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Is the Only Value to Traditional Education the Credentials?

For discussion and debate about anything. (Not a roleplay related forum; out-of-character commentary only.)

You...

succeeded in institutional education
13
28%
should've done better
8
17%
deserved better
2
4%
value your self learning over your institutional learning
15
32%
poll options are based
9
19%
 
Total votes : 47

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Forsher
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Is the Only Value to Traditional Education the Credentials?

Postby Forsher » Sat May 15, 2021 2:32 pm

By "traditional" education what I mean is the standard compulsory schooling system familiar in the Anglosphere... primary -> college (maybe with an intermediate) in NZ, K12 in the US, primary -> "big school" in England and Wales and so on... plus university after that, rather than pre-institutional education, just to be clear.

I'm sure most of you are familiar with the idea of being self-taught or self-learning or whatever people call it. Usually what happens is someone (probably a teenager) used books/the internet/other resources and cultivating knowledge in some specific area (typically, (military) history) and is now extrapolating from that to claim one or both of (1) "this is a viable model for educating everyone at all ages" and (2) "institutional/traditional education doesn't care about learning".

Look, I'm perfectly willing to believe that the "actual" form of this position doesn't hold (1) to be true and, rather, we're just talking about people who have done (most of) the compulsory part of traditional education, i.e. they're at least 15, and we can talk about that but it's (2) that I really wanted to talk about when I had the idea for this thread.

When I think about the way education works for anyone older than about 12, what I think about is a process of "teaching" and then "assessment about that teaching".

There are obviously a bunch of different ways that the "teaching" can occur. In a university setting, the traditional model is "the lecture" which is basically a lecturer talking for an hour or two basically uninterrupted, probably with slides or other visual aids. Another common technique is the so-called "flipped classroom" in which the teacher gets the class to read up/watch videos on a subject prior to the lesson, which then takes the form of a process of engaging with that learning. In my experience, a large part of that engagement could well be writing paragraphs as a group about things in the prior learning, but you could argue that the "Socratic Method" is basically a flipped classroom approach. And then there's a lot of room between these two extremes and outside of a university context, there are probably quite a lot lessons on each module before assessment (e.g. in history at school we'd usually have about eight or more weeks per unit plus maybe two to three weeks of doing the assessment if it was internally assessed).

In the self-learning model, it's all flipped classroom all the time but there probably isn't any checking in... not with a teacher and not with a class. Why? Because that's the whole point... it's a single individual just doing some stuff by themself.

To my mind, self-learning doesn't exist. Oh, sure, you probably do genuinely learn some trivia, but the "education" bit is in having and cultivated knowledge through a process of contact with other minds. In institutional education this is formalised in the "assessment about that teaching" stage, but there are a lot of different kinds of assessment and they're not all made equal. However, there is a lot of informal contact through the teaching stage, both between learner and educator and between learners. Indeed, a lot of assessment will explicitly or implicitly be intended to put learners together.

Without the contact part, self-learning is just a recipe in entrenching whatever ideas an individual already has within their mind. The people who advocate for it or hold that it exists, usually don't think about the case of someone finding, I don't know, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or, perhaps, some kind of Intelligent Design textbook and "learning" from that sort of material. Except, of course, they will and do... this is a big part of how conspiracy theories propagate: people try to teach themselves things that they have no idea about how to start learning. And the value of "assessment" isn't in the credentials that come out the end (or work towards a credential), but instead being able to see where your thinking is. Or, in a crude sense, if you have actually understood something.

(And, yes, this applies with coding, too. For example, in R you shouldn't use loops. However, loops are easy, they do what you want them to do and the alternatives, even if you've been taught them, are harder to remember even if, in the end, they're shorter, usually, and more efficient. But, yes, in general, I think the fact you can see whether you've coded something right from whether the code works means there's an inherent "contact". (I would also argue that loops are easier to follow than apply etc for the uninitiated reader.))

Of course, you do get places where you can apply that knowledge from self-learning but those situations are entirely incidental to the education. I would characterise the knowledge gained from, say, participating in an online forum as "incidental learning".

But, hey, that's just me... what say ye, NSG? Do people put too much stock in the idea of being self-taught?
Last edited by Forsher on Sat May 15, 2021 2:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Ethel mermania » Sat May 15, 2021 2:46 pm

I think you learn your job mostly on the job. Education provides the foundation for that learning.

