Vertical Learning Is Bad
This is an evolving post...
Our educational system misses an opportunity to nurture passion
We teach young kids unnecessarily deep verticals when we could be nurturing a passion for the horizontal interconnectedness of topics. By focusing on the details, we miss an opportunity to foster real holistic interest at a young age.
- our education system trains 10% chemists, 10% physicists, 10% historians - all this in the same person. what you end up with is 0% of anything substantial. i think that would be fine if you also had a holistic understanding and interest in the world at large and how all these concepts hang together - but my observation is that going very vertically into these implementation details robs a student of that wider curiosity.
- what’s the point of teaching a 12 year old an implementation detail that they will literally never use?
- testing can be done at any level of abstraction. rather than testing on memorization of an equation, why not focus on application of it, and better yet: what it means to apply it?
- the implication here is that all courses would essentially be writing courses and philosophy courses. that isn’t an accident. “Writing” isn’t a subject - it’s just the thing we do when we’re conveying our inner processes. “Composition” can still be a separate, teachable topic, but the act of writing - of expressing thoughts as fast as possible - shouldn’t be judged.
- time saved on not teaching implementation could be spent developing a greater holistic understanding of the topic and brining it into context with the rest of the world. potentially nurturing a passion that they’d otherwise not have
- implementation could furthermore be an ‘extra credit’ realm, or an after school activity. (or an elective that could replace another more abstract topic?)
- if a 12 year old eventually goes on to be a professional chemist, he will no doubt re-learn, in a more useful way, whatever it is you’re going to teach him today at higher education. just let it happen there only.
[ to come ]
- I am not an education system scholar, nor have I had the anecdotal experience of sending a child through the school system as a rational adult - this is all based on my own feelings about school as a kid and my current state of mind in reflection on those times. I’m sure there are alternative school systems that follow the pattern I’m outlining here.
- also all the usual disclaimers