Group work is terrible and we are doing it all wrong. I see this every day when I look at my students, my children, myself. The endless waiting, the incomprehension, the misunderstandings, and then they don't deliver what's been agreed, or don't understand that I really had no time.
From January 2018 on Cursor will exist exclusively online. Good reason, I thought, to gauge the mood online by talking to a number of chatbots. As the winner of the prestigious Loebner Prize on more than one occasion, the chatbot Rose, created by AI programmer Bruce Wilcox, has already received the accolade ‘Most human-like chatbot’. Perhaps she has a finger on the online pulse? Below is the transcript of our interaction.
Our car has no cruise control. I miss it. Terribly. For of course I want to be at my destination as soon as possible, but I don’t want to find such a hated purple-and-white envelope on my doorstep every couple of weeks. Which means there is a sweet spot where the speedometer gauge would ideally be hovering throughout the route. However, I don’t seem to be able to keep that stupid gauge between those two narrow lines. That is, no longer than for some three minutes. Then my thoughts digress to other matters, other days, other places - as does my speedometer.
The time for a confession has come: ever since primary school I’ve been a fan of Feyenoord. Initially it was a bit awkward for my parents, and my environment also looked at me slightly flummoxed. After all, I’m not from Rotterdam or the surrounding area, but was born in Utrecht. Nowadays people around me regard it as a likeable flaw.
Teachers regularly team up to reflect on education, educational innovation, on what works, what can be better, must be better. Lately we have also been talking frequently about what can go and must go faster.
I have never had any surgery. Nor do I aspire to it. Still, should it ever come to that, then – apart from grilling the surgeon about his alleged expertise in the relevant cutting job – I will also ask him what is on the play list for that day. After all, the choice of music, as a recently published article in Journal of Organizational Behavior would have it, can ensure that the surgical team works together just a touch better.
I receive between 100 and 200 emails per day. Every day. Whereas I may think that that is a lot, it does not appear to be exceptional. Once I have relegated the large quantities of spam, newsgroup facts and ‘reply-to-all’ mails to the digital Walhalla with a fine swipe, there are still dozens of emails left that I do need to do something with - read, a short response, a more extensive action, or in any case save them until I get round to them. If I do get round to them, of course, for there’s the rub.
The youth of today - always multitasking; sitting in lectures with one eye on their laptops, one thumb on their telephones; reading with both ears plugged into music. Distractions don't bother them, on the contrary they seek them out. Just take a look at our youngest employees, the PhD candidates: each and every one of them wears headphones.
My father used to work in an open office before the term existed. Some sixty years ago he was a young corporal and torpedo maker, active in the submarine service of the Royal Netherlands Navy.
Looking back at 2016, it was hardly a great year. David Bowie: dead. And Prince. And Leonard Cohen. Muhammed Ali, Alan Rickman, Johan Cruijff, and Peter van Straaten. The British who no longer wanted to be part of 'our' Europe. Not to mention the election of a narcissistic horror clown to the White House. Enough reason for the Executive Board to add another bottle of liquor to our Christmas hamper - for which, thank you - but the comfort of that 12 percent evaporates as easily as the alcohol itself.
Last month I visited Japan for the first time. I was expecting to be stuffed into the metro by people wearing white gloves, expected to see robots walking the streets, and cool fashionable youngsters with dyed hair as in computer games. None of that, of course. The greatest differences are far more subtle, though much more drastic as well.
As someone able to speak from experience when it comes to making mistakes - from minor errors to epic blunders - I felt entirely at home last week Friday at the symposium ‘The positive side of making mistakes’. A mistake does, of course, provide an opportunity to learn, the motivation to change, the basis for personal growth. ‘Yeah, right,’ comes the cynical echo. That voice in your own head, the voice of your parents, your teacher, or your boss during the annual Performance & Development interview often suggests that making mistakes is not actually valued. And that is wrong.
Sitting in MetaForum recently, I was between two appointments contemplating the idea of doing a quick spot of marking when a piece of TU/e folklore, about which I was unaware, played out before my very eyes. I was seated at one of the long tables next to the stairs leading from the canteen, and it was 11 a.m. - a point at which time and space intersect.
As always, excesses around hazing like those in Groningen are discussed extensively in the media with great anger. Yet these cases should not surprise us anymore. Two of the most famous experiments conducted in psychology - the Stanford prison experiment of Zimbardo and Milgram’s study of obedience and authority – may serve within this context to draw relevant lessons from.
Even people who were hiding under a rock last week cannot have missed it. A majority in the House of Representatives voted in favor of a change in the Dutch organ donation system. It was clearly noticeable that the majority was obtained by merely one vote: the discrepancy between supporters and adversaries was immense, ranging from great euphoria among patients on waiting lists for organs to anger among liberal adversaries who qualified D66 as rogue organ dealers.
There are probably more aged Japanese soldiers - hidden in the jungle of a small tropical island in the Pacific - who think that the Second World War is still raging, than people who do not know what Pokémon Go is. In parks and streets, in the city and on the campus we see groups of people walking, stooping and focused on their minute screens. Occasionally they look at each other’s screens, then turn back to their own, and while swiping and chattering merrily, without taking any notice of their surroundings, they cross the cycle track where I have to slam on my brakes to give right of way to Squirtle, Rattata, and Meowth. I get reproachful looks. I had not spotted them there for a minute - those cute little Pocket Monsters. I do see a...
I think I'm a pretty kind person - I care about others, sympathize with them, and try to help them however I can. But not always. Sometimes I have too little patience with others, think they are whiners, and cannot (don't want to?) be there for them.
My wife was recently waiting to be served at the bakery in Erica in the province of Drenthe, where we sometimes go on weekends. She asked my wife if we planned to go to the Giants Gala. My wife looked at her in astonishment. We are pretty familiar with the summer festivals, but this one had slipped under our radar. It turns out that the Giants Gala (organized by Giant FM) is a parade of Dutch-speaking artists. Giants like Jannes, Frank Rocks, and Henk Wijngaard all do a turn. Not forgetting Eric Mesie from the band Toontje Lager. It had passed us by.
Transparency is a beautiful word with a positive connotation - think of transparency in management - the pursuit of providing insight into starting points from which decisions are made, and persons involved in this pursuit.
Shortly after I had left my parental home (a long, long time ago) I regularly paid a visit to my parents. They would be watching The Bold & The Beautiful, an endless soap - and I really mean endless - in which the actors struck up relations in any and every conceivable combination and permutation. The reason I know this, is to do with the fact that the TV set was seldom switched off during my visits. When after a cup of coffee I would then stand up to leave again, my mother often said: “Strange, I feel as if I’ve hardly spoken to you at all”. That was usually a fairly accurate assessment.
Best read In my opinion
At this university there are students who are not taking any classes, but they are still forced to pay the full sum of their tuition fee. How is that? When you take a look at what they are doing instead of following courses, their reasons become clear. They form one of the most important cornerstones of the TU/e, they are the student board members and part of student teams.