School Education vs Independent Learning

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School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby lu6cifer » Wed Jan 05, 2011 9:54 pm UTC

This happens to me every school year: When school starts, I come in, ready to learn whatever--Spanish, English, American History, Physics, Biology, Calculus, etc...But this feeling doesn't last long, and eventually I start getting bored of my classes, and although I do my work, I find a lot of it kind of tedious and uninteresting. Aside from a few science and math classes, all I want to do in my courses is move on to the next topic, do something new and fresh. But once we get into that new subject, I go through the same process. Meanwhile, outside of class I yearn to learn other subjects. For example, if we're reading Romeo and Juliet in English, I might find that boring after a month, and during that time, I'll really want to read Hamlet instead. Or in math class, when I took calculus, I found it interesting, but became bored intermittently; I wanted to learn other types of math instead--competition maths, discrete maths, basically almost anything extracurricular--even though I had been looking to calculus for years.

And then, once summer rolls around, I try to read all the books I wanted to read during the school year, and I try to learn everything I had wanted to learn during school, but I after maybe a few weeks, I can't. I end up hanging out with friends all day or playing video games. After all, It's summer.

It's as if I'm addicted to the concept of learning.

Does anyone else experience this? If so, why? And how can I fix this? Is it different in college?
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Re: School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Thu Jan 06, 2011 4:07 am UTC

Sounds the same to me. Yes, the same thing happens in college, except you might have half the video game time in the summer because you have a job.

Reminds me of a history textbook I had for AP Euro. Whatever the assigned reading was was rather dull, but not as bad as most textbooks and the other chapters were far more interesting, even if they were chapters we've already read
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Re: School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby Jorpho » Fri Jan 07, 2011 6:09 am UTC

This seems like a topic that's been covered before in Hard Work vs. Smartishness and When am I going to use this? and Unschooling and perhaps Debate: Grades VS Knowledge.
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Re: School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby Hooch » Fri Jan 07, 2011 6:17 am UTC

I think part of the problem is the fact that the schools have to "mass distribute" the learning. By that, I mean that individualizing the learning process and make it interesting for each student is difficult in a public school setting.

From roughly my freshmen to my junior year in high school, I was reading World War II articles, watching documentaries, analyzing battle maps, the whole shebang. Yet when WWII came up in AP US History, I found the lesson structure dry and boring.

An even greater example is books. From roughly 2nd to 8th grade, I held the belief that I hated reading of any kind. Around 9th grade, I began realizing that it wasn't reading as a whole that I hated, but rather forced reading.

"Take this book, read it, write reports and take exams on it. I don't care if you little shits like it or not. Now where's my paycheck?"
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Re: School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Jan 10, 2011 5:00 pm UTC

lu6cifer wrote:For example, if we're reading Romeo and Juliet in English, I might find that boring after a month, and during that time, I'll really want to read Hamlet instead.


If you're studying Romeo and Juilet for a month, I'm not surprised that you're bored of it. As far as Shakespeare's works are concerned, it's not all that great anyway, and spending a month on a single, relatively short, work seems... excessive.

My general answer is that school isn't really designed for people like you. School is mostly designed for people who don't like/don't care about learning all that much. People who are actually smart enough to learn/study on their own time and don't require weeks/months of repetition to get a single concept are probably going to find that the system is pretty dreadful. Things will get marginally better in university, if that's any consolation.
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Re: School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Jan 10, 2011 5:25 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:If you're studying Romeo and Juilet for a month, I'm not surprised that you're bored of it.
I feel like this is relevant here.
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Re: School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby DCB » Mon Jan 10, 2011 11:13 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:My general answer is that school isn't really designed for people like you. School is mostly designed for people who don't like/don't care about learning all that much. People who are actually smart enough to learn/study on their own time and don't require weeks/months of repetition to get a single concept are probably going to find that the system is pretty dreadful. Things will get marginally better in university, if that's any consolation.


I disagree. I think schools are for people who DO like learning. The fact that, in your (and my, and the OP's) experience, schools are populated by people who couldn't care less is merely a byproduct of the fact that the majority of the industrialized world REQUIRES something equivalent to a high school education. If you went to a 3rd world country where education, especially structured education, is a luxury, you'd find that everyone there was serious and attentive even though the quality of education is subpar by our standards - and if they weren't in school it's probably because they were preoccupied with making enough money to feed their family.

I hope this doesn't come across as too heavy handed, but I think the people that whine about school being boring are usually just lazy. Being introduced to new information is fun, it's a human instinct to want to learn more. What schools try to do is ingrain the knowledge into you so that you master it, which generally isn't "fun". So if you get "bored" of a topic after a month, you're really just resisting the work necessary to retain that knowledge for years to come. I'll complain about reading a play as much as the next guy, but the reason they spend a month on 1 book isn't to teach you all the intricacies of the book, but to force you to spend hours trying to think of something that you haven't already said so that later when your job is to come up with original solutions to whatever, you have the ability to move past your first instinct in the event that your first instinct is wrong.