Then again many professional certifications require an ongoing educational component.
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Postby Kubra » Sat May 15, 2021 2:53 pm

For k-12, absolutely not. That is, after all, where you learn your multiplication tables.
As for uni, yes and no. On one hand, what you studied doesn't quite matter. On the other hand, it does teach you to handle multiple projects and assignments that drag on for months at a time with little direction, then forget most everything about it and move onto the next months set of long projects or assignments, which is a valuable skill. Dunno if it's 100k good, but it is what it is.
Last edited by Kubra on Sat May 15, 2021 2:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Punished UMN » Sat May 15, 2021 3:06 pm

I'm happy to discuss both issues, but tbh I'm not entirely certain how the thread title relates that much to the content of the OP. What specifically are we supposed to discuss? Educational methods or the value of the things one is taught?
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Postby Saiwania » Sat May 15, 2021 4:01 pm

I don't agree with the "contact" part at all. Some people were or are loners or just gravitated to solitary activities. An in person format to classroom education can't benefit everyone equally as well. Provided you complete any assignments and follow the damn syllabus and not completely suck at learning the material, you probably will still get a good grade or "passing" status without necessarily actually participating in groups.

Socialization is probably far more important at the earlier grade levels but not everyone is going to just magically become extroverted if they're too comfortable being different from the other peers or are set in their ways.

As far as the whole "self learning" trend goes, its probably to try to avoid the exorbitant expense of traditional options for higher education like going to a college/university. For some career paths like becoming a Dentist, someone has no choice but to go to a relevant medical school and be formally recognized as qualified, while for other career paths like getting into Computer/Software roles, its possible to be "self taught" enough to be competent.

For coding for example, a person just has to prove that they know an "in demand" programming language and can actually do it to be a software developer. If someone has a portfolio of websites or applications they created on their own and their code is indeed good, and they sufficiently demonstrated that they can create good code in real time, chances are there is less reason for a tech company to not want to hire such a person just because they didn't pay a lot of money to take some formal classes at an expensive school when there are cheaper to no cost options out there to some extent depending on the career field in question.
Last edited by Saiwania on Sat May 15, 2021 4:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby Katganistan » Sat May 15, 2021 5:22 pm

Traditional education introduces you to foundational concepts and ideas you need to learn HOW to study and learn.... it also gives you a taste of subjects you might not have chosen on your own and gives you a basic understanding of science and history, mathematics and literature, and another language -- possibly the arts.

In terms of having the credentials, it tells an employer pretty quickly if you are going to be able to learn whatever they need to teach you for the job.

In terms of self-learning, it gives you a base of knowledge and an understanding of how to do further research into what interests you. It should teach you to be a critical reader, and to assess the sources you have chosen. (I would not blindly accept the word of a cookbook author on the best way to build a deck for your home, for instance -- unless they are known as being both a reputable builder AND a cookbook author.)

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Postby Senkaku » Sat May 15, 2021 5:33 pm

no, of course not, there's also the education
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Postby Radiatia » Sat May 15, 2021 5:33 pm

I'm someone who doesn't have a single formal qualification to my name, not because of ability (in fact my grades tended to be very high) but because of economics - I left home at 17, couldn't finish high school because I had to work to support myself and while I tried to go to university I ended up having to drop out for similar reasons, namely that I could not make ends meet as a student with no family support living in one of the world's most expensive cities.

As such my view toward the subject will be biased, but I do perceive that traditional education has less to do with actually educating you (I've done fine without a formal education, thanks) than it does with entrenching a type of class system, ensuring that qualifications go not to those who are most academically gifted but simply to those who have the money to pay for them.

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Postby GuessTheAltAccount » Sat May 15, 2021 5:39 pm

Forsher wrote:I'm sure most of you are familiar with the idea of being self-taught or self-learning or whatever people call it. Usually what happens is someone (probably a teenager) used books/the internet/other resources and cultivating knowledge in some specific area (typically, (military) history) and is now extrapolating from that to claim one or both of (1) "this is a viable model for educating everyone at all ages" and (2) "institutional/traditional education doesn't care about learning".

Plenty of adults object to traditional education as well, actually. Or at least the present duration thereof. ("Traditionally," as in actual tradition, 14 year olds would have served as squires. Now we think they're too young to work as cashiers.)

It's not a majority; yet; but it'll be interesting to see the permanent effects of distance learning on education's reputation.


Forsher wrote:When I think about the way education works for anyone older than about 12, what I think about is a process of "teaching" and then "assessment about that teaching".

I wish school were more flexible about this. Ideally materials and announcements alike should be provided at home, and it should be none of the school's business whether or not students skip off, with the responsibility falling to individual students to figure out whether or not attending classes does them more harm or good. However, if they neglect to attend on test day, that's on them.


Forsher wrote:And then there's a lot of room between these two extremes and outside of a university context, there are probably quite a lot lessons on each module before assessment (e.g. in history at school we'd usually have about eight or more weeks per unit plus maybe two to three weeks of doing the assessment if it was internally assessed).

On a related note, assessments should be smaller and more frequent than that. The lower-stakes the assessment, the less it can be thrown off by one bad day.


Forsher wrote:Without the contact part, self-learning is just a recipe in entrenching whatever ideas an individual already has within their mind.

[Citation needed.]


Forsher wrote:The people who advocate for it or hold that it exists, usually don't think about the case of someone finding, I don't know, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion or, perhaps, some kind of Intelligent Design textbook and "learning" from that sort of material.

