Category Archives: Education

Problems can be opportunities to teach and learn

On March 13, 2015

I moved house just recently. It’s a lovely location with views over hills and moors. More specifically, in the distance, we have a panorama that is largely Dartmoor. Geologically, as you are most likely aware, we are talking a solid granite base, which occasionally erupts into the rugged and beautiful raised tors. So, somewhere under […]

I am not a smart man

On November 17, 2014

“I’m a physicist”… “Wow, you must be clever!” This is an interaction most physicists would admit to having at some point. Physics is difficult: everyone knows this. We take pride in it. Ours is the most difficult subject, the most worthy; we are the scientific elite. We are confident about our standing in academia. But […]

Lies, damned lies, and Ofsted’s pseudostatistics

On July 23, 2014

It’s been a week since Michael Gove was unceremoniously given the boot from his role as Education Secretary. The cheers of teachers still echo around staff rooms and schoolyards up and down the country. Gove was variously described as incredibly unpopular, a hate figure, utterly ruthless, and a “toxic liability”. And that was just by […]

Teaching biological physics to undergraduates

On May 6, 2014

Back in 2005 the EPSRC International Review of Physics  said: “The Panel observed that the majority of the internationally visible biophysics research is not conducted in physics departments”. This was a sentiment that resonated with the 2008 Wakeham Review, which remarked “physics students in many departments get regrettably little exposure, if any, to modern soft […]

Physics Focus: Our first year

On April 3, 2014

It’s our birthday: Physics Focus first began publishing a year ago today. Since then, we’ve run 78 articles from 27 different writers, and attracted more than 500 comments from readers. We’ve covered everything from supernovae to storytelling, and from nuclear to nonsense. Here are some of the highlights from our first 12 months.

The vacuity of ‘excellence’

On March 20, 2014

This post has been simmering and in gestation for quite a while. This week, however, a number of documents arrived in my inbox to finally catalyse me into putting pen to paper. (Literally. I wrote this out long-hand before editing while typing it up. If you think that it’s vitriolic and ranty now, you should […]

What are exams for? On measuring ability and disability

On February 28, 2014

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assert that equality of opportunity is a good thing. Gone are the bad old days when jobs and privileges were determined at birth. No longer do you have to be an aristocrat or wealthy land-owner to study science: Michael Faraday broke that mould. Nor is […]