Independent learning is just as boring as school learning, but without the friends and teachers to motivate you and convenient and plentiful resources (computers, libraries, whatever). Independent learners aren't smart because they're learning outside of school, they're independent learners because they're smart enough not to need help. It's the same way some people need a personal trainer or running buddy to keep them in shape, while real athletes will do 1000 pushups in a day just f*@king because.

And this is going to really make me look like a douche but whatever it's the internet: OP, you complain about not learning in school because the courses go too slow and you get bored, but when you do have free time in the summer you don't use it effectively. If you're serious about learning, school is in session all year long (to continue the sports reference: the same way football season is fall and winter, those athletes workout 12 months a year and probably work harder in the offseason than the season itself).

I hope you take that as constructive criticism rather than an insult. I have trouble with laziness and procrastination too and the criticism is as much me projecting onto you as it is me trying to help you.
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Re: School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:50 pm UTC

DCB wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:My general answer is that school isn't really designed for people like you. School is mostly designed for people who don't like/don't care about learning all that much. People who are actually smart enough to learn/study on their own time and don't require weeks/months of repetition to get a single concept are probably going to find that the system is pretty dreadful. Things will get marginally better in university, if that's any consolation.


I disagree. I think schools are for people who DO like learning. The fact that, in your (and my, and the OP's) experience, schools are populated by people who couldn't care less is merely a byproduct of the fact that the majority of the industrialized world REQUIRES something equivalent to a high school education. If you went to a 3rd world country where education, especially structured education, is a luxury, you'd find that everyone there was serious and attentive even though the quality of education is subpar by our standards - and if they weren't in school it's probably because they were preoccupied with making enough money to feed their family.


Allow me to expand a bit on what I mean.

Schools in most industrialized countries are, by virtue of being required for all students to attend, set at a pace and difficulty level that is appropriate for an individual with an average (or realistically, probably below average) aptitude, interest, or desire to master enough of the material to be moderately functional at the end of the process. What schools tend to lack are the resources to deal with students who are significantly below or (especially) above the mean. If I'm doing calculus in my spare time at age thirteen, chances are spending half a year learning to multiply fractions with my peers in the same age group is not going to be particularly productive.

DCB wrote:I hope this doesn't come across as too heavy handed, but I think the people that whine about school being boring are usually just lazy. Being introduced to new information is fun, it's a human instinct to want to learn more. What schools try to do is ingrain the knowledge into you so that you master it, which generally isn't "fun". So if you get "bored" of a topic after a month, you're really just resisting the work necessary to retain that knowledge for years to come.


Or you've already mastered that topic weeks/months/years ago...

That aside, I'm less than convinced that the average student retains any significant fraction of the knowledge that this investment in time is supposedly designed to have them master. If mastery of a particular set of material was the goal, there would be far more effective means to approach this than the current system of education.

DCB wrote: I'll complain about reading a play as much as the next guy, but the reason they spend a month on 1 book isn't to teach you all the intricacies of the book, but to force you to spend hours trying to think of something that you haven't already said so that later when your job is to come up with original solutions to whatever, you have the ability to move past your first instinct in the event that your first instinct is wrong.


If this is the skill you are trying to teach, then it would make much more sense to teach the skill directly using a variety of examples to illustrate the point, rather than focussing on a single source material and hope that the students pick it up via osmosis.
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Re: School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby Jorpho » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:14 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Schools in most industrialized countries are, by virtue of being required for all students to attend, set at a pace and difficulty level that is appropriate for an individual with an average (or realistically, probably below average) aptitude, interest, or desire to master enough of the material to be moderately functional at the end of the process. What schools tend to lack are the resources to deal with students who are significantly below or (especially) above the mean. If I'm doing calculus in my spare time at age thirteen, chances are spending half a year learning to multiply fractions with my peers in the same age group is not going to be particularly productive.
The obvious response to this is that these students who are especially above the mean are going to be spending the rest of their lives alongside their peers who are not. Of course, there may be a place in society for those students especially above the mean, but those places will be accordingly uncommon and difficult to find. It might be said that there is some benefit to getting such people accustomed to working alongside others not so far "above the mean" from an early age.

If mastery of a particular set of material was the goal, there would be far more effective means to approach this than the current system of education.
Perhaps, but that is not the only goal, and those more effective means are likely to be more costly.

If this is the skill you are trying to teach, then it would make much more sense to teach the skill directly using a variety of examples to illustrate the point, rather than focussing on a single source material and hope that the students pick it up via osmosis.
Isn't this a contradiction?

