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Why learn physics by yourself

spoirier

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I'm preparing a speech explaining how I understood general relativity when I was still in high school, and how the physics curriculum would need to be completely restructured to present theories in a much more coherent order.
For example, I consider Special Relativity and tensor calculus as necessary prerequisites for electromagnetism (though pure electrostatics might be presented before).

But most of the speech is about what is wrong with the academic system, and what makes it almost impossible to make decent teaching there.
I'm not sure when the video will be done but the text is written:
Why learn physics by yourself
 

just george

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I agree with your paper. The education system is an indoctrination system, that traps creative people in a kind of intellectual purgatory until their creativity has fled, and they are so invested in the system remaining as it is that they do not dare change it.

The main problem is how the money flows. A century ago, schools decided on their own curriculum. Parents then decided which schools to send their children to, and paid for it. The better the outcomes for students, the more money was made by the school.

These days, you must by law attend a school that has a curriculum provided to it by government mandate. The government is of course owned by the very wealthy. This means that you will exit school being exactly what the very wealthy want you to be - obedient, controllable, and with so much invested in the system that you wont change it.

Anyone who thinks differently doesn't fit into the system, and so is not paid, and so is denied the resources with which to live their lives. In that way, the system corrals everybody into supporting it, even though it is obviously not in the average persons interest to do so.

In that way, the system rewards you more if you are a repeater, than if you are a thinker. The real job of a teacher is to teach you how to think, not to repeat - but when the system is infested with repeaters who don't know how to think, how exactly is that to happen?

Only by paying thinkers to teach people to think again, which means getting the government out of schools.

Anyway, just to test you out - what have you personally come up with describing the real shape of magnetic fields?
 

Duxwing

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Poor guy. :( His problem seems to lack a solution:

--Not everyone is a passionate genius. I, for instance, despite my debating abilities, am neither passionate nor a genius. This point is not inasmuch material as fundamental.
--Even among geniuses, approaches and ideas on education differ. We would need an entire department of special education at every college for people like him; admittedly, the rewards might be sweet if he doesn't flame out.
--One perfect lecture on a given subject does not exist because any given lecture can be improved and different students not only have different tastes but speak different languages.
--His proposed system is quite vague--it boils down to "Free the geniuses!" really--and provides no means by which to identify such people as he. It sounds more like an anguished, wounded sob than the brave bellow of a philosopher of education.
--Several times he errs on insubstantial points in flights of passion.
--He holds that creativity peters out with age without providing data for his empirical claim and in ignorance of studies of great artists: Cezanne produced his best works in old age! Moreover, even holding that more work has been done by young scientists than old ignores that mortality colors the data set.

Overall, if I were to grossly caricature him, then I would say that he is an arrogant genius inspired to ideology by the advent of the Internet upon his difficult life and insane surroundings and would not have complained nearly so much had had he had proper medical care and a girlfriend; he may have schizotypal personality disorder. I disagree with him, but I hope that he's alright now.

-Duxwing
 

NullPointer

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I think if it's going to be an effective speech, it needs to have a lot fewer first person pronouns, because the tone came across as boastful and confrontational.

The advantage of a convention school system can be summarised as the breadth of coverage, and the ease of learning.

Breadth of coverage. Schools give a basic understanding of a wide range of subjects, and the curriculum is standardised to allow comparisons and avoid missing anything. There is a finite amount of time that people have to spend in school, and it really makes little sense to go into extreme detail in high school physics, because it would certainly mean sacrificing time from elsewhere. Although there is a long-term trend worldwide towards greater specialisation, students may not actually know exactly which subject they want to specialise in when they're at high school, so sacrificing diversity would mean forcing them into a box they may later come to regret (but be irreversibly stuck in because they have such poor knowledge of other areas).

Ease of learning. Ideas are presented with an increasing level of complexity, which keeps a roughly constant difficulty from year to year. The difficulty is balanced so that less capable students are just able to keep up, although some schools may stream students, and teachers often provide extra challenges to more capable students (in my experience anyway). With the proposed system, the concepts would be instead grouped by relevance, which could no longer guarantee such a steady difficulty curve. If difficulty is too high or too low at any point (which it almost certainly would be), the student could begin to disengage, and this would compromise their ability to learn.

