Posts

I have COVID, for how long should I isolate? 2022-01-13T20:44:46.005Z
AMA: I was unschooled for most of my childhood, then voluntarily chose to leave to go to a large public high school. 2022-01-07T07:48:27.335Z

Comments

Comment by iceplant on I have COVID, for how long should I isolate? · 2022-01-15T19:44:22.091Z · LW · GW

I totally agree that ideally I would test negative before sharing air with anyone, especially those who didn't "opt-in" to the risk. Unfortunately antigen likely won't be available in my area, and PCR seems to not be a great indicator of current viral load, so I'm left estimating based on my symptoms/days of isolation. Continuing to isolate is a significant inconvenience/quality of life downgrade for me, but I am able to do it indefinitely without impacting my basic survival needs. 

Comment by iceplant on I have COVID, for how long should I isolate? · 2022-01-13T21:33:58.548Z · LW · GW

Good to know. I wasn't able to take my temperature, but I felt subjectively "feverish" with mild body aches and bizarre dreams on days 1 and 2 and not after. 10 days after that would put me at 12 days of total isolation. If you have any first or second hand sources you can share I'd love to check them out, but I understand if you can't. 

Comment by iceplant on AMA: I was unschooled for most of my childhood, then voluntarily chose to leave to go to a large public high school. · 2022-01-12T23:11:27.148Z · LW · GW

I grew up in California, and many of my friends chose to go to community college part-time instead of high school, and basically got this "modular" design the commenter discusses for later education. I think it worked really well for them. When I was 13 I really wanted an academically "normal" environment, probably irrationally so, maybe a little rebelliously so, which is why I didn't choose to do this. I think expanding California's already very high caliber and affordable community college network to provide a more independent alternative to high school could be a great option for a lot of kids. I have trouble fully understanding how this proposal would be implemented for earlier grades, though it sounds nice. I think decoupling the necessary from the enrichment in school would help a lot. I went to a large urban public high school, and remember seeing a lot of kids who were legally forced to learn a ton of math that had nothing to do with their very real material struggles that could optimistically take a decade to materialize into a tangible career from a teacher who also didn't care about math. I can't help but think these students would have been better served by dropping out of high school, doing a 3 month dev bootcamp, then applying to software engineering jobs, and potentially reentering the school systems once they had more stability in their lives. 

Comment by iceplant on AMA: I was unschooled for most of my childhood, then voluntarily chose to leave to go to a large public high school. · 2022-01-12T22:46:55.623Z · LW · GW

I think there's potential for it to go well/poorly at any age, and I'd encourage shifting the focus on the specific way the kid can be unschooled, whether they want to or not, and how well suited to it they are.  A lot of parents in my community saw their decision to unschool as protecting the early childhoods of their kids from the stresses of a culture of "academic rigor" that they saw as stress inducing, mind-numbing, and turning kids into cogs of a capitalist machine, and then later allowed or encouraged their kids to go to more traditional or independent high schools. Other parents had kids who did well in traditional elementary school, and were then severely bullied once their peer group hit puberty, to the point their parents looked into radical alternatives. 

Comment by iceplant on AMA: I was unschooled for most of my childhood, then voluntarily chose to leave to go to a large public high school. · 2022-01-12T22:37:42.814Z · LW · GW

This is a good point that spelling everything phonetically is probably not a great/sustainable way of writing a language. I'm wondering if there's a word for "spelling system where each letter corresponds to exactly one sound but that sound can change with consistency based on regional dialect/inflection/other context". I think Spanish is a great example of a relatively straightforward spelling system with regional dialects that generally preserves the consistent mapping of letters to sounds. Granted it has some oddities (like "h" having no sound, the redundancy of "s" and "c", the "qu-" prefix, etc). I'm curious what historically caused languages like Spanish, and German to maintain much more logical spelling rules while neighboring languages from similar groups like English, French, and Danish do not. 

Comment by iceplant on AMA: I was unschooled for most of my childhood, then voluntarily chose to leave to go to a large public high school. · 2022-01-09T04:05:16.813Z · LW · GW

A friend in college who was very involved in the community kept bring up interesting ideas/events he encountered. When I was commuting a lot, I started listening to the Rationally Speaking and SSC/ACX podcasts, then started following Zvi's covid updates and engaging with 80k hours career coaching. I still don't feel like I'm "part" of the community, and would like to be more involved!

Comment by iceplant on AMA: I was unschooled for most of my childhood, then voluntarily chose to leave to go to a large public high school. · 2022-01-09T04:02:39.376Z · LW · GW

I honestly don't know. I'm inclined to think there's a strong genetic component since almost all of my genetic first cousins have some level of clinical anxiety/depression/adhd traits. Possible the unschooling/family dynamic played a role too, but it's hard to tell.

