# Alan Kay: Big Ideas are Sometimes Powerful Ideas

From Viewpoints Intelligent Archive

so we

actually are dealing with an academic hour here

and be fitting with our school setting

marvin minsky once said school was the greatest

invention anybody ever came up with to keep

you from staying interested on anything for any reasonable

length of time because of course

it has all these schedules in assembly line movements

and we have one of those today and

I also wanted to leave time for

questions but one of the ways I want to leave time

for questions is to encourage you to ask questions as I

talk so I have no idea how long this

talk is and I am going to stop after

50 minutes and regardless of what what

happened so please don't be

shy ask questions as we go if

you like and because this talk is

not for me but for you

so it's

in a series of ideas which are

somewhat connected I hope so

one contrast

I'd like you to think about is the notion beach of

common sense that

most people take

the world around them as reality I

once came up with

at said technology is anything that happened after

you were born because

the technology that you're born into is

part of your world and it's taken to be normal there and most

internet Prince the Internet is one of the great inventions

of all time not the web but the internet itself

one of the great maybe one of the greatest engineering

feats of all time and

it worked so well that hardly

anybody appreciates it particularly

in computing where they should pay more attention to why

it works so well so here's a

common-sense deduction that

has been made by most

people on the planet for the slightly less

than 200,000 years modern humans have been here

and that is something like a king

natural and normal

extension of the head of the family

hunted leaders

of hunting groups and etc etcetera so

this is just regarded as common sense

and in fact was not regarded as it as an idea

it was just part of the part of the world that people

lived in then in

January 1776 Thomas Paine

wrote a book which he ironically titled common

sense everybody here has heard of Tom Paine's Common Sense

but he had a big idea in it which

was instead of having the King be

the law we can have the law be the king and

what he meant was we can design a much better society

than the what the natural

seeming hereditary monarchy as we can take our

future into our own hands we can come up with a better plan

this is an idea that surfaced

a couple of times in Greece but not

not before not after and

this book

which pain published at his own expense initially

just gave it away had a press run

between six hundred thousand and nine hundred thousand

in six months so

that's a lot by today's standards and

there were 1.5 million non

slaves in the thirteen colonies

back then and so this press run

encompassed somewhere between almost a half

to more than a half of all men women and children in

all 13 colonies so imagine just trying

to reach that number of people today

there is no medium that you could do it with except

with the internet I try

to get sixty percent of

300 million people no

newspaper could do it so

so this is a big idea but

the powerful idea

and this is the distinction I want to make was the

Constitution as a

big idea is kind of an insight and

often insights insights

are wonderful but they're

lightweight they're relatively easy to have compared

to doing something about it so the

Constitution said

we should shape society into a self-organizing

self-correcting shared idea and resource system

and that is a very radical

idea even for today for instance most Americans

have no idea what the design of the

United States was or is it's

imply not taught in schools it's not the way American

history is is taught and

so

most societies on earth haven't

gotten this idea even at the societal level

most human beings on earth don't have this

idea but this is one of these powerful ideas

that makes qualitative

differences in almost every

area of life and it's related to an even

bigger set of ideas so

another common sense

whoops

another another

common sense notion which is

actually with most Americans today according to the surveys

I've seen which is the world is pretty much as it seems

so we this

is what our nervous systems are set up to do we're

basically weren't set up by nature to think

we're set up by nature to cope and so

primary mechanism is whatever environment we

find ourselves in so the answer anthropologists

know that you can take a child at

birth from any culture on the planet and take

on the planet that child will grow up as

a member of that culture you took it too that's

because humans are rather more similar

than they are different we have about 300

traits that anthropologists have identified

that seem to be quite genetic including

things like language having culture telling stories

and those mechanisms

get embodied with the

local varieties of those and so the

reality you grow up within the language you

grew up with is the language and

the reality of the culture you you're born in Q

so

now this big ideas

have been had a number of times in history I happen to like the

Talmud version of it

we see things not as they are but as we are

so this is a bit I'd love to know

what actually

happened to the person who came up with this

idea did they take it to its logical conclusion

considering and

was interesting that was published in this Talmud is part

of the commentary

but this is one

of the great big ideas of all time this

is a really hard one because it

completely relative izes what's

going on however it's not a powerful idea

but had numerous

times and

powerful idea came in

the 17th century and you

could point to a number of people and you could point to various

societies but

17th century has a has a perfect

atomic

bomb place where science started

because we had Galileo

and Kepler and maybe Copernicus

beforehand and a few other people but in fact

when Newton did

the Principia he actually revolutionized

human thought and it's probably the largest leap in human

thought of this kind that we know of historically

this is why most scientists

