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Loosely quoted from Star Talk Radio:

“It seems to me that science is the only human collaboration that transcends human boundaries. The results you find are independent of what country you come from, what religion you believe in, what government you have. So when you think of what is the future that could possibly unfold in a world that is divided by politics, by religion and by any other reason people give to kill another person for crossing a line in the sand, it tells me that the only hope we have is to search for the truth that we find through the research conducted by science.”

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So I was asked by my university to do a survey about my experience at UNSW and I decided to give them a little bitch slap. Any student should relate to this somewhat, though it was not put as eloquently as possible due to the word limit. I’ve long wanted to do a post on the failings of education and this in no way comes close to what I want to say, but as I’ve been increasingly lazy lately, this will have to do.

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As a student I shared a relationship with many of the young minds that this university’s goal should be to nurture. Unfortunately, I feel as though that particular endeavour was a failure. This may not be a problem unique to UNSW but there was an overwhelming sense that the only indication of success was whether your answer was correct. There was limited discussion and what discussion that did occur was limited and slanted in approach. As opposed to a forum of intellectual thought, rote learning appears to be parading around in the guise of education. It got to the point where I literally did not know any student who had not cheated in exams at least once. In the words of Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson “When Students cheat on exams it’s because our School System values grades more than Students value learning.” This was largely the opinion of my university experience and it is a view shared by many.

I am not naive or unreasonable enough to neglect the fact that the university is a business and thus has restrictions, but it is quite sobering to witness. I do not feel as though marks reflected intellect, nor do I believe any student approaches university as an opportunity to learn.

I have read that new approaches to higher education around the world is taking on a new form – one that is increasingly discussion based where classes are a forum of intellectual exchange. I hope the university embraces this approach. There is no merit, for example, to memorising dozens of equations for one exam because that completely misses the purpose of the course. Some of the general education courses I took that were newer were more focused on discussion and I believe they imparted information far more effectively. I believe this reflects the way tradition obstructs progress, and realistically, I think the best I can hope for is that some of the older courses get a revamp to a more modern and effective teaching method, and that education once again becomes about learning not marks.

“If you stare at nothing for long enough, something will appear”

– Lawrence Krauss

 

The idea that something can’t come from nothing has been rendered obsolete by quantum mechanics. Just as Krauss says, if you observe a space of absolutely nothing (a vacuum), particles will appear and disappear frequently from the nothingness (quantum fluctuations). I mentioned more on this in my post about how the universe can create itself out of nothing.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore, trust the physician and drink the remedy in silence and tranquility.

– Khalil Gibran

I normally don’t get too involved in politics, but this was too awesome to pass up. How could you not vote for such a cool guy? It’s not actually a quote as much as a speech, and I’m sure everyone’s heard it already, but I’ll leave it here as a funny keepsake:

“What professions do all these senators and congressmen have? Law, law, law, law, business, law, law, law … Where are the scientists? Where are the engineers? Where’s the rest of … life?”

– Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

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