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Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Thirteenth Week

Last year, almost exactly a year ago, I wrote a post called Exams, Exhaustion and Turning Up to Last Week Lectures. More specifically I wrote:
I do sympathise with the lecturer who wrote that piece. I turn up to everything regardless of whether it is recorded or not... provided it is in my timetable (never went to any stats 10x optional tutorials for instance). To me, the idea of not being there is unthinkable. What is the point of paying for the privilege to go to uni and not acting on it? Nothing. Thus, I turn up.
Is that still true, one year later? Well, broadly. [The following doesn't consider our 13 week semester, versus the usual 12, but I base the title on this fact because I think it could contribute.]

Semester Two last year saw me fall ill (see: In Sickness) and needless that is the most sick I've been in a long time. Earlier this semester I felt a bit like how I felt just before things got really bad then. My solution? Go home early and come in late. In other words, I skipped a few lectures for health reasons. I did that anyway. What I don't think I had done when I wrote In Sickness was skip my Monday lecture for Stats 330 because I was just too tired (i.e. couldn't be arsed) to go after having stayed up way too long to write my History 217 essay the previous night. If I had handed in said essay when I got into uni, though. I probably would've still gone. The trouble was the footnotes took me basically an hour longer than I expected them too so I handed it in either much too close to the due time or ditto but an hour earlier. So, perhaps, you'd expect this post to relate some exceptions relating to my two (two!) up to 4am (4:30am really) essay writing moments. Especially if I told you that I had been up at around 5-5:30am for an 8am start that day, and then went on to wake up at 6-6:30am for a 9am start the following (er, later that) day. Well, you'd be wrong.

When I was doing Stats 330 this dude I talked to in it a few times advised me that Economics 221 (Introduction to Econometrics) is very difficult. Having basically finished said course, I disagree. 221 is by no means easy but it's pretty much as difficult (at least, for me, recall I did Stats 330 before Eco 221, unlike him) as Economics 201 (or, at least, the maths version of 201 -- rumour is they're killing the maths). Possibly this opinion will change when we get the marks back for the second assignment (looking at the answers and going on memory I didn't do as well as I thought I would when I handed it in) and/or when I do the exam in several weeks' time, but bear in mind despite bombing 201's exam and cocking up 1/3 of the test, I don't think either piece of assessment was (particularly) difficult. I have, in fact, generally found that 221 has gone pretty slowly. There's different stuff to even in 330 (for example, having only done applied stats courses all the expected value etc. stuff in the first "review" unit was basically new to me) and there have been interesting tidbits throughout in the stuff I technically know. But, we never got on to Time Series/Autocorrelation.

At school I always dreaded the last few lessons. Well, that's a bit strong. The point is that I didn't like the revision stuff because I found it terribly boring. I hate boredom. This blog, although not this post, is motivated by a deep desire to escape boredom (which is, perhaps, ironic but none of the bastards that read this thing, if they exist, give me feedback, but we'll assume my escapes from boredom inflict boredom on others because that's more interesting). At uni, I haven't really noticed this. Maybe that's because we tend to, if we review, do it pretty quickly (a single lecture) and generally that's our big introduction to the Exam (which, in contrast to school, we're generally not intimately familiar with already). However, the sentiment has come back with a vengeance in the case of 221.

(I should at this point add some more personal context. There are two applied stats courses that I would like to take. One is Stats 302 which may or may not have a future at Auckland (according to a friend of mine currently taking it). The other is Stats 326. I can't really do much about this desire for reasons I won't go in to (timetable fun) but the point is I won't be taking either... and Econometrics courses seemed like the perfect way to "solve" this problem because 221 and 322 have time series in them. Well, not 221. Not for me.)

Last week we finished Topic Six. In fact, we finished Topic Six on Monday. However, we did a 30 minute recap with absolutely no information on Tuesday. Right. Four and a half lectures. That's enough time to do some stuff on time series, right? Well, no. What we've done is revisit Topic Five. Specifically, some examples/case studies which we didn't go over before. As has been the nature of this course, our lecturer has thrown in several questions but the class is too small for answering to not be awkward so this slows things waaay down and his style is big on emphasis (er, it can be repetitive), as well as being pretty slow. (Yes, I answer some questions and no, not all the questions do I, in fact, know the answer to. Yes, I only answer ones I am confident with. Yes, I've still been wrong.) Basically, I feel like we really shouldn't have tomorrow's lecture. And, yeah, I am strongly considering not going.

What is the point here?

I think lecturers need to appreciate that sometimes it is better to keep going but in some situations it is time to wrap up. Tuesday's 221 lectures tend to be bigger than the other two. Today's was pretty the same size as those ones. The only real reason I am still considering going tomorrow is curiosity for what the last lecture will look like.

I don't think not going is getting value for money. But now I think a year ago I was a bit naive. Not all lectures are worth having to go to. And, yes, right now, I think that's only the situation when you aren't covering new content and are, instead, going through very slowly new examples of old content and then very slowly reviewing. But maybe in a year I will amend this view too.