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  1. #11
    Senior Member substitute's Avatar
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    I agree Laser that having a teacher is useful. However, it's not the teacher that I find counterproductive to my learning method, but the classroom/institutional environment.

    The best teacher/me relationship has, in the past, been one where I've simply picked the brains of someone I know who is well versed in the subject, in an informal conversation, after having done my own reading in my own way and time. That way I get to bounce it off an 'expert' and get their feedback, which I then take back with me and refine; it also helps inform my next choice of reading matter, and the way that I interpret what I read.

    I've always found classrooms just infuriating because a) they progress so slowly and b) the rigid structure of what to read and when, and the arbitrariness of most of the essay questions that don't seem to be really testing "do you understand this topic", but rather "have you read the textbook?"

    The latter might not be the case in all institutions, but it certainly has been in the British undergrad courses I've taken in the past. I've been penalized for using material from outside of the course, rather than commended for my extracurricular research. I've found it difficult to write the essays because the real task I'm presented with isn't to talk about a certain subject, but to try to demonstrate that I've read a book, by saying everything the book says without directly quoting it or too obviously paraphrasing it. And I fail to see what useful skill I'm learning there - if not simply "how to pass this course".
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  2. #12
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by substitute View Post
    I agree Laser that having a teacher is useful. However, it's not the teacher that I find counterproductive to my learning method, but the classroom/institutional environment.

    The best teacher/me relationship has, in the past, been one where I've simply picked the brains of someone I know who is well versed in the subject, in an informal conversation, after having done my own reading in my own way and time. That way I get to bounce it off an 'expert' and get their feedback, which I then take back with me and refine; it also helps inform my next choice of reading matter, and the way that I interpret what I read.

    I've always found classrooms just infuriating because a) they progress so slowly and b) the rigid structure of what to read and when, and the arbitrariness of most of the essay questions that don't seem to be really testing "do you understand this topic", but rather "have you read the textbook?"

    The latter might not be the case in all institutions, but it certainly has been in the British undergrad courses I've taken in the past. I've been penalized for using material from outside of the course, rather than commended for my extracurricular research. I've found it difficult to write the essays because the real task I'm presented with isn't to talk about a certain subject, but to try to demonstrate that I've read a book, by saying everything the book says without directly quoting it or too obviously paraphrasing it. And I fail to see what useful skill I'm learning there - if not simply "how to pass this course".
    I agree with every word of this post. Teachers are great, but the institution sucks.

    I taught math at a university for several years, and I found the environment to be restritive for both the students and the teachers. One might think that in a "cut and dry" subject like math there would be no problem with a formulaic curriculum, but I would disagree. I would like students to learn problem solving and critical thinking abilities. What they actually learn is more like rote memorization. I have a friend that likes to say "Education only happens in the classroom by accident", and I can agree with quite a bit of that sentiment. The institution is set up to inhibit education rather than facilitate it.

    I am not a teacher any more, because I did not find the profession rewarding (for a variety of reasons). But I'll gladly teach anyone who comes to me simply wanting to learn without regard to anything like grades or external achievement. In my opinion that is education in its purest form.

    Aside: This reminds me of a conversation I had with my wife about mathematics. We rarely discuss mathematics, but one night I answered all her questions about esoteric topics like degrees of infinity, the forth dimension, etc.... At the end she said, "I could understand everything you told me except for the one part where you said ' y = x + 2 '".
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  3. #13
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    Based on what I read in the ENTP.org forums I think that I am unusual being an ENTP that thinks a formal education is actually useful. Personally I think learning from a (college) teacher is more efficient than learning the material on my own. This assumes I want a general broad understanding of the subject and am not simply looking for specific information to learn.

    Having said that I do admit that most classes a) are irrelevant when it comes to teaching practical skills and b) teach rote memorization without really teaching a person how to think for themselves. Most modern college degrees do not exist to teach useful job skills. Rather they exist to signal employers what kind of employee they might hire. The ability to attain a college degree (and also have a good GPA) shows that a person is fairly intelligent and hard working, and these are desirable characteristics for most white collar jobs.
    +1

    If a professor is smart and interested in the subject he is teaching, it's far more efficient to learn from him rather than figure out everything on our own simply because he will format the information in such a way to direct us to the most relevant parts.
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  4. #14

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    as a few people sort of mentioned, i think the subjects studied have a lot to do with how useful the school experience will be.

    as an environmental design major, i feel i am getting a lot out of my experience. its a very flexible education, as my design school's philosophy and goals are very future oriented, and encourage the fusion of different kinds of knowledge. i get introduced to broad abstract concepts, and there is a lot of encouragement to see the impact of design from many different perspectives.

    the "practical skills," while they are covered and are indeed important, are not what the focus is on. it is my impression that most of the necessary practical job skills can be picked up fairly easily with experience. i think the ability to think outisde the box, and come up with unique/innovative ideas can be developed on one's own, but it really is useful to have an informal setting to develop ideas along with the input of others and a general background in useful concepts so that your ideas remain practical. some people may not have any problem with keeping their ideas practical, but i have a tendency to be a liittle too fantastical with my ideas, and being grounded is occasionally necessary.

    my design classes are the ideal domain for people with N preference, but i notice many kids in my classes rejecting what they perceive as unconventional or impractical kinds of assignments, which are usually the things i love and just run with. i assume most of these people to be S types (they become much fewer in higher level design courses), and accustomed to the memorization and limited-perspective analysis of the science/literature/math classes ive taken and hated.

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