think of Newton as being the greatest scientist

and he was almost the first scientist and

not just in

relative terms but in absolute terms the amount

of distance he was able to cover not just

in terms of knowledge but in terms of about look and

the powerful idea of science

is not so easy to state everything

else comes out pretty nicely as slogans and

there's more to science than just

this but this is one half of it which

is science is not about knowledge as

niels bohr said science is not there to tell

us about the universe is what most people think

most non-scientists most kids in school

are taught what is called science

as in roughly the same way they learn religion in

when they go to church or

synagogue or mosque but

in what science is at all it's not about knowledge

it's about relating the

stuff we can do and can't do in here

all the things that we can do with

our representational systems to stuff

out there that we can't get to directly because

everything we do is filtered through our nervous

systems as filtered through our culture's is

filtered for through the the difficulties

we have with making relationships

about things and this was not an

easy idea to have we'll

see in a bit but

what's happened in the last 400 years in

many many dimensions

has been more than has happened

in the rest of the 200,000 years and you

know the cliche that

most scientists 90 more

of all the scientists who ever lived you're alive today

and most of the things that

are happening today and some

of the problems and some of the solutions to those problems

are all caused this by different way

and much is made

particularly in the pop culture of

bringing bright

this is because pop

culture's or cultures without a lot

of developed knowledge basically

live by their wits and so you out

with each other and you

compete at the level of width but

imagine being born with an IQ

of 500 who knows how

smart leonardo was let's

just no 203 who because

those figures don't what does IQ me in any

way but let's just say hey suppose

you're just a hell of a lot smarter than anybody who ever lived

but you were born in 10,000 BC

how far you going to get so

you can probably out wit everybody around you before

they burn you at the stake

but in fact Leonardo

who we know is very very bright could

not invent a single engine

for any of the vehicles that he designed so

he's famous for designing things that look

like planes and things that maybe look like helicopters

and I'll and they're wonderful and he did a lot

hings but he couldn't make a single goddamn one of

them work that is and that's

because he wasn't smart enough to think himself out

of the era he had been born into as

far as we know if nobody has the closest person who's ever

thought himself out of the era he was born into his

Newton so

you have this odd paradox

that whoops sorry that

Henry Ford who is not nearly as smart as

Leonardo just happened to be born in the right time and

so he did revolutionize one

of the areas that Leonardo wanted to revolutionize

by being able

to do adaptive engineering and a little

invention to the stuff that was already around

so his knowledge was

processed knowledge and this was very powerful and what

was the difference between these two these

two guys was this

change of outlook that Newton

was one of the promulgate errs of

so one of the ways I

when I talked to grabs grad students

or children I say well knowledge

is silver but outlook is

gold our

world is built on changes of outlook that was what the

Constitution was that was what Tom Paine did

and that's what science did and

IQ is led

because there is no

we know of no developed field knowledge in

which you can get by with just talent there's

no developed sport in which you can get by with

just talent and some of the most

difficult sports have been

excelled in by people who are not as athletic

so for instance Chris effort

as an example who is not a particularly athletic

tennis player but man that you know

how to work and so she got very very

good at it and most things have

this thing an Outlook also

tells you what kind of knowledge to

go after because of course every group

in history had a zillion amount of not you going to the

Australian outback without a

native Australian there

to help you you're going to die whereas for

them is just a walk in the park because

everything is food they know how to get water and

it's there just they know where the dangers are they

it's no big deal so every group

has lots of knowledge the real thing to think about is

what kind of knowledge is that what's the quality

level what's the level of flexibility what can you

you do with it and these outlook

changes are more pine Steiners another

one so about a hundred years ago

something

that Newton in a

slightly different Einstein was quite sure that

Newton if he lived longer and had not

been put in had a head

of the Treasury in England that Newton would have actually

come up with a theory of relativity I don't

know whether he could have could have actually

done that because but Newton

didn't know that

he thought it was ridiculous that his equations

had action at a distance

so he said so in letters as just

that nobody could measure well enough

and what they did measure the

gravitational forces seem to

transmit instantly but

from Newton standpoint that was ridiculous

okay so that was

the first section so the second section is to look at

children can actually do under ideal conditions and

this is not easy to find so

a couple of these things are results of

just dealing with hundreds

and hundreds of teachers over more than 40

years and in this case this was an

accident because we were working in the fourth

and fifth grades in the school and of course I started

wandering around the school and I happen to poke my

nose into first grade and

what I saw was quite shocking

to me i should mention I have a

degree in mathematics and another one in molecular biology

as well as the computer science degrees

so when I walked into this math this first grade classroom

and SAT there for a few minutes

I gradually realize

that this teacher was doing real math with

first graders not school

