Saturday, February 24, 2007

Problem Solving and Memory

One of Nietzsche's Maxims has been in my notebook for a long while:
"Many a man fails to become a thinker for the sole reason that his memory is too good."
It is one of those sayings that means different things depending on recent history and what you are pondering at the moment (I think I originally captured this quote as a defense for a friend's poor long suffering husband's oft maligned memory).

For years (decades?) I have been accumulating plans and ideas for class on problem solving I will most likely never teach (I think it is the decades part that is most telling). As I accumulated articles on Scientific Method and lists of logical fallacies I gradually realized that all this thinking is not the way 99% of the problems in the world are solved. Most problems are solved by people with good memories. They don't need to think their way through a problem, they just remember how it was solved last time. And with the books and internet to give us access to what other people remember solving, bigger problems can be solved (there is another way for that thought to go, something about we don't have to think as much, but I like the bigger problems angle).

I don't think this is particularly profound, but it does point the way for future planning. Teach more of HOW to think and let the student decide WHAT to think about.

I'm starting to understand that I can think with my fingers, and the pressure of finishing up an entry can help crystallize an idea, but all that does not make it a gem.....


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