I think spoirier believes the joy of learning was due to the order in which material was presented, but I believe it has more to do with the fact that he was able to choose what he learnt, and when. In essence, he enjoyed the system because there was no system, and I doubt it would work at all if he tried to dogmatically apply the order he chose to other students.
 

spoirier

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These days, you must by law attend a school that has a curriculum provided to it by government mandate.
Thanks for this explanation of how things go in the US, where I've not been. As far as I know in most of Europe, education is mostly financed by the state including university. But in the US, I know that universities have private funding but who pays for high school, for example ?

Only by paying thinkers to teach people to think again, which means getting the government out of schools.
As I explained, personally the best way I could have developed my own thoughts would have been to let me free. I don't know what others would need so I let others discuss the question.

Anyway, just to test you out - what have you personally come up with describing the real shape of magnetic fields?
No discovery, somehow we can say it is exactly the same as the usual description, as the Maxwell's equations remain true and with nothing else, but the formalism is understood differently. Especially there is no electric field, there is no magnetic field, but there is only one electromagnetic field, that only seems to be split into 2 distinct vector fields (the electric and the magnetic field) relatively to each chosen frame of reference. But as I already mentioned, this is all well-known since long ago... by high-level physicists, and you can read it in Landau's book.
Something funny was when I looked at an electromagnetic wave in a "frame of reference" that splits the 4-dimensional space-time into 3+1 dimensions but for the distinguished dimension, instead of a time-like direction as is usual, I took a space-like direction (orthogonal to the direction of propagation, i.e. contained in wave planes so that nothing happens in that dimension and it can be forgotten). In this "frame of reference", the wave seemed to be longitudinal (with the "ëlectric field" and "magnetic field" colinear to the worldline of the "photon") rather than transversal as it usually appears to us.

--His proposed system is quite vague--it boils down to "Free the geniuses!"
I did not propose a system for education. My point in that was that personally I did not need any system at all, and thus it is quite a pity to not allow this possibility for people in my case since the cost is zero, but I was not speaking for others. I am not trying to give any idea how other people, who cannot just educate themselves, should be educated, it is not my subject. Apart from this I propose to throw the seeds of a revolutionary network that will bring a new political order, much more decentralised, that will generally facilitate the search for new solutions to many problems. It includes a logical structure to manage "diplomas" in a much more flexible and decentralized way. I think such a new decentralized political environment will facilitate many changes in general, and thus also for education in particular. But this is a completely different discussion subject that would require another thread.
 

Architect

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For example, I consider Special Relativity and tensor calculus as necessary prerequisites for electromagnetism (though pure electrostatics might be presented before).
The problem with learning by yourself is you miss obvious things than if you went to a regular program. For example neither SR or tensor calc is needed for EM, and in fact normally EM comes first. What you actually need is lower division calculus up to differential equations, then EM, then if you like you can study modern physics and SR. Tensors are only needed if you want to study General Relativity. At any rate electrostatics is something only touched on in EM for physicists, but is studied by the engineers more seriously.
 

spoirier

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For example neither SR or tensor calc is needed for EM,
Of course I know very well that all physics courses present EM before SR and tensors, but my point is that this usual order, that is assumed to be the "normal order", is in fact not logical for the deep mathematical structure of the theories. I see it as a bad way to do. For example, how do you make sense of the formula expressing ∇ × (∇ × F), which is actually needed to work with electromagnetism ? You may say it is just the same formula as a double cross product, indeed the notation looks the same, but just taking this appearance as if it was a proof in this context is an extreme abuse of notation, while the framework of tensors gives fully correct immediate justification (it immediately justifies the applicability of the formula of double cross product).

The Maxwell's equations are a big system of 4 equations, that is first introduced as a big pack without justification, thus that looks completely artificial and mysterious at first, and takes time to decipher to develop its consequences and its remarkable properties. It is not a simple thing.

But if tensors were introduced first, then to get electromagnetism, all we need is to take the simple system of 2 equations of electrostatics and extend it to one more dimension in the right way (upgrading the dimension of charges from 0 to 1).

