Peter Diamindis on reinventing education

He wrote,

I just returned from a week in China meeting with parents whose focus on kids’ education is extraordinary. One of the areas I found fascinating is how some of the most advanced parents are teaching their kids new languages: through games. On the tablet, the kids are allowed to play games, but only in French. A child’s desire to win fully engages them and drives their learning rapidly.

He also puts in a plug for the “illustrated primer” of Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age.

Read the whole thing. Plenty of interesting ideas, but keep in mind the null hypothesis.

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5 Responses to Peter Diamindis on reinventing education

  1. Candide III says:

    Modulo substitution of the subjects of technological hype du jour (i.e. AR/VR) there is nothing new in this presentation. All these ideas have been argued ass to elbow for decades, and in many cases implemented, with indifferent results. For instance, I distinctly remember how learning languages (and other subjects) through computer games was a big fad 20 years ago when “multimedia” programs for PCs first appeared on the market. If that has produced a flowering of language ability or knowledge, the fact has escaped me. I do not doubt that ideas of this sort will sell well in the target audience presumably intended: UMC parents with extraordinary focus on their kids’ educations and money to spend on it, as well as educational bureaucrats eager to find, at long last, the thing that really works and does not smack of the past, preferably combined with an excuse to spend more money and employ more college graduates. Whether they will yield positive results is another question entirely. Frankly, I am much more impressed by Chinese parents sending their children to military-style digital detox camps.

    PS: requiring to supply an email address to download a PDF is an insult mitigated only by the fact that their CMS accepts addresses at throwaway email services.

  2. Roger Sweeny says:

    Any talk about education has to distinguish two situations. One, the student wants to learn about something, because she finds it interesting or wants to use it for something. She wants to learn and wants the knowledge to stay with her.

    In the other situation, the student is not inherently interested and/or does not expect to use the information. The student may well want to learn enough for long enough to pass but doesn’t mind if all that knowledge just decays away once the course (or the test!) is over.

    In the first case, the problem is how to make the knowledge understandable, how to create situations where students make use of the knowledge and practice. In the second case, the problem is to make the student care, perhaps about the knowledge, perhaps just in learning enough for long enough to pass, hoping that some of the knowledge will then stick and that perhaps some interest will have been kindled.

    The majority of students the majority of the time are in the second situation.

    • lliamander says:

      Well said.

      Additionally, in the second case there is also the consideration as to whether the subject is worth teaching to the student, both in the sense of whether it worth the effort on the part of the teacher to teach, and whether the students benefit from the effort learning.

      There are certainly noble goals such having an “educated citizenry” in order to promote a “better democracy”. But there’s also the rather pragmatic consideration that many employers simply want someone who is willing to work hard at stuff they don’t care much about (i.e. conscientiousness).

      For better or worse, our present system of requiring students to jump through various hoops learning (arguably) useless information is a crude (and costly) measure of that willingness.

  3. Roger Sweeny has just described my life.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      When I was a high school teacher, that was my life. In Honors classes, most of the students were in the first situation, or at least pretended they were. So I didn’t feel bad treating them (mostly) as if they were.

      Most students in the non-Honors classes were in the second situation. So I had to act accordingly. Which meant a lot was getting them to believe, “I’m on your side; I really want you to pass. This is how you can do it.”

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