Moving to

I'm moving to Mostly.

I plan to use that site as a "self-marketing website" of sorts and to manage content in a way that I would otherwise not be able to do on blogger alone.

This blog will stay, ostensibly for more provisional ideas prior to refinement. I'll be gradually moving content (I still like) over to the other website. =)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Conceptual Learning vs Skills

I am convinced of the need for comprehensive conceptual learning in schools as a pre-requisite for skill acquisition of good quality. Conceptual learning opens up the mind to possibilities and is more mentally intensive due to the need to tear-down and re-build internalized conceptions of how the world works or should work.

It is typically very difficult to successfully facilitate conceptual learning in a 5 day course unless it is particularly intensive or students are particularly open intellectually. Thus, in order for students to eventually develop updated skills, it appears that current and cutting edge thought should be imparted to them at schools. In that way, by the time cutting edge transits from "experimental prototype" to "advanced technology", students would have the proper intellectual structures to grasp the skills needed to use the said technology. Given today's rapid transition from research to industry, this is not entirely unreasonable as students will not be taught skills they cannot for the next 10 years.

There is a clear tension between the long term and the short term. Focusing on skills and neglecting newer paradigms leads to structural problems in the economy in the long term. Focusing on concepts and neglecting skills leads to workers that have a longer lead time to doing useful work.

Naturally, conceptual learning and skills are complements that reinforce each other. Concepts present an intellectual frame which helps in the understanding of skills. Skills can be inductively mined for concepts. However the relationship is not symmetric. The former is far easier and more comprehensive than the latter.

Thus, I believe that the balance should tilt towards the conceptual and the skills imparted should be those that best facilitate the learning of advanced concepts. A lead time reduction in one's early career of a few months is not sufficient to outweigh a decade or so of facility in picking up new skills.

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