comment by Said Achmiz (SaidAchmiz) ·
2019-05-13T06:35:49.034Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
You’ve switched from talking about lectures (in your earlier comment which confused me) to talking about books. Now I’m even more confused.
I’m going to go ahead and try and pick apart your earlier comment, after all, in the hopes that it will let us disentangle this confusion. Here goes…
Yes, if an instructor were, for some strange reason, to decide that he will only give lectures, and not assign any problems, projects, etc., then the students will not learn the material. Similarly, if a student were, for some strange reason, to decide that he will only attend lectures and not take notes, put together outlines or study guides, read the text, or do the exercises, he will not learn the material.
I don’t disagree, but this seems indicative of preexisting damage to the students or at least a direly impoverished environment.
This seems straightforwardly false, but there’s not much to dissect here without specifics of why you think this. One question does occur to me: by “this” do you refer to the first part of the bit you quoted (about the instructor), or the second (about the student), or both?
After all, we usually don’t give babies problems, projects, etc to teach them to walk and talk, but they learn just fine.
But of course we do. Parents talk to their kids, and read to them, including children’s books and alphabet books and nursery rhymes and “say ‘ma-ma’! go on… ‘ma-ma’!” and so on; and parents play with their kids, and build or buy playpens, etc., etc. What is that, but “problems” and “projects”?
Someone invented this stuff, and plenty of people in the past have made efficient use of standardized streams of text (whether delivered visually or aurally) to improve their understanding of a thing.
This is a perplexing sentence and I’m not sure how to interpret it; do you simply mean “people have been giving lectures and writing books for a long time”? If so, then of course that is true, but do you claim that “in the past” (when?), lectures didn’t come with exercises or problems or any form of practice, but nonetheless were as effective, or more effective, than modern instruction?
(And I really have no clue what “Someone invented this stuff” refers to.)
If someone said CDs don’t work because you can’t hear the music by looking at them, we’d wonder whether this person knows about CD players.
I’m having a hard time applying this analogy/metaphor to the case of lectures. In this metaphor, it seems to me, I said “if you’re handed only a CD and no player, you will not be able to hear the music on it”, and you’re saying “the inability to hear the music on a CD without having a player is a sign of pre-existing damage”. Or, something like that?
Anyway, if you find yourself motivated to explain further, please stick with the topic of lectures; it seems to me that I need to understand what you’re saying about that, before you can talk about whether the same applies to books, etc.
comment by Benquo ·
2019-05-13T13:39:28.742Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Lectures were literally invented as a method of text distribution, when printing was unavailable and paper expensive. I don't mean that in the past they were more effective than integrated instruction - I mean that an academic context in which the main formal service provided was delivery of lectures did not prevent students from thinking about the content of lectures on their own.
Here's what I meant by the CD metaphor. It seems like there's an old practice of doing the equivalent of handing students CDs. We can now see that this practice is broken, in the sense that students, lacking CD players, don't appreciate the music or other audio. One plausible interpretation is that the practice of handing students CDs has always been a poor fit for the audio formats compatible with students' ears. But another plausible interpretation - the one I'm proposing - is that the students used to have CD players, and no longer do.
Likewise, it's not as though learning didn't go on in highly lecture-centric (or book-centric) contexts. So if students aren't learning from lectures (and books), we might expect that some interpretive faculty they used to have is now absent. This seems to me like it ought to be a higher priority to get to students (or stop taking away from them), than the content of almost any particular lecture course.
comment by Benquo ·
2019-05-13T13:42:35.550Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Parents talk to their kids, and read to them, including children’s books and alphabet books and nursery rhymes and “say ‘ma-ma’! go on… ‘ma-ma’!” and so on; and parents play with their kids, and build or buy playpens, etc., etc. What is that, but “problems” and “projects”?
It's play. In extremely rare cases like A Mathematician's Lament, people do propose that teachers play with their students about the subject matter, but mostly problem sets and projects are not assigned by the same methods by which language is introduced to children. If the OP were proposing that professors play with their students, I'd be more sympathetic, and have brought up the babies as a confirming rather than disconfirming example!