math but real math the real deal and

as I got to know her Julia nishijima was her name

I found she was that

she have not taken any math in college but

she was like one of these musician friends you

might have who was just a natural musician she

was a net she just saw the world in terms of math and

her outlook was in the world of the

kindergarten and first grade child so

over a couple of years I saw some

most amazing things I've ever seen in any classroom at any age

this one was done after the kids have been there for

about three months and the school

is a busing school in LA and what

that means is that the children in order

to induce the parents

to get on the that have

their children but if you think about bus driving

a car in LA as ridiculous so

let's put our children on buses twice

twice a day to

try and deal with some of the racial imbalance

problems and but

they did and there was

interesting inducements to get the parents to do that but

the law was that for each of the busing

schools had to have the same demographic

as the city as a whole so

these busing schools were the perfect place for doing

educational experiments because the city

forty-five percent Hispanic until you have forty-five

percent Hispanic kids in there and

just down the line in these schools so

here's the thing she

had and this is not unlike a lot of the things

that she did with the kids so this one

was fine to shape you like a square diamond

a triangle a trapezoid and

make a progression

of shapes just using these shapes

so next

larger size next larger size next larger size and trapezoids

are coarser are a tricky but

so 30 kids in the class and

they all pick

the ones that they like they all did did something and

then she did something

that seems a little strange to me which was to have

him now go from these easy to handle wouldn't

manipulatives to cutting

out the same shapes out of cardboard so I asked

her afterwards why she did this and she said well little

kids are always jumping to conclusions and this

part now that they've done the thing I want them to think about

it so this part slows them down so the idea here

is make a we're going to make a little thing to free to take

home to your parents to show what what

you're doing and so here's one of them and

Laura in here

on this sheet she wrote down what she

noticed that the first diamond

here took one diamond the total number of diamonds

was one and then she had to add three

more diamonds to get the next

diamond shape and the total was four and then she had to add

five to get the next one the total number of tiles

was nine and she could see

that she was adding to each time

it's get the first column and then

up you can see

she wasn't quite sure what six times six was

but she knew the square numbers

up to five times five

then she worked this all out so this is her sheet

then the teacher

julia had

kids all bringing their projects up to the front of the room

there it is

kids

look to each other's projects and they looked at the little

tables and they went holy shit

technical term

because everybody had filled

same table regardless of what the shapes were the

growth laws were the same so

this was hugely exciting I was there

I just happened to be there that day and

I'm looking at this stuff with tears running down my because

this is one of the best mathematical

things I've ever seen done in any classroom at any age and

some of you

are we'll

have some mathematical background and

realize what the kids were doing is actually

deriving to

differential laws one

is the differential law for smooth progressions

sometimes called linear progressions

that's that first column and

of course if they used instead of using two

they used one it would have a different growth

but it would still be smooth and linear

they could use three or they could use 3.5 so

basic ideas are just adding the same

thing in there and in math that's

called the first order differential equation if it were

in a continuous space like we like

to teach in school but for the kids this is the screen

and there's a math for that its

a math we don't teach but it's called a

first order differential discreet relationship

and the second one is

all the square numbers

it's a quadratic one so this is

called the second order differential discreet

relationship and it's built on the first an important

thing here is that virtually everything

in high school physics and most things in your first physics

course in college can be handled with no more

mathematics than this this is

actually the real basis of the calculus

wind using in high school and college his

calculus has nothing to do with algebra even

though it's cloaked in algebra for historical

reasons most Mountain mathematicians did not realize this

what calculus is is actually an idea

quite separate from the symbology that's

used on so

and of course the kids could calculate with this

so the

little rule they had was you start with

one piece and then you add to the new new pieces column

add to each time and then you

add from that column to

the total column to get the next one and

a few if you act it out you get something like this

so you start off with ones and

you do a plus two to get

the next guy there and then you take that guy and the preceding

guy to gets the next guy in okay

so that's called a second

order differential machine

and

it just happens to be what

Babbage member Babbage what

did Babbage do then the invented computer so first

hing he did was to actually make a machine for computing

exactly those numbers and it

was just he did it so you could compute seven stages

of them because again in mathematical

terms this is a way of computing all of the values

of all of the polynomials of up to a certain

order and Babbage did it because when he was

a kid he was 19 or 20 there

were so many errors in his mathematical

tables booked in the early 1800s he

screwed across the room and he said to his friend

herschel who became a great astronomer he

said I wish to god these calculations have been executed

by steam meaning

gee whiz people make

so many mistakes we can build a machine to just

compute all its math we can

