_ __ | |__ | | ___ __ _
| '_ \| '_ \| |/ _ \ / _` |
| |_) | | | | | (_) | (_| |
| .__/|_| |_|_|\___/ \__, |
|_| ...2019-05-17 |___/
I shared a story on hackernews, about the incidents that turned me away from
school at an early age. One point in my story stirred up some discussion, and
I don't want to actually engage in that, instead I'd like to reflect on it, in
peace and quite, at my own pace, and I'll do that here.
Me, about 10 years old, third or fourth grade.
I remember we were supposed to be practicing writing, something I didn't find
interesting at all, but I'd been typing BASIC programs on my C64, and I
wrote a small program on the paper, it was words in one array, and the other
array had indicies pointing into the first array.. So you could have a FOR
loop iterate the second array to print out the story. Like text-compression.
My teacher was not impressed, telling me to stop writing "hieroglyphs" and
explained to me that one "couldn't make computer programs"..
My point of the story was not to belittle the teacher, or gain sympathy,
but to demonstrate one of many points where the school system worked against
any kind of creativity, curiosity or lust for learning.
What I found surprising was a comment on this story, that remarked that the
teacher was right to do this, since "that was not the point of the assignment".
I disagree, the point of the assignment was to write a story, and when some
kid does any effort, and I mean any-fucking-effort, to make a story, you
go and support them in that, you go and be interested, you ask questions, and
if the kid chose to draw the story rather than writing it, you don't go telling
them that drawing it is wrong, you praise their drawing, and suggest they
try writing below the drawings what's happening on them.
Conformity is too often mistaken for ability, and strict adherence is useful
under specific circumstances. but, for 10 year olds learning language and
story telling, it's lazy at best and detrimental at worst.
Conformity makes sense where there is a lack of resource.
Intelligence could be such a resource, time another, room for failure a third.
Let's take standards as an example, there are so many to choose from, so we
won't. A protocl can be seen as an effort to save resources.
Less time and intelligence is required when there are clear definitions and
strict adherence to them, and since they are usually part of larger, stupid
systems, there is little room for failure, since handling or recovering from
failure requires even more intelligence. In battle, and other critical
situations, strict adherence makes sense, time is limited, lives may be at
stake, so room for failure is small, and, since, in humans, thinking things
over takes time, it makes sense that soldiers are trained for strict adherence.
But 10 year old kids trying to learn to tell a story are not soldiers, the
whole damn fucking point of the exercise is to learn, and, most importantly,
learn how to learn, so any and all positive response you get from such a kid
is to be taken seriously, even if it is not to spec. Time is pretty much all
kids have, consequences of failure are not there, nobody dies if the kid
tell their story as interpretative dance instead of in writing, even if it's
a langauge class, that's something to work with. "No, it's wrong, you're doing
a wrong thing." is not.
Don't worry, kids will learn to conform without actively looking for ways to
make them fail. But save it for later. Save it for when they've mastered
learning, when they've gotten creative, when they've learned to enjoy
school, and present it as another enjoyable way of using that creativity,
instead of an obstacle to their success.
"Oh! that's interesting! I like that idea! Can you think of a way it could
fit into THIS box?" vs
"Oh! That's not what the task was about, this is not good."
Don't be an asshole.