Monthly Archives: October 2016

Real World Problems and the All Blacks

The Irish rugby team will face its ultimate ‘real world problem’ when it faces the mighty New Zealand in Soldier Field next week. The Irish team will include lads who have been playing rugby since they were young kids and … Continue reading

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Conor Lenihan’s bizarre article

I’ll leave it to others to fillet Conor Lenihan’s bizarre article in Village magazine, especially those who are more familiar with the university ranking algorithms. Instead I’ll focus on these sentences only: “International students are good for the economy, in the money … Continue reading

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Parents Night, Abstract Thinking and Evolution

I was at a parents night in my son’s primary school yesterday and the teacher who was talking on the maths curriculum  said something that made me think of Steven Pinker’s paper on the ‘cognitive niche’. Pursuing arguments first made … Continue reading

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Why remembering the rules of maths is important

Just this morning I gave my (third year) students a set of x-y data. During the previous lecture (which was on ultrafiltration) we derived a mathematical model that predicted y=b*ln(a/x) where a and b constants. Their challenge was to use … Continue reading

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That OECD Maths Graph and Harry Potter

The graph below was recently produced by the OECD. (Full maths teaching report is here.) It positions countries on a coordinate system in which the x-axis represents the extent to which maths teaching is ‘teacher-led’ and the y-axis represents the extent … Continue reading

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Maths, memorisation and understanding

Much of the debate around the Leaving Certificate in Ireland centres on the issue of ‘rote learning’. Many commentators will express a desire that education should emphasise ‘understanding’, ‘critical thinking’ and ‘creativity’, the implication being that ‘skills’ like these can … Continue reading

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Chemical Engineering: science, art and TV

I got into an interesting discussion on Twitter about the difference between engineering and science and thought about this that I wrote a few years ago…. __________________________________________ “You know what women are like; once they hear you have a PhD in … Continue reading

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