All of Owen_Richardson's Comments + Replies

3habryka2yIt's still a few months, though I am curious about the answer.
Simple investing for a complete beginner? (Just… developing world index funds?)

Good decision.

............. Okay, I have got to get out of this discussion. xD

2wedrifid8yGood but not-quite-optimal decision. ;)
Simple investing for a complete beginner? (Just… developing world index funds?)

... Yes, Rolf was awesome, and he is cool and I like him. That is entirely the point. The bit about him helping me to realize that I am "crazy" is a humorous way of giving mad props to his clear and incisive thinking.

0Crux8yWell go check out my long response to you, and see if I'm as incisive as him ;)
Simple investing for a complete beginner? (Just… developing world index funds?)

I would respond with a mildly self-deprecatory comment that simultaneously ironically highlights the strange, unnecessary harshness and lack of humor one may find surprisingly commonly on LW, but I expect it would just get a bunch of downvotes and be a silly waste of time, amusing no one but myself.

2wedrifid8yGood decision. I'll point out, however, that I was being kind, not harsh. Your behaviour was sending 'troll' signals and my impression was that you were not intending to. The hypomanic enthusiasm your post and followup replies suggest can be a powerful force at times but needs to be carefully managed lest it result in unintended (and unconsidered) consequences. If you really want to go the distance with your education startup you'll need to balance the enthusiasm with, for want of a better term, stability. Understanding (and caring) how others will respond to the signals you give will also be absolutely critical. Much (perhaps even most) of the task of your startup creation (even an educational not-particularly-for-profit) will be in figuring out what you can do to invoke the desired behaviour in others. (Note that using your terminology this isn't advice to be 'sane and well measured', this is advice to do 'insane' right.)
0Crux8yI for one don't understand why you specifically mentioned Rolf. He was extremely charitable with you, and did nothing but try to help. Why highlight him in particular in that context, of saying you're insane or whatever?
Simple investing for a complete beginner? (Just… developing world index funds?)

What do you mean by "have access to"?

Hm, yeah, that's a really weird way to phrase it unless you have certain... historical things in mind. Strictly speaking, everyone "has access" to all the books and other resources you need. It's just really unlikely for anyone to notice that it's something worth focusing on.

Okay, I wrote my response to Technoguyrob to double as a response to you. I'll get back to you in a few days.

Simple investing for a complete beginner? (Just… developing world index funds?)


Minimum Viable Products have been done, hence the excitement... just built mainly for markets where the ultimate "consumers" have pretty much no influence over "purchasing policy"... and stuff ...

It's not a theory of learning, but a theory of instruction...

As to "smarter than me", I didn't develop the theory, and it's largely dumb luck I came across all the puzzle pieces in a way that made it perfectly obvious how much of a Big Deal the implications could be...

A year ago, I'd've talked your ear off at this point trying to ... (read more)

Simple investing for a complete beginner? (Just… developing world index funds?)

Thank you very much! You are cool and I like you and I will look into those some time! :3

I don't think I have to worry too much about "insight porn". The closest I get is obsessively sampling the products of the nearest thing we have to "competition", noting details of all the ways they screw up and how to avoid those problems (and making sure to hit the few points they ever get right!)...

I'm basically forcing myself to spend these next few weeks landing some cheap-or-free rent and other pre-move preparations.

The theoretical and enginee... (read more)

