An Intro for a textbook series

I am proposing to write a series of textbooks encompassing -- well, eventually, all human knowledge (not the least bit ambitious). But for now, merely science and the useful arts.

The following is an introduction. What I need is a brutal analysis or even a rebuttal. I need to know if my perceptions of the problem resonate with others, or if I am perhaps an island.

Please do not be nice. Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of literature.
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  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    edited June 10
    Introduction
    For Parents and Educators

    There is a special flavor of hell that we often unintentionally inflict upon our offspring. It consists of sending them to a school where they will learn nothing. Instead, they will sit quietly in a reading circle where their peers by age will slowly and methodically grind through tepid and pointless “reading books” which they, themselves, can sight-read aloud with inflection and feeling.

    We give them maths assignments which consist of working similar problems repeatedly, day after day, on the logic that if lifting weights repeatedly strengthens muscles, then grinding out maths problems will strengthen the brain. And when they complain that the work is boring, we sternly proclaim that they must buckle down and work harder. This is how we learned, therefore it is how they must learn.

    This may be an effective method for those 68% of students in the first standard deviation, though I am inclined to doubt that. It is certainly a questionable method for the 27% whose intellectual abilities range one deviation above or below the first deviation. And it is sheer madness for those in the third, fourth, and heavens help us, fifth deviations.

    I cannot comment, from lack of experience, on the third, fourth, and fifth deviations below the mean. I can tell you, however, that our public system bores the socks off of students in the third deviation and above. I know this empirically, and in retrospect, I believe that I wasted the twelve most educationally profitable years of my life in those accursed reading circles.

    Not to boast, but merely as an explanation of perspective: Depending on who you ask, the phase of the moon, and how Intelligence is being defined this week, I am at the top of the third deviation, or well into the fourth deviation. Once in a while I’m rumored to be near the fifth. It seems to be a fluid concept among those who study such things, but I was once told that I was one in one-hundred thousand, which would definitely be the fifth, I believe. I’ve also been given a number of 142, and another number of 146. The border of the fourth deviation is sometimes 140, and sometimes 145. Anyway, you get the picture. I’m smart.

    So one might believe, from that fact alone, that I raced through school with solid A’s in every class and awards hung round my neck like yokes on a donkey. But, alas, my academic performance was lackluster. I left my high school with awards in four subjects and a 3.57 GPA primarily because a few teachers had managed to keep me awake with threats of detention.

    My primary lesson in 12 years of public education was that school is boring. Reading (as an academic study) is boring; Math is boring; Writing is boring; the Useful Arts are boring. And so it was that I spent 12 years waiting for my peers by age to catch up so that I could move on to something interesting. And I was not the only one. I know a man from my old neighborhood, a childhood peer, whose IQ surpassed mine by at least a dozen points – my estimation – and who skipped college because it would have bored him to death.

    Where did it all go wrong? What could have been done differently?

    I have a theory on that. It is based upon those few times when I found that I felt truly engaged in my education. Those few precious times were the times when I was permitted to take charge of my own studies, without the restriction of having to drag my peers along.

    Age-grading is probably the single biggest issue in modern public education, in my humble opinion. Again, for 68% of students it probably works well enough, because it is aimed at them. And there are programs for the 13.5% immediately above and immediately below that core. I was in those programs: First ALERT, then Mentally Gifted Minors (now called GATE or Gifted And Talented Education). And I was still bored out of my mind.

    One of the MGM teachers for my year had the quotable quote, “Boredom comes from within,” and she would apply this platitude when the subject of boredom arose. But that does not address the problem. Boredom does come from within, and so does every other emotion. That does not mean that those emotions are not real, nor that they do not have a valid and treatable cause.

    If we were to instead grade children by their abilities – or better still, not grade them at all – we would find that students would be better able to engage at the level where they find a challenge. The concept of Fourth Grade Science needs to be done away with; the concept of Science for the Young should replace it.

    Reading circles, if they have not already done so, must be dropped; let us replace these with engaging and interesting story books on the level of the reader. Had my sole exposure to fiction in my elementary years consisted of reading circles, I would probably now be illiterate. Thank Heaven that I was raised in libraries, and had not one, but two, library cards of my own before I could read.

