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Constant2 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: Constant2 22 August 2007 09:37:07PM 5 points [-]

"Constant, just because something is part of how humans learn language, does not make it okay."

Learning the passwords is okay in the context of learning language (I think). Take it away and you impede the ability to learn language. More generally, I think that learning empty slogans isn't wrong, it's merely incomplete. Part of learning is unintelligent aping, where we first learn to go through some of the motions without necessarily understanding them. You have to start somewhere. Understanding is complex and so necessarily requires passage through stages which do not each one constitute understanding, just as an office building as it is being built passes through many stages where what it is is just a useless structure that serves no immediate purpose. What is bad is not learning the passwords, it's failing to learn more beyond the passwords. Similarly, what is bad is not laying a foundation under a building, what is bad is abandoning the construction of the building after the foundation is laid but before the building is complete.

"a floating, non-anticipation-controlling belief that feels like ordinary knowledge, and is not labeled as a hint about someone else's word-associations"

It is almost necessarily the case that people who do not understand yet (e.g., students who are in the process of learning), do not yet have the understanding that it takes to understand that they do not understand yet. Knowing that you did not know is more easily done in hindsight once you know, than while you still do not know.

So the burden is probably better placed on the teacher to ensure that the students' education is not left incomplete.

I myself find it hard to see what the gaps are in my knowledge unless that knowledge is tested. So I think a good place to start in fixing whatever problem it is that you see, is in the testing of the students.