In essence, he enjoyed the system because there was no system, and I doubt it would work at all if he tried to dogmatically apply the order he chose to other students.
First, I did not enjoy anything because I was in the system that repressed my thinking abilities. And I could only learn theoretical physics during my high school years by dedicating to it the little free time that it let me.
Second, what the f**k is this suspicion that I might suggest or tolerate any kind of dogmatic decision to generalize my case to all other students ? I did explicitly say in my text that I criticize the current system for its dogmatic way of assuming that any unique method, whatever it may be, should be found to uniformly apply to all.
And I think that you are the dogmatic one when you write
students may not actually know exactly which subject they want to specialize in when they're at high school, so sacrificing diversity would mean forcing them into a box they may later come to regret
by your way of implicitly assuming that it makes any sense to discuss about the needs of "students" and what could be good or bad to "them", forgetting that "they" are different from each other. Of course some may not know exactly which subject they want to specialize in when they're at high school, but the situation of these ones should not excuse to mismanage the case of some others, forcing them into an education that makes no sense for them because they may have no need of one subject but waste their time by boredom when attending another subject that they already know as they may have discovered it themselves in their previous free time.

I said that there should potentially be best courses available on each subject. Not that everybody should learn in the same way. Please don't confuse that.
I think there ultimately should be a panorama of best courses, each adapted to a different kind of reader that everybody should be free to read/watch or not (and, okay, sometimes obligations may be needed too), at different speeds that fit their own learning abilities, and with optional complements that some people will need to see, and others not. It does not change the fact that there is a concept of perfect course. A perfect course containing this perfect complement or detailed explanation to interest 10% of its readers, and that other perfect complement to interest 5% of its other readers, and so on. Is that clear ?
 

Architect

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Of course I know very well that all physics courses present EM before SR and tensors, but my point is that this usual order, that is assumed to be the "normal order", is in fact not logical for the deep mathematical structure of the theories. I see it as a bad way to do. For example, how do you make sense of the formula expressing ∇ × (∇ × F), which is actually needed to work with electromagnetism ? You may say it is just the same formula as a double cross product, indeed the notation looks the same, but just taking this appearance as if it was a proof in this context is an extreme abuse of notation, while the framework of tensors gives fully correct immediate justification (it immediately justifies the applicability of the formula of double cross product)...
Tensors are needed for anisotropic systems, which comes into play with EM fields in scattering through materials, a needless complication. I see your point which is it is the generalization, from which the simpler Maxwell eqns can be derived. From a certain point of view, one an INTP might have that would be the better approach. Start from the highest level most abstract and drill down. I would have appreciated that. Most people need to build from the bottom up though.
 

just george

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Thanks for this explanation of how things go in the US, where I've not been. As far as I know in most of Europe, education is mostly financed by the state including university. But in the US, I know that universities have private funding but who pays for high school, for example ?
I'm in Australia, but the pattern is the same everywhere.

If a school wants funding, they have to prove that they are doing a good job.

To prove that they are doing a good job, they must show their syllabus/curriculum to the government people.

The government people match that curriculum with what they want.

If the school is teaching something that the government doesn't want, then they don't get funding.

So one way or the other, the government that is controlled by the corporations controls the funding, and therefore the school.

As I explained, personally the best way I could have developed my own thoughts would have been to let me free. I don't know what others would need so I let others discuss the question.
I think it was Google that came up with a good model for this one. What they did was to say to their workers that for one afternoon a week (or whatever it was) that worker was free to do whatever they wanted, so long as they showed their work to their team leader/head.

So in your case, you would be able to teach for a certain amount of time, and then do whatever you were passionate about/conduct your own research.

How much time is spent each way is debatable. Personally I agree with you - that lectures should be recorded, and then the professor tutors the students to guide them a bit. Then the professor/phd would have enough time to actually make new discoveries, and advance science as they saw fit.

No discovery, somehow we can say it is exactly the same as the usual description, as the Maxwell's equations remain true and with nothing else, but the formalism is understood differently. Especially there is no electric field, there is no magnetic field, but there is only one electromagnetic field, that only seems to be split into 2 distinct vector fields (the electric and the magnetic field) relatively to each chosen frame of reference. But as I already mentioned, this is all well-known since long ago... by high-level physicists, and you can read it in Landau's book.
Something funny was when I looked at an electromagnetic wave in a "frame of reference" that splits the 4-dimensional space-time into 3+1 dimensions but for the distinguished dimension, instead of a time-like direction as is usual, I took a space-like direction (orthogonal to the direction of propagation, i.e. contained in wave planes so that nothing happens in that dimension and it can be forgotten). In this "frame of reference", the wave seemed to be longitudinal (with the "ëlectric field" and "magnetic field" colinear to the worldline of the "photon") rather than transversal as it usually appears to us.
You want a hint? Look for a third dimension. Try to prove that magnetic fields corkscrew in a toroidal pattern. Then you'll get somewhere ;)
 

