Forum Posting Ethics

Questions and comments
jennypenny
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by jennypenny » Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:17 pm

First, I’m a little embarrassed. I wasn’t fishing for encouragement with my first post. I was only trying to explain why people might post more or less often sometimes. I also worry that people assume ‘experts’ are experts at everything, and that’s dangerous when you’re talking about people’s livelihood. People change their lives based on advice given by forum members … I’m very hesitant to assume I’m expert enough in any subject to give definitive advice.


Second, I want to push back a little on the parameters for posting that seem to be emerging. There are two points that are being overlooked …

--People learn differently. This board is dominated by INTJ’s who like to absorb facts and then disappear for a while to ponder them. Others like to discuss ideas, which is often mistaken for debating on this forum. Just because I ask “What about Y?” doesn’t mean I’m questioning what someone said about X. It most likely means I’m still trying to understand X, and for me, asking about the exceptions can sometimes be more helpful than asking about the theory/model itself. It's no fun to be accused of being confrontational or intellectually lazy when you're honestly trying to better understand what someone else is explaining.

--Sometimes when people debate/discuss or ask follow-up questions, it’s because they are trying to determine what facts are worth learning or how important a fact is — they are not debating the fact itself. Those long-winded discussions can help to flesh out the context for all of the ‘facts’ and context/relevance can be debatable to an extent. I don’t find facts in a vacuum helpful. The discussion (even when heated) helps me to understand the facts as well as discern the different reasons people consider certain facts more important than others. Some are complaining about people who debate facts, but I think our questions are often misinterpreted. Several times over the years, I've asked a question to help me clarify how important or pertinent a fact was only to have my question be interpreted as questioning the fact itself or questioning the importance of the topic.


There are many (mostly?) INTJs here including the overlord, so if the generally accepted posting rules skew towards the INTJ style of learning, that's understandable. That said, I’m not going to play by those rules every time I post and it’s not necessarily because I’m on top of Mt Stupid on a particular issue. If the INTJs can’t give the other ‘types’ some breathing room, the rules will definitely have a chilling effect on some posters, myself included.

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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by Seppia » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:04 pm

@jp
You're overthinking this.
You're clearly smart and sufficiently self aware to give strong opinions only on stuff you know about.
Best example is the politics thread you started.
You're that type of person that, when in doubt, should post more and not less.
This is my opinion, but it is also how i interpreted Jacob's very INTJ post.
My translation to a more in-your-face version of his post, spoken for challenged people like myself and other non-geniuses would be:

- on the internet, idiots tend to post more than they should
- intelligent people know they don't know, so they post less than they should because idiots post too much and overwhelm them
- super experts are left with all the heavy lifting, trying to fight a good war against hordes of idiots
- I blame this more on the intelligent who don't post than on the idiots, because idiots are idiots and we can't expect much from them.
-conclusion: please smart people post more.

Obviously, we are all idiots, smart and super expert at the same time, depending on the subject.
Some people tend to be more often in one category vs the others though, but it's the exception and not the rule.
Being a good forum/community member my opinion is knowing when you're the idiot and keeping your mouth shut in those cases.
In Italy we say "its better to shut up and be perceived as the idiot than speak like an idiot"

As per the INTJ domination of this forum, two thoughts
1- clearly there is what we Italians would call a "german" culture here. "German" meaning rigorous, analytical, fact based, thoughtful, low emotions, low empathy.
2- I'm not exactly wired like that (I seem to test 50-50 ISTJ and ESTJ, but don't believe too much in these set personalities as I think most people change often based on mood, weather, age, etc). I'll write enthusiastically about zucchini, pasta and rice like they're the most important things in earth, and never felt excluded.
There is obviously an obligation to adjust to the tone of the majority though, so I try (maybe fail) to conform a bit without distorting who I am.

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Fish
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by Fish » Wed Nov 01, 2017 3:11 am

After reviewing this thread (particularly the voices conveying disagreement and concern), I think it is a big mistake to propose that the "emerging parameters for posting" be applied as a community standard. It works well for some of us but is stifling to many others who are also trying to be good citizens here.

