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Simon DeDeo @SimonDeDeo
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After four years of University lecturing and ten years of research mentoring, I present: what's Lindy in education and teaching? via @PaulSkallas at the @LindyEffect and @nntaleb.
Absolutely top Lindy: the chalkboard. Every time I've rolled up the projector screen and written on the board, students learn. It slows you down (of course), presents the mechanics of the task (forming letters, drawing symbols), sound of chalk (tap, tap) wakes you up—
—demonstrates purposeful effort (you are clearly exerting yourself), differential speed (the harder bits naturally slow you down as well), you can muse and chatter while the symbols go up (like a mechanic talking through a car repair).
The white board is an imperfect substitute! Misses many of these things (no sounds; smears are ugly; multiple colors confuse; looks too pretty/easy). But still retains some of the virtues.
This extends to the research mentorship: there you can get your younger colleague to write for themselves. It slows them down, gives them perspective on the problem, errors are easily erasable, vanishing, they can see themselves go down a well while they bang things out.
Also Lindy: the in-class demonstration/experiment. Goes back at least as far as Faraday's public lectures. I do wisdom of the crowds and the herding effect. The effect is stunning. Bonus: you can only do replicatable experiments, and so the students don't learn B.S.
(The one time I tried one of the social psych / priming experiments, it failed miserably—the bonus there is that the students learned something very important, particularly by contrast.)
Also a clear skin in the game phenomenon: what happens is out of your control—you can't finesse it, and your reputation is on the line. You also demonstrate it: if you really believe something, do it live, in front of others, don't just talk about it.
(Plus, extra bonus: sometimes you discover something new! Including, e.g., the relationship between electricity and magnetism...)
Also Lindy: showing videos of real-world events. Goes back to the slide projector, circulation of woodcuts, etc. Edward Tufte (the Lindy of data visualization) agrees with me on this, for him it's the only acceptable use of powerpoint.
I've show video of Tank Man, live audio from the 2010 Flash Crash and the NYPD sting of Harvey Weinstein bullying an actress, the Challenger Shuttle disaster, amateur video taken from a HumVee in Afghanistan, Hilary Hahn sending synchronizing signals during a Vivaldi concerto...
Mmore in your control than the in-class demonstration, but there's a rich visual/audio field for students to notice things in. Every year students see things in the video that I've never noticed. It's wonderful training in looking at the world, observation, seeing the unexpected.
Obviously not Lindy: showing a video of someone explaining something. That's like putting an image of Aristotle with a powerpoint slide in his speech bubble. Also not Lindy: showing part of a film/artistic production (unless you are talking about performance itself).
Art ≠ science. Presenting fiction as if it were reality is dangerous. And, worst of all, it is going to be way more interesting than whatever you're saying. I saw a job talk once where the guy played a bit of Dr Strangelove. We were all like, hey, forget your talk play the rest.
Lindy: dialectic. BUT: only one-on-one (see research students and chalkboard) and in seminar. Asking students to go back and forth with you in front of an audience is a waste of time. Nervewracking for them, useless for the others because they can't get a sense of the reasoning.
Lindy: short syllabus. We're now down to two pages—santafe.edu/~simon/bubbles… Learning is not a contract, it's a journey. An entire class on General Relativity was one side of an A4 sheet.
Awesomely Lindy: mentorship, Odyssey-style. Meaning, the mentor (Mentor) shows up, and provides magical help. It helps if you are actually Athena here. Mentorship is not coaching! Lindy mentorship is when the person is a total disaster and really needs some undeserved magic.
Not Lindy: the flipped classroom. (Sorry!) But, very Lindy: the split prof/TA structure—one lectures, the other coaches. Derives from the most Lindy of all: the Oxbridge college system (colleges originally the TAs, the University the lectures).
Less known: the European universities had this too, but centralized government shut the whole thing down, and now European universities struggle to keep up with complete newbie Universities that imported the prof/TA system.
Final Lindy, because I have to go prep lecture: students working together outside of class to do problem sets, hang out in cafes and argue, etc. The cafe needs to be independent of the University (somewhat like the old college system), and to have some non-students.
Sadly, this is completely out of my control, although I do give out cafe gift certificates to research students on holidays. (Worst gift ever?)
One more thing, since @LGcommaI brings it up. Blackboards are gorgeous and retain just enough of the past to remind you that things are serious. Here's the one I used for four years at @sfiscience, after I washed it at the beginning of the Summer.
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