I'm not going to go too much into the details of the implementation here; there are book reviews if you want to read them. or you can read the book itself; it's not too long and not too slow of a read. it *is* heartbreaking.
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I'm thinking, instead, about my own experience with people in this range of cognitive aptitude. if you've followed me for a while, you may know that I have about a decade of constant exposure (and some professional experience) working with developmentally delayed people.
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mostly children, but I knew and still know several adults who would fall into that category
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earlier today I was talking with some other people about cognitive ability and limitations and my belief that, at the very least, there are *functional* limits to cognitive ability...
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...and that we certainly lack the social, cultural, biological, and pedagogical technology to help people make large gains at scale I am not particularly interested in using this thread to *argue* about the merits of IQ tests, or the meaning of "intelligence"
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but as I read descriptions of how these men were recruited, pushed through basic training, and placed into combat roles, I can't help but draw parallels with my own experience teaching similarly disadvantaged children
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I've talked a bit with some friends who believe that it's possible to unlock quite a bit of "blocked" cognitive capacity
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and my own experiences with cognitive gains after getting out of terrible environments, dealing with anxiety, etc. have made me open to the idea that there is more malleability to these things than I thought
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if you could take a man like those drafted via Project 100,000, and put him in the optimal environment for his psychology, his temperament, his abilities...somewhere you could take your time, adapt every lesson to his needs, help him be healthy and happy and safe...
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...you would probably see *significant* gains in his cognitive abilities relative to his starting point this plays out with foster kids, to an extent; it's common for kids to measure much higher on IQ tests once you remove them from constant abuse and start feeding them enough
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I'm not sure how to bridge to my next set of thoughts but reading through this book, and thinking about how, say, several of the kids I worked with were shoved through the school system, leaving w/diploma in hand, I keep coming up with the phrase "Goodharting them to death."

2:43 AM ยท Sep 13, 2020

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there is an anecdote early in the book about a recruit the author knew in basic training the other men would play pranks on him the one I'm thinking of, they would ask him if he preferred a nickel or a dime (worth more in the 60s) he'd choose the nickel, because it was larger
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one of the kids I worked extensively with is 21 years old and will still fall for this he, unlike the recruit in the above anecdote, can read I and his other tutors probably spent dozens of hours over several years trying to teach him to distinguish coins from one another
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he has a high school diploma
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I know another young man I didn't work with him personally I was cornered by him at a christmas party when he kept trying to hold my hand he was 18 barely verbal was led around by para-educators in high school by the hand
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never learned to read beyond recognition of the alphabet and his own name, as far as I know he, too, has a diploma
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the plan that sent men of similar capacity to Vietnam and often to their deaths was proposed as a "training" program it was sold as a *benefit* to the disadvantaged clean them up, teach them to read, teach them a trade.
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that didn't happen very often.
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childhood IQ is much less predictive of outcomes in adulthood than adulthood IQ measurements are. I'm not necessarily saying that kids should be screened and excluded from the education system based on early test results
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I *also* know a woman who was classified as "r*tarded" as a small child, and spent years in special education classes she eventually tested out, successfully "mainstreamed," went to college, and is to my knowledge a nice lady w/normal intelligence and a decent job
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so that happens sometimes but not, in my experience, most of the time
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again in a perfect world where everyone gets *perfect* health and happiness and lots of time and *no* coercion or trauma and whatever pedagogical approach works best for their brains...we might see a different stratification, or maybe even less stratification
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and probably significant gains in their abilities we don't live in that world
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there's a physical, likely hardwired component to IQ there are probably components that are less hardwired that we simply don't have the tech to improve at scale and I think that our inability to do so is a problem of deep civilizational inadequacy
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...I'm really frustrated lol, I have a thread somewhere about the complicated incentives and requirements special education teachers are under in the classroom, and it reminds me a lot of the dilemmas described in this book, but I can't find the damn thread
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another thought I'm not sure how to smoothly transition to: one thing that I'm looking forward to if Eigen and I remain in a position to homeschool, is the ability to accommodate our kids' educational needs at the individual level
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a lot of this stuff wouldn't be so hard or so cruel on the cognitively disadvantaged if the people in charge of their care weren't being pressured to make them Pass Tests
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whatever your thoughts on IQ, etc there is a class of people some of whom are "smart" many of whom are not who cannot be taught and trained to perform independently or well by a large institution that relies on test scores and data; certainly not at scale yet? I hope so.
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but sometimes I talk to people who want to pretend that this class doesn't exist that we just need to keep Trying The Same Shit more money, more time -- but eventually you run out of time, you can't keep people in school after they're 18
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I don't know if it would be better for such people to simply permit the educational system to ignore them at an earlier age than they are permitted to ignore other children it would have been better to ignore such men than send them to Vietnam
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I don't have anything conclusive to say except that this is a hard problem and we really, actually, don't have the ability to fix it on a society-wide level via pedagogical means alone I hope, again, that this is a case of "yet."
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oh, here's that earlier thread I mentioned (thanks @PstafarianPrice ):
I've got 5 siblings who've been in "special education" or "behavioral" classes of varying flavors and I have...thoughts (rambly thread)
Show this thread
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