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komponisto2 comments on Initiation Ceremony - Less Wrong

49 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 28 March 2008 08:40PM

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Comment author: komponisto2 29 March 2008 06:31:46PM 0 points [-]

In a traditional school environment, grades are the de facto student motivator

Motivator of what? The point is that whatever behavior it is that grades in school serve to motivate, it is not learning per se. Indeed, grades are more often than not a motivator against learning. To quote Eliezer (emphasis added):

"[S]tudents aren't allowed to be confused; if they started saying, 'Wait, do I really understand this? Maybe I'd better spend a few days looking up related papers, or consult another textbook,' they'd fail all the courses they took that quarter." (Two More Things to Unlearn from School.)

This is where the autodidact has a distinct advantage, because he/she doesn't have to "worry" about "failing courses", and thus doesn't have to actively resist this kind of pressure against learning. By contrast, if a traditional school student is interested in learning, he/she has to be willing to neglect "assigned tasks" and incur the expected social consequences. It is in this sense that I claim it is (or at least can be) easier to stay motivated outside the school system than inside.