Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

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

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

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

Comments (92)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread.

Comment author: Joshua_Fox 22 August 2007 08:09:11AM 1 point [-]

90% of anything is crud, including schools and perhaps the scholarly motivation of most students, but the better schools don’t teach the better students by rote learning.

The magic words, as you point out at the bottom of your essay, are helpful for getting one’s thoughts into the right part of science. Most people would have a train of thought that is not quite as reflective as what you described, something a bit more confused like: - "Heat conduction?" - Something to do with heat spreading out from hot to cold. - This is strange. The near side should be hotter. - Well, maybe the plate’s made of some weird material or something.

The teacher is posing a trick question, by requiring thought outside physics and in the area of teacherly psychology. This is a good way of reminding the students that all areas of science are connected. But good science works by creating models which are simplifications of the world. In a physics class, the model focuses on physics and not human psychology. Too many trick questions, and students will never learn the laws of thermodynamics, as they spend their brainpower trying to outwit the teacher.