TITLE: Modeling the Unseen AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: September 28, 2014 10:21 AM DESC: ----- BODY: This passage comes from an article at LessWrong about making beliefs "pay rent" by holding them accountable for the experiences they entail:
It is a great strength of Homo sapiens that we can, better than any other species in the world, learn to model the unseen. It is also one of our great weak points. Humans often believe in things that are not only unseen but unreal.
Our students bring this double-edged sword to the classroom with them. Students seem able to learn important ideas even when teachers present the ideas poorly, or inconsistently, or confusingly. I probably don't want to know how often I depend on this good fortune when I teach... At the same time, students can build models that are flatly untrue. This isn't surprising. When we draw conclusions from incomplete evidence and examples, we will occasionally go astray. The search space in which students work is vast; it is remarkable that they don't go astray more often. Teachers experience both edges of the sword. Students model the unseen and, for the most part, the model the build is invisible to us. When is it an accurate model? One of the biggest challenges for teachers is to bring both of the unseens closer to the surface. The second of these is what makes face-to-face instruction and one-on-one interaction so powerful. We bring students' models to the surface most effectively in the ways we discuss ideas with them. Our greatest opportunities to discuss come from asking students to build something and then discussing with them both the product and the process of making it. -----