As if the education system were always telling the truth? They make marijuana out to be addictive. They make the rainforests out to be the lungs of the Earth. (Phytoplankton have more to do with that.) They claimed Columbus proved the Earth was round. (That was actually Eratosthenes.)

With education you're only replacing the biases of the individual with the biases of the masses, at best. At worst even those biases are filtered selectively by textbook manufacturers, lobbyists, etc...

The key is to persuade people to seek ideas that challenge their own preconceived biases. Which Internet culture naturally does the instant someone pretends to have the opposite opinions they actually have, only to realize from the irrationality of those who refuted them that these opinions have more merit than they originally thought. The only question is how to enhance that.

The alternative is to let popular opinion never have to have its own biases challenged.


Forsher wrote:Except, of course, they will and do... this is a big part of how conspiracy theories propagate: people try to teach themselves things that they have no idea about how to start learning.

Conspiracy theories propagate because the mainstream perspective failed to be more convincing in the marketplace of ideas. Being more convincing is the only legitimate option. Or did you think freedom of speech was a mistake?

Fun fact: If a few years ago you said the W.H.O. would downplay the severity of a new disease coming out of China that would kill millions around the world, it would've been dismissed as a conspiracy theory.


Forsher wrote:And the value of "assessment" isn't in the credentials that come out the end (or work towards a credential), but instead being able to see where your thinking is. Or, in a crude sense, if you have actually understood something.

Nah, assessment demonstrates both your knowledge and your skills. Preferably both.

This is why I respect math the most. Raw skill assessment less subject to popular opinion's biases than history or economics.
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Postby GuessTheAltAccount » Sat May 15, 2021 5:47 pm

Katganistan wrote:Traditional education introduces you to foundational concepts and ideas you need to learn HOW to study and learn....

The question is whether or not they can learn these things another way.


Katganistan wrote:it also gives you a taste of subjects you might not have chosen on your own

I'm not sure coercion is much of a point in its favour. Maybe for math or wood shop or home ec since they're practical, but do we really need to shove Shakespeare down students' throats?


Katganistan wrote:In terms of having the credentials, it tells an employer pretty quickly if you are going to be able to learn whatever they need to teach you for the job.

Plenty of dropouts also succeeded in the workforce. Maybe more of them would have if we didn't so heavily tax the workforce to so heavily subsidize 13 years' worth of schooling.


Katganistan wrote:In terms of self-learning, it gives you a base of knowledge and an understanding of how to do further research into what interests you. It should teach you to be a critical reader, and to assess the sources you have chosen.

If that were the goal, critical thinking would have far greater emphasis, and the storyline of To Kill A Mockingbird far less.


Katganistan wrote:(I would not blindly accept the word of a cookbook author on the best way to build a deck for your home, for instance -- unless they are known as being both a reputable builder AND a cookbook author.)

Part of the value is demonstrating "expertise," but part of it is intelligence. When someone has a reputation for being "wrong all the time," the attack isn't just on their expertise; if that were the case they'd limit it to mistakes relevant to their job; the attack is also on their intelligence.

The question is, how do you assess intelligence in a way less biased against those who disagree with you? I wouldn't want to do that. If anything, I'd RATHER have evidence of their intelligence should a cop ask if a student's smart enough to pull off a particular crime. But given how often others use intelligence cheap shots in a biased manner, I can't count on being special here. :/
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Postby Katganistan » Sat May 15, 2021 5:53 pm

GuessTheAltAccount wrote:
Katganistan wrote:Traditional education introduces you to foundational concepts and ideas you need to learn HOW to study and learn....

The question is whether or not they can learn these things another way.


Katganistan wrote:it also gives you a taste of subjects you might not have chosen on your own

I'm not sure coercion is much of a point in its favour. Maybe for math or wood shop or home ec since they're practical, but do we really need to shove Shakespeare down students' throats?


Katganistan wrote:In terms of having the credentials, it tells an employer pretty quickly if you are going to be able to learn whatever they need to teach you for the job.

Plenty of dropouts also succeeded in the workforce. Maybe more of them would have if we didn't so heavily tax the workforce to so heavily subsidize 13 years' worth of schooling.


Katganistan wrote:In terms of self-learning, it gives you a base of knowledge and an understanding of how to do further research into what interests you. It should teach you to be a critical reader, and to assess the sources you have chosen.

If that were the goal, critical thinking would have far greater emphasis, and the storyline of To Kill A Mockingbird far less.


Katganistan wrote:(I would not blindly accept the word of a cookbook author on the best way to build a deck for your home, for instance -- unless they are known as being both a reputable builder AND a cookbook author.)

Part of the value is demonstrating "expertise," but part of it is intelligence. When someone has a reputation for being "wrong all the time," the attack isn't just on their expertise; if that were the case they'd limit it to mistakes relevant to their job; the attack is also on their intelligence.

