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Joshua_Fox 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: Joshua_Fox 17 July 2007 01:51:11AM 1 point [-]

Not all schools/universities are as grim as all that. I went to a small liberal arts university where research professors taught small classes, and although it wasn't perfect, the students who wanted to learn critical thought were encouraged by many professors to do so.

> trusting authority. Learning critical thinking of great minds is a decent start on developing one's own, and closer than most students will ever get.

> "Maybe I'd better ... consult another textbook, they'd fail > all the courses they took that quarter."

I did that occasionally, and passed!

> with a textbook chapter plus homework to be done every week - the courses > are timed for frantic memorization, it's not possible to deeply chew over > and leisurely digest knowledge in the same period.

Almost no one would have the mental discipline to use the extra time to digest the knowledge.

And don't put memorization down -- deeper thought needs to complement memorization, but cannot replace it.

> A month later they would understand the material far better and > remember it much longer - but one month after finals is too late

The ideal approach would have graded work on a course spread out over as long a time as possible: Twice-weekly exercises, weekly quizzes, monthly midterms, semesterly exams, year-end finals, and a summary test at the end of the degree, like many European universities. There would also be papers and reports. All these would have a significant weighting in the final grade.

This would encourage students to continually re-learn the material. Also, tests and other graded work are great ways to learn in themselves -- at least while they are doing them, students are exercising their brains to some extent.

And of course, it would not harm the students' grades, since grades can be made to fall into any curve, high or low as you please, whether or not you make the students re-learn the material.

The main barrier to this proposal is that educators don't want to put the effort into grading.

Eliezer, I hate to raise an ad hominem point, but how do you know what you know about formal schooling?