Instead, please take everything I have written in this thread as suggested behaviors to make this a better community. Not in an absolute "everyone should do this" sense, but rather that "individuals should do this if they agree it's a good idea." It is understood that other well-intentioned individuals will operate differently and this can still be in alignment with a common vision for a healthy forum.

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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by saving-10-years » Wed Nov 01, 2017 4:25 am

@Fish, thanks for starting the discussion, its been really illuminating and very interesting to read about posters (like you) who draft and redraft and sometimes don't send. Even @Jacob deleted a post here and (after rethinking that) reintroduced a version of it. All shows how many here are very thoughtful about what they put up. Some good guidelines have come up but I agree that even the most unpromising thread can turn into something rather special. While that may not have been the OP's intent there are many creative/playful minds here and some with a lovely turn of phrase. Lots of diverse (albeit often INTJ-leaning) intelligence channelling lots of time into something special. Thanks all.

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7Wannabe5
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 5:47 am

To be honest, I'm still not very clear on what is even being discussed on this thread. I am a person who likes to debate, but I am the opposite of emotionally invested in "winning." I would MUCH rather be proven wrong, and thereby pick up a new block to add to my structure than stay stuck in some righteous corner.

Probably the main difference between the way an INTJ thinks and the way an ENTP thinks is that ENTPs automatically go sideways. For instance, the other day I saw a dead raccoon on the side of the road, and I asked the ESFJ who was driving the car "Do you think that the development of methods to prevent raccoons from eating approximately 3% of the Midwestern genetically-modified towards high fructose content corn crop will have the unintended consequence of super-charging the evolution of extremely intelligent raccoons who will kill off the remaining humans after the post-peak-oil apocalypse?" The driver of the car said "No.", and then I said "Why not?", and then he said "WTF? Shut-up and enjoy the autumn scenery."

Hopefully, it is obvious that if somebody was inclined to return volley on such a question, any continued attempt on my part to defend the likelihood of such an outcome would be purely towards the purpose of having more fun while learning than the reading of some dry textbook would provide.

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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by saving-10-years » Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:24 am

@7w5 - obvious to me anyway. Love reading your sideways stuff. Don't always understand it but that it part of the fun.

When I read @Fish's first post here I thought (still think) I understood where he was coming from and what annoyed him. My pet peeve is people with an agenda/argument that they ask for views on but don't _want_ views other than their own. But there really is not much of this happening on the forum, especially compared to others. Here there is healthy disagreement and diversity. And often humour.

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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by jennypenny » Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:29 am

Fish, don’t take any of this personally. My comments aren't aimed at you in particular and I’m not trying to change rules or guidelines that are welcome and accepted by most forum members. I understand to desire to keep the ratio of signal to noise as high as possible. I was only pointing out that what many consider noise functions as signal for others.

I think what imparts the chill that some of us feel is the sense that every post we make is judged to some extent, as are we for posting it. I know that’s the nature of the INTJ beast. The problem is then people will only post when they think it will raise their ranking.* It appears that’s actually what most people here want. I can see why that’s appealing in principal but in practice it tends to stifle the sluggers and favor the contact hitters.**

Going with the baseball analogy … while the preferred method on this forum may be maintaining a high on-base percentage, some of us focus on batting average and just try to hit one out of the park often enough to compensate for our many strike outs. To stretch it further, most here are good leadoff or three-hole hitters, some are better at clean-up or in the five spot, and all teams need a left-hander high in the lineup. You want high quality players, but it’s the right mix that makes the team great. (I’m thinking that people who understand that analogy aren’t my intended audience. :lol: )


* as opposed to improve their standing (slight but important difference between the two)