The question is, how do you assess intelligence in a way less biased against those who disagree with you? I wouldn't want to do that. If anything, I'd RATHER have evidence of their intelligence should a cop ask if a student's smart enough to pull off a particular crime. But given how often others use intelligence cheap shots in a biased manner, I can't count on being special here. :/

What a lot of strawmen you set up.... almost like it had nothing to do with anything I actually said.

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Postby GuessTheAltAccount » Sat May 15, 2021 6:08 pm

Katganistan wrote:
GuessTheAltAccount wrote:The question is whether or not they can learn these things another way.



I'm not sure coercion is much of a point in its favour. Maybe for math or wood shop or home ec since they're practical, but do we really need to shove Shakespeare down students' throats?



Plenty of dropouts also succeeded in the workforce. Maybe more of them would have if we didn't so heavily tax the workforce to so heavily subsidize 13 years' worth of schooling.



If that were the goal, critical thinking would have far greater emphasis, and the storyline of To Kill A Mockingbird far less.



Part of the value is demonstrating "expertise," but part of it is intelligence. When someone has a reputation for being "wrong all the time," the attack isn't just on their expertise; if that were the case they'd limit it to mistakes relevant to their job; the attack is also on their intelligence.

The question is, how do you assess intelligence in a way less biased against those who disagree with you? I wouldn't want to do that. If anything, I'd RATHER have evidence of their intelligence should a cop ask if a student's smart enough to pull off a particular crime. But given how often others use intelligence cheap shots in a biased manner, I can't count on being special here. :/

What a lot of strawmen you set up.... almost like it had nothing to do with anything I actually said.

Show me where I "strawmanned" you, then.
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Nilokeras
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Postby Nilokeras » Sat May 15, 2021 6:09 pm

I think the problem is less that it's impossible to successfully teach yourself things and moreso that a lot of bodies of knowledge - especially in specialist or academic areas - are designed to be accessible only to people who are already experts, whether that be in the impenetrability of the writing or literal paywalls that keep people out. If a normal person outside of a university wanted to learn about COVID, for example, it's easier by an order of magnitude when you type a query in youtube to find a conspiracy theory than it is to find a lecture series about coronaviruses and how mRNA vaccines work.

Forsher wrote:For example, in R you shouldn't use loops.


Now that's a nuclear take right there

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Postby Nakena » Sat May 15, 2021 6:53 pm

Nilokeras wrote:I think the problem is less that it's impossible to successfully teach yourself things and moreso that a lot of bodies of knowledge - especially in specialist or academic areas - are designed to be accessible only to people who are already experts, whether that be in the impenetrability of the writing


That is extraordinary pessimistic there. Because it assumes that a person has no filter to differentiate valueable info from stuff. The writing of medical research documents is far from impenetrable for example. You can research how an mRNA vaccine works and understand the basic gist of it if on a superifical level. X does Y to Z. You dont need to be an super expert or so.

Altough theres undoubtly fields that require high degree of specialization and foreknowledge to know what the fuck is even going on.

Radiatia wrote:I'm someone who doesn't have a single formal qualification to my name, not because of ability (in fact my grades tended to be very high) but because of economics - I left home at 17, couldn't finish high school because I had to work to support myself and while I tried to go to university I ended up having to drop out for similar reasons, namely that I could not make ends meet as a student with no family support living in one of the world's most expensive cities.

As such my view toward the subject will be biased, but I do perceive that traditional education has less to do with actually educating you (I've done fine without a formal education, thanks) than it does with entrenching a type of class system, ensuring that qualifications go not to those who are most academically gifted but simply to those who have the money to pay for them.


This very much ^
Last edited by Nakena on Sat May 15, 2021 7:07 pm, edited 8 times in total.

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Postby Nilokeras » Sat May 15, 2021 8:08 pm

Nakena wrote:That is extraordinary pessimistic there. Because it assumes that a person has no filter to differentiate valueable info from stuff.

My comment isn't about people's ability to filter information at all. Rather the opposite, that systems like academic publishing and algorithms on Youtube make it difficult to find or access.

Nakena wrote:The writing of medical research documents is far from impenetrable for example. You can research how an mRNA vaccine works and understand the basic gist of it if on a superifical level. X does Y to Z. You dont need to be an super expert or so.


Basic medical science is accessible, yes. As is the basics of other disciplines. But if you managed to get over the hump of getting access to academic papers as a layperson though, the content of most of them is badly written enough that actual academics have a hard time slogging through them, let alone someone trying to bring themselves up to speed. And of course they are not typically designed to actually teach anything - they're designed to convey the results of a particular investigative effort and the authors' interpretation in as short a method as possible. Which is great if you're already an academic who is keeping up with the literature, but very difficult to parse as someone who is diving into the body of knowledge without context.
Last edited by Nilokeras on Sat May 15, 2021 8:13 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby Neanderthaland » Sat May 15, 2021 8:58 pm

Much as I like to joke that it is, education is occasionally useful for other things.

