You know what's cool? Statistics. Statistics are so cool. This year I'm taking a class that involves writing a very light junior thesis (only has to be around 20 pages) on a topic of my choosing relating to the politics of international development. And before this year, I thought statistics were math on a piece of paper.
I know a guy working on his PhD, who once told me that I should "take more statistics. Statistics is like magic for grad students." Well, Robby does not lie.
When you want to do research and actually contribute to the field to which you have dedicated your life, you need the tools to evaluate the world. Evaluate the world in a way that can easily be translated to empirical numbers and facts. And to do that, even though sometimes it's boring, you need to know your math.
I feel like a lot of political science majors don't really get it. They don't learn anything and they spend their entire undergraduate career in courses about theory and political philosophy. But hold that thought for a second, I'll come back to it.
Today Monday night improv was cancelled, and I had some free time. I discovered Khan Academy, which is a great place to go if you want to learn things. And it helped me figure out all the statistics trouble I was having.
I think that with all the great free resources we have available to us now, we can move to a new generation of higher education. A generation that is more focused on research than theory, more focused on learning practical skills instead of leaving it up to you to put your skill set and the real world together. I feel like I stumbled into a tract of the political science department reserved for a few brave and lucky guinea pigs; here's hoping that the people of the future will get this opportunity earlier and more consistently.
I want to see higher education advance. I want to see people understand more, instead of just learning more. I want to see students learn how to do research instead of how to look at it.
I'm rambling, so I'm just going to cut myself off here and end on the same soap box that I ended my first ever Classic Brian post on: make it a priority to learn. Before this year, I didn't know that empirical research was a thing that one could study. There's a whole world of material out there you haven't even heard of yet.