperienced grad students and adjuncts.
I don't know if my experience is unusual, but I haven't really had a problem with this part. I've had seven courses taught entirely by graduate students (and since I several of them had the same teacher, we're talking about five different graduate students). Four of those teachers were language teachers, and one was a math teacher. The math class was the best experience I've ever had with a math class at the college level. Three of the language teachers were spectacular (and one good enough that I actually decided on a major largely on the strength of this one class). Only one out of the five was bad, and to be fair, that one was terrible; she was by far the worst teacher I've ever had. But I can't help but feel that she was the exception: at Cal, at least, the courses taught entirely by graduate students are often quite well done.

Moreover, I've almost always had good experiences with discussion sections, which are almost entirely taught by graduate students. A few have been bad and pointless, but that happened because there was nothing for us to do in the section, not because the graduate student was no good. I've really only had maybe one bad teacher in section. On the other hand, I've had — *counts* — at least six fairly terrible professors.

My problem has never been with the graduate students. They have almost all been top-notch teachers. My problem has always been with the professors.

I do kinda like the German idea that some professors should be more dedicated to research and some more to teaching.

[ Friday, November 10, 2006 10:32: Message edited by: Kelandon ]

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Nuke and Pave
Member # 24
Profile Homepage #58
My experience was similar to Kel's, possibly because I went to the same college.

Student-led classes and discussion sections ranged from some of the most enjoyable classes I've had to a discussion section led by an undergrad who once said "I am not sure what to do, because I usually skipped my discussions when taking this class". A lot of them were simply average.

Professor-taught lectures ranged from a database class that was so good it almost convinced me to go to grad school in that area to intro EE classes that were so bad that I've never taken an EE class after those two. Overall, I've had far more bad experiences with professors than with grad students.

PS The best teacher in CS department, whose main job was teaching introductory classes, was a former high school teacher. He did very little research, but was one of the best teachers I've had and his introductory classes got a lot of students interested in the subject.

[ Friday, November 10, 2006 10:56: Message edited by: Zeviz ]

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Be careful with a word, as you would with a sword,
For it too has the power to kill.
However well placed word, unlike a well placed sword,
Can also have the power to heal.
Posts: 2649 | Registered: Wednesday, October 3 2001 07:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #59
Well, I'm playing either Devil's Advocate or union rep, but let me play it a bit further.

Five years afterwards, what do you still have that you got from the college instructors you consider good? What from the ones you consider bad? Is this difference really as big as the difference in teaching quality you have been claiming?

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
E Equals MC What!!!!
Member # 5491
Profile Homepage #60
Alec: Not sure. I'm not at all familiar with American state politics. But it could well be that the Iraq war motivated a lot of left-wingers who normally wouldn't have voted to do so.

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SupaNik: Aran, you're not big enough to threaten Ash. Dammit, even JV had to think twice.
Posts: 1861 | Registered: Friday, February 11 2005 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #61
I've actually just had several experiences in a row that required me to remember what I learned in classes I took years ago, and I noticed that I can barely remember what I learned from bad teachers, let alone how to apply it. The classes that were taught well have stuck with me to a degree that I find surprising.

—Alorael, who also realized that this is probably in fact due to the fact that these were the most demanding classes. The few classes he loved that weren't difficult are far less easy to remember. So maybe those tyrannical professors you hate are doing you the most good!
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Shaper
Member # 7420
Profile Homepage #62
I have a question for those of you here that are not from the United States. Does the fact that Americans are actually capable of voting for a sane party redeem our country in your eyes? I would really like to visit Europe again, this time without an old French woman hitting me with her cane.

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You lose.
Posts: 2156 | Registered: Thursday, August 24 2006 07:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #63
quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

Five years afterwards, what do you still have that you got from the college instructors you consider good? What from the ones you consider bad? Is this difference really as big as the difference in teaching quality you have been claiming?
I took a linear algebra course in the senior year of high school. I learned NOTHING. I felt that the teacher wasn't very good, and I walked away not knowing what eigenvalues or eigenvectors were, how to diagonalize a matrix, what an orthogonal matrix was, or anything like that. I took another linear algebra course in college and had a good teacher, and now I feel as though I'll never forget most of that stuff, and even if I do, a quick description of the technique will make me remember.

One might say that the fact that I was learning it a second time gave the second teacher an unfair advantage, but all the material felt brand new to me. I couldn't recall ever having learned it before.

On the other hand, I did a couple years of AP Physics in high school, and a good chunk of that was E&M. I had a spectacular teacher, and I feel that Coulomb's Law and the basics of circuits will pretty much remain with me forever. On the other hand, I took an honors E&M class in college from a terrible teacher, perhaps the second-worst I've ever had, and he was supposed to teach us the Lorentz transforms for E&M, and I can't remember a word. I think I recall that electric fields change to magnetic fields if you go at relativistic speeds, or something like that, but I have no idea how it worked at all.

One might claim that the reason is that my high school class was on a basic subject with stuff that one uses over and over again, but my college course was on more advanced material that is more specialized and harder, so it's an unfair comparison, but this is not enough of an explanation. My astro class right now is more advanced and more specialized than basic mechanics, but we have a great teacher, and I know that I'm learning more with him than I did with my old E&M professor.

One might also claim that this comparison between high school and college is not fair, but I don't think so. My "Modern Physics" professor was mediocre, and I honestly cannot remember a word that he said. If I did learn something in that class, it's gone. My astro professor is really good, though, and when I read over my notes, I remember what he said and what about it that was new to me, or, in other words, what I learned.

So yes, it really is that big a difference.