    Reading is a key skill, but we need to teach it by first emphasizing that it is interesting and fun. The student who discovers that fascinating stories live in books will consume those books greedily. Indeed, all we know, and all we think, and all we want to know – these all live in ink on paper, in libraries.

    It has been said of the Spartans that a visitor, invited into the mess halls of the soldiers, tasted their food and said, “No wonder you are so willing to die.” I can say to my peers, having tasted the tepid reading textbooks of their youth, “No wonder you are so reluctant to read, to learn, to think.”

    It is far too late to make this long story short. Let me end thus: In this series of books, it is my intent to produce broad textbooks. These are to be aimed not at the fourth grader in the first standard deviation, but at that student, the 13.5% on either side, and the 2% above that range, and perhaps the ever-shrinking percentages above that.

    In the first section of each lesson, you will find review material on the lesson. For some students, this review will be the pons asinorum, and they can, with no shame, move on to the next lesson on the morrow. The average student will then address the green section, where the core of the lesson will be housed. This section is for the 68% who will absorb it with a standard degree of effort. There is then the blue section, for the 13.5% above that level, and here more information and more difficult problems await. Finally, some lessons will include a red section, giving a signpost for the most advanced students, to direct them deeper into the topic.

    It is the duty of the teacher, or the parent, to find where their student can best engage. Do not push a slower student forward; the critical point is never to break their spirit. At the same time, do not hold the eager student to the shallows: Let those who can brave the depths do so at will.


  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    It all sounds very impressive, but if I were a parent, I would like to see mentioned somewhere what your specific qualifications are other than that you "raced through school with solid A’s in every class and awards hung round my neck like yokes on a donkey" and that you "left my high school with awards in four subjects and a 3.57 GPA primarily because a few teachers had managed to keep me awake with threats of detention." After all, you also say that your "academic performance was lackluster."
  • Joe_Bondi_BeachJoe_Bondi_Beach San Francisco Bay Area Creator
    This is an extraordinarily ambitious project. If I understood your presentation you are going to create a text that engages not only the big lump of kids in the middle—or wherever the lump falls above, below, or at the middle)—but those immediately above and below the lump, as well as the super advanced kids at the top. (When I hear the words "standard deviation, especially when accompanied by percentages, I run as fast as I can in the other direction.)

    Is that right? If yes, if I were the parent of one of your targeted kids I'd be interested in how you're going to accomplish that feat. But if I were flipping through this text before purchase I'd pass on it. For the non-academic, it's too long and unnecessarily number-ish.

    Is this a fair summary of your proposal? 
    — Kids don't learn if they're bored;
    — Schools gear their teaching to the biggest lump, probably found in the middle*;
    — As a result those at the bottom get lost and tune out, and those at the top get bored and tune out;
    — This work is going to engage all of the kids by offering material a kid at any level can engage with and profit from.

    I think the introduction as written belabors these points, which are well-known in the teaching world. Perhaps if the intro were shorter and focused on *how* the text will solve or reduce the issues it identifies rather than setting out problems the prospective reader likely knows well.

    Even if it is the introduction to a professional academic textbook, it needs to sell itself to non-academics and would be more effective if made more engaging. By "engaging" I mean clearer, not dumbed-down.

    Instead of presenting your own academic or IQ credentials as qualifications I think a tight summary of your own experience in teaching, whether in a formal setting or not, would be more effective. In other words, make your claim to having something original and effective to say on the subject based on your own life experience, not your GPA.

    It's an enormous undertaking. Diderot, watch out!

    *In a select school the lump might be found at the top when compared to the lump in a non-select school.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    I am proposing to write a series of textbooks encompassing -- well, eventually, all human knowledge (not the least bit ambitious). But for now, merely science and the useful arts.

    But it's all already online.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    I am somewhat perplexed. Just what kind of school did you go to Scoob? But you tend to forget that teachers cannot concentrate too much on just one kid when they have up to 32 others in the room. But basically what you seem to intend has been the methods in education at all levels for decades. To think you can better it with your own textbooks is a bit arrogant in my view, because 1000s of such textbooks already exist, written by experts. There's also the anomaly of humans that don't wish to learn, and see it as pointless. And I won't even mention those with Special Needs. Not only that, few people read anything.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    It all sounds very impressive, but if I were a parent, I would like to see mentioned somewhere what your specific qualifications are other than that you "raced through school with solid A’s in every class and awards hung round my neck like yokes on a donkey" and that you "left my high school with awards in four subjects and a 3.57 GPA primarily because a few teachers had managed to keep me awake with threats of detention." After all, you also say that your "academic performance was lackluster."
    Points taken. Also, the assumption would be that I "raced ... like ... a donkey" but that assumption is incorrect, as further stated...

