Improving By Doing?

How do teachers improve?

How do schools improve?

I’ve spent 21 years wondering about that.

Here’s an interesting psychology experiment.

Participants in the experiment were presented with a wheel with some weights that could be moved along four axis and they were asked to place the weights to maximize the speed at which the wheel move down a track. The problem isn’t trivial since an optimal solution requires placing the weights in different spots to take advantage of both inertial and potential energy.

Participants were organized into chains of five. Each participant was given 5 trials. The weight configuration and the results of the last two trials were passed on to the next person in the chain.

Thus, people farther down the chain potentially “inherit” more cultural knowledge.

What were the results?

1. Did the “5th participant’s” wheel go faster than the 1st?

2. Could the “5th participant” look at drawings of wheel configurations, and better predict which would go faster, ‘s” compared to the 1st?

They allowed each generation/participant to leave the next generation a “theory” of wheel speed.

3. Did this “book learning” speed up the evolution of technology?