And here I'm not even referring to the fact that bad teachers make a person not want to go to lecture, which slows down learning even more, or that they discourage students from taking further classes in the same subject, which also reduces learning. I also don't just mean that good professors provide a better support system for students — having an official time when students can do problems together while the graduate students and the professor are all there, outside of office hours, is a godsend — or anything like that. I just mean that sitting in lecture does me less good, both in the short-term and the long-term, when the professor sucks at teaching.

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Raven v. Writing Desk
Member # 261
Profile Homepage #64
quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

I took a linear algebra course in the senior year of high school. I learned NOTHING. I felt that the teacher wasn't very good...
If you're talking about who I think you're talking about, he was EASILY the worst teacher I had in high school. (Sadly, U of C managed to trump him, which I had thought impossible.)

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Slarty vs. DeskDesk vs. SlartyTimeline of ErmarianG4 Strategy Central
Posts: 3560 | Registered: Wednesday, November 7 2001 08:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #65
quote:
Originally written by Artequila:

quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

I took a linear algebra course in the senior year of high school. I learned NOTHING. I felt that the teacher wasn't very good...
If you're talking about who I think you're talking about, he was EASILY the worst teacher I had in high school.

No, it was a woman (whose maiden name I forgot, and that would've been the name you knew her by, since she got married right before she taught my class).

I'm thinking of the men who taught advanced math at that school... could you be referring to a certain deparment head? I heard that he was unendurably bad.

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 6785
Profile #66
When I started as a graduate student teaching assistant the instructions were basically - here's the book, here's the syllabus, you took the class once, so go teach. It got a little better a few years later when the professor in charge of the lecture part of the lab course I taught actually discussed what he wanted taught.

I've had a range where I liked the subject inspite of the teacher to I like the subject because the teacher made it interesting. The worst I ever heard about was in the education department where the professor played a tape of him reading the text book and rewinding to replay the important parts.
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
Electric Sheep One
Member # 3431
Profile #67
Heck, I don't remember the Lorentz transformations of the electromagnetic field, beyond what Kelandon remembers. And I just taught them. Well, sort of. I can show what the infinitesimal transformation is, using group theory, and from there I could in principle crank out the full thing. Not worth doing, though, when I can just look them up.

My point is (and yes, it's a completely separate point from what I had in mind when I asked the question) that some topics are just a lot harder and more involved than others. And the professor stuck teaching such a thing is almost bound to look bad. Other topics are jam, and can make most anybody look good.

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We're not doing cool. We're doing pretty.
Posts: 3335 | Registered: Thursday, September 4 2003 07:00
Dollop of Whipped Cream
Member # 391
Profile Homepage #68
quote:
Originally written by Ephesos:

McCain is slowly being exposed as a pandering old man, as much as it pains me to say it.
Pandering old man or not, he appears to be planning an election bid for 2008.

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"Tyranicus is about the only one that still posts in the Nethergate Forum." —Randomizer
Spiderweb Chat Room
Shadow Vale - My site, home of the Spiderweb Chat Database, BoA Scenario Database, & the A1 Quest List, among other things.
Posts: 562 | Registered: Friday, December 14 2001 08:00
Agent
Member # 1934
Profile Homepage #69
quote:
Originally written by Tyranicus.:

Pandering old man or not, he appears to be planning an election bid for 2008.
Fantastic. :rolleyes:
But I think he's too old to get elected. Not that ability decreases with age or anything, but I think that people would rather have someone a bit younger.

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You acquire an item: Radio Free Foil
Posts: 1169 | Registered: Monday, September 23 2002 07:00
Warrior
Member # 7614
Profile #70
My informants have told me that Gov Pataki of New York and Mitt Romney (Gov Mass, SLC Olympics guy) are also in the hunt. Apparently some fools believe that all it takes to be President is those three things in the Constitution, plus a cover of Newsweek.
Posts: 143 | Registered: Sunday, October 29 2006 07:00
Triad Mage
Member # 7
Profile Homepage #71
Giuliani also seems to be preparing - you'd be hard-pressed to find a more likeable candidate from either party.

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"At times discretion should be thrown aside, and with the foolish we should play the fool." - Menander
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Drakefyre's Demesne - Happy Happy Joy Joy
Encyclopedia Ermariana - Trapped in the Closet
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You can take my Mac when you pry my cold, dead fingers off the mouse!
Posts: 9436 | Registered: Wednesday, September 19 2001 07:00
Shaper
Member # 7420
Profile Homepage #72
Giuliani would be better of as McCain's VP. I think that duo would be unbeatable. Plus, McCain would probably die in office since he is, what... 90, so Giuliani would be a good backup.

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You lose.
Posts: 2156 | Registered: Thursday, August 24 2006 07:00
Triad Mage
Member # 7
Profile Homepage #73
I disagree - they don't see eye to eye on many fundamental issues, and Giuliani is too loud to be a VP.

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"At times discretion should be thrown aside, and with the foolish we should play the fool." - Menander
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Drakefyre's Demesne - Happy Happy Joy Joy
Encyclopedia Ermariana - Trapped in the Closet
====
You can take my Mac when you pry my cold, dead fingers off the mouse!
Posts: 9436 | Registered: Wednesday, September 19 2001 07:00
Agent
Member # 1934
Profile Homepage #74
Giuliani just seems more like a gimmick.
Look, vote for me because I'm famous. I'm not saying that others don't do it, but that whole thing makes me sick.

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You acquire an item: Radio Free Foil
Posts: 1169 | Registered: Monday, September 23 2002 07:00

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