Education, autodidactism, etc.: Another Wikipedia trip

It began with this conversation with my friend Chad on Skype:


[09:54:34] Chad Stearns – Economist: A friend of mine met Aubrey De Grey
[09:54:41] Chad Stearns – Economist: And did some similar research.
[09:57:21] Emil – Deleet: de grey is pretty cool guy
[09:57:28] Emil – Deleet: autodidact ppl ftw
[11:14:06] Emil – Deleet: now i started reading wikipedia..
[11:14:07] Emil – Deleet: dam u
[11:14:19] Emil – Deleet: which reminded me that i need to read up on educational research
[11:14:27] Emil – Deleet: since the pirate party will need to have some opinions on education
[11:14:36] Emil – Deleet: i have some opinions, but need more data for specifics
[11:14:50] Chad Stearns – Economist: What kind of opinions?
[11:17:13] Emil – Deleet: 1) primary school teachers (PSTs) are currently of low quality
2) we can fix this by copying the finnish system; make PSTs education a university degree. this makes it more prestigious which attracts smarter ppl. and it increases the quality of the education.
3) girls do much better in school. perhaps we shud do something about this. for instance, splitting classes into active-hands-on classes, and listening and sit still classes.
[11:18:36] Emil – Deleet: 4) formal learning is not a very fast way of learning. some ppl want to learn on their own. we shud open up for this approach by removing bureaucratic rules that make it impossible, giving ppl credit for learning themselves.
[11:20:34] Emil – Deleet: 5) the most important two things for learning is intellectual ability (intelligence and memory), and motivation. the first we cannot do much about so easily. the second we can. due to the way the human mind works inre. gratification, gamification is a very good way to motivate ppl to learn.
consequrntly, we shud employ gamification in schools. this mixes well with (4).
examples are: khan academy, memrise, duolingo, but there are many more options open.
[11:22:09 | Edited 11:23:17] Emil – Deleet: 6) there needs to be a major overhaul of the topics taught in school. some things which are important to everyone are neglected, such as knowledge about statistics and probability. also critical thinking (and later, logic).
we can make space for these by getting rid of things that many ppl dont need to know, such as advanced trigonometry, interpretation of works of fiction.
need more focus on basic things in language classes, such as being able to write clearly, and writing a letter.
[11:23:25] Emil – Deleet: i perhaps forgot some things
[11:23:30] Emil – Deleet: but these are the basic things
[11:26:05] Emil – Deleet: 7) perhaps we shud not be using so much money on long university degrees. cf. academic inflation.
[11:26:13] Chad Stearns – Economist: I was just thinking the other day about how worthless the writing classes I have taken were.
[11:26:23] Chad Stearns – Economist: Honstly, 4chan has taught me how to write.
[11:26:31] Emil – Deleet: ^^
[11:26:38] Emil – Deleet: peer preassure to spell properly
[11:26:44] Emil – Deleet: or pressure
[11:26:47] Emil – Deleet: or preasure
[11:26:49] Emil – Deleet: who knows
[11:26:51] Emil – Deleet: english spelling -.-
[11:27:03] Chad Stearns – Economist: Having to regularly express page long ideas has taught me to communicate. Being forced to talk about an arbritrary topic in some horribly structured way does not teach me how to write.
[11:27:17] Chad Stearns – Economist: I have never heard of “preasure”
[11:27:30] Emil – Deleet: just as mispelling :P
[11:27:32] Emil – Deleet: as u wrote the other day
[11:27:42] Emil – Deleet: (funny since its itself a misspelling)
[11:28:38] Chad Stearns – Economist: I realized “slept” is not a word.
[11:28:46] Chad Stearns – Economist: Too bad reality, its a word now in my book.
[11:28:51] Emil – Deleet: it is
[11:29:12] Emil – Deleet:
[11:29:22] Emil – Deleet: one or two words
[11:29:25] Emil – Deleet: depending on how to count
[11:30:25 | Edited 11:30:51] Emil – Deleet: t.i.
to sleep, i sleep, i SLEPT = simple past tense
i have SLEPT = participle
[11:32:39] Emil – Deleet:
[11:32:42] Emil – Deleet: so many categories -.-
[11:46:32 | Edited 11:46:38] Emil – Deleet: 8) schools shud no longer give space to various religious indoctrination (which they do in Denmark).
[12:07:30] Emil – Deleet: 9) testing of Esperanto as a method of teaching foreign languages faster.
[12:08:16 | Edited 12:08:17] Emil – Deleet: 10) perhaps moving around classes. some mathematics concepts are difficult to teach to 6 year olds, but are easy to teach to 12 year olds. language is easier for smaller children. perhaps just postpone math teaching to later in school.



