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

Shakespeare's_Fool 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: Shakespeare's_Fool 22 August 2007 09:44:09PM 0 points [-]


School is all about words?

In shop class if the pieces didn't fit together, weren't sanded down smooth, or the contraption didn't work, you flunked the course.

In chemistry lab, if you didn't measure the pH right, same problem.

In physics if your measurements of waves or acceleration down the inclined plane were wrong down went your grade.

Guess we must have gone to different schools.


Comment author: TeMPOraL 28 May 2012 05:59:09PM *  6 points [-]

I've never seen or heard of such a school, at least not in my country. Maybe vocational schools grade like that, but in high schools I know, there's no fitting togetger, sanding, or measuring anything. It's just memorizing theory and solving exercises.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 28 May 2012 08:31:38PM 1 point [-]

In both 10th grade chemistry and AP chem we had some degree of grading based on how close our values were to the correct values. I'm not actually sure this helps that much in practice though because I'm pretty sure that some kids fudged their data.

Comment author: TeMPOraL 13 October 2012 01:11:01AM *  0 points [-]

(exercising necromancy again to raise the thread from the dead)

We had this situation on CS studies in numerical methods class and in metrology class. In both cases, most of the students fudged the data in the reports and/or just plainly copied stuff from what the previous year did.

Comment author: [deleted] 10 August 2013 12:43:02PM 1 point [-]

I'm pretty sure that some kids fudged their data

Well, that means that at least they knew what data they would have expected to get if they had done the experiment right, which takes more understanding than just memorizing the teacher's passwords.

Comment author: arundelo 28 May 2012 07:56:06PM *  8 points [-]

(Thread necromancy courtesy of TeMPOraL's comment.)

inclined plane

Here's Feynman criticizing the Brazilian educational system (in the late 1940s and early 1950s), but I get the impression from his writing that he thought this was a widespread problem that was particularly bad in Brazil. (See for instance the stuff about American textbooks later "Surely You're Joking".)

Then I held up the elementary physics textbook they were using. "There are no experimental results mentioned anywhere in this book, except in one place where there is a ball, rolling down an inclined plane, in which it says how far the ball got after one second, two seconds, three seconds, and so on. The numbers have 'errors' in them -- that is, if you look at them, you think you're looking at experimental results, because the numbers are a little above, or a little below, the theoretical values. The book even talks about having to correct the experimental errors -- very fine. The trouble is, when you calculate the value of the acceleration constant from these values, you get the right answer. But a ball rolling down an inclined plane, if it is actually done, has an inertia to get it to turn, and will, if you do the experiment, produce five-sevenths of the right answer, because of the extra energy needed to go into the rotation of the ball. Therefore this single example of experimental 'results' is obtained from a fake experiment. Nobody had rolled such a ball, or they would never have gotten those results!

-- "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!", Richard Feynman (p. 217)

Comment author: [deleted] 10 August 2013 12:46:40PM 0 points [-]

Not to mention all the 20th-century textbooks mentioning the tongue map thing...

Comment author: Zubon 12 May 2015 12:48:44AM 0 points [-]

Page 212-213 is even more on point.

After a lot of investigation, I finally figured out that the students had memorized everything, but they didn't know what anything meant. ... So you see, they could pass the examinations, and "learn" all this stuff, and not know anything at all, except what they had memorized.

He gives several examples relating to the physics of light and torque. The students give great definitions but have no idea how to apply the terms to any real objects, even when the objects are pointed out to them.