    The idea being that to be smart is a handicap to education in public schools.
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    This is an extraordinarily ambitious project. If I understood your presentation you are going to create a text that engages not only the big lump of kids in the middle—or wherever the lump falls above, below, or at the middle)—but those immediately above and below the lump, as well as the super advanced kids at the top. (When I hear the words "standard deviation, especially when accompanied by percentages, I run as fast as I can in the other direction.)

    Is that right? If yes, if I were the parent of one of your targeted kids I'd be interested in how you're going to accomplish that feat. But if I were flipping through this text before purchase I'd pass on it. For the non-academic, it's too long and unnecessarily number-ish.

    Is this a fair summary of your proposal? 
    — Kids don't learn if they're bored;
    — Schools gear their teaching to the biggest lump, probably found in the middle*;
    — As a result those at the bottom get lost and tune out, and those at the top get bored and tune out;
    — This work is going to engage all of the kids by offering material a kid at any level can engage with and profit from.

    I think the introduction as written belabors these points, which are well-known in the teaching world. Perhaps if the intro were shorter and focused on *how* the text will solve or reduce the issues it identifies rather than setting out problems the prospective reader likely knows well.

    Even if it is the introduction to a professional academic textbook, it needs to sell itself to non-academics and would be more effective if made more engaging. By "engaging" I mean clearer, not dumbed-down.

    Instead of presenting your own academic or IQ credentials as qualifications I think a tight summary of your own experience in teaching, whether in a formal setting or not, would be more effective. In other words, make your claim to having something original and effective to say on the subject based on your own life experience, not your GPA.

    It's an enormous undertaking. Diderot, watch out!

    *In a select school the lump might be found at the top when compared to the lump in a non-select school.
    Those are my points, precisely. Yes, in retrospect, it does belabor the point. The writing should be more balanced and less blunt.

    The works themselves are to primarily aim at the home-schooled and privately schooled (i.e. Parochial); but if public schools were concerned with reaching beyond the bubble, they might find these useful.

    Thanks.
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher

    I am proposing to write a series of textbooks encompassing -- well, eventually, all human knowledge (not the least bit ambitious). But for now, merely science and the useful arts.

    But it's all already online.

    Not in the manner that I propose to do it.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    I am somewhat perplexed. Just what kind of school did you go to Scoob? But you tend to forget that teachers cannot concentrate too much on just one kid when they have up to 32 others in the room. But basically what you seem to intend has been the methods in education at all levels for decades. To think you can better it with your own textbooks is a bit arrogant in my view, because 1000s of such textbooks already exist, written by experts. There's also the anomaly of humans that don't wish to learn, and see it as pointless. And I won't even mention those with Special Needs. Not only that, few people read anything.
    I was educated in public schools, which means exactly the opposite in the US of what it does in the UK. I also attended a number of military schools, on topics such as pipe insulation, gauge calibration, firefighting, and nuclear physics; a few credits of this and that in various colleges; lots of auto-didactic readings (primarily physics, philosophy, and English literature, with a healthy dose of American literature); and a couple of odd specialty schools. To call my education eclectic would be an understatement.

    Teachers using my system do not need to concentrate upon a single student. In the first few weeks of a school year, they should be able to fairly readily categorize students into green, blue, and red groups for a particular subject. Then they need only make assignments by group -- the front row will complete red section exercises 1 and 2,
    the second row will complete blue section exercises 3, 5, and 9,
    the back row will read the review and complete exercise A.
    All other rows will complete the green section and exercises 4, 6, and 7.