6Crux8yAlthough the outside view says it's unlikely you're correct in making such a strong statement, it's of course more than possible that you really do have something that significant. Just remember that the design of human brain hardware is such that it requires a constant, extremely high level of vigilance to prevent the goals one has in mind from shifting imperceptibly from 'optimizing for the goal in question' to 'optimizing for some sort of social approval somehow related to the goal'. Keep in mind that you're essentially telling us you have something that could be ridiculously important for the world, but that you can't tell us about it yet. This makes it impossible for us to independently verify whether it's actually true, which allows you to parade around signaling this awesome fact about yourself without worrying about really being put on the spot and being criticized, potentially finding that what you have isn't as awesome as you thought it was. Just as people tend to embellish the content of their dreams, and make slight changes to the details in order to make them better fit as an analogy or something like that for what they're talking about, because nobody can look back at a recording and know whether it's true or not (not yet, anyway), in the same way you're setting yourself up in a situation where nobody can look at that 'recording' and verify whether you really have what you say you have, or not. You say you have something significant, but you tell us you can't explain anything yet. Just ask yourself, why did you write the OP, and why are you responding as you are? Are you sure this whole enterprise isn't just your brain hijacking some effort you came up with in the past, for the purpose of feeling the fun emotional effects of telling people about how awesome you are? Why exactly did you write this post? Ostensibly it was to look for advice on something, but perhaps for your identity it was just an excuse to bring this stuff up, since you otherwise ma
1PECOS-98yWhat do you mean by "have access to"? Also, I'd be interested in that reading list, if it wouldn't be too much effort for you to put together.
6Technoguyrob8ySeeing as how classical mechanics is an effective theory for physically restructuring significant portions of reality to one's goals, you are promising something tantamount to a full theory of knowledge acquisition, something linguists and psychologists smarter than you have worked on for centuries. Calm down with promises that will disappoint you and make an MVP.
Simple investing for a complete beginner? (Just… developing world index funds?)

... Yes, thank you for pointing out the exact conjunction used in the original meme that I was riffing on. Definitely the key point. xD

("sarcastic only actually genuinely genial")

Simple investing for a complete beginner? (Just… developing world index funds?)

The worse case scenario is that a year from now we end up having to work a couple days a week slinging coffee/janitoring etc! :3

Better case scenarios are like (quoting muflax) "3 months programming, 9 months living off savings".

Simple investing for a complete beginner? (Just… developing world index funds?)

ours is the romance that shall shake down the very foundations of human civilization, and give birth to a new world in their place, yes

(... "ha ha but serious" xD )

2Baughn8yThat's "Ha ha only serious []"
Simple investing for a complete beginner? (Just… developing world index funds?)

Yeah, I actually just discovered that I've gone completely off the deep end, so your sane and measured advice is completely useless to me, sorry. xD


  1. Nope
  2. What is this "retire"?
  3. Nope.
  4. Ha ha ha what.
  5. Well yeah, of course. )

I think I'd edit in a notice to the top of the post so other well-meaning folks like you don't get tricked into wasting your time trying to talk sense into a total nutcase like me. :)

(I appreciate all y'all, though. ^^ )

Simple investing for a complete beginner? (Just… developing world index funds?)

... Yes, the winner is you.

Our answer to 2, from the depths of our souls, can only be: Hell. Fucking. Yes.

Now, Paul Graham is awesome (he has left me in a state of complete conviction that LISP is the One True Way, to which I must aspire), but that's... alot of essays. (An entire herd of alots, majestically migrating across vast prairies of prose.)

And I think our "startup" is going to be a lot different from what is normally meant by the term, so... I'ma sketch said differences, and you can tell me what you think is relevant, if you want.

  • Our &q

... (read more)
4RolfAndreassen8yOk, first of all, I wish you the best of luck in your craziness. The time to swing for the fences is when you're young; that's when you can afford to take a couple of risks. Your description does narrow down the kind of advice you should be looking for somewhat; it's true that most of PG's essays are directed at people who are trying to follow the "standard" route of venture-capital funding to an eventual IPO or buyout. Nonetheless, his advice on how entrepreneurs should act internally, as opposed to their relations with investors, still seems relevant. Try "Relentlessly Resourceful" and "Ramen Profitable" for starters. For myself, I find that I like his writing so much that I treat his essay page a bit like the Sequences: I go back and reread them every so often. So if your taste is like mine, you'll end up reading it all eventually; bwah-hah-hah! That said, the best stuff does tend to be in the middle - the post-YC essays are less interesting. It seems you are going for financial independence rather than huge wealth; perhaps you are already aware of this resource, but if not, you will likely find the blog of Mr Money Mustache [] motivating. And what the heck, while I'm suggesting readings anyway, go have a look at the archives of Joel on Software []; as with PG, the best essays are from around 2003-2006, or so, but still very much worth reading. They don't ahve quite the same direct relevance to your project, but Joel seems to have done something similar to what you have in mind - build a company to sufficient-for-my-needs profitability without taking venture capital - so you might find it interesting to have a look at how he thinks. In particular, now I consider it, his Strategy Letter I [] seems relevant to your situation. Edit to add: And, of course, beware of insight porn! You don't want to spend more than your lunch break or so reading
Simple investing for a complete beginner? (Just… developing world index funds?)