** I see this analogy as more apt than the Mt Stupid one in explaining why some people 'in the valley' stop posting. Once a person is no longer eager to improve their ranking amongst forumites, the incentive to post is gone if that's the main criterion for posting. If the goal is to have valley people continue to post to improve the quality of the forum, there needs to be more incentive than to impress or to teach -- there has to be a sense of community and camaraderie to which they are contributing. Those develop through familiarity, support, and shared experience in addition to edification; through conversation, not just exposition.
Last edited by jennypenny on Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

SustainableHappiness
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by SustainableHappiness » Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:54 am

This discussion actually outlines why I had more fun being a lurker for a year prior to becoming an active participant here. However, since I've become an active participant (and journal owner) I've gained more wisdom vs facts and I'd say it's a better overall experience. Maybe something about the engagement itself?

Also, I agree the forum skewing towards INTJ (coming from a ENFP), but there's something beautiful in the terseness that accompanies that. It's like...Really bad motivational speaking, i.e. a speech that goes like, "Your life has no objective meaning, and 80% of people do not have what it takes to construct there own meaning. But, I think you might have what it takes. Carry on."

Here "bad" is defined by the fact it wouldn't make much money on the speaking circuit.

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Tyler9000
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by Tyler9000 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:45 am

I'll simply point out that the quality of this conversation speaks well to the forum and its participants. Perhaps there's a tendency towards INTJ directness that could intimidate people not used to that, but the benefit is that there's also a tendency towards honesty, open-mindedness, and an acceptance of multiple viewpoints that can be very rare in a public forum like this. I really appreciate the crowd here, and very much encourage everyone to contribute.

jennypenny
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by jennypenny » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:45 am

I dunno, I'm doing exactly what blackbird always accuses us of doing ... dissecting a comment to death. And since I have like eight million posts, the chill on the forum obviously isn't slowing me down much. :P

I'm only hoping that people judge the quality of comments on more than just information density, and recognize the importance of posts that contribute in other ways to forum cohesion. IMO those soft qualities become more appealing the longer one stays with the forum and keep me coming back. 'Come for the food, stay for the company' as they say.

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Fish
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by Fish » Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:25 am

@jennypenny - Thanks for the reassurance. Nothing personal taken. I wanted to convey that I understood your concerns and even agreed with them, but a longer post would have drowned out the message of “putting down the pitchforks” which was urgently needed since my judgmental tone was causing way more harm than good at that point.

During the re-read I noticed some similarities between your concerns and halfmoon’s, which convinced me there were systematic deficiencies with my approach rather than a failure to communicate or persuade to my line of thinking.

From the other comments here, it seems this conversation has been a net-positive and hopefully time will prove that. I’ve been noticing quite a few well-thought and informative posts lately. Maybe it’s confirmation bias, maybe it’s something else. But the forum reading from about 24 hours ago was particularly good.

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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by jacob » Wed Nov 01, 2017 12:09 pm

@jp, campitor -

I'm borrowing this from the bond thread as it might serve as a useful example/exercise/illustration ...
jacob wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:42 am
PPS: Think of this as a poker game (note: I don't care much for poker, so I'm probably missing some poker-specifics). When you first start to play, you learn the rules and the various hands (cf. duration, terms, various yields i.e. YTM, and pricing). Next level, the probabilities of the hands. Next, the change of the probabilities based on cards seen and bids. Next, you start playing the players (the tells). Next, playing the players based on what you know about them (risk tolerance, bank roll, ...). Most of the time, players will be unaware of higher levels. There will be a kind of fish/shark relationship in the game.
... of this and this.

Another way of looking at it is (cf. Dreyfus)
1: Low #information, where information = factoids, urls, ...
2: High #information
3: Low #knowledge, where knowledge = organizational structure of information
4: High #knowledge
5: Low #wisdom, where wisdom = organizational structure of knowledge
6: High #wisdom(*)

We can group these into three according to focus: Information/facts (I), knowledge (II), wisdom (III).

(*) Not in the Dreyfus model .. but the concept exists in the [conscious/unconscious] x [competent/incompetent] model.

