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waveman comments on Guessing the Teacher's Password - Less Wrong

62 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 22 August 2007 03:40AM

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Comment author: waveman 06 December 2010 06:51:49AM 11 points [-]

W Edwards Deming pointed out in the 1950s, in his books about quality management, the folly of combining measuring for the purpose of improvement with measurement for the purpose of remunerating people. If you do this, the whole measurement process is corrupted - "you get what you measure". Almost invariably however the two forms of measurement are combined because it seems more efficient. As I speak, ambulances are waiting for many hours idle outside my local hospital for a spare bed for their patients, because if the hospital tells them to go to another hospital the hospital gets demerits for failing to have a bed available. If they make them wait, no such demerits are given.

Later, psychologists found that when you externally reward and punish people for doing things, any other intrinsic rewards from the activity tend to be extinguished. Thus (in part) the contrast between the 5 year old who is brimming with enthusiasm for learning and the resentful 14 year old who does as little at possible at school.

Maria Montessori found that if you place children consistently at the sweet spot of learning, where they have to make some effort but it is not discouragingly difficult, they remain enthusiastic and learn rapidly. Micro-tests occur all the time in Montessori classrooms to assess progress. Mainly the tests involve a self-assessment that this activity is boring now so I will move to the next one.