2-2018 Teaching by misleading

A good teacher never misleads his/her students. Right ? Wrong ?

As a teacher, I often ask questions in the class, basically to nudge and provoke my students to think. Sometime these questions have a misleading hint, just to confuse the student and lead him/her to the right concept. My favourite one is in my class on "number theory" when I wave my palm with all fingers open, and ask the question "show me the number five". The students invariably fall for the visual cue (my open palm) and fumble around, till I emphasise that a number is only an abstraction and cannot be used/shown all alone. I feel that such (misleading) prompting questions can often be useful in the classroom. But, this should be done in moderation and very carefully.

What does this community think about my approach ? Send me a mail.


1-2018 Book Review "Formula. How algorithms ..."

The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems . . . and Create More
Paperback – November 3, 2015
by Luke Dormehl (Author)
Pub.: Perigee, Penguin Random House, NY, Nov.2015.
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Tarcher Perigee; Reprint edition (November 3, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399170545
ISBN-13: 978-0399170546

This book drew my attention because of its deceptively worded title. I spent some time on it, trying to figure out what the author was trying to communicate.

The author, Luke Dormehl is a journalist and technology writer. With a background in documentary film, he has contributed to Fast Company, Wired, Politico, The Sunday Times, and other publications.

The author must be appreciated for his honesty in admitting what this book is NOT about. It is certainly not a book on "How algorithms solve all our problems....." Neither is it a book on mathematics, logic or philosophy. There is not a single formula except for its mention in the title of the book. The author has gathered an impressive list of references and avoided mention of any reference to any author or article related to algorithms. The book is just a clumsy collection of rhetorical generalisations drowned in journalistic verbosity. This is proof that literate eloquence does not always lead to intelligent discourse.

Of course, the book did not answer any of the questions prompted in the title.

I am not disappointed.