machine to compute all this duck so

that's what this teacher intuited from

these kids and now let's take a look at

relationship

to the world that you're more familiar with and

going to do is go through this thing again and just watch

where the points

are and I've drawn a line through

the curves are so start

off again so there's the ones

okay there's

a3 and a4

so you can see the quadratic one is growing very quickly now

it's next one will be out of sight there

the difference here is pretty interesting because

this way of looking at

it is simply not what you do in first grade because

the looking at

all the values at once which is the way classical mathematics

likes to look at them

in this case requires multiplication

so even in the simple

guy you have to multiply the slope

times X

to get each succeeding y as you go through

there and you have to square you

have a squared term to get the quadratic so so this

way takes it completely out of the child's world and yet the

idea and the capturing

of what change is actually is more fundamental

than the algebraic way of looking at it

because we've made a machine we

don't have to solve in equations we can generate the answers

so

in other words we can mechanically in calculus terms

we can mechanically integrate these things

instead of symbolically having to integrate them and it just changes

everything round this was see more paper

it's great insight not this particular example but

another one this this is an example I did

but the basic idea is if you have a machine that

can help you do the integration then all

of a sudden you can chop ten years and change

outlook to teaching

real math in terms that are built into human beings

so one of the reasons and it happened science

thinks of math this way

because

scientists are lazy mathematicians that's

because it takes so much energy to deal with the real world that

you don't want to spend a lot of time messing around with

mathematics so everything in science is

done by just adding things together and these additions

are quantities that are called vectors you've heard

of those but there are fairly simple generalizations

of what numbers are so this

whole area is incredibly fruitful for

dealing even with very young children

and of course we have computers

so we can do things

with them based on these ideas

and we're used to using computers

in school not for this stuff we're

used to using it to imitate paper

in fact

it's expensive paper with a little bit of magic

in their pay a little extra money and we can run a movie

in our book and we

can go look at something in a library that spread

out over the entire world rather than going down the

hall to do it but by and large pretty

much every use of computing in most schools particularly

in elementary schools is to do what business

people do with their computers which is not to use them for

anything interesting it's basically automating the past

but if

take a look at what computers actually are so

we can get our selves a little

paint palette here

and I'll

make a little car

and obviously

i'm not using powerpoint here but

you can think about this as a teacher as to whether

you would

when you're trying to help

children with examples and stuff you

kind of would like to just be able to

make things on

the fly because you do have a dynamic medium

this has been one of the hardest idea

is to make happen because people

okay I've got my little car and

the thing that's understandable it's sort of a graphical

object and I'll just call it a car here

and but I can also look inside it and here's

something that's a little less usual for

instance here's cars heading it's

where the car is pointing and if I click

over here and start changing the angle you

can see it's changing the car and conversely if

you look over where it says heading and notice

what happens when I change it

so here I have a visual representation where

the car is pointing and here i have a symbolic 1 and

similarly I have little behaviors car

turn by five car 4 by 15 and

those of you tried logo you recognize these are standard

logo ones if I want to make a little script

to take advantage

of these I can just pull out some tiles and

now I've got my car going and maybe

I'll get it to go 10 at a pop

okay so

in fact that I can steer

my car so for instance if i

want to make the car go straight i can take it down to

zero that's a big one for kids go

the other direction turned it in the negative direction

so very young children just

get a sense of concrete

magnitudes and numbers but

driving a car this way is a little bit like kissing your sister

so what you really want to do is make a steering

wheel so we'll paint another

little drawing

and these drawings were all the same entities and

when I look inside this wheel I

see the same thing and

if I turn this wheel

can see the number going up and

negative and stuff and if you remember the number

i put in here determine

which way the car was going which direction

to turn and how much so it's kind of a invitation

to take the name of those

the turn numbers coming out of the wheel

and just dropping it into the script here and

now as I change the wheel

we can see that

the car is turning by whatever the wheels heading

is so here's an interesting thing to think about

if you've ever had trouble with teaching children about variables

a child who learns variables this

way learns it the first time and forever

it's not the variables are hard for

children it's just that the way they're taught is completely

unseated yes

oh this so this is called squeaky

toys if you go to squeak LAN

org runs on every it's

free

yes that was so both of these the

scratch was not the media lab

and was also done on top of squeak so

scratch and e toys or to scratch

was done kind of four teenage

after school kids as

a media thing they're both relatively similar

and you can both do a lot of the same things here

so the basic idea

here is that you're trying

to situate a

motivation if I want to I

to drive this car with a steering wheel and

the fact that the number is coming

out of the steering wheel are going to be different and so it makes sense to have