Knowledge (3,4) is what's required for knowing whether a piece of information, a fact, is relevant or irrelevant. Knowledge is also required for differentiating between information and misinformation. Part of why misinformation campaigns work so well is that the average person holds almost no knowledge.

With experience, it's possible to tell whether a question is of the I, II, or III variety. There's meta-information being revealed by how the question is being asked.

The wider the gap between the level of the question and the level of the one answering it, the more energy is required to bridge the gap. This is because of the size of the explanatory structure that needs to be considered by the person answering the question. So there's a cost associated with the question that's being paid by the person answering it.

A question that's request for wisdom(5) but phrased in a way that suggests the possession of high information without basic knowledge(2) (seeking explanations for esoteric exceptions is a dead giveaway) is a high-cost question (cost 5-2=3). This is why the professor turns/turned their back. It's just too much (especially if it has happened a dozen times before). If it was a management situation instead of an intellectual one, it would be blown off with a "this decision is way above your pay-grade". For questions the meta-answer is more that "there's a million things you need to know before you can understand the answer to the question you're asking".

OTOH, if the question [about wisdom] was asked in a way that indicates high knowledge/structure or even low knowledge/structure, it's more likely to get a good answer.

Kinda goes back to the idea that
  • the most rewarding person to ask is whoever is one level further ahead
  • the most rewarding person to answer is whoever is one level behind
  • the most rewarding person to debate is whoever is at the same level
These behaviors tend to be stimulating/build energy. With more energy/enthusiasm, one can engage in less effective behaviors. Everybody has their threshold for how much they can span, but if the gap is too wide, the behavior is draining, and people act accordingly. I think this explains a lot of the dynamics. One can, therefore, control the dynamics of the situation by controlling the how and the who.

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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by saving-10-years » Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:19 pm

@jp Like and agree with your comment - 'Come for the food, stay for the company'.

@Jacob, initially I was here for answers/expertise but (perhaps truest of FI folk on here?) I come back repeatedly for the community. Yes, if something happens in the world then here I will find trusted opinions (and informed contrary ones) to draw on, but often my reward for dropping by is laugh out loud moments (@BRUTE, @riggerjack, @Jason), DIY/garden/thrift/EDC inspiration (@halfmoon, @ffj, @cmonkey, @jp, @Ego) and the lure of questions and information that I never knew we would be interested in (@7w5 leading here but @Dragline, @seppia @sclass, @vexed87 and now @Fish contribute). @THF has a special place as the same sort of age as my DS so his questions give me insights into a young man's mind. Lots of reasons to drop by and only some mentioned above. Its not always what they posted recently either (there is gold to be mined in these here forums - and sometimes raised to the surface by newcomers and held aloft for re-examination). Sorry to be so gush-y. I have been involved in various online forums since 1980s and this one really is special (but multi-level and multi-layer).

For those just now discovering all this they won't know what they like here yet and what you suggest in terms of levels may be precisely what they need/use. Going back to the comment by @jp - they are here for the food and they need to identify what food around here they can stomach and which they will enjoy.

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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by Campitor » Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:44 pm

@ Jacob

Your explanations and poker analogy make 100% sense and I certainly see why an expert wouldn't want to waste the mental and/or emotional energy trying to span a chasm of information/knowledge/wisdom. Your explanation has certainly given me a lot to ponder. The models you provided I will certainly absorb and be mindful of when interacting with others.

But in regards to the professor incident, had he said something along the lines of "You wouldn't understand my explanation unless you were familiar with X,Y, and Z", I would have at least been given some bread crumbs to follow in order to span my gap of information to knowledge; I would have stopped the asbestos conversation and done some follow up research. But that isn't what the professor did. He actually accused me of hampering the education of the general public. His actual words, if I recall correctly, were "It's people like you that make it difficult to educate the public on the dangers of asbestos." I don't see how my question could have been construed in a negative light. And if you think of it, how could he reconcile his desire to educate the public when he couldn't even take the time to educate someone who was actually very interested in what he had to say?

