Timmy elsewhere

Actually, Timmy really is elsewhere. This comes to you from the back of q bohemian bus.

At the ASI.

5 thoughts on “Timmy elsewhere”

  1. I have a great deal of respect for what you say and a great deal of frustration with the university at which I work and with the “University system” but-there had to be a but- I really and truly think 3 years is about right for a Maths degree.
    I can’t honestly speak for any other subject-this is what I teach and research. But I think that the fundamental concepts and the hierarchical nature of the subject combined with incremental encoding and packing of more and more sophisticated abstractions (precisely and rigorously defined) take time to absorb.
    First year Analysis (if it is still taught in year 1 and not postponed as too big a jump from A level) takes even the best students 6 to 9 months to absorb. This is just the start of a Maths course as it moves the student from C19 Mathematics into the early 20th century and starts to teach them about mathematical rigour.
    There have been studies which show significant neurological/brain effects from systematic studying of Maths so I suppose that’s a physical reason for suggesting that there may be minimal times for the process to “take” (I can only find ones relating to children in a quick trawl of the interweb-apologies for lack of due diligence).
    So, I suppose my point is that the subject matter in a UK Maths degree could be covered in about 12 months but the requisite brain changes and assimilation can’t be rushed.In particular, it’s no good saying the students could be doing something else because those brain changes only happen if they’re faily constantly pushed to try and confront this hard stuff.

    For a feel of what’s going on you might read this (it’s somewhat highfalutin but the author did start off as a competent research mathematician before moving into Maths education) :
    or you might just say “WTF I’m right and he’s a maths nerd.”

  2. CS @ 11:37
    Having been (and am again) on the receiving end of maths, I tend to go along with your point about assimilation time. No idea if that’s down to neurological effects, but mentally organising and correlating the different concepts is a gradual process. Unless your name is Gauss.
    But the other part of the argument is that the teaching/tutoring/learning doesn’t have to take place by attendance at a bricks & mortar (or old stones & mortar) establishment. Not a new concept but, now that web access is just another utility fed into our homes and more and more reputable organisations are becoming data providers, I wonder if the days of full-time campus educations are numbered. Excepting, of course, those subjects where significant hands-on time is essential.

  3. [email protected]
    Absolutely right!
    My slightly myopic vision is based on being semi-institutionalised and your comment is completely justified. I suppose that my only caveat would be that it’s university-type institutions which are the ones minded to do the requisite follow-up to really make these concepts sink in.

    I suppose what underlies my support for the old-fashioned institution (apart from self-interest) is the image of the clerically-based semi-monastic teaching institution which appeals to many mathematicians.

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