My recommended curriculum

  • Summary: What you're trying to do is mold the person's brain to have an accurate model of reality.  And you want to focus on those aspects of reality which are most likely to be important to the person.  I think good character and good habits can fall under that umbrella.  I think also a love of learning.  I'm not sure that would fall under the umbrella of "an accurate model of reality".  I need to think more about this to try to come up with a good summary of the goal.
  • History - Just watch videos of people reading from good books about history.
  • Music - Just have them listen to lots of different kinds of music, or watch videos in which people discuss different kinds of music.
  • Logical fallacies
  • Rhetoric - Like Ben Franklin's approach (which is also the approach used in the legal system) of not declaring something to be indisputably true but to instead just relate that it's the way things seem to you based on your experience.
  • Argument mapping
  • SAT
  • LSAT
  • English: proper grammar, vocabulary, phonics, spelling.

Misc ideas

  • From studying on my own, I would say that a huge problem with self-study / online study is the amount of time a student can stay blocked / stuck by a given issue / problem.
    • So whatever solution finally becomes widespread will need to solve that issue.

Others' thoughts on education

Benjamin Franklin

  • Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
    • He basically educated himself by reading lots of books.  He spent his own money on books, asked others if he could borrow their books.  He read before and after work, and during lunch breaks at work.  He apparently didn't learn arithmetic until he was 16.
      • From a child I was fond of reading, and all the little money that came into my hands was ever laid out in books. Pleased with the Pilgrim's Progress, my first collection was of John Bunyan's works in separate little volumes. I afterward sold them to enable me to buy R. Burton's Historical Collections; they were small chapmen's books, and cheap, 40 or 50 in all. My father's little library consisted chiefly of books in polemic divinity, most of which I read, and have since often regretted that, at a time when I had such a thirst for knowledge, more proper books had not fallen in my way, since it was now resolved I should not be a clergyman. Plutarch's Lives there was in which I read abundantly, and I still think that time spent to great advantage. There was also a book of DeFoe's, called an Essay on Projects, and another of Dr. Mather's, called Essays to do Good, which perhaps gave me a turn of thinking that had an influence on some of the principal future events of my life.

        This bookish inclination at length determined my father to make me a printer, though he had already one son (James) of that profession. In 1717 my brother James returned from England with a press and letters to set up his business in Boston. I liked it much better than that of my father, but still had a hankering for the sea. To prevent the apprehended effect of such an inclination, my father was impatient to have me bound to my brother. I stood out some time, but at last was persuaded, and signed the indentures when I was yet but twelve years old. I was to serve as an apprentice till I was twenty-one years of age, only I was to be allowed journeyman's wages during the last year. In a little time I made great proficiency in the business, and became a useful hand to my brother. I now had access to better books. An acquaintance with the apprentices of booksellers enabled me sometimes to borrow a small one, which I was careful to return soon and clean. Often I sat up in my room reading the greatest part of the night, when the book was borrowed in the evening and to be returned early in the morning, lest it should be missed or wanted.

        And after some time an ingenious tradesman, Mr. Matthew Adams, who had a pretty collection of books, and who frequented our printing-house, took notice of me, invited me to his library, and very kindly lent me such books as I chose to read. I now took a fancy to poetry, and made some little pieces; my brother, thinking it might turn to account, encouraged me, and put me on composing occasional ballads. One was called The Lighthouse Tragedy, and contained an account of the drowning of Captain Worthilake, with his two daughters: the other was a sailor's song, on the taking of Teach (or Blackbeard) the pirate. They were wretched stuff, in the Grub-street-ballad style; and when they were printed he sent me about the town to sell them. The first sold wonderfully, the event being recent, having made a great noise. This flattered my vanity; but my father discouraged me by ridiculing my performances, and telling me verse-makers were generally beggars. So I escaped being a poet, most probably a very bad one; but as prose writing has been of great use to me in the course of my life, and was a principal means of my advancement, I shall tell you how, in such a situation, I acquired what little ability I have in that way.

