MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XXX No. 3
January / February 2018
Support the Olympic Truce:
Diplomacy with North Korea Not War;
Haiti: Responding to Various Needs
#MeToo at MIT: Harassment
and Systemic Gender Subordination
Solidarity at its Best:
But Need to Stay the Course
Introducing MIT’s New Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Training and Consensual Relationships Policy
MIT Day of Action: April 17, 2018
Call For Participation
Trump’s Insults Pour Salt in Wounds
of Haitians Healing After Succession
of Disasters
Inclusive Community Faculty Dinners
Comment on “How Deeply Are
Our Students Learning?”
Update on the Task Force
on Open Access to MIT Research
Deep Learning or Deep Ratings?
No More MIT Voo Doo
Teaching this spring? You should know . . .
MIT Faculty By Gender (AY 2018)
Printable Version


Deep Learning or Deep Ratings?


To The Faculty Newsletter:

re: “How Deeply Are Our Students Learning?” MIT Faculty Newsletter, Vol. XXX No. 1

A most excellent, thoughtful commentary. Bravo! Now the goal will be for us to think and act in accordance with the courage and vision that made MIT great in the first place: Mens et Manus: do we practice what we preach? From the data presented, it seems not. Yet how many faculty could answer these seemingly simple applied questions? Does this reflect an issue with not only the way we teach but also the way we hire and promote faculty? Do we have a good balance in our faculty’s ability and sense of Mens et Manus?

Consider in our design classes: Do we encourage and reward students to couple analysis with design so they experience the endorphin rush of creative deterministic design? In our analysis classes do we couple the real world to the practical world to not just illustrate but motivate students to experience the practical side of the force? Or do we merely encourage “hacking” as an excuse so we are not bothered with having to spend the one-on-one time needed to truly catalyze students to think, experience, and really learn deep lessons for life?

Why might we be in such a rush that we do not have the time to spend actually teaching students to think…? How much time do we spend writing reports and proposals and justifications, and in committees to study how to make things better and then issue a report?

Indeed in the past three decades I have been at MIT as a prof, I have seen our pendulum swing from leading to benchmarking as we join the scramble to follow others who strive to kneel before the great ranking gods h-index and US News & World Report. MIT swing free of benchmarking and herd consensus and take off to once again become the true leader it once was and should be.

Ever the optimist I will be, because MIT long ago trained and set my mind free.

Alex Slocum
Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering

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