spoirier

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It sounds more like an anguished, wounded sob than the brave bellow of a philosopher of education.
I don't think philosophers have any worthy wisdom to offer on anything anyway. And I am not the only scientist with that opinion.
He holds that creativity peters out with age without providing data for his empirical claim
Well I heard that claim at least from one old mathematician that freely tutored me in the very little free time when I was student, he witnessed at least the decline of his own intelligence, but now rethinking about it I can figure out it might be caused by his intensive smoking rather than age alone. And a few other times I cannot precisely remember, okay from my part we can say it's just a rumor, so if you know more about this subject, please tell.
he is an arrogant genius
Sorry to disappoint you but I cannot accept the accusation of arrogance. I am very shy, very demanding to myself, I often felt I should kill myself when I discovered I had done something a little bit wrong, I naturally cannot conceive the possibility to claim something without due proof, a demand I first apply to myself, and I have been so often victim of the trap of trusting people who pretended to have lessons to teach me, not being able to suspect them of being mistaken (having not seriously checked their own claims as I see necessary before claiming something).
had he had proper medical care
Sorry this is an oxymoron.
he may have schizotypal personality disorder
That is what psychiatrists thought but I disagree. My troubles came from the hostile environment I was in.
Tensors are needed for anisotropic systems, which comes into play with EM fields in scattering through materials, a needless complication.
I was'nt considering that case.
I see your point which is it is the generalization, from which the simpler Maxwell eqns can be derived. From a certain point of view, one an INTP might have that would be the better approach. Start from the highest level most abstract and drill down. I would have appreciated that. Most people need to build from the bottom up though.
How can you really know that most people "need to build from the bottom up" as long as their teacher himself has no clue about the top, and is thus unable to try showing them the top first ?

You want a hint? Look for a third dimension. Try to prove that magnetic fields corkscrew in a toroidal pattern. Then you'll get somewhere ;)
Sorry I don't see what you expect me to say. As far as testing my knowledge, well, of course I can say that the magnetic field is a closed differential 2-form, and that the exterior derivative of its Hodge dual is (the dual of) the electric current.
 

NullPointer

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Spoirier, I didn't meant to imply that no student knows what they want to specialise in at high school, but it's true that a lot of students don't, which is why I said "students may not" rather than "students don't".

I understand the appeal of a case-by-case style of learning, where everybody is able to uniquely choose the content of their curriculum, it sounds appealing. It doesn't, however, sound feasible to roll out on any wide scale. As I've said, specialising too early makes it hard to backtrack and catch up to other students if you later decide that you'd like to change your specialisation.

There's also the cost to consider. Exams are affordable because they can be produced and marked en masse, but a bespoke learning program tailored to every gifted student would require a lot more exams, a lot more specialised exam markers, and a much more complicated delivery system. It all adds up to much greater cost, less meaningful comparisons for potential employers, and more opportunities for the introduction of errors.

I really can't see it working well.
 
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Just from glossing over it, I think it would be more effective if its length were reduced to 1/5 of what it is now. You're setting yourself up for an audience of old men drooling on themselves. Contrast your system with the established system, make it as visual as possible as opposed to a pure speech, and consider pushing for a bargaining position (an actual experiment comparing outcomes of your method vs the standard method).
 

spoirier

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I find it really upsetting to be misunderstood to that point.

My point was first that there are SOME cases such as mine where the right tailored program would consists in NO PROGRAM AT ALL, reducing the cost to (almost) ZERO.
And second, that there are at least SOME cases, and this time I think quite manier students would be concerned than the previous remark, where the right tailored exams would consist in NO EXAM AT ALL, thus also ZERO COST.
Or we can also consider self-assessment materials (such as software), to give students the opportunity to figure out themselves, in case they wouldn't already figure it out without such tools, how good they are in a subject, and thus whether it makes sense for them to invest more effort in a given study.
I generally see no sense of getting other people decide in someone's place what one should do with one's brain, whether it is good to study something rather than something else, any more than it would be right to have an external judge decide whether it is right for someone to have a relationship with someone rather than with someone else.
The only meaningful exam in my sense is the exam that one passes in the recruiters'eyes when searching for a job, and still only for people stupid enough to not be able to employ themselves.
 