I often feel as though even an introductory Chemistry class would clear up a lot of anti-vaxxer or naturopathic nonsense.
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Postby Forsher » Sat May 15, 2021 9:27 pm

Nilokeras wrote:I think the problem is less that it's impossible to successfully teach yourself things


I must've been unclear. My point is that if you're just by yourself, you can only ever learn trivia and/or memes.

For example, what good is it knowing (to take a headline I saw recently) that Russell Westbrook has more triple doubles than anyone if (a) you don't know what that means, (b) can't tell you why having a triple double is or is not useful in game and (c) can't debate the validity of the statistic as either a descriptive or analytical concept.

Oh, sure, you can just search "what is a triple double?" and then you'd probably also be able to find arguments about (b) and (c), but "real knowledge" is systematic and interlinked. As much as I think academia's need for "original" contribution drives the reproducibility crisis, the reality is that if you're continually parroting pre-existing talking points, you're just repeating ideas (memeing). And even if you walk away to reflect on it yourself, without that external input you just end up parroting back your own conclusions.

I don't really agree with Hector's argument that knowledge is specific not general in The History Boys, but being able to tell where something came from is very important. If you're just letting everything circulate at the level of memes, everything will blend together. Did I read about Rocky Marciano when I was procrastinating in the middle of that essay or did I read about him when I was looking up pound for pound fighters or because someone mentioned him in a Lennox Lewis thread? Some other time? All three of those times? I don't know. But I can tell you he went 50-0 without having to look it up (don't worry, I checked, this is a fake fact... he went 49-0, 50-0 was Floyd Mayweather).

(Apparently a triple double is "a double-digit total in three of five statistical categories (assists, blocks, points, rebounds, and steals) over the course of a single game". We might ask if aggregating these statistical categories actually tells us anything given even two triple doubles by the same player in the same season could involve only one shared double.)

Nilokeras wrote:and moreso that a lot of bodies of knowledge - especially in specialist or academic areas - are designed to be accessible only to people who are already experts, whether that be in the impenetrability of the writing


Look, there are certainly a lot of historians that are way too fond of inserting French into what they're talking about for absolutely no purpose whatsoever (I mean, the longue duree, really?) but at a certain point "little" and "common" words cease to be useful. Jargon exists because it's necessary. And it usually doesn't end up being formed out of common language because when that happens people lose their minds. For example, there was a discussion a while back here where I needed some jargon. Not knowing what the standard jargon was (if it exists) I went with "multi-life combo" and "expected lives".

When it comes to academic writing to start with... I would argue there are four, if not motivations but at least, benefits to the style.

Firstly, informal language is, generally, deeply personal. If you're trying to have an academic discussion, personalisation is... unhelpful.

Secondly, informal texts tend to assume more about the conversation and its participants. It's similar to how native English speakers are generally considered the worst communicators in English language international meetings because of idioms and slang and other shorthands that even fluent speakers of other languages don't have. (Obviously academic texts often assume prior content knowledge but they're generally not assuming the reader to be familiar with, for example, memes.)

Thirdly, sometimes things really are just that complex so rather than having just those texts be written in an academic style and forcing the reader/writer to adapt, you can train the habit by using academic English in all cases. It's more work in general but it means students and scholars from different disciplines don't have to adapt to the language as well as the subject. And it also means that artefacts of the language aren't mistaken for artefacts of the complexity. (Though there is absolutely no reason why the Linguistic Turn needs to be as dense and brain meltingly up itself as it is, but I digress.)

And, fourthly, having a distinct style encourages people to think about the process differently. For example, you'll get people who reject the validity of the burden of proof (or, rather, the necessity of supporting statements) because "this is the internet", so associating desirable rhetorical and epistemological practices with a distinct form of language is useful.

Obviously in practice it doesn't necessarily (perhaps, not even usually) play out like that... academic English leaves a lot of room for affectations and you'll get people that don't realise "gross" as in "gross error" is appropriate.

Forsher wrote:For example, in R you shouldn't use loops.


Now that's a nuclear take right there[/quote]

No, you really shouldn't use loops. Trust me... the people who taught me R know the guys that "invented" it (technically R's a derivative of S plus... or S, I don't know the exact relationship; I don't think I've met Ross though). Of course, "shouldn't use" is probably more an example of "if you don't need a loop, you shouldn't use a loop... even if it works".

I would certainly call it less of a nuclear take than "self learning only achieves a trivial knowledge base" anyway.
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Postby Nilokeras » Sat May 15, 2021 10:01 pm

Forsher wrote:I must've been unclear. My point is that if you're just by yourself, you can only ever learn trivia and/or memes.


