Friday 9 February 2018

Marking their cards

I've written about the Curse of Knowledge before. This is Steven Pinker's idea that once we know something, it is impossible to imagine what it was like before we knew it. It is a major hurdle in teaching people who do not share your cultural background and basic knowledge. The problem is that once something becomes familiar to us, it becomes to us obvious to all thinking people.
Part of the disconnect between my students and me is that we are at least one generation apart and that's a good reason for me to retire and make room for a younger woman. I am clocking up an inventory of words that mean nothing to some of our students . . . because they didn't have the handicap of my very expensive education, a long long time ago.
  • I've mentioned salient from the last time I taught at The Institute.
  • Indelible [pen] foxed one of my students where permanent marker was fine.
  • Herbivore. This caused much mirth and hilarity among the student's farrrming peers. Which blew up into a discussion of the difference between silage and slurry. Most towny folks think these things are essentially the same because a) they are found about the farm and b) they smell. I find it odd, in these deodorised times, how kids can't handle aNNy smell without have a fit of the vapours; affecting to swoon; and flapping the hands ineffectually in front of their faces.
QM = Quantitative Methods practical computer class at 0900 on Fridays can be a bit out of my control because my colleague the lecturer will decide to schedule class quizzes at 1000. Last week he was assessing the students' grasp of probability and it turned out that about a third of my chaps had never played cards, let alone poker. So terms like flush, straight, two-pair - all standard grist to the mill of probability - were completely foreign to them. And it seems that they were all collectively intimidated enough not to ask for these terms to be explained. They were even quoting terms with which I was unfamiliar. J Q K A are 'honours' - I grew up calling them face cards. Or is face-card a subset of the honours? To count the number of possible straights A 2 3 4 5; 2 3 4 5 6; 3 4 5 6 7 etc. you have to grasp the peculiar concept that Ace can be both low: A 2 3 4 5 and high: 10 J Q K A.  That's a bit of an ask for someone who has never picked up a deck.

But for parity of esteem, let us be sure that few people over the age of 50 would be able to steer Lara Croft [bloboprev] through a 3-D maze; or get to another level in Candy Crush, let alone be cold-blooded enough to throw a whore out of a speeding car in Grand Theft Auto.

No comments:

Post a Comment