Old nuggets

Anyone checking the frequency of blogging for this site need not be told that I am not a natural diarist. I keep trying to start a regular compilation of my thought but never quite get in the habit. I have a journal I’ve carted from DC to Stanford to Bensalem to Princeton. With my recent move still unfolding in slow motion in my new apartment, I came across that book, which I have not touched since (at latest) 1998.

Only two pages have any writing, dating from late 1992(!) with the interesting heading “Thoughts on Teaching”. Since that means that those two pages were, in some way, the progenitor of these blog entries — that this little blue notebook is the ur-Mongrel Dogs, I thought it appropriate to record them here, before ditching the book that’s been dogging me for fifteen years.

More below the fold.


1992 December 3
Double jeopardy is illegal in the United States. It should be illegal on tests, too.
[Editorial note: This is something I’ve kept to, having instituted a “cascade” policy so that students are dinged once only for each error.]


1992 December 13
There are two philosophies in giving a test. First is to measure students’ grasp of material already covered. In this case, the test should be in-class, of finite duration, closed book, and concerned mostly with concepts, not computations.
On the other hand, a test can also be used to educate on new ideas. In this case,it should be take-home, collaborative (in higher level courses), open-referenced. It can deal more with gory algebra but that should be avoided. You should also keep in mind the students’ relative unfamiliarity with the new concepts.


1993 January 4
The concept of an electron cloud can be visualized by a spinning propeller. It seems to be solid but not quite. Its affects depend on its being everywhere but if you where it is, you stop it and suddenly it is at only one spot.


1993 March 3
Never assign the derivation of E and B fields from the Lienart-Weichert potentials. It’s a bloody waste of time that teaches nothing.
[Editorial note: I still get the shakes casting my mind back to this derivation during graduate Electricity & Magnetism. Thanks, Lenny, for that particular psychic scar.]

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