Which is a function of the way we structure our knowledge. I can get a cursory knowledge of the history of Greece by reading the 'History of Greece' article on Wikipedia. If I spend a few hours bouncing around between related articles I can probably come out with a pretty good narrative history in my head, gleaned from a few different sources like archaeology and primary/secondary material. But if I want to go beyond that and start clicking on citation links in Wikipedia that take me to academic papers I hit walls - literal paywalls. And knowledge gets more fragmented since there's no one Wikipedia article on, say, the reception of Thucydides in Hellenistic Greece that I can read. Except for university textbooks perhaps, and I might not have $280 to fork over for an 'Intro to Ancient Greece' textbook, let alone more advanced ones. As a outsider, it's really hard to know what actual historians of ancient Greece are discussing today - what the cutting edge actually is, and the background of theory required to synthesize it.

Forsher wrote:Look, there are certainly a lot of historians that are way too fond of inserting French into what they're talking about for absolutely no purpose whatsoever (I mean, the longue duree, really?) but at a certain point "little" and "common" words cease to be useful. Jargon exists because it's necessary. And it usually doesn't end up being formed out of common language because when that happens people lose their minds.


Jargon is the least important part of the equation. We can solve it through hyperlinks and tooltips if we were so inclined. The problem is that we're all just bad writers. Long sentences, choppy structures and razor thin publication limits on wordcounts all contribute. Same with extensive anecdotes about basketball players and references to game rules that the audience might not understand. And this is compounded by the fragmentary nature of the published literature, which is composed of an ocean of papers that only occasionally reference one another and that require guidance in order to be able to synthesize.

Forsher wrote:No, you really shouldn't use loops. Trust me... the people who taught me R know the guys that "invented" it (technically R's a derivative of S plus... or S, I don't know the exact relationship; I don't think I've met Ross though). Of course, "shouldn't use" is probably more an example of "if you don't need a loop, you shouldn't use a loop... even if it works
."


If you don't have a good reason for why you shouldn't use for loops beyond 'my bud Hadley told me so' then perhaps you don't really know as much as you think you do
Last edited by Nilokeras on Sat May 15, 2021 10:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Forsher » Sun May 16, 2021 12:18 am

Nilokeras wrote:
Forsher wrote:No, you really shouldn't use loops. Trust me... the people who taught me R know the guys that "invented" it (technically R's a derivative of S plus... or S, I don't know the exact relationship; I don't think I've met Ross though). Of course, "shouldn't use" is probably more an example of "if you don't need a loop, you shouldn't use a loop... even if it works
."


If you don't have a good reason for why you shouldn't use for loops beyond 'my bud Hadley told me so' then perhaps you don't really know as much as you think you do


These are reasons why you can use loops. I already explained why you shouldn't use them originally.

Forsher wrote:(And, yes, this applies with coding, too. For example, in R you shouldn't use loops. However, loops are easy, they do what you want them to do and the alternatives, even if you've been taught them, are harder to remember even if, in the end, they're shorter, usually, and more efficient. But, yes, in general, I think the fact you can see whether you've coded something right from whether the code works means there's an inherent "contact". (I would also argue that loops are easier to follow than apply etc for the uninitiated reader.))


In many languages, loops are very efficient. This is not the case in R. If you really care, read this.

It is very, very easy to create a loop in R that is slow. Consider:

Code: Select all
for(i in 1:iter){
  set.seed(seeds[i])
  #for reproducibility
  store = sample(fbi.hate.19$v.asian, length(fbi.hate.19$anti), replace = TRUE)
  #a bootstrap sample samples with replacement
  mill = aggregate(store, list(fbi.hate.19$offender), mean)
  #the mean captures the proportion of racialised hate crimes committed by the offender typology against Asians within the bootstrap sample; aggregate ensures these means are conditioned properly
  randos[i, ] = mill$x
  #storing the means within the data frame
}


Now I don't know if there's a better way of generating bootstrap samples in R than by using (an explicit) loop but this is slow on my computer and it's only 10,000 iterations. If we convert that into a function, then we can do:

Code: Select all
> forsher.bootstrap(10000, 8, s.prop$Group.1, fbi.hate.19$v.asian, fbi.hate.19$offender, mean, 53687129, .05, s.prop$x)
         l_2.5. u_97.5. sample
asian     0.000   0.128  0.179
black     0.030   0.058  0.040
group     0.012   0.077  0.107
natam     0.000   0.092  0.031
pasifika  0.000   0.133  0.067
unknown   0.021   0.070  0.012
unsub     0.032   0.055  0.041
white     0.035   0.051  0.041
> system.time(forsher.bootstrap(10000, 8, s.prop$Group.1, fbi.hate.19$v.asian, fbi.hate.19$offender, mean, 53687129, .05, s.prop$x))
   user  system elapsed
  21.14    0.12   21.27


Though it occurs to me, now, that I cheated... "l_2.5" and "u_97.5" are hardcoded. I'm not going to fix it since I'm not sure I understand what I'm going to be fiddling with now...