Comment by iceplant on AMA: I was unschooled for most of my childhood, then voluntarily chose to leave to go to a large public high school. · 2022-01-09T03:58:44.772Z · LW · GW

I didn't know about the IPA itself but I imagined something like it must exist for people who study sounds or something and didn't understand why we couldn't just use that. Or just spell everything phonetically like in Spanish. Hell, even defining a single-valued mapping form letters to sounds would be better than the bullshit we have today that wastes thousands of productive human-hours and makes the defacto universal language less accessible (as you can see I still have strong feelings about this, though I now know how to read and write). 

Comment by iceplant on AMA: I was unschooled for most of my childhood, then voluntarily chose to leave to go to a large public high school. · 2022-01-09T03:55:09.365Z · LW · GW

I think there's definitely a middle path, and as much as I loved the flexibility to follow my nose I think I could have benefitted form a little more structure. 

As far as the job goes I feel like I'm missing a lot of intuition about how the corporate world operates. Something feels hollow about doing things for profit with minimal academic interest. There are certifications I could get that would give me a significant pay bump, but I keep putting them off because the material feels like corporate propaganda and I can't stand studying for them. Most of my experience before this was in research labs though, so maybe that explains my experience more so than my childhood. 

Comment by iceplant on AMA: I was unschooled for most of my childhood, then voluntarily chose to leave to go to a large public high school. · 2022-01-07T18:42:29.517Z · LW · GW

Lack of socialization was one of the main reasons I wanted to go to traditional high school. Do you have any hobbies that you can commit to more seriously? Are there sports teams, arts programs, hacker spaces, internships you could do that would get you regularly out of the house and around other (young?) people? Many of my homeschooler friends started at city college half time at 14 instead of going to high school, did very well, and got to college way ahead of their peers. That might be a good middle ground if it's available to you.

Comment by iceplant on AMA: I was unschooled for most of my childhood, then voluntarily chose to leave to go to a large public high school. · 2022-01-07T18:18:57.695Z · LW · GW

I learned to read really late - at age 8 or 9 I think. I don't remember because there were no grade levels so a lot of experiences are in a blurry age range. This was because I didn't want to - English spelling seemed like a stupid and inefficient way to store information when we could just spell everything phonetically using the IPA or other system. I guess when your parents are willing to do radical things because of their beliefs that teaches you to do the same. I didn't enjoy reading for a very long time, and still find it somewhat tedious. I'd much rather listen to an audiobook at 3x speed while going on a run than sit down and look at a static piece of paper with black lines on it. I now understand this might have been a consequence of then undiagnosed ADHD. 

Comment by iceplant on AMA: I was unschooled for most of my childhood, then voluntarily chose to leave to go to a large public high school. · 2022-01-07T18:13:17.368Z · LW · GW

They both had pretty negative experiences in grade school, and felt that school was more about "warehousing" and "preparing kids to be cogs in the capitalist machine" than actually teaching and nurturing kids. I agree with that to an extent. 

I'm an only child, which may have exacerbated some of the problems I've mentioned in other comments. Growing up in the Bay Area, there was a pretty active community of unschoolers, and we'd meet up at "Park Days" once or twice a week. Unfortunately, the homeschooler community can be pretty fragmented based on which philosophy of homeschooling you follow. I remember there being many instances of clique-y-ness among the parents (less so among the children somehow), cases of parents not talking to other parents, and groups splintering off into other groups. The result was that the group my family was "in" with was pretty spread out. I had a community, most of them just lived 1hr+ away. 

Comment by iceplant on AMA: I was unschooled for most of my childhood, then voluntarily chose to leave to go to a large public high school. · 2022-01-07T18:07:41.343Z · LW · GW

There were a lot of opportunities to dive deep when cool things presented themselves. For example, each year I got to go with my grandma to a natural products convention for two weeks and learned a lot about the supplement/vitamin industry. When I got Rosetta Stone I got to drop all other subjects and binge learn Spanish for a month. That definitely wouldn't have happened in a traditional school.

Comment by iceplant on AMA: I was unschooled for most of my childhood, then voluntarily chose to leave to go to a large public high school. · 2022-01-07T18:04:18.024Z · LW · GW

That's too bad you have to choose so early on. The kids I saw who seemed the most successful in homeschooling were the ones who started in traditional school, and then left for a specific reason (child actor, competitive figure skater, wanted to write a novel, got bullied, etc). Many kids went back and forth and seemed to do well. A lot of parents homeschool their kids because they want to engrain an ideology on them (whether that be religious or not). I'd encourage you to stay grounded in what's best for your kid and will make them happy and satisfied, and not what lifestyle you want your kid to live. 

Comment by iceplant on AMA: I was unschooled for most of my childhood, then voluntarily chose to leave to go to a large public high school. · 2022-01-07T17:59:29.549Z · LW · GW

I absolutely agree. My parents both have graduate degrees, worked part time throughout my childhood, and our family/housing unit was relatively stable. This helped a lot. If you look at r/HomeschoolerRecovery many stories there are of kids with parents who have no experience teaching and used homeschooling to justify controlling and often abusive behavior.  That said, I don't think this is a sufficient condition for homeschooling, especially unschooling, to work well. Like you said, I think the kid's learning style needs to be compatible with that level of independence, and the parents need to be confident in their abilities to provide the vast set of resources schools can provide.