    Now the beauty of this system is that if a student were sandbagging in the early months, or perhaps did not at first speak the primary teaching language, the teacher can easily adapt by simply changing his group, OR the student himself can simply read any additional materials that he or she finds of interest. If the teacher is lazy and assigns all students to the green level, a blue student will find himself reading blue material, because it will be interesting to him. He may even peek ahead at red material from time to time, stretching himself or herself. A review-only student who finds himself assigned green material will either give up, thus naturally achieving the same effect as being assigned review-only, or will perhaps stretch himself/herself to be able to do green work.

    It is a system that does its own work.

    As for those who refuse to read; such a student would do poorly in any system, so at the very least, my system will do no harm.

    Arrogant? Probably. But that's not the question: The question is whether it will be an improvement.
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    edited June 11
    I should add that I see as a great problem with textbooks that they are written by experts, or more precisely, that they are written by experts who have never taught.

    Simple understanding of a topic does not mean that one is able to explain that topic, nor to explain it in an interesting and engaging manner.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    The idea being that to be smart is a handicap to education in public schools.

    Hardly. Not in the UK at least. Then again a Public School is one of the expensive ones paid for directly out of parent's pockets. Our state schools are called State Schools. Makes no sense really does it?

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    But it's all already online.

    Not in the manner that I propose to do it.

    Facts are facts, and they are already on line for those who wish to read them and make use of them.

    There's also places like this >>  https://resource-bank.scholastic.co.uk/ much used by the teaching profession.

    There's also stuff like these  https://www.tes.com/news/33-books-every-teacher-should-read

    There's this aspect, too >>  http://www.apa.org/action/science/teaching-learning/

    Unless you have read all of the above and taken courses in how to teach, then how can you create books about it?

    My wife teaches kids from the age of 4 upwards, and to do so she is constantly taking up-dating courses, and then planning lessons accordingly, as well as teaching other teachers about the updates, and planning their lessons.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    I was educated in public schools, which means exactly the opposite in the US of what it does in the UK.

    Indeed.

     I also attended a number of military schools, on topics such as pipe insulation, gauge calibration, firefighting, and nuclear physics; a few credits of this and that in various colleges;

    I am not sure how they would help in the general school curriculum.

     lots of auto-didactic readings (primarily physics, philosophy, and English literature, with a healthy dose of American literature); and a couple of odd specialty schools. To call my education eclectic would be an understatement.

    But at what age groups are you aiming at?

    Teachers using my system do not need to concentrate upon a single student.

    They usually need to do so to at least try to educate every one in the class to the same level, which is almost impossible anyway. Children are remarkably human with differing characteristics. It can take just one child to disrupt a class room. They are also not all born with an equal capacity to learn.

     In the first few weeks of a school year, they should be able to fairly readily categorize students into green, blue, and red groups for a particular subject.

    So you are aiming at those over 11 then? Surely in your New System you would need to start at the beginning? At that includes at home pre-school age. But children in the UK are already 'streamed' in such a way, by exams at least one a year, plus a few major ones. Is that not how it is in the USA?

     Then they need only make assignments by group

    What assignments? Are you a qualified teacher and taught kids in schools?

     -- the front row will complete red section exercises 1 and 2,
    the second row will complete blue section exercises 3, 5, and 9,
    the back row will read the review and complete exercise A.
    All other rows will complete the green section and exercises 4, 6, and 7.

    Very impractical for many reasons. But just a couple of the less complex ones are >> were will the kid sit who is hard of hearing? What about the one with ADD? Or the one with ASP? This are kids, not robots.

    Now the beauty of this system is that if a student were sandbagging

    I have no idea what that means.

     in the early months, or perhaps did not at first speak the primary teaching language, the teacher can easily adapt by simply changing his group,

    It's not that simple. And, just as one example, just how long do you think it takes to learn a second language? But would they be in a class that does not speak their language in the first place? Hardly.

     OR the student himself can simply read any additional materials that he or she finds of interest.

    Can I LOL at that? It's hard enough to get them to do statutory homework, nevermind 'extra' stuff.

    If the teacher is lazy and assigns all students to the green level, a blue student will find himself reading blue material, because it will be interesting to him.

    Teachers in the UK cannot be lazy, they have to fill in daily results reports. They often moan that it's their job to teach, not to fill in stuff that potentially no one ever reads.

     He may even peek ahead at red material from time to time, stretching himself or herself. A review-only student who finds himself assigned green material will either give up, thus naturally achieving the same effect as being assigned review-only, or will perhaps stretch himself/herself to be able to do green work.

