Monday, December 29, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Some good news today from the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. The full details of the procedure and the results are available here and there is a handy pdf of the headline news from the THE here. But here are the rankings for the subjects I'm most interested in. The results here show a weighted average score (from 0 to 4) for a given assessment unit (subject) by institution. Very good news for the Cambridge Faculty of Classics. The Cambridge ancient philosophers were included in the Classics submission since that is where we hold our lectureships.
Here is the GPA ranking for Classsics, ancient history, Byzantine and modern Greek studies:
King’s College 2.85
Here is the ranking for Philosophy.
Good news for the Cambridge Department of the History and Philosophy of Science.
King’s College 3.05
Monday, December 15, 2008
So I tried to persuade her of the powers of reason by explaining how I could prove she cannot cross the room. Then I gave her a version of Zeno's dichotomy paradox. Again, the answer was that I was just being silly (she was getting quite cross with me by now) and that she would prove me wrong as soon as she got out of the bath by crossing the room easily. Such an empiricist, my daughter...
What should I conclude from this? Yes, I suppose she was right that I was being silly. BIt is certainly not clear that doing more philosophy would allow R to have a better reaction to puzzles of this sort. Her current attitude is probably, all things considered, the right sort of thing to say. If that's right, I wondered if trying to persuade anyone to do anything other than dismiss this kind of thing is really a good idea... I really need the vacation to come soon.
Friday, December 12, 2008
"Opinions can be all right, but students aren't here to learn opinions, they are here to learn how things are," he says. "In the past I have looked at a student's work and said, 'All you have done is copied this out', and hey've replied, 'Oh, did you want my opinion?'
"Well, the answer to that is, 'No, I don't want your opinion; what I want to know is if these are proper arguments, whether Plato was right about this - I couldn't give a bugger about your opinion; who could care less?'
"All this stuff about opinions - bloody hell, who wants opinions in physics, for example? The real thing is how you assess whether people know anything, and if they aren't obliged to write coherent prose and so on, then what evidence is there that they do? The answer, I am afraid, is not much."
Sunday, December 07, 2008
So I'm not in the mood for Christmas at all. But when you have young kids it all seems to start very early and positively demand your interest and excitement. Sigh. So this afternoon is the great-if-you-are-6 Fitzwilliam college children's Christmas party. This is an excellent institution, I hasten to add, but I can't help thinking it would be better if we could wait to have it some time in February when there's not so much else going on.
Then there are the eye-achingly sweet but dreadful Christmas 'performances' at school (a play -- the amusingly named propaganda-vehicle 'Rock around the Flock' -- and a concert) and the increasingly frequent rehearsals for the ballet school production. I'm sure these will all be terribly lovely and camcordered with much affection by parents but I just don't enjoy them. I know I should , probably, and I like it that they matter so much to the kids (though I am not sure I like the fact they give over most of this half-term in rehearsals) but I just don't. So there. I'm a bad un-Chrismassy person but there's really not much I can do about it.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Here's an animated attempt: