Registered: Mar 2004
Teaching NKS in High School
I am starting an NKS club at my local high school this coming year. I am very interested in teaching ideas. I like the idea of interactivity. To many I know there comes a sense of profoundness immediately upon discussion of topics and issues that the NKS book addresses. These topics can be brought up independently of the book, and most of the time I find that with almost anyone there is already a way to socialize about these kinds of issues. And if for instance there is conversation that at all in any way tangents issues such as the complexity of things, or even just the basic character of things I find that a comment, consciously biased by an NKS intuition in my case, steadfastly creates gestures of common sense and creativity.
It's as if what we know as NKS intuition is already ubiquitously and humbly situated in everyday conversations and common perspective about things already. I believe that people can tell the good ideas from the not so good ideas. It's in the simplicity of the statement. People stop listening when your lecture goes off into your own theories, like what you say becomes transparent to somebody interested in pure, raw ideas.
I find that the NKS book already presents it's arguments extremely well, and that replicating those arguments in your own words takes an immense effort. First one must understand exactly what is being said. I find often that my interpretation of an idea in the book will can undergo many large changes before I then end up interpreting and explaining the arguments in the book as they are actually presented. That accuracy is key.
But all that accuracy just lies in the ability to present arguments and statements clearly. The best way by far I think to really present these ideas clearly in generating and looking at pictures. Doing experiments. Playing games associated with different phenomena, or just going outside and making observations.
I have ideas like:
go outside and pick leaves,
make your own abstract system, name it and present how it works,
try to find a computer experiment that you are quite sure absolutely nobody has ever done before and then lets do it and write a short paper that presents the results, publish if it's good stuff, wow our class published original discoveries in fundamental science.
These kinds of ideas I like for their simplicity. People visit natural wonders all the time. It's great fun, opens your mind etc. and we're all familiar with that. And if NKS was only one place in the world and as big as the grand canyon, I think people would visiting it just the same, and for the same reasons. An unarguable example of what is possible from a more general landscape I think NKS delivers, but only when expressed in those terms.
So that's the hangup for education I think. NKS is something to be looked at all at once. It seems to be only best understood from the broadest perspective. And what I see from this is that once one has a general understanding of what the biggest possible picture could be for NKS, one can then make powerful analogies between any subfields within that one explores.
And for me at least the greatest power that NKS gives is the power of deliver these analogies. What one eventually begins to realize is that all the little segments of NKS study really are just a collection of different ways of studying computation. And what one also sees is that ultimately the same thing is true with science and it's seemingly independent fields. Once one realizes this, a computation performed by a simple program becomes one also performed by greater things. And then one can finally understand how the essence of something great can be captured by a simple program.
Last edited by Jesse Nochella on 08-25-2005 at 08:02 AM
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