deep thought

Currently reading a wonderful article by Marvin Minsky - Why people think computers can't. Got caught up in one point that he puts forth:

We tend to think of learning as something that just happens to us, like a sponge getting soaked. But learning really is a growing mass of skills: we start with some but have to learn the rest. Most people never get deeply concerned with acquiring increasingly more advanced learning skills. Why not'' Because they don't pay off right away! When a child tries to spoon sand into a pail, the child is mostly concerned with filling pails and things like that. Suppose, though, by some accident, a child got interested in how that pail-filling activity itself improved over time, and how the mind's inner dispositions affected that improvement. If only once a child became involved (even unconsciously) in how to learn better, then that could lead to exponential learning growth.

Each better way to learn to learn would lead to better ways to build more skills ­ until that little difference had magnified itself into an awesome, qualitative change. In this view, first-rank "creativity" could be just the consequence of childhood accidents in which a person's learning gets to be a little more "self-applied" than usual.

Pretty insightful concept - learning to learn. But what made me sit up and want to talk about it to someone was this footnote:

Notice that there's no way a parent could notice ­ and then reward ­ a young child's reflective concern with learning. If anything, the kid would seem to be doing less rather than more ­ and might be urged to "snap out of it ".

Could this be what happens to most people? Being distracted by overbearing parents when they are just about to hit the zone? Does anyone remember something like this happening to them? Is this what makes a geek out of a child ... entering that phase of learning to learn, ever so slightly, not really reaching genius level?

Written by sameer in Uncategorized on Fri 28 July 2006. Tags: idle thoughts, reading,


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