        There was another bookish lad in the town, John Collins by name, with whom I was intimately acquainted. We sometimes disputed, and very fond we were of argument, and very desirous of confuting one another, which disputatious turn, by the way, is apt to become a very bad habit, making people often extremely disagreeable in company by the contradiction that is necessary to bring it into practice; and thence, besides souring and spoiling the conversation, is productive of disgusts and, perhaps enmities where you may have occasion for friendship. I had caught it by reading my father's books of dispute about religion. Persons of good sense, I have since observed, seldom fall into it, except lawyers, university men, and men of all sorts that have been bred at Edinborough.

        A question was once, somehow or other, started between Collins and me, of the propriety of educating the female sex in learning, and their abilities for study. He was of opinion that it was improper, and that they were naturally unequal to it. I took the contrary side, perhaps a little for dispute's sake. He was naturally more eloquent, had a ready plenty of words, and sometimes, as I thought, bore me down more by his fluency than by the strength of his reasons. As we parted without settling the point, and were not to see one another again for some time, I sat down to put my arguments in writing, which I copied fair and sent to him. He answered, and I replied. Three or four letters of a side had passed, when my father happened to find my papers and read them. Without entering into the discussion, he took occasion to talk to me about the manner of my writing; observed that, though I had the advantage of my antagonist in correct spelling and pointing (which I ow'd to the printing-house), I fell far short in elegance of expression, in method and in perspicuity, of which he convinced me by several instances. I saw the justice of his remarks, and thence grew more attentive to the manner in writing, and determined to endeavor at improvement.

        About this time I met with an odd volume of the Spectator. It was the third. I had never before seen any of them. I bought it, read it over and over, and was much delighted with it. I thought the writing excellent, and wished, if possible, to imitate it. With this view I took some of the papers, and, making short hints of the sentiment in each sentence, laid them by a few days, and then, without looking at the book, try'd to compleat the papers again, by expressing each hinted sentiment at length, and as fully as it had been expressed before, in any suitable words that should come to hand. Then I compared my Spectator with the original, discovered some of my faults, and corrected them. But I found I wanted a stock of words, or a readiness in recollecting and using them, which I thought I should have acquired before that time if I had gone on making verses; since the continual occasion for words of the same import, but of different length, to suit the measure, or of different sound for the rhyme, would have laid me under a constant necessity of searching for variety, and also have tended to fix that variety in my mind, and make me master of it. Therefore I took some of the tales and turned them into verse; and, after a time, when I had pretty well forgotten the prose, turned them back again. I also sometimes jumbled my collections of hints into confusion, and after some weeks endeavored to reduce them into the best order, before I began to form the full sentences and compleat the paper. This was to teach me method in the arrangement of thoughts. By comparing my work afterwards with the original, I discovered many faults and amended them; but I sometimes had the pleasure of fancying that, in certain particulars of small import, I had been lucky enough to improve the method of the language, and this encouraged me to think I might possibly in time come to be a tolerable English writer, of which I was extremely ambitious. My time for these exercises and for reading was at night, after work or before it began in the morning, or on Sundays, when I contrived to be in the printing-house alone, evading as much as I could the common attendance on public worship which my father used to exact of me when I was under his care, and which indeed I still thought a duty, thought I could not, as it seemed to me, afford time to practise it.

        When about 16 years of age I happened to meet with a book, written by one Tryon, recommending a vegetable diet. I determined to go into it. My brother, being yet unmarried, did not keep house, but boarded himself and his apprentices in another family. My refusing to eat flesh occasioned an inconveniency, and I was frequently chid for my singularity. I made myself acquainted with Tryon's manner of preparing some of his dishes, such as boiling potatoes or rice, making hasty pudding, and a few others, and then proposed to my brother, that if he would give me, weekly, half the money he paid for my board, I would board myself. He instantly agreed to it, and I presently found that I could save half what he paid me. This was an additional fund for buying books. But I had another advantage in it. My brother and the rest going from the printing-house to their meals, I remained there alone, and, dispatching presently my light repast, which often was no more than a bisket or a slice of bread, a handful of raisins or a tart from the pastry-cook's, and a glass of water, had the rest of the time till their return for study, in which I made the greater progress, from that greater clearness of head and quicker apprehension which usually attend temperance in eating and drinking.