    It is a system that does its own work.

    I will repeat. They are humans. At school. Many of them do not even wish to be there.

    As for those who refuse to read; such a student would do poorly in any system, so at the very least, my system will do no harm.

    Quite so, so what's the point? And it should take you around 50 years to work out the details.

    Arrogant? Probably. But that's not the question: The question is whether it will be an improvement.

    Dunno about the USA, But in most other countries (that actually have an education system) that's more or less how it's already done, but tailored to educating humans, not programing computers. Actually, in fact some USA schools use the same methods as seen in other countries.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    I should add that I see as a great problem with textbooks that they are written by experts, or more precisely, that they are written by experts who have never taught.

    That's not true. But some of those experts who have not put their knowledge to practical use, are the ones who have studied how best to put it in to practical use. To fob experts off in such a way is remarkably insulting. It's a bit like saying, "OK, so he designs rockets, but has he ever been up in one?"

    Simple understanding of a topic does not mean that one is able to explain that topic, nor to explain it in an interesting and engaging manner.

    Do they not train teachers in the USA?  Universities in the UK spend five years training people how to teach (what they usually are already qualified in) including practical experience in schools. But it's such a hard profession they find it hard to recruit teachers nowadays.

    I get the feeling that your idea is geared towards you alone, but everyone is an individual.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    Thank you, Kevin. Your opinions are always, at the very least, interesting...
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    edited June 12
    With some of the feedback incorporated.

    To address a concern: In those areas where I am not sufficiently expert to teach a student, it would be my intention to associate a person of greater expertise. His knowledge would then be coupled with my method and writing skill to produce an engaging and interesting textbook.

    The astrophysicist that I knew died last year; if any of you hold advanced degrees in physics, that would be helpful. On the other hand, I've just discovered that one of my coworkers holds advanced degrees in English. I might have to recruit him when I get to the subjunctive case. &c. ...

    But here is the revised introduction. Please let me know if it comes out more clearly, and with less arrogance:

    Introduction
    For Parents and Educators

    There is a special flavor of hell that we often unintentionally inflict upon our offspring. It consists of sending them to a school where they will learn nothing. Instead, they will sit quietly in a reading circle where their peers by age will slowly and methodically grind through tepid and pointless “reading books” which they, themselves, can sight-read aloud with inflection and feeling.

    We give them maths assignments which consist of working similar problems repeatedly, day after day, on the logic that if lifting weights repeatedly strengthens muscles, then grinding out maths problems will strengthen the brain. And when they complain that the work is boring, we sternly proclaim that they must buckle down and work harder. This is how we learned, therefore it is how they must learn.

    This may be an effective method for those 68% of students in the middle, though I am inclined to doubt that. It is certainly a questionable method for the 27% whose intellectual abilities range level just above or below that bubble. And it is sheer madness for all the rest.


    Where did it all go wrong? What could have been done differently?


    We find our answers in the enforced conformity inherent in our system. Age-grading is probably the single biggest issue in modern public education. For 68% of students it probably works well enough, because it is aimed at them. And there are programs for the 13.5% immediately above and immediately below that core, so those groups are at least somewhat addressed.


    But if we were to instead grade children by their abilities – or better still, not grade them at all – we would find that students would be better able to engage at the level where they find a challenge. The concept of Fourth Grade Science needs to be done away with; the concept of Science for the Young should replace it.


    Reading circles, if they have not already done so, must be dropped; let us replace these with engaging and interesting story books on the level of the reader. Reading is a key skill, but we need to teach it by first emphasizing that it is interesting and fun. The student who discovers that fascinating stories live in books will consume those books greedily. Indeed, all we know, and all we think, and all we want to know – these all live in ink on paper, in libraries.

    It has been said of the Spartans that a visitor, invited into the mess halls of the soldiers, tasted their food and said, “No wonder you are so willing to die.” Can we not say to those who chose not to read, that having tasted the tepid reading textbooks of their youth, “No wonder you are so reluctant to read, to learn, to think.”


    It is far to late to make this long story short. Let me end thus: In this series of books, it is the intent to produce broad textbooks. These are to be aimed not at the fourth grader in the center of the crowd, but at that student, the 13.5% on either side, and the 2% above that range, and perhaps the ever-shrinking percentages above that.


