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Re: [Phys-L] Survey of Physics; how to do the reading; learning + memory + thinking

On 7/26/20 9:14 PM, Timothy Folkerts via Phys-l wrote:

One approach I have tried to get students to read the text is to have
them write down a sentence about 3 things they already knew 3 things
they learned 3 things that are confusing (or fascinating). These then
serve as a starting point for class discussions.

That sounds like essentially the right idea, as discussed below.....

On 7/26/20 9:19 PM, Daniel MacIsaac via Phys-l wrote:

I think _summarizing_ is an ineffectual route to take. Any well
thought out and edited text is already quite succinct and it’s
unlikely a neophyte could summarize it into something shorter.

However, we can all extract personal meaning from text — learn the
things we are ready to learn. And reflect on those.

I see that as mostly a better way of expressing the same idea.

Here's yet another way: I have long been impressed by what
William James wrote (in 1898!) about what is now called the
"connectionist" view of learning, memory, and thinking. What
we call "connections" he calls "associates":

Each of the associates is a hook to which it [the memory] hangs, a
means to fish it up when sunk below the surface. Together they form
a network of attachments by which it is woven into the entire tissue
of our thought. The 'secret of a good memory' is thus the secret of
forming diverse and multiple associations with every fact we care to
retain. But this forming of associations with a fact, — what is it
but thinking about the fact as much as possible? Briefly, then, of
two men with the same outward experiences, the one who thinks over
his experiences most, and weaves them into the most systematic
relations with each other, will be the one with the best memory.
(search for the word "hook")

So here is another way of framing the assignment:

1) Figure out what are the three most important points being
made in the assigned reading.

2) For each of those points, find at least three things that you
already know that are connected to it. Explain how each new idea
is consistent (or inconsistent!) with what you already know.

Example A: What the textbook says about the third law (equal and
opposite reactions) is consistent with what I already know about
conservation of momentum.

Example B: In section 4.1, Hewitt emphasizes (with boldface)
*An object is moving if its position relative to*
*a fixed point is changing.*

That is connected to what I already know about Galilean relativity.
Connected in the sense of being grotesquely inconsistent. There is
no such thing as absolute motion, and no such thing as a fixed point.
It all depends on the choice of reference frame. This has been
understood since 1632.

3) Make a habit of item (2), even when it isn't explicitly mentioned
in the assignment. Do it from now on, for the rest of your life, for
all sources and topics of information. Whenever you see a new idea,
mull it over, to see how it is connected to things you already know.

You will quickly discover that learning, memory, and thinking have a
great deal in common, to the point where they are almost all the same