Little schoolhouse on the internet
I admire Steve Jobs greatly, and as he said everybody should learn to program I thought I’d give it a shot. Bad move, but with an unexpected consequence. I am dyscalculic, which means that numbers make as little sense to me as words to a dyslexic. I must have been gazing out of the window when my first arithmetic teacher revealed the key principle which underpins the whole bewildering edifice of sums. Whatever the reason, figures in any garb mean as little to me as Sumerian cuneiform. I have no idea how I passed a statistics course in grad school; the instructor must have taken pity on me. Not a promising start for a neophyte programmer. Sure enough, my enthusiasm ebbed when I looked through what was available. True, those mysterious brackets and ellipses and double back slashes are not numbers. But to me they seem tarred with the same numerological brush, redolent of the same incomprehensibility. Sorry, Steve.
My trawl through educational possibilities, though, netted something much more appealing. Coursera is the biggest provider of Massive Open Online Courses. Amazingly, it’s free. Its aim, in the words of one of its founders, is “to turn high-quality education from a privilege to a basic human right, so that anyone, no matter their social, economic or family circumstances, has access to the best education.” So they should (although how they will use it will be a problem; having graduates work in coffee shops is already a scandalous waste of resources). With 50,000 (yes, really) others, I signed up for a course entitled Critical Thinking in Global Challenges. I got one of the questions in the first quiz wrong. Good. I should learn something.