@ thread participants

While I don't believe it's every expert's duty to educate unless he/she wants to, I can't reconcile the idiocy of decrying the ignorance of the general public when that very person is unwilling to educate the public when a sincere opportunity presents itself. In my opinion, the only way to get from information-to-knowledge and from knowledge-to-wisdom is via questions. Information-to-knowledge requires asking someone else questions. Knowledge-to-wisdom requires asking ourselves questions and being asked questions by others. Think about it...
Last edited by Campitor on Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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FBeyer
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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by FBeyer » Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:47 pm

saving-10-years wrote:
Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:19 pm
... Sorry to be so gush-y. I have been involved in various online forums since 1980s and this one really is special..
It says a lot about our state of disconnect that we feel the need to apologize when we heap unsolicited praise on someone else.

The world sorely needs more heartfelt compliments.

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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by jacob » Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:55 pm

@all - FYI, my comments only relate to information/knowledge/wisdom and how the dynamics of exchanges relates to the distribution of those qualities when it comes to any group, including this forum. As for me getting involved in this thread in the first place, it is mainly over the concern over the handful of "eternally repetitive debates of stupid" we've had on the forums over the years. Whether it was conscious or unconscious incompetence or misinformation, I think new beginners could have done a better job educating themselves by picking up a quick book; and that proficient/competents could have done a better job helping with the misinformation weed-whacking efforts than leaning back and just watching for edutainment after they learned their bit. Such displays end rather quickly when people step in instead of just forming a circle around the two fighters to watch them duke it out. OTOH, I also realize that nobody is obligated to do anything ... so my bigger point is that overall "no action" also has a consequence. IOW, the ethical behavior [choices when it comes to such things] of the community determines the form and function of the community itself.

I haven't been commenting on community building/maintenance/social relations.

However, keep in mind that while old forumites likely hang around because of the community, new forumites likely come in because of the level of the content. Therefore it seems there should be some interest in maintaining a certain level (form and function) of the content.

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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by jacob » Wed Nov 01, 2017 3:54 pm

@campitor - As for the reaction of the professor, I totally get him. Maybe his was not the most suave reaction, but ... I get it.

However, and this is key here, for almost anything that has become "politically" contentious, or more accurately a matter of belief, the expert eventually realizes that the majority of people are not asking sincerely.

This is generally not an issue for non-contentious issues. An expert on quantum chromodynamics will not brush you off for asking what a quark it ... but insofar you wanna know "if vaccines are really necessary?", an expert on public health probably will(*), since vaccination has now become controversial among some laymen.

So you probably walked into someone who has been burned many times by people who've either tried to trap him with various rhetorical tricks; or had almost no knowledge despite claiming themselves to be well-informed (since they watched that movie about it ... ); or heard a talking-point somewhere; or who like most was incapable of instantly incorporating new information logically. (The Socratic method doesn't really work in practice.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signalling_theory seems relevant here. The professor will try to gauge whether you're providing an honest signal (sincere inquiry) or whether you're trying to cheat (insincere confirmation-desire, uninformed disagreement, or just laziness). One way (as per the wiki link) is to look for costly signals. A costly signal in this regard is some insight/phrasing/comment that's not available by googling or just having watched some PBS documentary.

(*) However, you probably would get an answer, even a highly detailed one, if you asked exactly the same question but within the context of the SIR-model, because that model requires some effort to learn. It's not something one just picks up from a blog post. And you demonstrating knowing (knowledge, so at least 3 or 4) shows that you're very likely to understand the answer.

It's possible that the professor has already done a lot to educate the public. Maybe he wrote a textbook only to observe that people asking him technical questions didn't bother to read it. Ditto papers or webpages. Or maybe people are asking him questions all the time without bothering to learn enough first to demonstrate that they are competent enough to understand the answer. Or maybe he just had a bad day. Or maybe he's just a jerk.

Imagine fighting one person after the other day after day while being circled by spectators who do little or nothing but watch. Then a new guy comes into the circle and faces you: "Hey!, I want to ..." ... and you just punch him and walk out. "But I wasn't looking for a fight?!" ... but how would you know? Walk a mile in someone's shoes ...

