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Robin_Hanson2 comments on Lost Purposes - Less Wrong

68 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 25 November 2007 09:01AM

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Comment author: Robin_Hanson2 25 November 2007 01:40:03PM 4 points [-]

The general point is valid, but in particular cases one should be cautious in concluding than an org has lost it purpose - it might have a different purpose than you realized. School in particular my not have the purpose to teach, but to sort students by abilities.

Comment author: MarkusRamikin 28 February 2012 10:06:11AM *  8 points [-]

I don't see how that, even if true, would make what schools are doing look any more sensible. Surely that purpose could be accomplished without wasting entire years of children's lives on sitting in a room doing nothing particularly useful.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 28 February 2012 02:31:16PM 14 points [-]

The most obvious purpose of school is custodial.

Comment author: Morendil 28 February 2012 02:49:13PM 9 points [-]

Tied for first place with compliance. :)

Comment author: MarkusRamikin 28 February 2012 05:42:40PM *  0 points [-]

Yup. Now that purpose is consistent with wasting children's lives sitting in a room where nothing much useful happens.

Though I wouldn't say that purpose is "the" real one while teaching is not. There is a huge and constantly growing body of knowledge our civilisation needs passed on to new generations, and parents do genuinely want their children to learn. So surely talking about lost purposes here is justified. The people who create textbooks and curricula and teaching methods do have an important task on their hands, one that can't be measured solely by how well their work enables schools to keep children imprisoned for much of the day.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 28 February 2012 05:55:32PM 3 points [-]

There's no reason to think institutions have only one purpose.

Comment author: MarkusRamikin 28 February 2012 06:23:27PM *  0 points [-]

Well of course not? But Robin Hanson seems to think it makes sense to deny that particular purpose.

Sorry, I don't know if your responses are about the argument I'm making about that, or they're just observations that happen to be under my posts. ;)

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 28 February 2012 06:37:31PM 1 point [-]

To some extent, it's an isolated observation, but it's also an effort to correct what seemed like a drift (on my part, too) towards trying to identify a single purpose for conventional education.