Okay, I think I follow what it's doing but I don't know how to adjust that to reflect what I was doing above so I've cut that function back to just produce the same thing the VectorizedBootstrap does. And thus we get:

Code: Select all
> system.time(results <- VectorizedBootstrap(N = length(fbi.hate.19$v.asian), B = 100000, theta = SampleBootMean, fbi.hate.19$v.asian))
   user  system elapsed
  38.20    1.19   39.39
> set.seed(123)
> system.time(results2 <- forsher.bootstrap2(100000, fbi.hate.19$v.asian, mean))
   user  system elapsed
  39.97   10.17   50.14
> set.seed(123)
> system.time(results3 <- bootstrap(seq(N), 100000, ThetaMean, fbi.hate.19$v.asian)$thetastar)
   user  system elapsed
  37.86    1.35   39.27


That's... uh... not what should be happening. Presumably the theoretical maths is essential whereas I just ignored it. Thus, let's copy the example verbatim...

Code: Select all
> system.time( b1 <- LoopMeanBootstrap(B, x1) )
   user  system elapsed
   0.83    0.05    0.88
> system.time( b2 <- VectorizedBootstrap(N, B, SampleBootMean, x1) )
   user  system elapsed
   0.06    0.00    0.06
> system.time( b3 <- boot(x1, ThetaMean2, B, stype = "i")$t[, 1] )
   user  system elapsed
   0.73    0.02    0.75
> system.time( b4 <- bootstrap(seq(N), B, ThetaMean, x1)$thetastar )
   user  system elapsed
   0.57    0.08    0.65
> system.time( b5 <- forsher.bootstrap2(B, x1, mean))
   user  system elapsed
   9.36    0.22    9.58


Ah, that's what should be going on. And, as we can see, my version of the loop is much slower than theirs. For comparison:

Code: Select all
LoopMeanBootstrap <- function(B, x) {
N <- length(x)
out <- rep(NA, B)
for (i in seq(B)) {
idx <- sample(N, replace = TRUE)
out[i] <- mean(x[idx])
}
out
}

forsher.bootstrap2 = function(iterations, data, statistic.function){
 
  iter = iterations
#number of iterations for the bootstrap

randos = as.data.frame(matrix(nrow = iter, ncol = 1))
#creating a data frame to store the results of the bootstrap

for(i in 1:iter){
  store = sample(data, length(data), replace = TRUE)
  #a bootstrap sample samples with replacement
  randos[i, ]  = statistic.function(store)
  #the mean captures the proportion of racialised hate crimes committed by the offender typology against Asians within the bootstrap sample; aggregate ensures these means are conditioned properly
  #storing the means within the data frame
}
 
randos
 
}



So, even if I haven't managed to convince you that loops are to be avoided in R, the original point is demonstrated quite ably by the inefficiency of my version (i.e. that "it works" isn't enough even if it is in general).
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Stop making shit up, though. Links, or it's a God-damn lie and you know it.

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Postby Nilokeras » Sun May 16, 2021 12:27 am

I would encourage you to consider the possibility that my snark was aimed at your choice of trying to browbeat me into submission by invoking one of your tutors as your source of capital a Authority at uni rather than taking the 10 seconds it might have taken to write out 'R is not very well optimized for executing loops, it's probably fine but maybe consider other ways if you can'

And to yank your leash back on to the topic you created, dragging out potted R scripts in a forum where you and I are probably the only people that actually understand them is a pretty good example of the sort of elitism and sloth that is actually at the root of our crisis of knowledge
Last edited by Nilokeras on Sun May 16, 2021 12:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Cetacea » Sun May 16, 2021 12:32 am

Increasingly automation and the ready access to Information that is a feature of contemporary living means that Traditional Education is just one strand of many different paths to learning success. It is the soft skills that are increasingly more important and that includes the Traditonal skills of Research, Critical Information Processing and Reporting that comes from Traditional formal learning.

The Credentials earned however are generally meaningless once you have them, and quickly obsolete. But gaining a degree does evidence that the person has the endurance to earn a degree and knows how to do research, use IT and present a report - ie all the critical end points. Everything else can be learned on the job or online

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Postby Page » Sun May 16, 2021 12:55 am

I've legit self-taught many things. I completely bombed in typing class back in elementary school and gave up on it, and resigned myself to spending the rest of my life as a hunt and pecker, but in my tweens I started posting on internet communities and a few years later there was a day I realized that I was typing 100 words per minute with all my fingers and without looking at the keyboard. And no, I still don't "elevate my wrists" and I don't know anyone who does.

I'm also a self-taught writer, I have never taken any kind of class for writing fiction but 15 years of practice has gotten me to the point where I'm a very competent novelist.

But some things are most conducive to self-teaching than others and I do think traditional education has value, especially in childhood.

I think an ideal model for compulsory schooling is for elementary and middle school to provide a foundation of literacy, to spend a great deal of time on reading comprehension because that is really the gateway to all advanced education, and to instill the basics of math and science.

