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Teaching Philosophy

Some statements about how to learn effectively that have helped inform the design of this course.
  • Research is learning to venture into the unknown.
    If you really know what you’re doing, it isn’t research. If you never leave the shore you will never know the terror of being lost at sea and you will never get a map of the unknown. Adjust your mental maps to reality as reality will not respect your delusions. In other words: Pay attention and follow reality where it leads you and not your preconceived notions.
  • You need to write a lot to become good at it.
    Exercise is essential. That is why this course is packed with a lot of writing of different styles. The safe environment of the course will allow you to experiment and exercise without leaving a lasting trail on the web.
  • You learn best by teaching.
    If you provide background to your fellow students and explain why something is important, you will be surprised at how much better you will understand it. Use the course ReLogs to explain what you learn and you will be amazed at how much your grasp improves.
  • You learn best by doing.
    Argue, explain the world, build a model, synthesize facts, have ideas and test them. Failing honestly is good contribution to progress, we will have discovered one way how a certain thing does not work. Not every idea works. Never trying new ideas kills our ability to learn.
  • You learn best by critiquing.
    Peer review works: If you know that you will be criticized if you say nonsense, you will become more careful…
  • You best learn in a safe environment.
    Nothing you write in this course is public. So you can learn by trying different things out without long-term consequences.
  • Everybody who starts out is shallow.
    However your shallowness is different from that of your fellow student. Thus you can engage in a meaningful dialogue that will bring both of you to a deeper understanding. Resort to asking the instructor only when you and your fellow students and Google have reached the end of your rope.
  • Your best work is done in multiple revisions.
    Every high quality work needs many revisions. That is why the final research proposal that you will contribute to in this course is produced in multiple rounds of revisions.
  • You have it in you to be a good researcher.
    You may not yet have found your topic. You may not yet be as discerning as you could be. Yet there is a researcher inside of you waiting to explore new frontiers. All you need is a bit of feedback and practice...
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