    In the first section of each lesson, you will find review material on the lesson. For some students, this review will be the pons asinorum, and they can, with no shame, move on to the next lesson on the morrow. The average student will then address the green section, where the core of the lesson will be housed. This section is for the 68% who will absorb it with a standard degree of effort. There is then the blue section, for the 13.5% above that level, and here more information and more difficult problems await. Finally, some lessons will include a red section, giving a signpost for the most advanced students, to direct them deeper into the topic.


    It is the duty of the teacher, or the parent, to find where their student can best engage. Do not push a slower student forward; the critical point is never to break their spirit. At the same time, do not hold the eager student to the shallows: Let those who can brave the depths do so at will.

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    Skoob_ym said:
    I should add that I see as a great problem with textbooks that they are written by experts, or more precisely, that they are written by experts who have never taught.

    Simple understanding of a topic does not mean that one is able to explain that topic, nor to explain it in an interesting and engaging manner.
    True...but you still need to understand the subject, and in order to write about it on a textbook level you should have some expertise. This is why I so strongly suggested that you include your credentials in the subjects you are writing about.

    I have had something like 20 or 25 non-fiction books published commercially. About two-thirds of those have been for young adults while the rest have been for non-expert adults. I not only have rarely ranged outside my areas of special knowledge, when I have done so those books have often been the most difficult to create and the least successful. 

    Frankly, if I was either a teacher or a home schooler looking for a textbook, the first thing I would do would be to check the author’s credentials and level of expertise. Especially if that author was claiming to reinvent the textbook.
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    Point taken. Perhaps I'll divorce the two topics -- the reinvention of textbooks and my own qualifications -- and place the latter in the "About the Author" section.

    Usually when I look for a textbook, it's an IT manual, and I look for whether it covers the topic I want to know (one can say a lot on Visual Basic, for example, without covering Visual Basic databases), whether it is written in an engaging manner (i.e. by neither an idiot nor a pedant), and whether I feel that I will learn from it. But on this point, IT books are atypical, and I myself am atypical, so others probably do things differently.
  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    With some of the feedback incorporated.

    To address a concern: In those areas where I am not sufficiently expert to teach a student, it would be my intention to associate a person of greater expertise. His knowledge would then be coupled with my method and writing skill to produce an engaging and interesting textbook.

    But you do not seem to hold experts in great respect.

    The astrophysicist that I knew died last year; if any of you hold advanced degrees in physics, that would be helpful.

    So you are aiming your guides to university level then? But by then it may be too late to change how they learn.

     On the other hand, I've just discovered that one of my coworkers holds advanced degrees in English. I might have to recruit him when I get to the subjunctive case. &c. ...

    Ah, another expert ... Are you hoping they will offer their hard-gained knowledge for free? In fact to teach you what you do not know?

    But here is the revised introduction. Please let me know if it comes out more clearly, and with less arrogance:

    Introduction
    For Parents and Educators

    There is a special flavor of hell that we often unintentionally inflict upon our offspring. It consists of sending them to a school where they will learn nothing.

    That is highly derogative of the entire education system, in which people surely must learn something, or they would never function in life, never-mind get employed. Granted, there are some who end up like that, but that is often no fault of the general education system.


    Instead, they will sit quietly in a reading circle where their peers by age will slowly and methodically grind through tepid and pointless “reading books” which they, themselves, can sight-read aloud with inflection and feeling.

    That is only a small part of how people are educated.

    We give them maths assignments which consist of working similar problems repeatedly, day after day, on the logic that if lifting weights repeatedly strengthens muscles, then grinding out maths problems will strengthen the brain.

    Indeed. It does not work with everyone (it did not work with me!) but repetition 'burns' things in to peoples' minds. Maths is often mostly  1000s of formulas that need to be remembered. 


     And when they complain that the work is boring, we sternly proclaim that they must buckle down and work harder. This is how we learned, therefore it is how they must learn.

    Well, it is, and maths is boring ... and somewhat pointless when one can use computers. Unless a person has the genius capacity for it like Einstein had.

