Merit of theory

I just finished an exam in Steel structural design at my local college. One of the questions I had was along the lines of “What norm governs the design of welds”. A model answer would’ve been “1995-1-1-2”. Those of you familiar with the subject will quickly see that I still cannot answer it.

I couldn’t answer the question because as I was studying i didn’t see the merit of memorizing a numerical code used as a title for a chapter.

I feel that in 2017 any theory question that you can google with max 3 search terms and get a direct hit shouldn’t be an exam question.

I don’t think that in this day and age you should be able to be judged on the random fact memorization of useless information.

It is in my opinion that I am now in the middle of 2 generations. Those who grew up with the internet and those who didn’t. Unfortunately those who have not grown up with modern technology by their side have had to memorize what I call “useless” facts out of necessity.

For them it was helpful to open a book and immediately find the right norm they are looking for. This saves time when designing and helps bring overall cost down during the design stage. I can imagine that if it takes you paging through a 300 page book for a few minutes every time you want to double-check a certain design principle your calculations will be delivered at a much later time than your colleagues.

Nowadays with the arrival of PDF and other text-formatting formats, a simple ctrl+z followed by a few keywords will bring you directly to the desired chapter.
This saves you time and best of all: no need to memorize norms.

I do not however advocate sloppiness. You still need to be able to know what each norm governs. You need to understand what is in those norms. But to memorize the numerical code of the norm is in my opinion senseless.

It will be really interesting to see how the curriculum changes over the next decade as the old guard retires and young blood seeps into our educational system.

My prediction is that the laptop/computer/device that allows you internet access (Google Glass?!) will take a more and more center stage. even when teaching theory. I have found that having to google stuff for myself has proven 10x more effective in learning that particular subject than sitting in a lecture, dabbling on my phone.

Or then I am just lazy and watched too many “Stranger Things” episodes while studying… Some food for thought!

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