10 Lessons of an MIT Education

Recently I came across a very insightful article from the MIT professor Gian-Carlo Rota. In the article he describes 10 factors that affect the education of MIT students:

“For several years, I have been teaching 18.30, differential equation, the largest mathematics course at MIT, with more than 300 students. The lectures have been good training in dealing with mass behavior. Every sentence must be perfectly enunciated, preferably twice. Examples on the board must be relevant, if not downright fascinating. Every 15 minutes or so, the lecturer is expected to come up with an interesting aside, joke, historical anecdote, or unusual application of the concept at hand. When a lecturer fails to conform to these inexorable requirements, the students will signify their displeasure by picking by their books and leaving the classroom.”

Here are the 10 factors:

  1. You can and will work at a desk for seven hours straight, routinely
  2. You learn what you don’t know you are learning
  3. By and large, “knowing how” matters more than “knowing what”
  4. In science and engineering, you can fool very little of the time
  5. You don’t have to be a genius to do creative work
  6. You must measure up to a very high level of performance
  7. The world and your career are unpredictable, so you are better off learning subjects of permanent value
  8. You are never going to catch up, and neither is anyone else
  9. The future belongs to the computer-literate-squared
  10. Mathematics is still the queen of the sciences

You can read the full article here.

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