I totally copied off Bea’s homework though when feeling lazy

most math textbooks with sample problems list the answers in the back. but when we had homework, those answers wouldn’t be any help to us, because our teachers wanted the solutions. They weren’t after the answers per se; they were testing our ability to solve problems. The individual answers weren’t important. What was important was making us learn the process. So that afterwards, we could be presented with any problem of the same structure and know how to solve it – and build on that knowledge to be able to solve ever more complicated problems.

Those of us who understood that spent hours slogging through the homework. Those of us who didn’t, copied off those who did. I’ll go ahead and hazard a guess that the former is going to have a better chance of growing up to save the world.

The same is true of the process of learning to solve social problems. At the first levels of learning (ex. me being 21 and having no formal training in social studies or any related field) the answers we could come up with are not important because at this level, we cannot find answers that are not already known. (None of those problems in the book were a scientific mystery, the answers were already written on the back.) At this level of learning, the conclusions we can draw from our thinking are not as important as working to improve the process of our thinking.

Sure, I can read Jason Pargin’s articles and be enlightened. But if  do not also learn how to use the same process that he does to observe social problems and come up with solutions, I’ll be lost when faced with a problem whose solution he hasn’t told me –

When the answers are no longer on the back.


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