Do you know who the voyageurs were?

They were men who had to work in a massive wilderness where the only "infrastructure" was a bunch of rivers.

So they would just build a goddamn boat right there in the middle of nowhere with some bark they ripped off a tree, and canoe across a fucking continent. And where they couldn't paddle, they would get out and carry the damn thing, even when it was loaded down with a mountain of beaver skins.

Nobody "dismisses" these guys.

I'll tell you who we do "dismiss": The aristocratic assholes bac... (read more)

2Emily8yI don't quite understand your point here, but no matter. As the others have noted, it's not that you seemed to have bad intent with that phrasing. It just stuck out uncomfortably to me and I felt like pointing it out since you might not want to convey the connotations that it seems to be carrying.
Simple investing for a complete beginner? (Just… developing world index funds?)

All that said... how would you respond to question 4?

You can kind of tell that it was the question I came to realize was key, through the process of writing the post...

Should I even bother with this "investment" stuff right now, or just move the whole 13k sum to a simple savings account and worry about reinvesting it in a year?

0Cthulhoo8yIt depends on when you think you will need the money, and how much dependant you are on that amount. If you plan on using it at some point (e.g. for buying a car) then try something with low risk. Usually insurance companies have good low risk funds, which guarantee a minimum return of 2-3% a year, and average round 4-5% (they mainly invest in bond: you could do it directly on your own, but if you know nothing about finance, you should probably trust them). If, on the other hand, you think you could afford to risk losing some money in the short run, then go for the equity investment, but try to spend some time to evaluate it and chose the mean return/risk profile that fits you best.
4Cthulhoo8yJust be careful that markets /= economy. The developing economies might still grow steadily, while their markets can fluctuate a lot. One of the most widely used Indexes for emerging markets is the Morgan Stanley BRIC. You can easily google and find some funds that invest in it and look at their performance to get an idea. The first one that I found (here []) has a decent summary of its most important features. You can see that it is actually losing money . A very important number you should look at is the standard deviation, which is written to be 23% over three years. On the contrary, investing e.g. in the US health care sector has given much better results (see here []) with less risk. To summarize: what you say it's true in the long run, but equity investments have a significant short and medium-term evolution, which is generally independent of the long-term trends.
Review: Michel Thomas French (Direct Instruction)

Interestingly enough, the study with the highest effect size in the meta-analysis (2.44) involved non-basic skills. Actually I think I'll just type up the summary:

This study analyzes the use of the Earth Science videodisc program with elementary education majors who traditionally have had negative attitudes towards science teaching. One group received the DI program and the other group received the traditional approach [random assignment, of course] during a one-semester science course. The DI group had significantly higher posttest knowledge scores (91

... (read more)
Review: Michel Thomas French (Direct Instruction)

Thank you for your offer of help with feedback (I'll def take you up on that) and papers (there are some papers referenced in "Research on Direct Instruction" I might like to get my hands on), and the sympathy on my ma.

I'm interning at a DI school in Baltimore (City Springs). Currently working with the kindergarteners on the language program (I'm supposed to move on to also doing math and reading soon, and teach older kids as well).

