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What is the right answer?

  1. Dec 1, 2007 #1
    If you were to go ahead and try to provide a way for people to learn from experience
    by themselves, how else would go about making this happen?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 1, 2007 #2


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    What do you mean by "how else"? How do you propose that one learn's from their own experiences?
  4. Dec 1, 2007 #3
    People can learn from their experiences if they were able to identify accurately
    what happened. Explain the cause for an effect.

    If there are millions of people who have a really difficult time with working this out, then
    there is very poor learning from experience. People can come to all manner of wrong conclusions, can condition themselves to believe nonsense, limit themselves etc..

    If people used deductive thinking & lateral thinking and raised their curiosity, they will be better equipped to learn. However I have found that a lot of people find it extremely difficult to do these things. Some experienced people I have spoken to are frustrated that they don't get through. They say, if people do learn, then they learn only to deal with a particular situation and cannot work out how to apply it in another situation where the
    same reasoning is involved. They don't make the connection.

    How to make this happen? How do you get all people to be 'switched on' and get
    deal with situations with... deep understanding. Do you think nurturing schemes are adequate to solve this problem?
  5. Dec 1, 2007 #4


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    Tell us what you think. How would you approach this problem?
  6. Dec 1, 2007 #5


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    Ostensibly, this is one of the goals of the public education system. As well as teaching language and communication, and teaching the individual to be aware of his or her environment, isn't one of the principal goals of education to teach an individual to think and reason.

    The parents are the primary facilitators of a child's education until that child is old enough to attend an academic institution in which the child is taught by trained educators.

    On the other hand, that thought that comes to mind when reading the OP is that one can lead a horse to water, but one cannot force the horse to drink.

    One cannot force another to think or learn. Learning must come from within.
  7. Dec 2, 2007 #6
    I have found answering this extremely difficult. Just beginning to research it.

    Here is what I have thought of so far.

    People who are 'switched on' seem to me possess the following ability. they are able to discover the cause of an effect in real time. i.e. they can apply deductive thinking on the fly. Also their brainstorming is vast and sophisticated. Not only can they list of loads of relevant considerations required to solve a problem on the fly, the nature of the considerations is also complex. With these abilities, they can teach themselves anything.

    Can you take the regular joe out there to this level?

    You can try to

    1. improve the software in the brains
    2. improve the hardware in the brains


    This is what I have been told so far. People start with some level of natural ability.
    By improving their software, you can raise their ability. The rate at which they
    improve is supposed to be related to their level of natural ability. One experienced
    person I have talked to says, it becomes clear when someone reaches their potential.
    You can't do much more after this. What if somebody operating at their full potential
    is still not sufficiently equipped to become self-teaching? Then you would have to
    try and improve their hardware. I will leave it here for now but will get back when
    I get some detailed answers
  8. Dec 8, 2007 #7
    what have other people who have looked at this problem: of people having difficulty with learning and facing new problems come up with?

    I am trying to gather as many solutions as possible. I live in aus, a country which is
    about to experience an 'education revolution' . I am in a position to make some
    suggestions that hopefully somebody important will actually listen to and implement.

    Thanks in advance
  9. Dec 8, 2007 #8
    I really have no answer for you, I'd just like to make an observation.

    I've always felt that the mind is a muscle and you need to exercise it. If you exercise the wrong things then it will be good at the wrong things. One major problem with the way schools teach is that they focus on showing the student how to do something and see if the student can reproduce the results. It's more of a monkey see monkey do mentality. They spoon feed the student information and all the student is required to do it regurgitate that information.

    Please excuse this very crude example:
    A teacher tells a student that 2+2=4, 4+4=8, 3+6=9. That's addition, do you understand?
    The student replies, yes I understand.
    Teacher asks what's 2+2? Student replies 4.
    Teacher asks what's 4+4? Student replies 8.
    Teacher asks what's 3+6? Student replies 9.
    Teacher asks what's 2+5? Student replies I don't know, you didn't tell me that one.

    Present day students are asked to take notes and read the chapter, then do the questions at the end of the chapter. This seems to be the easiest way for the teachers, and the easiest way to test to see if they read the book. It's far more difficult to grade a person on their ingenuity, so they just grade them on whether or not they have the same answer as the book.

    The result is raising everyone to think and act like robots because they're rarely asked to come up with something they haven't already been given the answer to. Once your imagination has been beaten out of you by the establishment, it's hard to get it back. They prefer that you take the shortcut to knowledge over the road to understanding. This reminds me of the Rubik's thread. More people would rather take a shortcut and read a book on how to solve it than be insistent on figuring it out for themselves. In this fast paced world of today, everyone is looking for instant gratification. No one is willing to pay their dues anymore, they would rather cheat because it looks better on paper.

    The problem is: They go through school being given all the answers, and when they reach the real world they're expected to think for themselves. It could take years if not decades for this to happen, and the real shame is that for most people it never does.

    All I can suggest is more emphisis on math, puzzles and the arts instead of just simple memorization of trivial facts. These are the parts of the mind that need to be exercised to develop thinking for yourself.
  10. Dec 8, 2007 #9


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    Yeah, it's sad isn't it. I'm observing the same thing.

    Also, now they have those little games to "exercise" the brain. Did you see those games? Freaking pathetic. That doesn't exercise you're brain to make better decisions or better at solving problems. All it does is increase memory for one specific type of application. Lame.
  11. Dec 8, 2007 #10


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    What grade level are you talking about? For very young children, this is age-appropriate. They haven't developed the type of thinking yet that would allow them to process more conceptual/relational knowledge, but still need to learn in very concrete steps with a lot of rote memorization. By the time you're in high school/college, however, you should be thinking more than memorizing, and able to grasp more complex concepts. By the time you're in college, the spoon-feeding should stop entirely (some in high school still need a bit of it), and you should be learning more independently.

    But, if the OP is asking how you get someone to learn from their own experience, rather than ways to teach them from your experience, then all you can do is offer a wide variety of experiences in a safe enough environment that they can make mistakes to learn from without killing themselves in the process.
  12. Dec 8, 2007 #11
    If I were to use a game to exercise my brain, it would be chess. What they sell only requires a split second attention span.
    I didn't have the money to attend a good college, but when I went to community college and trade school it was still mostly rote memorization as far as I was concerned. My electronics trouble shooting class was the only thing I had that required problem solving. Computer programming was simply assembling lines of code to achieve an end purpose. Pretty low on the totem pole for tasking the brain.
  13. Dec 8, 2007 #12


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    Oh, that explains it. Unfortunately for you, community college is not taught to a very high standard, because the majority of students simply can't handle it. It's more like a trade school, and those who really are capable of handling a better education but can't afford it do get stuck being pretty bored with the presentation. If they taught to your level, 80% or more of the class would probably fail (the exception might be summer classes taught to other college students just trying to add a few credits over the summer).
  14. Dec 8, 2007 #13
    I know what you mean when you say that "community college is not taught to a very high standard". The first year I was working afternoons so I went to school during the day. I was easily the best in the class. My teacher wrote the text book, I think he did that for the royalties. I would point out mistakes in it so he could fix them in the next revision. He was a really good teacher and I learned a lot from him. During my 2nd year I worked days so I had to go to school in the evening. I learned so much from the teacher the 1st year and was so advanced that I already knew more than the flunky teacher during my 2nd year. The other students started coming to me for help instead of him. No wonder I didn't respect my 4.0 GPA from that time spent.

    Trade school was better, I was only 2nd best there. They were more interested in letting you learn so I learned a lot more in a shorter period of time.
    They did as you said,,,
    Oh BTW, I like your sig
    Learning without thought is labor lost. ~Confucius
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