[OT] Education Theory (was Re: Database Design Theory?)

Justin Findlay jfindlay at gmail.com
Thu Nov 10 00:20:08 MST 2005

On 11/9/05, Shane Hathaway <shane at hathawaymix.org> wrote:
> Let me tell you about an experiment I tried in college.  I was having
> trouble getting good grades, so I decided to give up my preferred method
> of learning.  Rather than work on coming to a real understanding of each
> subject, I decided to memorize and regurgitate.  I banned any original
> thought from my mind.  Since that decision, I got A's for two years
> straight.  I learned some useful things like active verbs, Communism,
> and Descartes, but I don't feel like the theory stuck in my head as well
> as it could have.  Is that really learning?  The institution certainly
> encouraged my behavior.

Judging from the replies in this thread, it seems that when most
people think of learning they think of learning languages, or AI, or
some other computer based knowledge.  Although this perspective is to
be expected in a Linux users' group, interestingly there are Linux
users who are not IT professionals or students.  Therefore, I'm going
to steer a little off topic, but not very far.

I don't have that thought paradigm.  I'm a physics student, and the
reason your discussion about theory and application was provocative
enough to muster my reply at all is that I look at it from the point
of view of research.

There are two basic kinds of research in physics: theoretical and
experimental.  The theoreticians do physics from the premises of
unexplained phenomena, looking for a cohesive (and coherent :-),
simple, often aesthetic model to explain the phenomena.  Johannes
Kepler, Isaac Newton, Max Planck, and Albert Einstein are among the
successful theoreticians.  Experimental physicists do physics from the
perspective of experimenting with nature in order to resolve unknowns
and, usually accidentally, to discover new questions and new
phenomena.  Galileo Galilei, Michael Farady, Edwin Hubble, and Enrico
Fermi are among the more notable experimental physicists.

I agree that the System enforces a practical approach to Education as
it is currently Formalized and that those with theoretical aptitudes
for learning  have to adapt or suffer.  That, if not a tragedy, is a
dissapointing failure in the way we educate each other.


Wir müssen wissen. Wir werden wissen.

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