Category Archives: Uncategorized

Van Morrison, Newton and Einstein

“Enlightenment, don’t know what it is“; so says van Morrison. But what about ‘understanding’? Well, just the other day I was taking to my son… ——- Be careful there, Leo, you might fall. Dad, how come if I step off … Continue reading

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But what is critical thinking?

Since I wrote this letter to the Irish Times earlier this week, I’ve been thinking about what critical thinking actually is. Basically, I believe that all of what we call critical thinking is recall; it’s not some mysterious process somehow … Continue reading

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Can we trust the universities when it comes to teaching and learning?

The Irish Times had yet another poorly researched education column today. It contained the usual nonsense about problem-solving and critical thinking while implying that learning in the past was all about rote memorisation. Praise was heaped on Maynooth’s first year … Continue reading

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What are universities for?

So asked Diarmaid Ferriter recently in the Irish Times.  It’s easy to dismiss a question like this as being too vague or too ‘philosophical’, the sort of ivory tower question that academics are prone to ask without ever providing any … Continue reading

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Natural Born Lawyers

“Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact.” Carl Sagan said that, and when I was a youngster … Continue reading

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On Creativity

Creativity is one of those supposed ‘21st century skills’ that an awful lot of people are obsessing about these days.  “We need to teach creativity” they cry, without ever saying how we might do such a thing. I would suggest … Continue reading

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How I teach: making a pact with the devil

Here’s how I’d like to teach engineering to college students – it’s the way I was taught: Give lectures in which I chart a course through the subject, explaining key ideas, deriving key equations, and using worked examples to enhance … Continue reading

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