Education

Category archives for Education

14 Years Before the Class(room)

This past academic year was my 14th as a professor at Union, and my last as department chair. I’m on sabbatical for the 2015-16 academic year, doing my very best to avoid setting foot in an academic building, so it will be September 2016 before I’m teaching a class again. This seems like a good…

I’ve been doing a bunch of conferencing recently, what with DAMOP a few weeks ago and then Convergence last week. This prompted me to write up a couple of posts about conference-related things, which I posted over at Forbes. These were apparently a pretty bad fit for the folks reading over there, as they’ve gotten…

I’ve been pretty quiet about educational matters of late, for the simple reason that I was too busy teaching to say much. The dust having settled a bit, though, I thought I would put some notes here about what I did this past term, and what worked. I had two sections of the introductory Newtonian…

Kids and Schools and Liberal Guilt

Matt “Dean Dad” Reed is moving to New Jersey, and confronting one of the great dilemmas of parenting (also at Inside Higher Ed): what school district to live in. This is a big problem for lots of academics of a liberal sort of persuasion: From a pure parental perspective, the argument for getting into the…

Engaging in a bit of tab clearance before I head off to DAMOP tomorrow afternoon, I noticed that I still had How to Teach an Ancient Rape Joke open. This is because while I found it kind of fascinating, it’s not all that directly relevant to what I do, and I didn’t have anything all…

What a Difference a Year Makes

Back in October or so, SteelyKid’s first-grade class started a weekly journaling exercise. Every Monday, we were supposed to send in a sheet with some prompts on it– words about something interesting that happened over the weekend, and the kids started the day writing about… whatever it was. I was a little dubious about having…

Last week, I did a post for Forbes on the surprisingly complicated physics of a light bulb. Incandescent light bulbs produce a spectrum that’s basically blackbody radiation, but if you think about it, that’s kind of amazing given that the atoms making up the filament have quantized states, and can absorb and emit only discrete…

Breaking Boards

One of the highlights of teaching introductory mechanics is always the “karate board” lab, which I start off by punching through a wooden board. That gets the class’s attention, and then we have them hang weights on boards and measure the deflection in response to a known force. This confirms that the board behaves like…

One of the points I make repeatedly in teaching introductory mechanics (as I’m doing this term) is that absolutely every problem students encounter can, in principle, be solved using just Newton’s Laws or, in the terminology used by Matter and Interactions, the Momentum Principle. You don’t strictly need any of the other stuff we talk…

A few things about the academic job market have caught my eye recently, but don’t really add up to a big coherent argument. I’ll note them here, though, to marginally increase the chance that I’ll be able to find them later. — First, this piece at the Guardian got a lot of play, thanks in…