The National Institute For Direct Instruction (NIFDI) placed me here. It usually takes a minimum of two years for so... (read more)

0jsalvatier10yI look forward to seeing your drafts. Good luck with your DI internship!
Review: Michel Thomas French (Direct Instruction)

Yes, but we're not talking about long-term research here. It wouldn't be hard at all to get a bunch of volunteers interested in learning a language, and randomly assign them to one of the various different treatments popular in the industry (MT, Pimsleur, Rosetta, traditional classroom instruction, whatever). It would take less than a year, probably.

(Various choices would be up to the experimenter, like whether they wanted to control time so all groups spent, like, an hour a day or whatever, or examine the time students chose to spend themselves as one of ... (read more)

Review: Michel Thomas French (Direct Instruction)

Yes, and I should make clear that Solity didn't say, 'The MT courses work well, wherever they work well, due to approximating DI'. He presented DI more as one of many interesting little connected pieces (many of which were pretty much fluff), rather than as an overarching explanation.

The interpretation that, "If dalmatians are metaphorically the gold standard, then the MT courses are mangy mutts in an industry where everyone else is painting black spots and pinning floppy ears on chickens," is mine.

Review: Michel Thomas French (Direct Instruction)

Yeah, and all of what Cainntear was talking about later in that post with "teach confusable things separately" is covered in Chapter 10 of ToI, "Introducing coordinate members to a set".

[And yes, there's a typo in the table on the first page. Awareness of abstract feature "C" rules out example 6. It doesn't have to wait until feature "(D)" is brought to attention.]

I really think both the places where MT follows DI principles, and the places where he fails, should jump out to anyone familiar with both.

Which makes me w... (read more)

Review: Michel Thomas French (Direct Instruction)

No, although I'd like to. I've just been really inactive the past couple weeks. Settling in to the internship and making sure I'm actually learning what I'm supposed to be learning there is still taking most of my energy during the week, and then I found out my mom had cancer (she just had a little bit, they got it out completely, and the chances of it coming back are apparently 'virtually nil' with just five weeks of radiation... but still, totally killed my productivity for one weekend), and then lazing around with a cold the next weekend. Yeesh.

The most... (read more)

1jsalvatier10yMy best wishes to your mom. I can sympathize with you a lot there. If you want someone to read over material you have and give you critical feedback at any stage of the process, I am eager to help you. For example, if you have an outline or are planning on basing your writing on the previous post, I'd be happy to give you feedback on those. Also, if you need access to any papers, I have access to a university library account, so I can get you those. The same goes for Misha. Don't be at all shy about asking me for help. You can either contact me through PM, email me (username at gmail), or make a discussion post. I suspect the motivation for studying DI shouldn't take more than a paragraph. Hope your internship is starting off well. Who are you interning with/what are you doing?
2[anonymous]10yPersonally, I'm eager to actually use DI more in my own learning, so I'm currently working through Theory of Instruction. But some better evidence than PFT would be nice, yes. Especially if it isn't always about basic skills. (Because otherwise, no matter how good the technique, I won't benefit from it.)
Review: Michel Thomas French (Direct Instruction)

I should also note that MT was not merely poor at meta-teaching how to use his eponymous 'Method' itself; He was actively secretive about it.

I believe the reason he claimed was something like fear of the establishment stealing it and claiming credit? That doesn't seem to make much sense to me. Was that the 'real' reason, or a rationalization for some traumatic after-effect of his war experience, or what? Not really a question I'd expect a high chance of success or high returns on answering.

2[anonymous]10yI assumed an active failure on MT's side because of comments like these [] (comment 10) by Cainntear, who is much more knowledgeable about MT than me. Quote:
Review: Michel Thomas French (Direct Instruction)

Summary: Nice for beginners and people with bad learning experiences ...

Actually, this strikes me as a bit weakly worded. I think the MT courses are the best resource currently available for an English speaker looking to start learning French or Spanish, by a significant margin.

Unfortunately there are no scientific studies comparing the effectiveness of various different 'teach yourself' programs and traditional classroom instruction, so I can't find any direct evidence on that question beyond my own anecdotal experience.