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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by Campitor » Wed Nov 01, 2017 6:00 pm

Imagine fighting one person after the other day after day while being circled by spectators who do little or nothing but watch. Then a new guy comes into the circle and faces you: "Hey!, I want to ..." ... and you just punch him and walk out. "But I wasn't looking for a fight?!" ... but how would you know? Walk a mile in someone's shoes ...
Point taken.

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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 7:30 pm

Here is a very good example of how to teach across a vast gap.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UX6RbDCCGDE

I think if you are interested in solving the puzzle of how different people learn, it can be very rewarding to be working with a developmentally delayed 5 year old when he suddenly rolls out a wad of play-dough, picks up 3 different alphabet cookie-cutters, and then puts together the word CAT. IOW, when the gap becomes tremendous the task changes qualitatively.

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Re: Forum Posting Ethics

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Nov 02, 2017 5:25 am

I encountered Mystery Doug when I was helping teach a first grade class that learned about how understanding the movement of the sun through the sky during the course of the day can help you if you are lost in the woods. These are very lucky children who attend one of the best elementary schools anywhere, so there is a woodland park right next to the school where they can explore. The science mystery the first graders had to solve was based on a story about a little boy whose father told him that if he followed morning sun as he walked through the woods he would be able to find his friend's house on the other side of the woods. The little boy successfully followed the sun to his friend's house, and then they played all day and had dinner before the little boy decided it was time to walk back home through the woods. The first graders then had to pair up, discuss and decide which picture best represented the path in relationship to the sun the little boy should take in order to find his way home.

It was interesting for me to observe the manner in which their excellent teacher guided the children through this Mystery Doug exercise, and I was curious about how many children, if any, would be able to explain their answer. One little girl, moving her arms around constantly to represent the sun, did a very good job. Then, since this was a group likely to contain the precocious, I wondered if some other child might speak up and say something like "But, but, but...the Sun doesn't move around the Earth. The Earth moves around the Sun.", and how the teacher would handle such a comment, given that otherwise the range of comprehension seemed to be 5 children who understood why their answer was correct, 5 kids who kind of understood why their answer was incorrect, 5 kids who did not understand why their answer was incorrect, and 5 kids who were sleeping, fighting with bean bags, or picking nose during the lesson. For better or worse, no child with precocious question outside of range raised hand.

The same group of first graders played tunnel tag during gym. I was the referee. The rules of tunnel tag are if you are tagged you must freeze and make a tunnel with your legs. If another runner crawls through your leg tunnel, then you may start running around again. The first round we tried playing with only 3 taggers and 21 kids running around, and it seemed like the game would never end. The second round we played with 4 taggers and the runners were all locked up within a few minutes. The third round we kept 4 taggers, but the little boy who seemed to be the most gifted athlete in the group became a runner/crawler rather than a tagger, so the game lasted a bit longer. So, I was thinking about the concept of the "embodied mind", the ease with which the children were able to get a feel for how the game was likely to go, the use of the term "frozen" in the game, and how this might be incorporated into an exercise that could help teach how a small change (add 1 more tagger) can have rather large consequences, because the game ends very quickly rather than seemingly going on forever. Many years ago, when I was dithering between getting a degree in math education vs. actuarial science, I took a course entitled "The Use of Drama in the Classroom" that was on the topic of how to create such exercises.

OTOH, I will concede that it has been my experience that grouchy old men are one of the most difficult types to teach. Generally, you first have to disarm them with a megaton load of respectful behavior. Then you have to figure out how to motivate somebody who already has most everything he needs. Then you have to be very, very patient and very, very clever. It's a lot of work. Maybe somewhere on the scale between attempting to teach a severely emotionally impaired 9 year old who bites, and attempting to teach a 60 year old female who is highly motivated to finally get her high school diploma, but has never before encountered the concept of negative numbers.

Locked