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pnrjulius comments on Two More Things to Unlearn from School - Less Wrong

55 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 12 July 2007 05:45PM

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Comment author: pnrjulius 09 April 2012 06:13:38AM 0 points [-]

Cliff Notes (and Spark Notes) and the like are really spectacular at teaching you the kinds of things that literature teachers want to hear parroted back on tests. They aren't good at teaching you genuine understanding of literature, but that's not what's being tested for anyway.

Comment author: SecondWind 12 January 2013 03:16:25AM 0 points [-]

Literature in English class generally serves as reading practice, and as an odd excuse to practice composing thoughts for other people to read. Literature is the vehicle rather than the purpose, unless you're looking at a literature degree.

I'm curious how to test an understanding of literature, and what purpose one serves. Intuitively, a person well-versed in literature should be better equipped to write or recommend fiction than a person who is not well-versed in literature. Is there another benefit one might test?

Comment author: Kindly 12 January 2013 04:53:56AM 1 point [-]

A good understanding of literature would be like having TV Tropes inside your head. Understanding literature lets you appreciate more complicated literature: if you're familiar with a literary device, you can recognize when it's being subverted or played with.

Also, simply having read a lot lets you recognize and make quotes and references, which can be fun.

Comment author: Audball 31 January 2014 01:23:32AM 0 points [-]

I think the purpose of testing an understanding of literature is testing critical thinking and argument skills (when it's not guessing the password, of course). With that said, I think philosophy classes can facilitate a more rigorous learning environment for that purpose.