But still, what with that and the much more indirect evidence available, I'd still be very surprised if this wasn't true.

2[anonymous]10yThis is the reason I don't give a glowing recommendation. Research about long-term language learning is pretty lacking (and difficult to do, obviously), so this is a problem of pretty much any approach. I would agree that MT is the best starting material for these European languages I've seen so far.
Review: Michel Thomas French (Direct Instruction)

However, according to several DI proponents the reason MT works so well is that it applies (an approximation of) DI techniques.

Wait, 'several DI proponents'? Are you sure? Because I know of no-one in the DI world who is aware of MT (unless I were to count myself as properly 'in the DI world', which I do not yet).

The only place I found the connection was in the book "The Learning Revolution" by Jonathan Solity (2008). This was where I found the first reference to DI period, setting me off down this long path. However, it isn't really the focus ... (read more)

1[anonymous]10yYou're right, I seem to have miscounted the proponents there, so it's just Solity's book and you. I edited the post.
1jsalvatier10yAre you and misha working on a top level DI post?
What Direct Instruction is

Yes, Project Follow-Through had some problems, but I don't think it's likely that those problems provided a systematic bias towards DI sufficient to explain away the huge differences as non-significant, especially since similar results were replicated in many smaller studies that were in a situation where better random assignment etc was possible.

"Research on Direct Instruction" (Adams and Engelmann, 1996) goes into much better detail on Follow-Through and those other experiments.

Actually, it basically covers three different types of studies:

  • Th

... (read more)
Review: Michel Thomas French (Direct Instruction)

Wow, nice work!

Just one note for now: On the MT courses being approximations: Yeah, the way I usually think of it now references an article by Zig Engelmann called "The Dalmatian and Its Spots" (contextual prologue here).

To summarize the most here-relevant message of the article:

Thinking that programs with certain features [eg, some focus on 'phonemic awareness' and 'phonics' in a reading program] will be successful because research shows successful programs have those features is like thinking something with spots must be a dalmatian because re... (read more)

What Direct Instruction is

Hmmm, there could be lots to reply to in that post, but I'll try to keep it brief...

Can you give me a few specific examples of actual tasks that your students have problems with most commonly? Like, show me exactly what the students are presented with.

With that, I might be able to do a transformed task analysis, and develop an example cognitive routine.

Actually, factoring is used as one illustration of a cognitive routine in Theory of Instruction. I'll scan that section when I get time.

0[anonymous]10yOk. Well, we were talking about factoring. Here's a factoring problem I would not expect most of my students to get: Edit: Sorry, I guess you wanted more than one example? Not sure whether these are supposed to all be examples of the same basic type of problem, or different, or what, but I added a couple more factoring problems. Factor completely. 4x^2+11x-3 3x^3-13x^2-10x 3x^5-3x 2z^3+16
What Direct Instruction is

Thanks! I did think it sounded annoying for commenter, and I don't want to try the general audience's patience much further at this point. Hence why I'm just asking a few people what they think of it in the comments.

Being able to calibrate myself objectively is an extremely attractive idea, though.

What Direct Instruction is

DI is a theory of instruction, not of learning.

If you're interested in judging in greater detail how DI might offer any ideas on AI that are both useful and original, the place to start would be Inferred Functions of Performance and Learning (Engelmann and Steely, 2004), which does attempt to set out a theory of learning (and the logically necessary things that must be going on inside of any system that performs a given behavior, whether learned or unlearned).

Please see this comment.

What Direct Instruction is

Yes, this post is just an introduction to the very basics of DI (technically to just the very basics of one half of it, the 'stimulus-locus analysis').

Theory of Instruction goes into detail on those fundamental principles and how they apply to teaching the most basic concepts. It then shows how the basic concepts can be built up into more complex ones, and therefore how more complex ones can be analyzed to reduce them into parts for teaching.