NullPointer

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I agree that you can avoid costs by not performing any quality control of the students, such as not having exams, but that does seem to be a channel which could be easily exploited.

How can you actually prove to someone that you know enough to perform a given job if there is no way to assess that? Employers would throw your résumé or c.v. in the garbage if you don't have any sort of qualifications for an academically challenging position.

That may not be an issue in your opinion, because you seem to believe anyone who is employed is "stupid enough not to be able to employ themselves".
 

spoirier

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Just from glossing over it, I think it would be more effective if its length were reduced to 1/5 of what it is now.
Sorry I disagree. I have many things to explain, as the problems has many aspects that need to be explored in order to get the full picture.

it needs to have a lot fewer first person pronouns,
Sorry I disagree. Not only because presenting myself and my project is also an aim of my speech, but also because I cannot see how it can make sense to try discussing abstract generalities if these generalities are not allowed to refer to real life observations.

because the tone came across as boastful and confrontational.
If wearing pink glasses is a prerequisite for someone to get your attention, then how can you ever know if the world is not actually pink ? Do you think that a victim's try to report having been tortured, is worse action that the action of those who tortured him in the first place ?
 
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Sorry I disagree. I have many things to explain, as the problems has many aspects that need to be explored in order to get the full picture.
Agreed, though at the same time you could set it up in such a way that it begs questions from the audience, thus they do the work for you in that regard while simultaneously feeling involved (and not drooling).
 

spoirier

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(I had written another long reply before but it disappeared or maybe I did not click the right button so I must write it again)
I agree that you can avoid costs by not performing any quality control of the students, such as not having exams, but that does seem to be a channel which could be easily exploited.
I already mentioned in my text that I propose a solution for a better (more decentralized) qualification system for the purpose of recruitment, but this is a completely different topic that is not the object of this speech.

And why mix the (relatively cheap) problem of qualification for job, with the (much more expensive) problem of making continuous exams for many years that continuously threaten students that they may lose the right to... keep studying further ?
For those who need help to assess themselves whether they are good enough for it being worth continuing a given path of study, because it might be a waste of time with no perspective of job for them, well, of course such a help can be offered. But once understood this way, there is no more point for students to try cheating, which may simplify a great deal of things.

And I value tolerance, defined as letting everybody the right to be victims of their own mistakes instead of being victims of yours.

You're setting yourself up for an audience of old men drooling on themselves. (an actual experiment comparing outcomes of your method vs the standard method).
I don't intend this speech to that old crap of institutional people who never really cared about quality education anyway. It will be a speech for putting on youtube and giving students food for thought about what is best for themselves.
 

spoirier

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Spoirier, I didn't meant to imply that no student knows what they want to specialise in at high school, but it's true that a lot of students don't, which is why I said "students may not" rather than "students don't".
That is what everybody repeats, so what is the point of repeating it once again ? And usually this is the "justification" in the name of which it is usual to force everybody in the same standard mix of teaching, that, in fact, does not suit so many students, but rather more precisely those who are more equal than others.

I understand the appeal of a case-by-case style of learning, where everybody is able to uniquely choose the content of their curriculum, it sounds appealing. It doesn't, however, sound feasible to roll out on any wide scale.
Until there will be virtual classes which can gather all students around the country with a common difference.
As I've said, specialising too early makes it hard to backtrack and catch up to other students if you later decide that you'd like to change your specialisation.
What is the point of "catching up", as if any decent reason obliged you, for studying something, to reach the same point of understanding at the same age as others who made this choice before ? If you are late because of your past decision to not follow, then you are still free to follow with the delay that you have freely taken.
 

spoirier

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Several times he errs on insubstantial points in flights of passion.
Several things in my speech that might be seen as out of subject, actually serve as concrete illustrations of the irrelevance of academic qualifications, how nobody takes them seriously, even those who pretend to, and still when they do, it can be a mistake as well.