    You will have to excuse me saying, but, your intentions sound like something taken to The Dragon's Den, where some one has spent years and $250,000 on a problem that does not exist.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius
    You have still not said what ages you are aiming at. I would say you would need to start at the age of, well, 0.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher

    In reverse order: Your sands school could be anything from a startup "Public" school in the UK sense to a US Charter school to a Hippie Commune to a Montessori-based School. The description is deliberately vague, imho. But such a school might find my textbooks very useful, if they truly wished to move away from traditional school methods.

    What ages? Well, that's just the point, Kevin. It's not about chronological age; it's about level of development.

    In the overall scheme of things, I would probably try to write three parallel "streams" of books. There might be one which would address the age range that is typically covered in 3rd through fifth or 4th through 6th grades. Because of the structure of the material, a student might be able to go through the text at a 3rd grade level and then work the same text at the fifth or sixth grade level, simply by using the more advanced sections.

    Another text on the same topic might cover 6/7/8th grades -- typically 11-13 years, but with considerable variation in my system -- and the last might cover 9/10/11/12 -- keeping in mind that the typical secondary student has perhaps 1-2 years of laboratory science at most.

    So the short answer to "What ages?" is, "All of them."

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher

    "Indeed. It does not work with everyone (it did not work with me!) "

    That's my point, Kevin. That is my point.

    Suppose you had instead found a text that made maths not about grinding through endless exercises but instead taught you to apply maths. Suppose that instead of learning how to work the Order of Operations, or the extraction of square roots, for their own sake, you had instead learned to calculate how far one can see out to sea (sqrt of Height above sea level*1.23 = distance to horizon). Imagine if you had solved not just piles of numbers, but actual answers to things you wanted to know.

    I am not disdainful of experts; As a rule of thumb a true expert is a rare jewel, and to converse with such a person is a pleasure indeed. But very few experts can even begin to approach a decent explanation of their subjects. There are exceptions: Dr. Alexander Wolf, author of A Textbook of Logic, q.v., wrote with a clarity and simplicity that is absolutely breathtaking. Or consider the way that Dr. Raymond Smullyan turned logic into puzzles. Or in another discipline, consider the clarity and near poetry in Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. Or take Richard Feynman, whose greatest contribution to Physics was not the Feynman Diagrams that made it possible to understand QM, but instead the Lectures he gave to Freshmen at CalTech.

    But such experts are rare. Scarce as hen's teeth.

    Now, I confess that I do not know everything. For that reason, I exchange knowledge with others whenever possible, that I may learn from them, and they from me. I try to be the Clerke of Oxford, of whom Chaucer tells us, "Gladlye wold he lerne, and gladlye teche."

    Finally, I would call your attention to the qualifiers in my opening salvo: Often we unintentionally do this; not always, and not by design. I know teachers, principals, and educators of various stripe; Some of them even consider me a friend, and most would hear my thoughts on this matter even if they did not agree. So do not take offense on their behalf, lest they resent you more than they resent me.

  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    "Indeed. It does not work with everyone (it did not work with me!) "

    That's my point, Kevin. That is my point.

    But you are only seeing your point.

    Suppose you had instead found a text that made maths not about grinding through endless exercises but instead taught you to apply maths.

    School lessons already comprise that also. What type of school did you go to?

     Suppose that instead of learning how to work the Order of Operations, or the extraction of square roots, for their own sake, you had instead learned to calculate how far one can see out to sea (sqrt of Height above sea level*1.23 = distance to horizon). Imagine if you had solved not just piles of numbers, but actual answers to things you wanted to know.

    Well, obviously. Something else already done in schools. But one does have to learn the maths before it can be applied. But in stages, not all in one big lump. It really does worry me just how qualified your teachers were.

    I am not disdainful of experts; As a rule of thumb a true expert is a rare jewel,

    Not in the slightest. There's 1,000s of them around, and with the qualifications and experience to prove it. Without them in every walk of life, education, and work, the world would be fooked.

     and to converse with such a person is a pleasure indeed. But very few experts can even begin to approach a decent explanation of their subjects.

    Also not true. Do you not own a TV?

     There are exceptions: Dr. Alexander Wolf, author of A Textbook of Logic, q.v., wrote with a clarity and simplicity that is absolutely breathtaking. Or consider the way that Dr. Raymond Smullyan turned logic into puzzles. Or in another discipline, consider the clarity and near poetry in Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. Or take Richard Feynman, whose greatest contribution to Physics was not the Feynman Diagrams that made it possible to understand QM, but instead the Lectures he gave to Freshmen at CalTech.

