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squigglier comments on The Best Textbooks on Every Subject - Less Wrong

167 Post author: lukeprog 16 January 2011 08:30AM

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Comment author: squigglier 24 January 2011 05:33:59AM 1 point [-]

I haven't had much success with textbooks. I have found them to be mostly boring and riddled with errors. I interpret boredom to mean that I'm not learning anything.

Here's a possible explanation for the boringness. Are you familiar with the experience of not being able to understand how you didn't get something, right after you've got it? The same presumably applies in the minds of professors.

It's hard for them to imagine not understanding the ideas. One can't know what the reader knows and doesn't know and what his misconceptions are. Teaching generations of students helps, but not much, and it won't help at all with tacit knowledge communicated face-to-face, but not via text.

Incidentally, that's probably why textbooks are so full of mistakes: not only do they contain arcane symbols which cause typos, but, being boring, nobody reads them anyway and the errors remain uncorrected.

The solution I think is to make two texts: one main text, which can be edited online to fix errors, and accompanying notes written by readers, with links to better material wherever possible.

Comment author: lukeprog 26 January 2011 05:40:49AM 3 points [-]

If textbooks don't work for you very often, what does work for you?