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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Reality Imitates Life Imitates Reality.... 

School is way more like reality TV than I like (or is it the other way around?). A few times every season, we go before the judges, and some get voted off the island: we have exams. So here I sit, trying to regurgitate all I've learned so far onto paper in random order so that I can be officially judged.

My one non-take-home exam is today, in epidemiologic methods. I don't really feel like we've learned much this semester, and I certainly couldn't tell you what we learned if we did learn anything. We get to bring our own formula sheets, which is nice, but ultimately makes me further question the utility of what we're doing.

We clearly don't need to *know* these formulas. At this point a reasonably equipped pocket calculator will do most of the calculations in a fraction of an instant, and with a laptop and internet, you can do the rest of them as quickly. And yet, instead of really digging in to learning how to apply and interpret, we spend our time calculating things like 95% confidence intervals and p-values BY HAND. I mean, once or twice is an important learning tool, but it's been a semester and a half. From what I hear, it'll be the full 2 years. WHY?!?!?

I keep wondering what school has to do with reality, except preparing me for the rigors of competition on reality TV.

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