them name and this script

icking over and over again so this could hardly be simpler

and one other little

thing is the car is a little difficult to control

here and so

to the kids will want it why don't you just put a gear and a

gear here being for example dividing

the number coming out by three

now you have to turn

the way the wheel much further in order to get the same influence

on the car so most 5th graders

have no idea why they should ever learn how to multiply or divide

because in the world that they're taught in school

math they're taught it's not about scaling

it's about solving other kinds of problems but

in the world of science and

engineering it's not about scaling

not about

multiplying as we as

we generally do but it's about scaling things okay

so let

me try another little idea on you i'm going

to make a little script here so

i'm going to set cars speed to 30 and

i'm

going to

set say

increase the cars

horizontal position by cars speed each time

so if I just do this

or if I just let it go

stop

so does does everybody see that

this is that

first column that the six-year-olds did

what I'm

increasing is the position

where they are so the

car is doing a uniform

speed and these little dots i'm

dropping help us see the uniformity of it but

what if i say okay instead

of instead of doing that what

if I okay

look at this one really carefully now what if I increase this by 30

each time alright so the speed is going to start off

0 36 d all

right so now the speed is growing and

then I'm going to whatever

that has grown to i'm going to then bump the car ahead

right so you see this is the two columns

so the car is going to go exponentially

so if i go do

it cow

and this gives us a visual way of

thinking about acceleration because the

distance between those two dots is the distance

travel per unit time and the distance travel

per unit time is the speed

right so many so much distance

per tick 30 miles per hour

and so what's happening here is we can see

accelerating and the fifth graders love to

know that the term for this is acceleration

okay we have a question yes I

know

your your commentary is focusing on math

but my question has

to do with the kids response to reading

and writing or reading and typing in this case do

you find that the kids

are more do they get the transference from being able

to use this high place and I try that after

yeah

that's a good question though

reason I'm hurrying along here is I'm

going to be cut out regardless of how interesting this talk is

it's going to end at 10 minutes to

the hour okay let's move

so I want the only comment here

is does everybody

see that what you're doing on the

computer can't be science but

is only math that you can't do

science on a computer

why

eah

I can simulate any goddamn thing I

want on a computer I can live up one side

and down the other so it's just all math is is

a story that's consistent but

he problem is the degrees of freedom in in any reasonable

human language are larger than those the universe has

and so this is this is why the Greeks

quite invent science except maybe Archimedes

and the reason is they thought God was a mathematician and

thought if they started off with self-evident

first principles that they could just

deduce the universe the same way God did

could be true because that this is a

lot of physicists think this might

be true I doubt it so

let's take a look let's look at the kids in the world now

so you're a bunch of objects objects that

you think will fall to the earth at the same

okay

oh do not pay any attention to

what anybody else the grapefruit now

you two levels of shot put sponge balls

are a couple

sleep janet

is up on the roof because

stopwatches by

the way to do it but

when do you really not go

together so put a sponge ball

okay I think we should do the shot

right and the sub ball because

they're two totally different ways and if

you drop them at the same time but they'll drop

at the same speed drop

okay so

if you do this so Aristotle

did not ask any children when

he came up with the wrong theory of this he

just deduced it using

a using a wrong a common-sense way of thinking about

what's actually going on but we found that one

child in 30 roughly so if you if

you have a class of 30 kids

you've got an excellent chance that one child will do what that little girl

did which is to pull the Galileo and just

cut to the chase and say hey wait

a minute that's

the I'm already in the

place

where all I have to do is just listen and of course the

scaffolding in the Leaning Tower of Pisa was

what Galileo listen to it was under repair at

