Category Archives: Teaching

Curious cosmologies and killer rabbits

Another dissertation season has been and gone. For our weaker final-year students this season meant struggling gamely with the constraints on self-expression imposed by English grammar as their supervisors understand it; for me it meant struggling less gamely to  understand … Continue reading

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Flexible, deep, or interdisciplinary: pick two

Look at what a lot of things there are to learn — pure science, the only purity there is. You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history in three, literature in six.  And then after you have exhausted a … Continue reading

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“Flipping the theatre” is the future of drama

For thousands of years the orthodox dogmas in the world of theatre have given actors and directors a privileged position, able to impose their own interpretations on the material. Many actors have employed this privilege to indulge in power-trips in … Continue reading

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What does “challenging” mean, exactly?

In the coverage of the Principal Assessor’s report on the new Higher Maths paper, the key word was “challenging”, applied particularly to the infamous crocodile question. Needless to say, the various online stories don’t provide a link to the report … Continue reading

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More educational unspeak

This latest instalment of Malvolianism has to rest on hearsay; I wasn’t at the meet-the-nomenklatura session involved, for which I am profoundly thankful. Having been exhorted to make further and greater efficiencies in our teaching practice, a colleague asked how … Continue reading

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On the banks of denial: the Higher Maths “crocodile” question

“Come hither, Little One,” said the Crocodile, “for I am the Crocodile,” and he wept crocodile-tears to show it was quite true. — Rudyard Kipling, Just So Stories: The Elephant’s Child. The new-look Higher Maths hasn’t got off to the … Continue reading

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Is this the best essay ever written about university education?

I first came across Plutarch’s essay On Listening to Lectures when seeking the origin of that irritating little saw — beloved of teacher-blamers and all the “haven’t you thought of trying to make it interesting for them?” crowd — to … Continue reading

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