Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Q&A - 20/10

NYT

Isn’t the old-fashioned lecture on the way out? A 2014 study showed that test scores in science and math courses improved after professors replaced lecture time with “active learning” methods like group work — prompting Eric Mazur, a Harvard physicist who has long campaigned against the lecture format, to declare that “it’s almost unethical to be lecturing.”

The issue is not the lecture, it is the lecturer

Lecturing is a great way to transmit information; but it needs to be on-demand, async, top quality, recorded by top researchers in their field. Not delivered by some random punk off the street who is licenced by government (a.k.a. teachers).

Collaboration? Face-to-face collaboration is not necessary, for everyone. There are introverts, extroverts, reader-learners, listener-learners, learn-by-doing-learners, many different types. Some can prefer to work with others, some not. Collaboration itself can have many different forms - I post a question to Math Stackexchange, get an answer - this is also collaboration.

The opposite of we do not like today does not make something automatically better. We have schools today, so let's not have schools, let's have home-schooling. That's not always good either - there are some bad neighborhoods, abusive homes where it's good idea for children to get out of home and go "somewhere else". For socialization it is beneficial too.

The real issue though is not whether there is some building kids go to and come back from, what matters is what happens inside those four walls. The inside of these places can look like a prison, like today, or like Starbucks with comfy chairs, gigabytes of video lectures recorded by top practitioners in their fields, electronic books [1], access to Internet, Khan Academy or some other guiding software, and a few ideas for projects, easily planned out in advance, by anyone, again, on the Internet.  A laptop for each child.

This is all doable stuff.

The Washington Post

Some people believe a universal basic income would threaten innovation — why work hard to bring new things to life, if my rewards will be taxed away to pay for an income for others?

A basic income program, if we can afford to offer it at a livable level, might have the opposite effect. Universal basic income might be the most meaningful way we could subsidize the earliest stages of innovation. It could multiply, by many factors, the amount of time people can spend creating.

Creators — of art, of technology, of the new companies that will change the way we live — often struggle to solve a basic problem: How do you make a living and still have time to work on the Next Great Thing? The side job that a screenwriter holds while working on his or her first screenplay is such a common trope we barely think about it [..]

We imagine the way creation works as a straight line — a novelist imagines what he or she wants to write about, sits down and starts typing. After plenty of time passes: a novel. But invention isn’t actually like that. It goes in fits and starts, it frustrates and reconciles. Part of the work is discovery, poking around, and experimenting. For many, it’s much easier to do without the pressure of needing to produce on a schedule. For most, it is impossible to do without some other income [..]

Yes

B.I. can also help correct some gross imbalances in the society - currently 45 million people are on food stamps in America. B.I. can decrease government, provide fungible money instead of regulated, single-purpose money increasing choices for poor people: a slam-dunk whichever way we look at it. Increasing the minimum wage is not a good idea - if overdone, it will make it harder for small businesses to compete. The MW idea is decidedly Old Left - even the word used in its description, "wage" reeks of 19th century industrialism and modernity. We need simple / effective new ideas. 

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[1] Actually all written material produced by mankind, in electronic format, could be stored locally at each one of these schools.

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