that time so

but that's

quality could call that a big idea

however

can also do something

a little bit more here so we

take a video these

might look like funny video frames but video is just

part of the objects that these this language deals

with so we can make the frames convenient to take every fifth frame

you can stack them sideways or

you can stack them like this if

you look at this what do you think the kids say

when they see that pattern

acceleration four months later

so four months previously they did the horizontal

thing with the car four months later remember the

visual path what kind of acceleration

so well

let's measure

so we measure from the bottom of one

guy and so we can just use these little

translucent rectangles to do it

pre-measured these so

i don't have to fiddle while I'm rushed

for time as it is but then the cool thing

is i can just stack these up

like

okay what do you think these

things mean what are these

these are the differences

between the speed at each time tick

right each rectangle is the speed at

each time tick in i'm doing a visual subtraction

there and what i'm showing is their progressive if I just subtract

hem off they're all the same what kind of acceleration is

that acceleration

so the kids immediately write this

little script right here

let's listen to Tyrone here

and to make sure that I was

doing it just right I got

a magnifier which would help me

so I figure out if the size was just

right after I'd done that I would

go and click on the little basic

category button and then a little mini

would pop up and one

of the categories would be geometry so I click on that and

here it has many things have

to do with the size and shape of

the rectangle so

I would see with the Heidi I kept

going along the process until I

had them all lined up with their height i subtracted

the smaller ones height from the big one to see

if there was a kind of pattern anywhere there

could help me I'm not as this worked so

in order to show that it was working

i decided to leave a doc copy so that it

would show if the ball was really the exact right speed Henry

simulated ball is tracking the movie

this is how he's showing that his model

is in accord with the real world at

least two within a pixel so what you got here so

here's something to think about lily and mcdermott of

Washington is a physicist who looks at college kids seventy

percent of all college kids including science majors

in this country fail to understand Galilean

gravity that's what this is ninety

percent of the children going doing it

this way actually derive the equations

themselves actually make the simulations from scratch

themselves and show within

the limits of the accuracy hear

that their model is an

accord with physical reality and in fact the difference

between Galilean gravity 14

feet above the ground and Newtonian gravity is only one part

in a million and so we can think of get

Galileo is very lucky that

he couldn't measure that one part

in a million or he would have been very confused right

this way had to be done first before the

Newtonian way hat okay so let me I think I'm

getting to the point where I have to finish up

so

let's think about serious stuff now

e

live inside of systems and we are systems so

it's a nice unification through all of the

sciences engineering and art

so if you're going to make up a middle school science

curriculum for say the eighth grade I would

not pick a science like biology but I pick

a uniform unifying rubric

like systems and I teach all of different Sciences

the systems aspect of those and

use mathematics to deal with those

things and my romantic ideal

would be the planet is in trouble and we need to learn

how to save it

and

what we've got going in general is

something like this if you hit

this mystery object with a hammer it

returns to equilibrium but if

I raise it up far enough it

doesn't come back

so

what we got here

the most systems

are like this the equilibrium

they have is actually dynamically

stable but not statically stable so

if you just tap this thing

it won't do anything but if

tap it enough to get it passed its center of mass bunk

and

thing to understand here is that's

that's what we're doing so what we're doing is stressing

the earth and

little bits of stress like

burning the river in Cleveland can

be fixed up in large amounts of stress

can topple the system and think

about systems is when they get toppled they

don't stop but it's in a new state

now and it's going to resist

getting it back it could so

for instance when the climate has toppled in the past

