Being hit on the head

· Tieandjeans:iX

Zvi again, in his rundown of the Haidt/CWT interview

(47:30) Flagging the huge agreement by all three of us that there is far too much homework, especially in the early grades. My kids school has them do homework with the justification that they need to learn how to do homework, the generalized version of which I would call the worst argument in the world if Scott Alexander hadn’t used that term first for the non-central fallacy. Perhaps instead the worst justification in the world? Which is ‘you need to endure bad thing X now on purpose, so that you get the benefit that it will then be less bad when bad thing X happens to you again later.’ Madness.

Finally, a chance to link to the Essential EdTech Python, for that lovely coda from the Argument Sketch.

Alfie Kohn calls this mindset "better get used to it!" Normally, school adults are too couth to use a phrase like that, so we adopt something similar to "they're going to need it." But it's all just Being Hit on the Head Lessons

I am not excluding myself from the morally culpable group. I try to find ways to prepare students for the obstacle course of IB requirements without resorting to BHotHL, but it's difficult. Mock examps are peak BHotHL, but I don't know a better way to prepare young people for the grueling physical reality of sitting 20+ hours of hand written exams in a week. On the other hand, I structure my CS classes to avoid limited-access tests and delay paper psuedocode problems until senior year, because those bumps on their noggin don't help them build foundational coding skills.

Mentally framing our actions as "they're gonna need it" instead of BHotHL, allows educators to absolve ourselves of any guilt. It’s not just that the world (by which we mean school, which we’re in the process of creating and recreating every day) inflicts this horrible thing on young people, and we’re the early messengers. No, if they’re “going to need it” then the implication is that we’ve performed some daring and far reaching reconnaissance, and discovered a surprising hurdle in everyone’s life where this unpleasant and baffling experience will prove invaluable.

We’re very careful to wash out hands of all responsibility in that sentence. It’s college admission boards! It’s the testing companies! It’s our competitor schools! For any rational actor, there would come a point where the costs associated with a certain path became so onerous that alternatives, even less consistent ones, became viable. Never so in schools, where the entire notion of cost and choice evaporate between the actors, and we’re all left bemoaning what students have to do.