Ease of learning. Ideas are presented with an increasing level of complexity, which keeps a roughly constant difficulty from year to year. The difficulty is balanced so that less capable students are just able to keep up, although some schools may stream students, and teachers often provide extra challenges to more capable students (in my experience anyway). With the proposed system, the concepts would be instead grouped by relevance, which could no longer guarantee such a steady difficulty curve. If difficulty is too high or too low at any point (which it almost certainly would be), the student could begin to disengage, and this would compromise their ability to learn.
System proposed by whom ? Not by me anyway. So why discuss it here ? My own experience with the current system is that it is light years away from proposing a decently adapted difficulty level, well at least for my case. Making the difficulty level more standardized to itself, does not mean making it approach what actual students need. What I advocate is more freedom, which by definition better allows everyone to follow things at the difficulty level that suits him.
 

spoirier

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(an actual experiment comparing outcomes of your method vs the standard method).
If I look at my own case it is overwhelmingly obvious that the current system was a complete disaster, so as for efficiency the comparison is obvious. I know your problem is in wondering about generalities and average people, with a sort of assumption that there must be such thing as a general case, and an education ministry that should be there to administrate that general case in a uniform manner that tolerates no exception.
However in my view, the right to freedom, the student's right to own his own brain and not be the mental slave of any bureaucrat, is basically not a matter of efficiency and averages (even if I do think it can help average efficiency), but a matter of principle.
And considering the extremely valuables works that I wanted to do and that I could only partially do because of that waste, and generally the potentially huge value of the works that the very small minority of geniuses can do for mankind for a (sometimes) zero cost in their education, well, I see little sense of finding it okay to push them to suicide in the name of how the dumb majority can find jobs.
 

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I see the misunderstanding, sorry. Indeed what I wrote was prone to misinterpretation. I wrote that "there is no problem with the currently established theories of physics, which are perfectly correct."
This way I meant that they are the correct descriptions of things in their respective domains of approximation.
In the way I meant, we can also say that Newton's law of gravitation is correct too, in the sense that it is the correct explanation of gravity in our daily experience, together with the movement of planets. That the attractive force is indeed in 1/r2, and not 1/r or 1/r3.
All these main ideas remain true and the best way to understand things in practice in first approximation, even if in other more extreme cases, this turns out to be an approximation of the deeper description by general relativity, and corrections can be found.

When writing that "the currently established theories of physics... are perfectly correct", I meant that each of these theories was found to be the right description of its respective object. Not that the totality of the physical world is reducible to them.
But moreover, the "remaining cases" of phenomena still not well described by current theories, are quite extreme from an experimental viewpoint, requiring very expensive accelerators, or quite indirect deductions from astronomical observations.

For this reason, the expectation of being able to make simple experiments and practical applications of a new view of electromagnetism, is totally unrealistic, given what is already established.

And I'm not happy to see my thread hijacked in this way.
If you want to increase learning, you need to get rid of the lecture model. We all know that it is the worst method of teaching and is only done due to it's economic feasibility.

There is no real solution to making a topic easier for everyone because we all learn differently. There are people that find simple math a nightmare.
 

spoirier

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Can you please make a separate thread (in the science section) for the ideas of just george, thanks.


There is no real solution to making a topic easier for everyone because we all learn differently. There are people that find simple math a nightmare.
We agree on that, as I already mentioned in my text.

If you want to increase learning, you need to get rid of the lecture model. We all know that it is the worst method of teaching and is only done due to it's economic feasibility.
What economic feasability do you speak about ? As a good jobs plan for good and bad scientists, that have a beautiful diploma and that might not otherwise know well what to do with it, and especially a solution that is good to hide the possible discrepancy between their levels of knowledge by having them all do the same repetitive work, well, that sounds like a good economic solution indeed.

The lecture model may be good to some student, while some more expensive solution may be needed for others.
As for me, the main model of sharing knowledge that I like and that I would like to propose (as a possibility among others) is very cheap, and thus has no problem of economic feasability on the students side (but may only bring employment problems on the teachers side) : the (online) book reading model (I'm not against some real meetings too, but rather as a complement).

But, as I tried to explain, I think the main problem is not a problem of method: if neither the teacher nor anybody else in a given classroom has a clue about how a subject should be best understood, then there is no way by any method to share this understanding that nobody has.
So, what is needed is that someone in the world first cares to find what is the right, clear understanding of a subject. Then write it down, and then anyone in the world can access it.
 