        And now it was that, being on some occasion made asham'd of my ignorance in figures, which I had twice failed in learning when at school, I took Cocker's book of Arithmetick, and went through the whole by myself with great ease. I also read Seller's and Shermy's books of Navigation, and became acquainted with the little geometry they contain; but never proceeded far in that science. And I read about this time Locke On Human Understanding, and the Art of Thinking, by Messrs. du Port Royal.

        While I was intent on improving my language, I met with an English grammar (I think it was Greenwood's), at the end of which there were two little sketches of the arts of rhetoric and logic, the latter finishing with a specimen of a dispute in the Socratic method; and soon after I procur'd Xenophon's Memorable Things of Socrates, wherein there are many instances of the same method. I was charm'd with it, adopted it, dropt my abrupt contradiction and positive argumentation, and put on the humble inquirer and doubter. And being then, from reading Shaftesbury and Collins, become a real doubter in many points of our religious doctrine, I found this method safest for myself and very embarrassing to those against whom I used it; therefore I took a delight in it, practis'd it continually, and grew very artful and expert in drawing people, even of superior knowledge, into concessions, the consequences of which they did not foresee, entangling them in difficulties out of which they could not extricate themselves, and so obtaining victories that neither myself nor my cause always deserved. I continu'd this method some few years, but gradually left it, retaining only the habit of expressing myself in terms of modest diffidence; never using, when I advanced anything that may possibly be disputed, the words certainly, undoubtedly, or any others that give the air of positiveness to an opinion; but rather say, I conceive or apprehend a thing to be so and so; it appears to me, or I should think it so or so, for such and such reasons; or I imagine it to be so; or it is so, if I am not mistaken. This habit, I believe, has been of great advantage to me when I have had occasion to inculcate my opinions, and persuade men into measures that I have been from time to time engaged in promoting; and, as the chief ends of conversation are to inform or to be informed, to please or to persuade, I wish well-meaning, sensible men would not lessen their power of doing good by a positive, assuming manner, that seldom fails to disgust, tends to create opposition, and to defeat everyone of those purposes for which speech was given to us, to wit, giving or receiving information or pleasure. For, if you would inform, a positive and dogmatical manner in advancing your sentiments may provoke contradiction and prevent a candid attention. If you wish information and improvement from the knowledge of others, and yet at the same time express yourself as firmly fix'd in your present opinions, modest, sensible men, who do not love disputation, will probably leave you undisturbed in the possession of your error. And by such a manner, you can seldom hope to recommend yourself in pleasing your hearers, or to persuade those whose concurrence you desire.

    • He would seem to recommend that people allocate their time in education in proportion to the degree to which that information will help them live happier lives in the future.
      • He recommends American women use at least some of the time that they'd normally spend studying dancing and music to instead study accounting:
        • In 1733 I sent one of my journeymen to Charleston, South Carolina, where a printer was wanting. I furnish'd him with a press and letters, on an agreement of partnership, by which I was to receive one-third of the profits of the business, paying one-third of the expense. He was a man of learning, and honest but ignorant in matters of account; and, tho' he sometimes made me remittances, I could get no account from him, nor any satisfactory state of our partnership while he lived. On his decease, the business was continued by his widow, who, being born and bred in Holland, where, as I have been inform'd, the knowledge of accounts makes a part of female education, she not only sent me as clear a state as she could find of the transactions past, but continued to account with the greatest regularity and exactness every quarter afterwards, and managed the business with such success, that she not only brought up reputably a family of children, but, at the expiration of the term, was able to purchase of me the printing-house, and establish her son in it.

          I mention this affair chiefly for the sake of recommending that branch of education for our young females, as likely to be of more use to them and their children, in case of widowhood, than either music or dancing, by preserving them from losses by imposition of crafty men, and enabling them to continue, perhaps, a profitable mercantile house, with establish'd correspondence, till a son is grown up fit to undertake and go on with it, to the lasting advantage and enriching of the family.

      • He recommends people study the languages that they're most likely to need to use in the future:
        • I have already mention'd that I had only one year's instruction in a Latin school, and that when very young, after which I neglected that language entirely. But, when I had attained an acquaintance with the French, Italian, and Spanish, I was surpris'd to find, on looking over a Latin Testament, that I understood so much more of that language than I had imagined, which encouraged me to apply myself again to the study of it, and I met with more success, as those preceding languages had greatly smooth'd my way.