aken between ten thousand a hundred thousand

and five hundred thousand years to restore all

of those numbers are a lot larger than our lifetime

okay

let me just try it

so

what we've seen here is a Jerry

Bruner idea but I've tried to show you

is that the

most important idea here is that you have to heed the level of

development of the person you're trying to teach and

if you know yourself like it doesn't

make sense for a non mathematician to try and teach math to

a six-year-old it just doesn't

because the six the

six-year-old doesn't think in the same way as a teenager or an

doesn't if you want to teach real math you

have to be a mathematician or have a mathematician

in the loop because the mathematicians job is to figure out what

kind of real math is within the wheelhouse

of the six-year-old

that's really the job

so discovery learning so

here's the thing we have two poles in the United States back to

basics and discovery learning

both of this both these are absolute

vs it

so it's very complicated going into a meeting with

educators because they tend to polarize long those and you

know any scientist and mathematician guys think Oh No

and the

the joke here is about discovery learning is is

whoops is the teacher

saying oh no they're discovering the wrong things why

are they discovering the wrong things well consider

our 200,000 years on the planet

we had to go almost all the

way to the present to just do agriculture Greece was

only 2,500 years ago that was modern math and

real science was just 400 years ago

think about that the

u.s. know a stable

dynamically stable democratic government

is only a few hundred years old these ideas are

not easy so what you need is a guide

so

it's not Hillary climbing Everest it's Tenzing

and Hillary and

sure we'd love to have Socrates and Fineman

as guides but these guys don't

scale this is one of the problems with school

books are great because you can get some

of Fineman and Socrates but

I used books a lot but I needed to have

real teacher that teacher had something libraries didn't

have which is a table full of junk you could make things and learn things with

libraries should have

these but they don't know that they should and I have

my dad who is a physiologist to ask questions of

so what we're thinking about

today is what

kind of use could we make

out of the computer since it has booked like properties

but it also is active enough to

be able to sense what the user is doing

so here's a simple

thing that's very popular guitar hero

so the interesting thing

about guitar hero is that people

don't have to go to school to learn how to play it like

most video games

now the bug with this is that

real guitar I used to be a professional guitar

player jazz guitar it's just

like a thousand times harder than guitar hero guitar hero

is it like simple drumming if

you ever tried drumming is very like

just having a snare and a high hat

and that's tricky enough if

you've ever tried it you have to get a couple of things going it's tricky

you can think it's the entire world because

this trick Ian of itself and there's all these great sounds

coming out but it's absolutely a snare and a delusion and

most here's the prediction most schools

States are going to wind up using computers in

classrooms to do a form of guitar hero

for most of the important subjects

because most teachers in

the united states are not guitar players

alright so this is a huge

problem and yet

without

replacing humans it's

absolutely possible to make some

a fantastic tutoring system for learning any level

of guitar playing at any level

without having to have a human in the loop that's what's interesting

you don't get everything you get with

a human but you get about ninety-five

stuff that you need to be able to do anyway you

can do it and that's what

I want you to think about is not replacing teachers

here but to listen

to our smarter than the average President as

talked to the National Academy last spring he

gets it the

only way we're ever going to get enough science

savvy knowledge into schools is to help

existing teacher with media that understand

the science as children can practice it

this is going to be a revolution

going to happen over the next year and it is a grand challenge it's

as difficult as the challenge that we faced

40 years ago where the challenge was everybody

should have a personal computer pervasively network worldwide

and

we have the funding for it and

we were able to invent it now several billion

people have it and it's time to use the computers

for what they're really good for what

do you think thank you very much