High school, or whatever one calls the school years between ages 14 and 18, should be a time for exploration, that the majority of students' classes should be electives and that far more electives should be made available in public schools. And while I'm all for the inclusion of career-oriented lessons, I fundamentally reject the notion that the primary purpose of education is to prepare a student to join the workforce. It's a big part of it, but the emphasis should be on self-discovery and helping future generations be better people and build a better society.
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Postby Forsher » Sun May 16, 2021 1:25 am

Nilokeras wrote:I would encourage you to consider the possibility that my snark was aimed at your choice of trying to browbeat me into submission by invoking one of your tutors as your source of capital a Authority at uni rather than taking the 10 seconds it might have taken to write out 'R is not very well optimized for executing loops, it's probably fine but maybe consider other ways if you can'

And to yank your leash back on to the topic you created, dragging out potted R scripts in a forum where you and I are probably the only people that actually understand them is a pretty good example of the sort of elitism and sloth that is actually at the root of our crisis of knowledge


I invite you to consider that the only reason you felt a need for further explanation was that you treated two posts in complete isolation. First I explained why they shouldn't be used (they're inefficient). You called this a "nuclear take". Thus I qualify the original statement by saying that there are situations where I think (explicit) loops are necessary. You then suggest that I haven't explained any reason why they're bad in R. Thus I requote my original explanation.

Your problem with my comment was unclear in the first instance and then ignorant of what I'd already written in the second, though clear about your new issue. But this then begs the question of whether or not you noticed what I'd originally said or if you were rejecting it. And I still don't know the answer to that. And then on top of all that, I also don't know if you're rejecting my point (or if the point was unclear to start with) that even though coding is fairly responsive, simply being able to generate code that works/does what it's supposed to, isn't really enough: "it works" is still incredibly shallow.

Nilokeras wrote:the sort of elitism and sloth that is actually at the root of our crisis of knowledge


I'm not a 100% sure what you mean by crisis of knowledge. I think I know and I'm going to roll with that but I don't know.

I blame free speech... people get it into their head that all speech is equal and they suddenly think that, for example:

"Obama was born in Kenya."
"No, he wasn't."
"Prove it."

is a sound conversation. It's legal but very, very unsound.

Similarly, the internet is basically recursive GIGO... people have conversations like the above, they build bad habits and they then pass those bad habits on to new users, who then have more unsound conversations and build worse habits and then pass those bad habits on to new users...

I don't know if it was actually better before everyone (theoretically) had a platform... somehow I doubt talkback radio hosts have got better or worse... but the discourse was captured by people with editors and who had to worry about defamation suits. Those are two conditions that encourage "prove the idea is possible" and discourage "prove it isn't".

I don't necessarily think there's a problem if people don't know how, for example, Covid kills or its vaccines work. I do think there's a problem when people can't tell that not all participants in a conversation are equal... when they imagine that they can, with a few hours (or even days), research themselves to a point where they're "experts".

And maybe that's the result of the ivory tower and lack of access and so on, but I suspect it's mostly to do with the people themselves.

Page wrote:I've legit self-taught many things. I completely bombed in typing class back in elementary school and gave up on it, and resigned myself to spending the rest of my life as a hunt and pecker, but in my tweens I started posting on internet communities and a few years later there was a day I realized that I was typing 100 words per minute with all my fingers and without looking at the keyboard. And no, I still don't "elevate my wrists" and I don't know anyone who does.


Skills are very different things to knowledge... at least, how I defined it in the OP. How could one have trivial typing skills, for example? I don't know.

Maybe the distinction is unclear in the OP. That's my bad.
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Stop making shit up, though. Links, or it's a God-damn lie and you know it.

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Postby North Washington Republic » Sun May 16, 2021 1:31 am

I have learned the hard way that informal education only gets one so far. Like it or not, people and institutions like pieces of paper proving your education level.
Last edited by North Washington Republic on Sun May 16, 2021 1:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Saiwania » Sun May 16, 2021 1:44 am

North Washington Republic wrote:I have learned the hard way that informal education only gets one so far. Like it or not, people and institutions like piece of paper proving your education level.


And I learned the hard way that too much formal education doesn't help you any if its the wrong major for your location or if you poorly execute on it.

If formal education is too expensive/inaccessible to many people, there is no point in pursuing any more of it if it hasn't worked unless they really want to risk it again. They're better off making investments in real estate and stocks, or learning something practical than to stick with something that'll take too long to pay off or won't even be certain.

There is a clear need for solar enery in the future for example, and for that sector to advance, but there are no solar jobs to be had now unless you live in a location where its viable as a business. I don't see a lot of regular people spending a whole lot on a rooftop grid that'll only pay for itself in a decade or more. Most people still on natural gas or some form of fossil fuel for one reason or another.

Meanwhile, you can get employed immediately anywhere, if you're an Electrician or Carpenter, even if the pay isn't the highest out there.
Last edited by Saiwania on Sun May 16, 2021 1:50 am, edited 2 times in total.

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