## Sunday, 16 June 2013

### Maths on Steroids: final?

Sorry guys: I tried, but I just couldn't think of a non-trite-sounding first sentence to this post, so I wrote a con-trite-sounding one instead. Okay, maybe I'm not that contrite...in fact, I'm pretty happy with how that sentence turned out. =P

There is perhaps, in the West, a slight cultural inclination towards the belief that teachers are somehow less. After all, it's often said that those who can, do. And those who can't, teach.

I can't be bothered refuting this claim, someone-else has already done it for me. But it does strike me as odd that even in a major segment of the teaching profession: tertiary education, this view is espoused. I took us about two hundred years after the adoption of the printing press in the West for scientific journals to happen (compare with erotic novels, which pretty much happened overnight).

There is no denying that this gadget has been instrumental (*) in the spreading of scientific ideas among academics. But one of the side-effects of the scientific journal has been a shift in the focus of academia. Traditionally, a professor's primary role is to profess that they know nothing about their field of expertise and then hammer you with all the details of how poorly they understand their material over the next few months. But some where along the line, academia started to focus less on teaching and more on the number of and quality of one's publications.

While I agree that there's probably a strong correlation between the two, I feel that it's tragic that some how research is touted as the primary objective of academia, and the noble act of teaching is...disdained.

...hmm...

I dunno, that was a bit of a random start to things. And...and I guess that I have been thinking a bit about teaching. Both of my parents were teachers in China, and they have a very pragmatic approach to teaching: make sure that the kids get good marks on their exams. On the other hand, I can't really name anyone at uni who would explicitly claim that this is the right way to do this; there is a hope that we can steer students far from the perils of an "exam-oriented" approach to study. And I feel... I feel like this is a reflection of an overly simplistic and naive view of human motivation. But...yea, I should go to sleep soon. I'mma fly off to China in a few hours and this is probably just some sort of procrastination.

Orritey! It's tiiime fooooor...

General Exam tips:
1. Get full marks.
2. Aim to get 120/100. When you fail to achieve your goals, you'll still have full marks.
3. Keep your hands warm. My personal preference is to bring a trashcan full of charcoal - this way, you can roast chestnuts while you get full marks! Failing that, I guess you could go buy one of those Japanese hand-warmer packs from Daiso?
4. Do the questions in order. I know that one of the standard pieces of advice that we're supposed to tell peeps is that you DON'T NEED TO do the questions in order. But, it's much harder for BOTH you and your exam marker to miss one of the questions this way. I think that the only reason that we're supposed to tell you that you don't need to do stuff in order is because sometimes people get stuck on one question and waste waaaaay too much time on it. So...
5. Don't waste waaaay too much time on one question.
6. Do not leave an exam 2 hours early because you finished it and you and your friends "agreed" beforehand that you were all going to finish waay early and go out and party and stuff and then they end up not leaving 2 hours early and you get sunburnt/frostbite standing outside the exam hall and you realise much later that you forgot to do one of the questions because it was hella annoying and you were gonna leave it till the end sad face.
7. Write in English where necessary.
And hints to the questions that I gave you guys in the last post:
1. Duh. It's all Greek to me.
2. Just do some computations with monomials.
3. *Cough* the eigenvectors should be all the monomials...just make sure that you do some sample computations and define the right generalisation of $$T$$.
4. I think that it's probably important to have two variables? Maybe???
5. The trick is to group things into sequences of two (non-overlapping) days.
6. *Cough* ...just...*cough*.
7. Diagonalise it!

Orrite. Own those exams guys! Own them like you paid fees to attend uni. =P

*: you can't really deny it because gadgets are pretty much instruments, right?