          From these circumstances, I have thought that there is some inconsistency in our common mode of teaching languages. We are told that it is proper to begin first with the Latin, and, having acquir'd that, it will be more easy to attain those modern languages which are deriv'd from it; and yet we do not begin with the Greek, in order more easily to acquire the Latin. It is true that, if you can clamber and get to the top of a staircase without using the steps, you will more easily gain them in descending; but certainly, if you begin with the lowest you will with more ease ascend to the top; and I would therefore offer it to the consideration of those who superintend the education of our youth, whether, since many of those who begin with the Latin quit the same after spending some years without having made any great proficiency, and what they have learnt becomes almost useless, so that their time has been lost, it would not have been better to have begun with the French, proceeding to the Italian, etc.; for, tho', after spending the same time, they should quit the study of languages and never arrive at the Latin, they would, however, have acquired another tongue or two, that, being in modern use, might be serviceable to them in common life.

  • Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania


Articles / Videos

2015.09.25 - Business Insider - Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million donation to Newark public schools failed miserably — here's where it went wrong

The $100 million from Zuckerberg actually became $200 million under the agreement other sources would match his contribution. Here's where that money went:

  • Labor and contract costs: $89.2 million
  • Charter schools: $57.6 million
  • Consultants: $21 million
  • Various local initiatives: $24.6 million
[if you've watched the video: the blonde guy suggests a degree is necessary to be rich/successful and matt damon doesn't seem to disagree; but if you look at the most successful people in the world, it's incredible how common it is for them to have NOT gotten lots of conventional education. in fact, here's a case in point: matt damon mentions the library, and the very man who STARTED the vast system of public libraries was andrew carnegie, who received almost no conventional education and yet ended up one of the richest and most respected men in the world.]

It seems to me that the education system is currently like the retail market pre-Walmart: lots of variation in methods, lots of money being spent, and clearly-improvable results. The problem is that the way people spend money on education is not the way people spend money on retail items, so providing a more-efficient alternative to conventional education might not affect purchasing behavior as much as in the retail market. Another problem is that there could be a long delay between when you enroll someone in a superior program and when people start to see really dramatic results (which would be the best way to gain new customers). Yet another problem is the regulation surrounding education. thus, it seems that people who want to get rich may have less incentive to spend their time trying to do so by devising a better education system.

["School districts had total expenditures of approximately $562.3 billion in 2006–07, including about $476.8 billion in current expenditures for public elementary and secondary education. Of the remaining expenditures, $62.9 billion was spent on capital outlay, $14.7 billion on interest payments on debt, and $7.8 billion on other programs (programs such as community services and adult education, which are not a part of public elementary and secondary education)." - Source:]

A: there may be ways around these problems...
- regulation could be avoided by having boarding schools out in the country; kids could keep in touch w/ their parents via HD cam and parents could visit on the weekends (sending the kids home could be a bad idea b/c they could end up in a bad environment and then bring these bad habits back with them)
- if parents don't want to have their kids culturally different from them, you could figure out how to window-dress the education with the non-damaging cultural habits of the parents. e.g. what food is eaten, what religion is taught, the accent of the instructional videos/teachers (prob. mostly through video since paying people is way too expensive)
- delayed results may not be that delayed; most kids can show dramatic abilities by the time they're five. if you had a school churning out kids with amazing abilities by age 5, news of that school would spread like wildfire. then you could just pop out the schools like wal-mart did and make a hundred billion dollars.

lately i've been thinking about how to make human education mimic education among non-humans (especially those animals which have an incentive to teach stuff as quickly as possible)

aspects of education (what it does):
- it keeps kids supervised for the majority of the day; it's like a day-care center or prison in that sense.
- if done well, it makes use of group pressure to get kids to behave themselves and study. i've gotten the impression that a lot of people find it easier to remain motivated to study if they study in groups or attend classes.

