Software Eng. Co-Founder of an All-ages Learning Community in Portland, OR: Alder Commons


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Enabling Children

Is this substantially different from "cohousing"?

There are a huge number of existing projects like this, with a huge variation in the degree of "codependence" from one community to another. https://www.cohousing.org/directory/wpbdp_category/comm/

(USA) N95 masks are available on Amazon

There are a few people in my social network experiencing "long covid" who were otherwise healthy and young. I think some of the unknowns there provide more than enough reason to take low-cost precautions like getting and wearing masks.

The long term symptoms aren't being talked about much because lots of people are still dying, but also because most of the infections are still really recent so we don't have much data on the long-term.

Predictions for 2021 (+ a template for yours)

https://predictionbook.com/ has a skeleton that could be extended with prompts for belief updates. It already has prompts for adjudication of your previous predictions.

Babble challenge: 50 ways of hiding Einstein's pen for fifty years

#20 reminded me of a bizarre experience where I attempted to pass a hacky-sack through the open windows of a car to a friend of mine, and it disappeared. We looked inside and outside the car for a full 15 minutes before realizing it had landed, balanced, on the narrow handle above the window. We never looked up!

What was your behavioral response to covid-19 ?

In March-May I didn't interact with anyone in-person outside of my housemates, who were doing the same. One of us went shopping, about once a month, and we made an effort to get most things delivered. We quarantined the mail for 3 days before opening it, etc. We were pretty intense.

Now, we don't quarantine the mail at all (not really worried about surface transmission in general), and we do "go into work" but in our case it's a huge building and 90% of the time we're only in the same room as people in our germ pod. We also frequently host some small gatherings now but it's always outdoors, with some rare exceptions for like a 10-minute tour of our building for just a few people. We shop every 10 days or so, and have added a few "frivolous" trips to the hardware store.

We get burritos several times a week from our favorite food cart, but otherwise prepare all of our own meals now - we used to eat at restaurants 6 or 7 times a week, but indoor and patio dining are still a no-go for us.

I don't expect we'll revert to normal-ish behavior until we have a widespread vaccine, treatment improves significantly, or some other unforeseen turn of events...

Covid has turned out to be something like 5x less severe IFR than many of us were worried about in March, but it still seems bad enough to take a lot of precaution. My personal risk of dying is super low - I'm healthy and 31. However, I'm still being really cautious because of the not-well-understood long-term effects. SARS was really nasty on that front. What evidence convinced you that's not a big deal? If you don't already have evidence for that, then rationality isn't the reason you changed your behavior.

A third explanation for your behavior (besides monkeying and being rational) is that you and others grew tired of bearing the costs of lockdown at similar times. Lockdown got significantly harder for us, psychologically, after about 4 months - it wouldn't surprise me if there's a bell curve in the population for "lockdown tolerance".

School Has It Backwards

Kids (and adults) are only lazy in the context of being made to do things they don't want to do. Kids who aren't subjected to school have lots of energy because they're exploring things they're excited about. Learning is playing for them.

School Has It Backwards

Not OP, but I've done a bit of digging on this. Education research is really in a bit of a bind when it comes to looking at very-different models. The conventional model is so well established and broadly applied that it's really hard to get powerful studies of anything radically different from what you see in public schools today. Nearly all of the energy in Ed departments at various universities is focused there because that's where 95%+ of kids spend their time.

There are a handful of homeschooling studies that differentiate between "unschoolers" and more-conventional homeschooling approaches, but it's so niche that removing confounders is basically impossible.

You also run into the issue that making meaningful metrics for comparison is really challenging. Unschoolers are probably less likely to do well on a pre-calc test, but simultaneously more likely to earn an advanced math degree - the kids who have a proclivity for math get to dedicate a lot more time to it, while the others happily get by with perhaps only arithmetic and algebra.

I'm pretty thoroughly convinced that dramatically more freedom for school-aged kids is a great thing, but my conviction rests mostly on anecdote and personal experience spending lots of time in spaces that are run in a more self-directed way -- the research-backing just isn't there.

School Has It Backwards

You just described Self-Directed Education.

Of particular interest, at least to me, are Peter Gray's optimizing conditions.

You mentioned a few of them: Ample time for play, access to tools. I think the others combine to outline a sort of litmus test for learning environments that conform to our natural ways of learning.

Effective children education

An umbrella term for this style of learning (and systems that support it) is "self-directed education". You can find places that practice this low-coercion and self-directed style here. There are a small handful of places in Central Europe that might fit the bill.

These places often serve as a refuge for kids that don't fit in the conventional school model, so you often encounter a high rate of neuro-atypicality. There are lots of kids that might have earned themselves a diagnosis in a school setting who are thriving in an environment that can bend to their needs.

I think your last point about lack of shared priors is a big one here. The OP seems intent on designing/engineering the perfect education, when the answer from this perspective will require a lot of letting go.

Portland SSC Meetup 10/01/19 (ETA: afterparty following)

I'm going to try to come to this! Thanks for organizing/posting it.

I'd love to talk about the "What to do about the woo?" section of the paper reviewed recently here - but generally interested just to meet some folks.

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