The reason to do the studying, as also mentioned above, is that the Pirate Party (Denmark) will need to have a broad political platform. I want to help form it to make sure that it is evidence-based, and not based on educational romanticism (see below).



Now i have finished the first round of research. Here are some stops on the journey:

Autodidacticism (also autodidactism) is self-directed learning that is related to but different from informal learning. In a sense, autodidacticism is “learning on your own” or “by yourself”, and an autodidact is a self-teacher. Autodidacticism is a contemplative, absorptive procession. Some autodidacts spend a great deal of time reviewing the resources of libraries and educational websites. One may become an autodidact at nearly any point in one’s life. While some may have been informed in a conventional manner in a particular field, they may choose to inform themselves in other, often unrelated areas.

Autodidactism is only one facet of learning, and is usually complemented by learning in formal and informal spaces: from classrooms to other social settings. Many autodidacts seek instruction and guidance from experts, friends, teachers, parents, siblings, and community. Inquiry into autodidacticism has implications for learning theory, educational research, educational philosophy, and educational psychology.


Wikipedia is heaven for autodidacts!

Gifted education (also known as Gifted and Talented Education (GATE), Talented and Gifted (TAG), or G/T) is a broad term for special practices, procedures and theories used in the education of children who have been identified as gifted or talented. There is no standard global definition of what a gifted student is.

In 2011, the National Association of Gifted Children published a position paper that defined what a gifted student is. Gifted describes individuals who demonstrate outstanding aptitude or competence in one or more domains. Aptitude is defined as an exceptional ability to learn or reason. Competence is defined as documented performance or achievement in the top 10% of the population.[1]


Very interesting area. Not only becus im a such student (and was in primary school as well, where i wasted time more or less). But becus the area has not been given much attention recently. The attention is usually on helping low-scoring students, especially those from weak SES backgrounds including immigrants (typically muslims in Denmark, in the US blacks and latinos).


On the page i found the very, very interesting paper/book:

I definitely recommend reading volume 1 of it, and perhaps volume 2 as well. I have not had time to read volume 2 yet, but i will i think.


Two other background readings on the subject:


and a very nice summary of the current policies about education, and how they are completely out of touch with reality, by Charles Murray of The Bell Curve fame (which i shud read as well). and his book length treatment of the same topic which i also want to read. Fairly decent reviews some of these are very cool

UnCollege is a social movement that aims to change the notion that going to college is the only path to success.[1][2][3] UnCollege was founded by Dale Stephens in 2010.[4][5]


According to the UnCollege website, the movement is founded on these principles:

  • Many people pay too much for university and learn too little.
  • You can get an amazing education anywhere—but you’ll have to stop writing papers and start doing things.
  • You need an excellent education to survive in a world where 50% of the population is under 30.
  • Subjects taught in traditional universities are often contrived, theoretical, and irrelevant, promoting conformity and regurgitation rather than innovation and learning.
  • You don’t have to decide what to do with your life at age 18.
  • You can contribute to society without necessarily having a university degree.
  • You cannot rely on university to give you a complete and relevant education when professors are often more interested in researching than teaching.
  • If you want to gain the skills requisite for success, you must hack your education.[20]

According to the UnCollege website, college, while not itself adverse, needs significant changes because:

  • Tuition is rising at twice the rate of inflation
  • Students are not learning
  • Students are incurring high levels of debt to finance their educations.


Parker attended Oakton High School in Fairfax County, Virginia for two years before transferring to Chantilly High School in 1996 for his junior and senior years.[11] While there, Parker wrote a letter to the school administration and persuaded them to count the time he spent coding in the computer lab as a foreign language class.[11] As a result, towards the end of Parker’s senior year at Chantilly, he was mostly writing code and starting companies.[11] He graduated in 1998. While still in high school, he interned for Mark Pincus (the current CEO of Zynga) at Pincus’s Washington D.C. startup FreeLoader.[12] He won the Virginia state computer science fair for developing a Web crawler, and was recruited by the C.I.A..[3] By his senior year of high school, Parker was earning more than $80,000 a year through various projects, enough to convince his parents to allow him to skip college and pursue a career as an entrepreneur.[3]




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