Anyway, as I said before, we seem to be retreading material previously beaten to death in other threads.
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Re: School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby DCB » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:19 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote: What schools tend to lack are the resources to deal with students who are significantly below or (especially) above the mean. If I'm doing calculus in my spare time at age thirteen, chances are spending half a year learning to multiply fractions with my peers in the same age group is not going to be particularly productive.


As I said, schools aren't necessary for especially intelligent people, but I imagine you're going to college if you haven't already (I can't tell how old you are). If you haven't gone to college yet, you'll find that college is independent learning at a school. But college is voluntary and it is only offered at an age individuals are old enough to make their own decisions. Yes some are especially slow in maturing, but those that have chosen learning bloom in universities. Of course there are always those geniuses whose egos make them grumble about the quality of their peers rather than work with their peers, and to them I say, there is ALWAYS a bigger fish. I haven't met anyone who beats this small child: http://www.katu.com/news/28432984.html.

LaserGuy wrote:Or you've already mastered that topic weeks/months/years ago...

That aside, I'm less than convinced that the average student retains any significant fraction of the knowledge that this investment in time is supposedly designed to have them master. If mastery of a particular set of material was the goal, there would be far more effective means to approach this than the current system of education.


Mastery supposedly takes 10000 hours of practice (more than a year without stopping for a second, 9 years if you spend 3 hours a day on it). If you think you can come up with a more effective means of educating the masses, please, I beg you to become a teacher and spread your method.

LaserGuy wrote:
DCB wrote: I'll complain about reading a play as much as the next guy, but the reason they spend a month on 1 book isn't to teach you all the intricacies of the book, but to force you to spend hours trying to think of something that you haven't already said so that later when your job is to come up with original solutions to whatever, you have the ability to move past your first instinct in the event that your first instinct is wrong.


If this is the skill you are trying to teach, then it would make much more sense to teach the skill directly using a variety of examples to illustrate the point, rather than focussing on a single source material and hope that the students pick it up via osmosis.


If you've ever had to teach someone anything, you'd realize the direct approach only works on the rare occasion the person's mind is wired in the right way. The common method of teaching universal physical principles is by the action of balls and other simple objects, hell I saw a friction problem with a bunch of penguins tied together being pulled across ice with a certain mew. Why do I need to know that? I will NEVER see that happen. But it helps me master the thought processes behind friction problems in a way that I can visualize and understand and is more fun than the ever-present boxes.

But more than that, THE USE OF ONE SOURCE IS PART OF THE TEACHING PROCESS. If you read a book per week, it's easy to come up with a good original essay every week. The effective method of teaching creativity to dolts is to say, for the next 2-3 months this is what we're going to write about. You cannot repeat yourself, You cannot plagiarize, and I will expect more and more complex ideas to be provided. And if you refuse to do so you will fail this course. None of this is said outright because school also prepares kids for the real world where skills aren't taught directly and objectives are often vague.
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Re: School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby LaserGuy » Thu Jan 13, 2011 4:35 pm UTC

DCB wrote:As I said, schools aren't necessary for especially intelligent people, but I imagine you're going to college if you haven't already (I can't tell how old you are). If you haven't gone to college yet, you'll find that college is independent learning at a school. But college is voluntary and it is only offered at an age individuals are old enough to make their own decisions. Yes some are especially slow in maturing, but those that have chosen learning bloom in universities. Of course there are always those geniuses whose egos make them grumble about the quality of their peers rather than work with their peers, and to them I say, there is ALWAYS a bigger fish. I haven't met anyone who beats this small child: http://www.katu.com/news/28432984.html.


I don't think we really disagree on this issue.

DCB wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:Or you've already mastered that topic weeks/months/years ago...

That aside, I'm less than convinced that the average student retains any significant fraction of the knowledge that this investment in time is supposedly designed to have them master. If mastery of a particular set of material was the goal, there would be far more effective means to approach this than the current system of education.


Mastery supposedly takes 10000 hours of practice (more than a year without stopping for a second, 9 years if you spend 3 hours a day on it). If you think you can come up with a more effective means of educating the masses, please, I beg you to become a teacher and spread your method.


I think we're using the term mastery in different contexts. It takes 10000 hours of practice to master the piano. It does not take 10000 hours of practice to master the C scale. Schools aren't trying to teach the level of mastery that you're referring to.

DCB wrote: If you've ever had to teach someone anything, you'd realize the direct approach only works on the rare occasion the person's mind is wired in the right way. The common method of teaching universal physical principles is by the action of balls and other simple objects, hell I saw a friction problem with a bunch of penguins tied together being pulled across ice with a certain mew. Why do I need to know that? I will NEVER see that happen. But it helps me master the thought processes behind friction problems in a way that I can visualize and understand and is more fun than the ever-present boxes.