Once you understand the details, you'll probably just say, "Oh, right, reductionism. Of course that also applies here."

Another treatment of Direct Instruction getting more into the technical details of the theory

Considering that you didn't even try to see if I was making a bluff by offering to bet me one cent against my $2000...

S=probability of scientology involvement





Again, assuming I didn't make any embarrassingly simple math errors, that's an over 99.9995% confidence that the 'scientology-related' hypothesis was wrong.

Not that this is factoring in the hassle for both of us of setting up the judging and so on, but still, right? :P

0gjm10yBut "the hassle of setting up the judging and so on" makes something like two orders of magnitude difference to the probability estimate here. And why would I want to call your bluff in that way?
What Direct Instruction is

Oh no, I know DAMN well I could've done WAY better if I'd been less stupid in the first place! Although if I had to communicate with my past self, I think the best thing I could have told him would be just to put a note at the beginning of the original post saying explicitly that it was a draft with many, many problems, but that I was pretty damn sure DI was a super-important topic to bring to the attention of LW, so if anyone would be so super-cool nice as to give me some feedback on how to make it more presentable...

There's no way I could communicate the... (read more)

What Direct Instruction is

Most excellent Gwern!

I have a proposition!

So, I've begun writing a new post, “A dry presentation of some empirical evidence on DI's effectiveness”. (An attempt to replace that intended function of my original post with as high-quality a replacement as Misha's post was for the intended function of the 'theory sketch' section.)

KPier very kindly offered to help me with editing, so I sent her the first seven-ish paragraphs I had written. She found one change to recommend, somewhat ambivalent herself over which way was best. I wasn't sure either, and found myse... (read more)

2gwern10yIt's been done before, but not often, so I infer it doesn't work well. Possibly this is just due to clumsy implementation.
3[anonymous]10yLuke did such a test [] recently. It's probably useful for feedback (right now, his two version are at 20 and 3 karma), but really annoying for commenters. I would recommend getting some beta testers instead (I volunteer). Even a small sample of readers should be able to catch most relevant problems.
What Direct Instruction is

Some other thoughts: perhaps you could give me some examples of specific teaching goals you have, and specific problems you often encounter?

Honestly, I suspect most of the problems high-school students have are due to lack of mastery of the basics. That they are weak enough on such things as adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing fractions and working with exponents that they are likely to make mistakes on those even if they aren't having their cognitive resources split between trying to track that shaky foundation and learn the details of the new thing y... (read more)

1[anonymous]10ySure, I can see that would be helpful. Right now I have a bunch of SAT prep students, and I teach college kids calculus when there's a demand, but for the sake of argument let's consider Algebra II. One of the goals in Algebra II is to get the student comfortable with polynomials: factoring, multiplying and dividing them, and understanding the relationship between those processes and things like zeroes and asymptotes of functions. So maybe we should talk about factoring? Nearly all my students get the hang of factoring polynomials once I can convince them to sit down and practice for a while (which presents its own set of difficulties), but I'm sure I'm not teaching it optimally. Problems I run into: confusion about which term in a quadratic comes from what ("It's supposed to multiply to this and add to this, right? Or is it the other way around?"); neglecting to look for common factors first; confusion/frustration when the leading coefficient isn't 1; not recognizing special cases like difference of squares (only sort of a special case), higher degree polynomials in quadratic form, or sum/difference of cubes; not knowing when to use factoring by grouping. I have my own ad hoc ways of dealing with these problems, but I have no reason to believe they're the best possible. Maybe this is still too broad, or I'm assuming too much familiarity with the subject matter? I'm just tossing it out. I like this idea. I do pretty much re-teach how to use fractions (and to a lesser extent exponents) whenever they come up, but much as I would like not having to do that, I'm not sure the problem is easily solved. Kids don't learn how to use fractions partly because they don't believe they need to; they decide in elementary or middle school that "decimals are way better and you can use a calculator," and once they're in high school they find out about "Ans=>Frac" on their graphing calculators. In my experience they really, really resent being drilled on fractions, and forget what
What Direct Instruction is

At this point, I have nothing more detailed to respond to that than, "I am now extremely aware of that, but thank you for telling me again, because the extra repetition couldn't hurt my chances of remembering to thoroughly apply it in the future."