things to teach people:
- how to avoid death: make people watch videos of people dying in preventable ways (e.g. drunk driving, falling into a pool, reckless behavior, etc.)
- how to defend against all the scams / tricks out there to take your money/time. teach people to spend their money wisely; don't allow yourself to be enslaved by debt.
- next-most-important: how to read
- how to be happy; how happiness works from a scientific perspective
- doing taxes, finding an apartment, etc.
- how to be flexible / comfortable in a variety of jobs / living situations. It might be a good thing if everyone was exposed at an early age to what it was like to live in a car or as a homeless person for a year so that if they ever lose their job they'll be ready to cut expenses rather than live beyond their means and accumulate debt. actually, it might be a good idea to simulate a loss of income and cutting of expenses (by having nice stuff and then selling everything, moving out of your house, etc.); this is what pilots do when training for disasters (e.g. intentionally stalling in planes, or turning off the engine and practicing an auto-rotation landing in helicopters).
- everything should be taught with games that teach these important skills: teaching haggling/deal-making with monopoly, for example. as mentioned elsewhere, this is how animals learn at least some of the skills they'll need to survive.

- when coaching football, john t reed would make every kid try out for every position. you could apply this to education/careers by making every kid do internships in lots of different fields.

Q: Is college worth the cost?

Game Theory professor at Yale talking about education: ... on-silence ... ideo_title


Is the Golden Key Society Screwing You Over? ... e-gks.html

Highly successful people who don't owe much to schooling: ... opout_List
- Benjamin Franklin (self-educated by reading a lot)
- David Murdock, billionaire (search for the NYT article on him)
- Bill Gates, billionaire (dropped out of Harvard, self-taught w/ computers)
- Mark Zuckerberg, billionaire (dropped out of Harvard, self-taught progr.)
- George Carlin (comedian, dropped out of high school)

Home-schooled kids:

Sho Yano ... hool_x.htm

Steve Wozniak on education:

I think that different people have different education needs. For many of us, we learn fine online or on the street an with home schooling. We can always back up or get things we are having trouble with explained again. Time is variable and up to us, like one teacher per student. But others need the big classroom of the past, with a human teacher, the same as their parents and the teachers attended. How many things do you really use out of school in your job? I have never had to calculate when 2 canoes meet on a river. The student who says it's a ridiculous example gets called disruptive. Don't think for yourself. Just learn the answers, the same answers as everyone else, and they aren't your own answers. School has a definition of intelligence that fights creativity. I would have loved online learning.
I'm very self taught. I was very good at designing everything digital, including computers. My friend, Allen Baum, told HP that I had such skill and they interviewed me and hired me as a design engineer on the iPhone 4 of it's time, the HP handheld scientific calculators. The lab manager, Tom Whitney, probably had a big part in taking this kid without a college degree.
I think that students should learn what they want to outside of school. In school they will have the same pages as 30 other students every day of the week, and a test on Friday. By 3rd grade many have dropped out of education being important, since a few top students always have the answer first. A better solution to this is to call on students randomly. But so little of what we learn is necessary. Someday we'll have one teacher per student and the major goal of letting kids learn what they want to at the pace they can learn it, for straight A's, will be achieved. But our teachers won't be pure human. Oh, they'll have to be conscious and feeling but cost less than real humans.

Teachers can only teach what they know. In this digital world, that's a problem. When I went to school our teachers may have known more than us about everything. But when I taught, students in elementary school knew more about computers and video games than any teacher. Performance in the classroom is only at the expectation level of the teacher. So we need more teacher who are totally into applying the digital tools to every subject in the classroom.


While eating chocolate I had the thought that developing an interest in a particular subject can be seen like developing a taste for alcohol or caffeine: at first you can mix it w/ sugar or fat to make it more palatable, and then gradually reduce the amount of sugar/fat you include until the person is taking it almost purely by itself. Or, alternatively, you can surround the person with others who are taking the alcohol/caffeine, and use that to push them through the initial period during which they don't like the taste. Or you can combine both approaches.

Awesome interview with BF Skinner:

students should be able to choose what subjects they learn, and they should be "paid" for studying each course in accordance to what the ACTUAL job market is anticipated to demand for that subject. So, for example, learning math would "pay" you more in candy or money or w/e you want to use to reinforce the student.