Hawkeye

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What economic feasability do you speak about ? As a good jobs plan for good and bad scientists, that have a beautiful diploma and that might not otherwise know well what to do with it, and especially a solution that is good to hide the possible discrepancy between their levels of knowledge by having them all do the same repetitive work, well, that sounds like a good economic solution indeed.

The lecture model may be good to some student, while some more expensive solution may be needed for others.
As for me, the main model of sharing knowledge that I like and that I would like to propose (as a possibility among others) is very cheap, and thus has no problem of economic feasability on the students side (but may only bring employment problems on the teachers side) : the (online) book reading model (I'm not against some real meetings too, but rather as a complement).

But, as I tried to explain, I think the main problem is not a problem of method: if neither the teacher nor anybody else in a given classroom has a clue about how a subject should be best understood, then there is no way by any method to share this understanding that nobody has.
So, what is needed is that someone in the world first cares to find what is the right, clear understanding of a subject. Then write it down, and then anyone in the world can access it.
Lectures are a method of teaching material to the maximum number of students with the least amount of individual interaction. It saves money to have larger classes.

Sadly, what you end up having is a generic approach to teaching that all must keep up with. If you're taught a complex concept and fail to grasp it, you can end up falling behind to the point of failing the module.

It's summed up quite nicely in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vsCAM17O-M
 
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I agree with your paper. The education system is an indoctrination system, that traps creative people in a kind of intellectual purgatory until their creativity has fled, and they are so invested in the system remaining as it is that they do not dare change it.

The main problem is how the money flows. A century ago, schools decided on their own curriculum. Parents then decided which schools to send their children to, and paid for it. The better the outcomes for students, the more money was made by the school.

These days, you must by law attend a school that has a curriculum provided to it by government mandate. The government is of course owned by the very wealthy. This means that you will exit school being exactly what the very wealthy want you to be - obedient, controllable, and with so much invested in the system that you wont change it.

Anyone who thinks differently doesn't fit into the system, and so is not paid, and so is denied the resources with which to live their lives. In that way, the system corrals everybody into supporting it, even though it is obviously not in the average persons interest to do so.

In that way, the system rewards you more if you are a repeater, than if you are a thinker. The real job of a teacher is to teach you how to think, not to repeat - but when the system is infested with repeaters who don't know how to think, how exactly is that to happen?

Only by paying thinkers to teach people to think again, which means getting the government out of schools.

Anyway, just to test you out - what have you personally come up with describing the real shape of magnetic fields?
Agreed, no exceptions.
 

Polaris

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Can you please make a separate thread (in the science section) for the ideas of just george, thanks.
Split thread moved to the science and technology sub-forum.
 
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There are courses not dissimilar to what you describe already (at least here in Australia). The problem is essentially time, resource and intellectual constraints.

Dependent on the university you attend (and your grades), you can have highly specialized courses - with one on one mentorship, and special access to research facilities, working with actual researchers. The focus is essentially on gearing students towards the field of research (as opposed to preparing for exams).

I don't really disagree with you though, but I think that these sorts of things will be considered, 'niche' for many years to come - the range of people who are both qualified/capable and willing to teach, combined with undergraduates who are talented enough to actually see these things through is quite limited, which is why specialized courses like the one I mentioned above are also limited.

I think this is a good idea anyway and that provided you had talented enough people to teach it, it could be designed as a specialized course, gearing undergraduates towards the things you describe on your site.

Which I think is what you're getting at anyway?

Don't take this as criticism, I'm just compartmentalizing this because I actually like the idea. It's rare to see sensible and realistic criticism of academia, where realistic alternatives/additions to current curriculum are offered with such completeness.
 

spoirier

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It may depend on places, but at least in the places I have seen in France I just don't know where it would be even thinkable to take some students to do anything beyond the standard curriculum.

Anyway I'm now out of the system with no possible return, both morally and administratively. Ifever I find better places (more open-minded, probably rather outside France) I can only consider to do talks or meetings (now I think only for free) for short time periods, for this I might eventually enter university walls on a material level but I'll remain out in bureaucratic terms (in particular I won't work for any exams system).
 

BigApplePi

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Hello spoirier. Haven't we met before ... in 2010? I regret I'm not thinking on this so I can't be of much help. I do think of the supposed Hegelian dialectic where one looks at something (the academic system), comes up with a critique (antithesis) and then puts together some way to incorporate both (synthesis). An antithesis can be noticed, but must show some respect for the existing system as people have investments and can't just abandon them at the drop of a hat.
 
