# sundar comments on Teachable Rationality Skills - Less Wrong

51 27 May 2011 09:57PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Sort By: Best

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: 12 June 2011 07:59:51AM 9 points [-]

## some of these skills can be explained to a much younger audience (catch them young), in the form of stories, one such story made up for my daughter,

As the Sun rose, the whole forest was filled with loud but sweet chatter of the squirrels chirping, as all the little ones were busy getting ready for school. Squeaky, the youngest among them, a very energetic and clever guy, was also gentle and kind, hence was adored by all the squirrels in the forest.

Squeaky enjoyed school very much and was always the first to get there. He loved what he learned each day and seeing his enthusiasm his parents gifted some chalk for him to practice his lessons at home. Squeaky was very happy and immediately set about scribbling on the trunk of the tree where his home was. That day in school, he was taught the number 'one', and his home tree was filled with that number. But soon there was a problem, “How could a little tree trunk be enough to hold all my knowledge?” wondered Squeaky. He thought about this and then decided to borrow the other trees in the forest for this purpose.

The next day he learned about 'two', and painted the whole forest, all the trees, including his neighbours with that number. When the other squirrels climbed their respective trees to get to their home, they were fully covered with chalk dust. And by the time they reached their destination, they looked like Eskimos. Thanks to Squeaky. Since, he was an adorable child, no one complained.

Every day the forest bore witness to Squeaky's expanding knowledge, one day it was 'three' and the next day it would be filled with 'four'. As Squeaky's knowledge was near 'three hundred and twenty six', the whole colony shuddered to think of the days ahead. They did not want in the future to start as a squirrel at the base of their tree and end up at the top as an Eskimo.

So, they sought the help of an wise old Owl, who thought about it for a moment and said, "Each one of you should gift different coloured chalks to Squeaky and before he could use it, ask him to come and see me". They all were perplexed, "Is this some kind of ZEN thing, the solution to a problem is more of the same problem?" they whispered amongst themselves, but nevertheless decided to implement the Owl's idea. "It would at-least be a change from the usual white", bought a chorus laughter from the crowd. "See you tomorrow covered in red" giggled one. "Hope some one gives him blue, I would look good in blue" wondered another.

The next day to Squeaky's surprise, all his neighbours gave him chalks of different colours, for his use. But they said there was a catch; he should first go and see the wise old Owl and follow his instructions if he wants to use them.

Squeaky went to the Owl and introduced himself. The Owl said “ I want you to write about the things you do-not-know, so that I can teach them to you”. This was music to his ears. Now he had a mentor. He thanked the Owl and promised to start from tomorrow.

The next morning when Squeaky was about to begin, he thought about the Owl's instruction and as the chalk touched the trunk, he was filled with a strange feeling. He had never felt this way before and an uneasy calm settled on him. His mind was blank. He wondered, 'What do I do-not-know?'. He was rather clueless.

Squeaky sat down to think, could not think of things he did not know and whatever he thought, he knew. Slowly, the seconds ticked to minutes, and minutes to hours, hours to days, but still there was no progress. All the squirrels heaved a sigh of relief but at the same time felt sorry, as it was rather a mean trick to play on the little fella and in the mean time the forest came back to its original colour.

(As Squeaky is not very good at knowing what he does not know, and you children being so much smarter, can you think about what you do-not-know. Can you?)

more of my effort to teach rationality skills to my daughter can be found at this address, http://bpsundar.weebly.com

Comment author: 26 March 2012 11:17:18AM 1 point [-]

The link (above) to your site has gone offline... have you moved it somewhere? I'd really like to see what you've been doing!

Comment author: 01 May 2012 01:11:09PM 1 point [-]

He seems to have moved it here.