Time to review the year's courses. They were overall much better than last year's, I'm happy to say. Long may this trend continue ;)
PSYC 208: Cognition - A bit dry, but I'd say the content was important enough to make it a worthwhile course nonetheless. (And I like how they acknowledged my coming top of the class. Philosophy courses never do that. Perhaps they're trying to be "egalitarian" instead, I don't know.)
PHIL 236: Ethics - An outstanding course, highly recommended. Carolyn's a wonderful lecturer, and the content (meta-ethics) is intrinsically fascinating. [Highlights: "Why Be Moral?" essay, and learning about Hare's two-level utilitarianism.]
PHIL 317: Contemporary Political Philosophy - This was a great course too, with very wide-ranging and important content. Pity I only got an 'A' though, that was unreasonably harsh marking, IMO, I thought I did better than that. Ah well. [Highlights: all the basic income stuff, and smashing libertarians into itsy bitsy little pieces.]
PHIL 238: Cognition - Average. Some interesting content, though the lectures weren't especially engaging. Suffered from being a 200-level course, I would have liked some more advanced content. Having said that, I found some of it quite difficult to get a firm grip on (by my standards, I mean; I don't imagine it would have any discernible impact on graded assessment). As a result, I put an insane amount of work into my first essay, though it fortunately paid off, with the lecturer giving extraordinarily high praise and a 100% grade in consequence. To be honest, I still thought my grasp of the topic was a tad slippery even after all that research. Philosophy of biology is weird.
PHIL 305: Philosophical Logic - Wonderful course! Paradoxes make for fascinating content, the student seminars were fun and engaging, and Doug Campbell's lectures on 'induction machines' were clear, original, and extremely interesting.
PHIL 471: Aspects of Rationality (honours paper taken as a 300-level special topic) - Very challenging. Elicited what is probably my best technical work to date. It was neat to have John Broome as guest lecturer for half the course. Some of the content was a little on the dry side, and I would have liked to see a greater focus on foundational questions in normativity, rather than assuming from the start that there are normatively-binding objective 'reasons'. But such is the state of the field these days. Highlights were my two essays: Reasons for Belief, and - especially - Ought we to be rational?
MATH 243: Analysis - Not so good. Classes were spent scribbling down theorems and proofs at breakneck speed. I don't know what they expect us to learn from that. In my opinion, there are two ways maths ought to be taught:
(1) Conceptually. For example, when you introduce a proof of something called the "completeness of the real numbers", stop and explain what this means, and what its broader significance to mathematics is. Think of it as philosophy of maths, the goal being to improve students' understanding of mathematics. This is especially appropriate for topics as foundational as those covered in this course (limits, sequences, series, functions, etc.), which was essentially about the foundations of calculus.
(2) Methodologically. Teach students how to do maths. Use plenty of examples, show us helpful techniques and heuristics for tackling problems and constructing proofs.
A mix of the two would be ideal. But whatever you do, do not opt for the (3) cramming in as much content as you can approach. It is utterly worthless. Students will hate every minute of it, remember just enough to fool the examiners, and then promptly forget it all. At least, that's what I did.
Also, assessment was very imbalanced. I got practically full marks for all the assignments, but couldn't even finish the exam. It asked far too much for just two hours. I was very happy to get an 'A' in the end; after that exam, I was expecting worse for once! Anyway, if anyone from Canterbury is reading this, I don't recommend taking this course for interest (though you'll probably need it if you plan to major in maths).