Comment by iceplant on AMA: I was unschooled for most of my childhood, then voluntarily chose to leave to go to a large public high school. · 2022-01-07T17:54:07.790Z · LW · GW

I remember being shocked how many kids were totally disinterested and disengaged from the thing they were dedicating close to half of their waking hours. That never happened when I was homeschooled - if I wasn't interested in something, or didn't like how something was being taught, it could be done differently. I understand that's a very labor intensive way to teach, and I don't blame kids for being disengaged from the unpaid fulltime job they're being actively coherced into doing. I want to believe school shouldn't be mandatory, and that a lot of kids would benefit from dropping out and getting an apprenticeship in a field that interests them, traveling, or doing ANYTHING that actual engages them and gets them to develop some kind of expertise (even playing videogames or smoking weed all day can built a knowledge base that's useful for many careers). 

In my case, the lack of structure in unschooling hadn't exposed me to enough academic community to inspire me. Sure, we went on group trips to museums and did experiments, but that wasn't the same as having an actual program with a clear path to a field.  At 14 I wanted to be a chef or a massage therapist. After starting school, and getting into AP STEM classes with other motivated kids, I realized I actually do really enjoy math and science and ended up majoring in physics in college. 

I also think a lot of parents underestimate the amount of work and expertise that's required to homeschool, and that can strain the relationship kids have with their parents. For very independent, free-thinking kids who love to read it can work very well. For an anxious, distractible kid like me who needs a little more structure it was a frequent source of conflict. Schools can also act as a site for social workers to provide support in a way that's very difficult to emulate at home. Parents often miss psychological disorders like anxiety, depression, and ADHD in their kids that teachers can recognize right away (I'm having trouble finding the source I had for this, can anyone support or contradict this in an empirical way?) and I suspect I would have had access to medical interventions for some minor mental health problems much earlier on if I had been in school. 

Comment by iceplant on AMA: I was unschooled for most of my childhood, then voluntarily chose to leave to go to a large public high school. · 2022-01-07T17:34:24.746Z · LW · GW

Long story short, I wanted more structure in my life and wanted to be around more kids my age for more of my day. I'd describe myself as a shy extrovert, so I enjoy when the logistics of my life put me around a lot of other people every day (I've really enjoyed cooperative living as an adult). I was also getting frustrated with the lack of structure and found the flexibility of not having a curriculum disorienting. 

Comment by iceplant on What to do if you can't form any habits whatsoever? · 2021-01-10T07:43:20.361Z · LW · GW

Are you relying on willpower? I’ve found it useful to see myself as a dumb robot that responds instinctively to its environment, and focus on data driven behavioral interventions instead of personal decisions. For example, instead of “committing to spend less time on Facebook”, I got a chrome extension that makes me wait 30 seconds before o can access Facebook. Instead of trying to will myself to brush my teeth every night (which wasn’t very effective), I kept a bottle of gummy vitamins in my bathroom and I got to eat one if I brushed my teeth after. To get myself to do work, I put up my daily pomodoroS on a board my housemates could see. These feel stupid, but worked much better than any personal goals I ever set.

I also realized that working on my depression made the small stuff come more easily. That may not be your situation though.

Comment by iceplant on Practical post on 4 #ProRep methods (Proportional Representation) · 2021-01-10T07:31:14.916Z · LW · GW

These are cool strategies! I hope some kind of voting reform is able to pass in these countries for all the reasons you listed. I’m curious if you have any thoughts about the social mechanisms to get voters and politicians on board with alternative voting systems. It seems like RCV has gotten a lot of apathetic pushback, and I’m wondering how you think we should address it. Here are some challenges that come to mind:

  1. All politicians are the beneficiaries of the system that elected them. Getting them to do surgery on the hand that feeds them could be a tough sell.

  2. People are scared of change. People are even more scared of math. For example, Massachusetts voters rejected a proposal to start using RCV at the state level despite almost no organizing or funding on the NO side. https://www.wgbh.org/news/politics/2020/11/04/why-did-massachusetts-reject-ranked-choice-voting

  3. The city of Burlington (yes, the home of Bernie Sanders) repealed RCV after running into the condorcet paradox in 2009. If people were confused about RCV already, just wait till you have to explain to them why they most preferred candidate, the candidate with the most votes didn’t win, or the election algorithm failed to produce a winner and we have to redo it.

Please redirect me if this has been addressed more fully somewhere else. I feel like the people I talk to about alternate voting systems are already into voting systems and agree that FPTP is pretty garbage most of the time. I feel like I have fewer tools for convincing people who aren’t already into voting systems.