1khafra10ySorry to f5 [] it, then--I just got the impression you were thinking inferential distance was the main problem.
What Direct Instruction is

I'm going to the effort of telling you this because, due to the value of the comment, I want to encourage similar feedback from you in the future.

I'll be sure to criticize you in the future, then.

And I'll be sure to strive to make your job much smaller. =]

What Direct Instruction is

After rereading your last comment here, I just wanted to make clear: I do care very much.

Thank you making an excellent, explicit, compressed list of everything I did wrong. (...Where else than LW would that be obviously non-sarcastic? :P)

It is very valuable and I will be using it to improve. If I had a printer, I'd print it out and put it by my computer. (As it is I'll just have to save it to a file I use a lot.)

I'm going to the effort of telling you this because, due to the value of the comment, I want to encourage similar feedback from you in the future.... (read more)

4gwern10yI'll be sure to criticize you in the future, then. Precisely. To err is human, to persevere is of the devil, or however it goes.
What Direct Instruction is

Problem is that the DI world, in terms of the actual experts on the theory rather than just people who deliver programs, is very small, and most of those experts work together in person rather than communicating online.

So it might take a while to get a response.

Heh, I actually just realized that I've been using some non-transparent LessWrong jargon in some of my communications with the DI community, like "inferential distance".

The problem is that, once you understand the concepts common both on LW and in DI theory, there is so much overlap in mea... (read more)

What Direct Instruction is

No no no! Please don't mistake my tone! I am so happy that you're asking me for detailed help with this! Responding to you is not onerous, but joyful!

Writing a "Complete Guide to Task Analysis for Beginners!" is something I'd love to do! I just know it won't get done very soon.

I'm sorry I keep forgetting to examine my jargon that seems intuitively transparent to me and try to over-estimate how much explanation it needs. From now on I will start compiling a glossary of terms.

But yes, you raise a very important question:

"How much practical use... (read more)

1[anonymous]10yThat is a doubleplus good idea. Sure, sounds great.
What Direct Instruction is

Ah! Sorry, I was thinking maybe you had understood some of the contents of that thread already before I mentioned it in this one.

Anyway, sorry this reply took so long. I was having scanner issues.

Here's the first page of Chapter 12 in ToI, "Programs Derived from Tasks" [edit: fixed from accidental link to section of the AthabascaU module]. A definition of "Task Analysis" is, of course, under that heading.

There are details in the definition that rely on knowledge of concepts covered earlier in the book, but as a whole, does it help?

I jus... (read more)

1[anonymous]10yWell, you didn't define it in that thread either, as far as I can see, so I am confused by this statement. In case this needs to be said: you really shouldn't use jargon without defining it if you aim to write for beginners. It is reasonable to quit whenever you decide it's in your best interests to quit, of course. I'm sorry if you found my request for a definition onerous. I hope nothing I said seemed like a demand for a complete guide to anything; I didn't intend it that way. I may or may not ever get around to checking out the book from the UCF library. I was looking for more concrete and actionable pieces of advice on how to improve my teaching process, partly because they might be immediately useful, and partly because I am still undecided about whether DI has much to offer me and the quality/novelty of the advice would be significant evidence. Anyway, thanks for your time. ETA: The definition on the scanned page is sufficient, if not entirely transparent, so I upvoted you for answering my question. Thanks!
What Direct Instruction is


The reason I did not, rightly or wrongly, was because you have to start off doing this by showing how it applies in the most basic context, like in the AthabascaU module.

This results in a very technical analysis of something that initially seems trivial and pointlessly detailed, and unrelated to the amazing-looking results from studies like Project Follow-Through (which, remember, the meta-analysis says are representative).

