Well, the excellent FT series says this — “The Fairytale of New York”, by the Pogues with Kirsty MacColl — is the Christmas song for people who hate Christmas songs. I dissent. I like Xmas records, but agree this is maybe the best. And cynicism is necessary at this time of year, too.
“I could have been someone.”
“Well, so could anyone.”
But cynicism only gets you so far into the human condition. If you need to laugh, check out the Christy Moore version ‘Live at the Point (‘I was looking for the Shannon..’).
I am talking next week at the ATRIUM meeting here in Edinburgh, and musing over what to say. One perspective I wanted to mention, was the likely changes in universities relating to teaching and the influence of MOOCs, student debt, and however broadly defined, ‘value’. There is a fairly uncritical piece in the Economist on MOOCs but some of the readers’ comments are worth a look (they reflect the landscape of viewpoint). Another point is how opting for fashionable areas in science is not always wise: Sydney Brenner wrote a piece years ago in Current Biology, on how important it was to be out of phase with much of what your colleagues do. For some reason this made me google Tim O’Shea, our principal. He has worked on the use of computers in education for a long time, and I think is the author of one of various maxims about technology in education (Q: What was the last useful technology for assisting learning? A: The blackboard, or the school bus?).
Anyway I looked of course at the UoE site, but also Wikipedia. The latter draws attention to his most recent book (he is a co-editor), ‘In Order to Learn’. I haven’t read it, so looked for it on Amazon. If you search for it, the first hit is a book by Bert Weedon on learning guitar. Small world. That was my first guitar tutor and I, and others, think there are big parallels between learning a musical instrument and acquiring high level expertise in medicine (Frank Davidoff, has written on this, as well). There is also a lesson for universities in how expertise can be acquired out with formal structures. O’Shea’s book is there however, too.