Saturday, October 19, 2013

Jahar is back home...

Jahar is back home.  He's got a huge incision in his tummy, about 6 or 7 inches long.  It's sprayed with metallic silver as an antibiotic, sort of matches his silver fur.  We have to keep him quiet for two weeks – no running, playing, or jumping allowed.  With just a couple hours experience, we can see this is going to be quite difficult – he wants out of the crate we have him in, in the worst way.

The surgeon bagged up the ribbon he removed, as a sort of souvenir for us.  That's one kind of souvenir I could do just fine without!

Teaching kids how to think.

Teaching kids how to think.  The Economist reviewed a new book: “The Smartest Kids in the World: and How They Got That Way”.  There's lots of interesting stuff in the review, and I've purchased the book.  The review discusses one part of the book, where three American students who are attending foreign schools react to what they find in those schools:
Their wide-eyed observations make for compelling reading. In each country, the Americans are startled by how hard their new peers work and how seriously they take their studies. Maths classes tend to be more sophisticated, with lessons that show the often fascinating ways that geometry, trigonometry and calculus work together in the real world. Students forego calculators, having learned how to manipulate numbers in their heads. Classrooms tend to be understated, free of the high-tech gadgetry of their schools back home. And teachers in every subject exhibit the authority of professionals held in high regard.
This jibes with my own observations of students in (especially) Estonia, but also other Eastern European countries.  They're far more serious about education than the U.S. is.

The author (Amanda Ripley) makes the case for the difference being that the foreign schools teach kids how to think critically, how to apply knowledge (see the video at the link).  I believe that's part of the reason for the success of these schools, but only part of it: those schools also do a much better job of equipping average students with the intellectual tools needed by engineers and scientists.  That is most especially true for mathematics...

The process of science isn't perfect.

The process of science isn't perfect.  To anyone not blinded by their faith in science, that's no surprise.  What might be a bit of a surprise, though, is that the “self-correcting” claims of science are likely a bit overblown.  “Trouble at the lab”, an article in The Economist, does a nice job of explaining the most common kinds of problems.  Some of the areas it explores are precisely those that concern me about the current state of climate science.  This quote jumped out at me:
There is no cost to getting things wrong.  The cost is not getting them published.
That's from psychologist Brian Nosek, who's worried about the number of errors in published psychological studies – but he could just as well be talking about climatology...