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Poor guy. :( His problem seems to lack a solution:

--Not everyone is a passionate genius. I, for instance, despite my debating abilities, am neither passionate nor a genius. This point is not inasmuch material as fundamental.
--Even among geniuses, approaches and ideas on education differ. We would need an entire department of special education at every college for people like him; admittedly, the rewards might be sweet if he doesn't flame out.
--One perfect lecture on a given subject does not exist because any given lecture can be improved and different students not only have different tastes but speak different languages.
--His proposed system is quite vague--it boils down to "Free the geniuses!" really--and provides no means by which to identify such people as he. It sounds more like an anguished, wounded sob than the brave bellow of a philosopher of education.
--Several times he errs on insubstantial points in flights of passion.
--He holds that creativity peters out with age without providing data for his empirical claim and in ignorance of studies of great artists: Cezanne produced his best works in old age! Moreover, even holding that more work has been done by young scientists than old ignores that mortality colors the data set.

Overall, if I were to grossly caricature him, then I would say that he is an arrogant genius inspired to ideology by the advent of the Internet upon his difficult life and insane surroundings and would not have complained nearly so much had had he had proper medical care and a girlfriend; he may have schizotypal personality disorder. I disagree with him, but I hope that he's alright now.

-Duxwing
All I could think of was: "Well, that escalated quickly", during the conversion to the 3rd part of the paper.

I didn't read the whole thing, hell, I didn't read 2% of it. Too wall-of-texty, didn't seem to have much pertinent information concerning physics.
 

BigApplePi

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Apologies for entering here not knowing whether this is relevant or not. I am late but have an interest.
I don't think philosophers have any worthy wisdom to offer on anything anyway. And I am not the only scientist with that opinion.
Philosophers contribute possibilities and inquire into impossibilities. That is different from happy or unhappy social experiences and experimental physics or even theoretical physics.

"He holds that creativity peters out with age without providing data for his empirical claim."

Creativity requires motivation. The younger one is, the more motivated they are to try something, to do something. The older one is, the more they are already established so they are not as motivated to be as creative. They may already have "shot their creative wad." These are generalizations, not rules.
 
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I have a very shallow knowledge of physics, I taught myself a bunch of stuff off wikipedia but it was all reading, no mathmatics, my maths sucks. I do love physics and in a few years time when I have plenty of time on my hands, I plan on teaching myself maths then physics.
Question: is physics as fun down the rabbit hole as it is on the surface? I love all this stuff about swartschild radii and nutrinos and mesons and bosons and gravitons and m theory things... but does the excitement remain once you get into the maths? (I do love maths, but honestly school failed me in this regard, it turned maths into something I hated during my stay at school). my current level of maths falls pre-calculus, pre quadratics.. real basic stuff. But I would take great joy in studying maths to its end, maths is the answer to every question in this universe IMO. maths has all the answers and i love this :)
 
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But I would take great joy in studying maths to its end, maths is the answer to every question in this universe IMO. maths has all the answers and i love this :)
I think math is the reason we can't figure out why we're here.

We're doing everything wrong, numbering everything, categorizing everything.

To see the magnitude of your existence you've got to remove the lenses of arbitrary classification entirely.
 

spoirier

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By the way while revising my philosophical site I found back one reference of a blog article discussing matters of age in research abilities.

So I added it to my links on education.

Too wall-of-texty, didn't seem to have much pertinent information concerning physics.
The aim of my speech was not to explain physics, as I care for it in the rest of my site that you should visit if that is what you are looking for, but to focus on sociological aspects, after only a quick review of some physics details at the beginning, just small hints of how I see the current teaching as indeed far from the best way to explain physics.

Question: is physics as fun down the rabbit hole as it is on the surface?
I do find physics as still quite fun in its very mathematical expression, and I work to provide new ways to show the maximum of mathematical wonders in a minimum of work, but I cannot tell how much those with less math skills can enjoy of it.
 

Cherry Cola

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To see the magnitude of your existence you've got to remove the lenses of arbitrary classification entirely.
How would this be done? And what does it mean?

I understand that I may be asking a pain in the ass question, I'm not trying to diss you, just curious!
 
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