But my point is that using a single source IS like using the boring ever-present boxes. You are only giving them one way to learn about a very general concept. It is far more likely that your students won't even realise that this is what you're trying to teach at all. It will also, in all likelihood, teach your students to hate reading and hate Shakespeare.
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Re: School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby jandaroni » Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:34 pm UTC

The school is primarily designed for people who do not like / don 't worry about learning so much. People who are actually smart enough to learn / study on their own time and does not require weeks / months of rehearsals for one concept may find that the system is pretty horrible.
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Re: School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby lanicita » Sat Nov 19, 2011 6:30 pm UTC

I think I was the same in high school. I much prefer college courses, where you have one semester (4 months) of a subject, and then you choose new subjects for the next semester, and so on. You also get to choose what you take when (for the most part), so for instance, you could take biology and chemistry in the same semester. I am a big fan of learning things that intertwine like that at the same time, so you can see the parallels as you go and apply them to each other, rather than learning them sequentially and having to fit what you know about the later one into what you'd already learned about the earlier one. My favorite was taking Cognitive Neuroscience at the same time as Personality - I got to see what the brain is doing at the same time as I saw what the mind is doing, and it was so much easier to comprehend the intricacies of how they intertwine by having them at the same time.
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Re: School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby ndkid » Wed Dec 21, 2011 4:35 am UTC

Idependent Learning is pretty cool, although School Education kinda forces independent learning upon you. For example, I decided to take AP European History this year and one of the texts we had to read was Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Emile which actually speaks exactly on this. It pretty much states that ALL learning should be independent, because a scholastic education will force someone to hate a subject (as previously mentioned by others). And if you hate the subject, whats the point of knowing the information? You aren't going to appreciate it for what it is, and it's just gonna sit in your head gathering cobwebs, so instead you should learn via practical experiences, which will help you later in life.

I thought it was a pretty interesting read, and it brought up some points that I thought were relevant here. Although I tend to believe that one needs a school education to give them the initial push to learn. I have some experience with this, as I was homeschooled up until about middle school for various reasons, and I had absolutely no urge to learn everything, not even to learn the actual lesson, I just wanted to hurry up and play video games. Yet come highschool, where I had a set time to learn, I got interested in things. And when I got finished ahead of time, instead of just sitting there being bored, I would look ahead or look at stuff that I knew we weren't gonna cover.
TL;DR: Independent learning is cool, and should be promoted, but a school education does help start you on your path to independent learning.
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Re: School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby trois_pistoles » Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:56 pm UTC

I feel basically the same way, but the thing is, learning can be a chore even if you like the topic. It's common to be enthralled initially and then disillusioned with the deeper, harder material. Also, being bored with the underpinnings of something and then interested in the deeper parts can be common. It's kind of arrogant to expect that you could guide your own learning. Leaping around studying bits and pieces of whatever catches your fancy is a good way to wind up being a crackpot.

What I'm trying to do is finally stop resenting "the system" and start connecting with teachers as wells as other students (who are not slackers). I'm trying to psyche myself up for the grade competitions, which I had always frowned upon.
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Re: School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby Hofstadter'sLaw » Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:40 am UTC

I agree with lanicita about college courses being a bit better because you mostly get to choose what you take. And, in college, you won't be spending a whole month on one book. The pace is a lot faster. For example, in my English classes, we'd often have to have a short story (or multiple short stories, or even a novella) read for the next class, and sometimes we went through a book in a week (or over two or three weeks at the most if the book was several hundred pages long).[*]

Getting to choose what you learn and going through the material much faster will probably stave off the boredom.

[*]My school ran on the quarter system, semester systems might be a bit slower.
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Re: School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby Ixtellor » Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:45 pm UTC

Two Thoughts:

1) You are being exposed to lots of subjects in hopes that one "clicks". And perhaps you find something you are interested in now that you didn't know before. I never thought I would seek a degree in economics, but being exposed to it, I found a new (old at this point ) passion.

2) Think of the class as a challenge. That class is saying "your not smart enough to learn/master me". Personally, thats what I did when in school (when not distracted by girls and beer). I loved the thrill of having a professor say "Most of you failed" then get back your paper and find you made an A.

3) Ask your teachers (if your in high school) to take the final. Explain that you feel you have mastered the material and would like to take the final to prove it. You might be surprised to find a teacher will let you take the final.. and then that puts you in the position of "Well... thats done, I'm going to work on 'X' now if thats ok with you Sir/Mame". Hopefully your teachers just care that your learning and your putting forth effort. I would let my students do anything they want if I thought they were learning and being productive.
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Re: School Education vs Independent Learning

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Tue Jan 31, 2012 6:13 pm UTC

http://coopcatalyst.wordpress.com/2012/ ... schooling/

Interesting article about how school education isn't all that great at its stated goals.
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