I remember glazing over that section in the AthabascaU module myself the first time I read it. And several times after that. Onl... (read more)

2khafra10yAnecdotally, this post interested me in direct instruction; none of yours did. Going back and looking, I finally found (16 paragraphs into the "quick sketch of the basic theory" section, and 7 pages of text into the post) a sentence that hinted at the intriguing description in this post: "This is why I say that a huge part of the basics of DI is 'guided-induction' (my term, not used in the field)." Remember that, inductively, every sentence I read without knowing what I'm reading about or becoming interested lowers my belief that I will eventually find out what I'm reading about and become interested. The "show, don't tell" maxim in writing helps to defend against results like 7 pages of sharing your enthusiasm before giving any clue as to what distinguishes the subject of your enthusiasm from the closest 100 enthusiasm-gathering subjects.
What Direct Instruction is

I appreciate your willingness to have an in-depth discussion of this topic with me, and if I had infinite time, I would gladly take you up on it. But since I don't, I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to bow out of discussing the subject of me in order to have more time for the subject of DI.

I have already learned lots of things I think I could apply to better accomplishing similar goals in the future. And I don't anticipate having to introduce another such wide, deep, complex topic as DI from scratch again.

Again, thank you, and I hope to see more of you in the DI discussion.

What Direct Instruction is

I would love to help, of course. Right exactly now I have some stuff from my internship I should bump to the top of my priority list (there were some minor problems last week with the kindies not following the proper procedures for asking for my help when I'm helping someone else, and I need to whip up a short script to model the expectations with the other teachers - Honestly, a huge percentage of behavior problems with kids, especially the youngest ones, are just from them honestly not knowing what you want from them).

But that kind of project is nowhere ... (read more)

What Direct Instruction is

I... this is one of those issues that if I am in the wrong, I will have to take a break and apply some more intense techniques for getting around my own defensiveness than I usually need to use.

But I really honestly feel no "small note of discord" in my mind that should make me expect to find that I am wrong.

At any rate, since it's over and done with now, what say the both of us just put the issue far in the back of our minds to allow any potentially useful new thoughts to crystallize by themselves, and refocus our attention on the future of what we need to write about DI?

3gwern10ySo you don't care that most of the reaction to your article was about how it was written? You don't care about how much time you've spent discussing it with me alone? (Or how much time I've spent, hoping that future material will be better?) You don't care about how much the impact was muted because of all that? You don't care about what you've learned about the value of clear writing? You don't care about building a reputation as a guy who knows about something interesting but can't write for beans? You don't care about your apparent ignorance of editing done either by yourself or another, or how to get it, or that you were ignorant of being ignorant, or that you might be generally miscalibrated about your competence? You don't care about sending the message that you don't care about all the foregoing? I'm not asking for a large note of discord, but I definitely think there should be a small note there somewhere. I'd rather discuss you. DI is just one topic, and hopefully just the first of many topics you might discuss here. Someone else will sooner or later pick up the DI baton, but if you ignore any lessons to be learned here, when will you learn them? Sooner would be better than later.
What Direct Instruction is

Oh no, I didn't mean "Is that all you need?" as in "subtext: I've given you enough, go away". :P

I meant: "I know I need to give you more information. Tell me where I should start."

I linked to a scanned page of Theory of Instruction here in this comment thread

1[anonymous]10yPlease start by providing a definition--like, the kind you might find in a glossary--of "task analysis" as you are using the phrase in the above comment.
3hairyfigment10yYeah, no. I can see not providing examples of everything you talked about, and generally not following your own preferred method to the letter. But the picture Misha has given me of DI would have told you to provide clear positive and negative examples of something within about the first full screen of text. I think I looked at three screens' worth before giving up.
What Direct Instruction is

Please see "I wasn't contemplating suicide per se". I knew in advance that I would decide to keep fighting, as I always do. It is actually a technique I use to cheer myself up, rather like being underwater, and dipping down just a bit so that you can kick off the ground in order to spring back to the surface.

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