    I could also type up a list. 

    But such experts are rare. Scarce as hen's teeth.

    No they are not. And when it comes to them writing books, thank goodness for the editors who work with them.

    Now, I confess that I do not know everything.

    You will really need a lot of help with the project you intend. A whole team working full-time.

     For that reason, I exchange knowledge with others whenever possible, that I may learn from them, and they from me. I try to be the Clerke of Oxford, of whom Chaucer tells us, "Gladlye wold he lerne, and gladlye teche."

    On which subjects? Every one they teach in the education system?

    Finally, I would call your attention to the qualifiers in my opening salvo: Often we unintentionally do this; not always, and not by design. I know teachers, principals, and educators of various stripe; Some of them even consider me a friend, and most would hear my thoughts on this matter even if they did not agree.

    Possibly so, but it's not them who set the policies used in education, and friends can often be very polite when listening to ideas.

     So do not take offense on their behalf, lest they resent you more than they resent me.

    Why would they resent me for defending them when you more or less said that all experts no nothing?

    It's interesting that no one else continued to reply in here.

    Myself and my friend combined know everything there is to know, but he's not here.

  • Em_PressEm_Press Professor
    Skoob, you should do it. It is an inspired idea. I felt enthusiasm when I read it.

    I would simplify the structure of sentences, to make more approachable, and the language.

    You are going to provide a tool for parents. You don't need to prove how smart you are in the intro. It alienates. Grab them, engage them, make them trust you.

    List credentials only in bio. Otherwise it will alienate.
     A citizen of the world.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    Thanks. I'm working now on organizing the material. I think that LuluXpress rt of making it work.
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    rt? should say "is the key to"
  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    edited June 14
    Em_Press said:
    Skoob, you should do it. It is an inspired idea. I felt enthusiasm when I read it.

    I would simplify the structure of sentences, to make more approachable, and the language.

    You are going to provide a tool for parents. You don't need to prove how smart you are in the intro. It alienates. Grab them, engage them, make them trust you.

    List credentials only in bio. Otherwise it will alienate.
    I don't know about that.

    He doesn't have to brag about how smart he is---just outline his credentials and background. He doesn't have to say "I am the most intelligent person you'll ever meet," just "I have a PhD in physics" or "I have twenty years of experience in education."  Listing one's education and experience is not bragging: it is an essential selling point. If I am a parent looking for educational materials for my children, it would be important to know that what I am buying is legitimate. Anyone can grab people, engage them and gain their trust---there are far too many right now making millions by doing that very thing and selling nothing but snake oil.

    What he is saying in his introduction is, briefly, that current textbooks are terrible and that his are going to change all of that. But why believe him? What are his qualifications? What expertise has he? What experience? What he says about available textbooks may be true---but why is he the person to replace them? And remember that he is talking about textbooks in every imaginable subject, too. 

    You are urging him to gain people's trust... How is he supposed to go about doing that? Ask them to take his word on blind faith alone? On what, exactly, is this trust to be based?

    Psychologist Gad Saad touched on this sort of blind belief in asserted authority when he was writing recently about self-help gurus. Among his tongue-in-cheek advice to the wannabe "expert" was to: "Be charismatic and self-confident in your delivery, and perhaps deceive yourself as to the veracity of your words. In the immortal words of George Costanza, one of the central characters of the classic sitcom Seinfeld: 'Jerry, just remember, it's not a lie if you believe it.'"
  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    edited June 14

    That point is also well-taken. I will need to sell -- on solid grounds -- my own qualifications. Never a comfortable thing for any of us.

    In addition, however, I think that the thing will sell itself. If we see something that is clearly well made, while we do want to know by whom it was made, and how, we also want to see if the thing in itself is worth having.

    I should also add that an essential part of any book, and doubly so in a textbook, is independent review, and in the specific case of non-fiction, independent fact-checking as well.

  • Skoob_ymSkoob_ym Teacher
    edited June 14

     ... Of course, my life would be much easier if everyone simply conceded that I know everything.


    (Closed-captioned for the humor impaired)

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