July 27th, 2005

krazy koati

It's so good to savor

Quieter day today -- I was busy the whole morning and into a bit of the afternoon anyway with a seminar on being a more effective teacher, that I signed up for and needed to attend. The most dubious part of the presentation was an assertion that Powerpoint is a good thing to inflict on an otherwise ordinary lecture. I grant the advantage of having a complex diagram prepared ahead of time, and maybe even animated to show off something conceptually difficult, like the shape of the intersection of three perpendicular circular cylinders of equal radius. But I don't see how having a little animated character drawing out a x + b y + c z = d is any better than just doing it yourself on the blackboard. But I'm an inveterate blackboard user, and would improvise my lectures entirely if I could get away with it.

Among the tips offered -- more vague guidelines than specific examples of how to present information in a better way, I note -- were the value of passion as much as reason; of listening to students in-class and outside of class; of being flexible in lecture direction; of using humor; and of conveying what's fun about a topic. Glad to have that cleared up.

And as I say it was a quiet little day, spent living as an actual quasi-expatriate in Singapore would, taking in an honest-to-goodness hawker center and finding food that doesn't have suckers or unspecified ``organs'' in it, having mugs of pineapple juice, with lumps of pineapple in it, that sort of thing. Ordinary living. Plus watching the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode The Killer Shrews.

Trivia: Cosmonaut Gherman Titov's callsign on Vostok 2 was Oryel (Eagle). Source: The Rocket Men, Rex Hall and David J Shayler.

Currently Reading: Planet Quest: The Epic Discovery of Alien Solar Systems, Ken Croswell.