Three Stages Of Knowledge

Because ShuHaRi violates MeaningfulName and never actually describes what it's talking about but just spouts so much useless Eastern mystical verbiage about it. As for ThreeLevelsOfAudience, well it's written "at level 1".

The first stage of knowledge is having rules for a thing.

The second stage of knowledge is having heuristics for the thing.

The third stage of knowledge is having concepts for the thing.

A concept is not a rule or a rule for making rules or in any way related to rules. It is a fundamentally different thing.

What's important about the three stages of knowledge is that they're not levels. Everyone thinks of them as levels and this is why ThreeLevelsOfAudience is named what it is but everyone is wrong. They're three different stages of knowledge. And this is important because levels implies that one of them invariably comes before another whereas stages does not make this presupposition.


I've just (successfully) taught my son to drive. We've been at it for a couple of months. An hour every morning to work (we have a long-ish commute) and an hour home (he works fairly close to me).

In the beginning, there were orders: look over your left shoulder, signal left, turn the wheel a little to the left, shift into first, let out the clutch until you're moving a bit, now let it out all the way, give it some gas ... and so on. Then there were rules: leave this much room in traffic; signal this far before your turn; down-shift this far before your stop; take this road; drive in this lane; brake before the curve, not in the curve; accelerate out of the curve, not into it; use a lower gear on this hill for better responsiveness; and so on.

We've arrived at the point where the instructions sound more like: watch the other driver's head to get a better idea of what he's going to do next; notice that even though you can't see far up this lane, the cars in the lane beside you are slowing down and have their brake lights lit up; notice when the guy behind you is too close and factor that into your safety margin; get a feel for the capabilities of the other vehicles, how fast they go, how fast they stop, so you can allow for their limitations; and so on.

Mechanically he's skilled enough that I don't worry he'll hit anything. He knows red/green light, stop sign, and right-of-way etiquette. His grasp of traffic is good enough that I don't worry he'll blow it there. He's ready for testing and will pass without much trouble.

We've definitely gone through levels of learning/knowledge on this. I also know that driving wisdom will come when he's ready. It's time for me to trust that he will get from knowing about driving to knowing driving on his own. Time to answer the question asked, rather than proffer advice.

I wonder if you know how hard it was for me to learn that.

-- GarryHamilton

Orders and facts are both pathological rules. Moving from pathological rules to more general rules isn't covered in this page. As for your moving through levels, that's because you, and presumably your son, are rule-users.

Your mind is organized around rules. You think in rules, you see the world in rules, you learn rules. But that's you. If your son were a concept-user, he would have had an excruciating time learning from you.

Organizing driving knowledge around concepts is straightforward, assuming you're a concept user:

And so on.

-- RichardKulisz

Ahh, yes, the "concept" learning method.

Here: Keys. Car. Road. Location. Motion. Over here. Over there. Traffic. Parking. Laws. Police. Safety. Cause and effect. Physics. Gravity. Blah blah blah.

Well? What are you waiting for? Let's get the show on the road!

When the system is mechanical, there are mechanical things to learn. Rules are handy when dealing with mechanics.

There are places for QuantumZen?, but the early stages of learning to drive wouldn't be one.

My point was that, having gotten past the need for detailed rules to the point where he can feel what he needs to do next, and moving on past that point to knowing driving involves a) his establishing communication with all the parts of the game, and b) my being able to let go when he's ready to learn the rest on his own.

Some people teach their kids to swim by throwing them into deep water. I let mine wade in and figure it out by degrees. I suppose there are people that learned to drive by parachuting their car onto a freeway or a rush hour gridlock. My students start by learning to control the car -- in an empty parking lot or other large flat space -- and then learning to control the car in a context. I suppose if the whole collision thing wasn't so stinking expensive or I had a vehicle made of impact-proof carbon fiber laminate then we could just start in traffic and figure it out.

When I can afford to "let learning take its course" I do so. There are certain subjects, like driving and shooting, where this isn't optimum.

I'm sorry about the rule-user thing. I'll try to find a TwelveStepProgram for that.

-- GarryHamilton

You know, just because every human being learned language by trial and error and not by absorbing rules, and that in fact this is the ONLY effective way to learn language; just because trial and error is the number one method of learning anything ... yeah, just because of all that it DOESN'T mean that rules are better, safer or more effective for everybody.

In any case, you confuse learning concepts with trial and error. If there were enough concept-users in the population, or they recognized their own identity sufficiently, so that they could find each other in a teaching environment ... IF that were the case then you could see teaching at the concept level. Just because the circumstances don't permit teaching concepts at an advanced level doesn't mean that rule-using, which not so coincidentally happens to be your way of thinking, is the best way to teach things.

The difference between rules and concepts is very much that between FP and OOP. I happen to like OOP. Lots of people who claim to like OOP don't understand the first things about it. In our case, you're being disparaging about concepts (calling them Zen, yuck!) without knowing what they are. -- RK

Do you really believe that someone who uses rules doesn't also know what a concept is? I do in fact understand the confining nature of rule-based instruction. Usually, though, it's the most reliable way of establishing the basics. Some people can skip rungs on the ladder of learning. That doesn't mean that most people can or should.

I'm sure with a little work you can appreciate the concept I employed in the QuantumZen? remark. There's a book (not very big) that illuminates the difficulty of trying to convey a concept to someone not yet prepared to receive it. From that discussion comes the phrase "Let's BeginWithLevelFlight?." Sometimes all you need do is articulate the concept. Other times you "begin with level flight" and work toward the generalized concept.

It helps if you know when to use one approach instead of the other. -- gh

A very interesting dialogue, but getting back to the page title, the original thesis is about knowledge not physical skills. The disagreement is not about whether rules are necessary, just whether everybody should start with them when acquiring knowledge. Since a knowledge of concepts isn't even required in order to acquire a physical skill (at least to some level of proficiency), rule-users can start right in.

The application of that point to driving is that concepts can be used at the beginning or end of the pre-driving class time, but rules are still going to be necessary when you get to the road.
CategoryLearningMethods

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