# Education: Theory vs. Application

## Education: Theory vs. Application

How much more effort does it take to show a 7th grade student, the Newton's laws in practise?

The student sees it everyday.

But is NEVER taught to "relate". To relate what has been taught in "theory" to what is all around them.

To "appreciate" education.

The formula is F=ma, g is acceleration due to gravity, and so on!

Why?

It is so simple to show the kids.

1000s of Computer Engineers coming out Hyderabad, who have never seen a laptop, as I am told...in 2015.

Why?

Why this education system which focusses on formulas, and exams, than actual learning, and seeing the application in real life?

Its like making a doctor who has never seen a patient, but only read the books?

Or a pilot who has never flown a plane, but read it in books?

Or even these gate-keepers of religions, who have never achieved awareness, but can repeat all the slokas?

Scary, isnt it?

random Uffs,

TS.

The student sees it everyday.

But is NEVER taught to "relate". To relate what has been taught in "theory" to what is all around them.

To "appreciate" education.

The formula is F=ma, g is acceleration due to gravity, and so on!

Why?

It is so simple to show the kids.

1000s of Computer Engineers coming out Hyderabad, who have never seen a laptop, as I am told...in 2015.

Why?

Why this education system which focusses on formulas, and exams, than actual learning, and seeing the application in real life?

Its like making a doctor who has never seen a patient, but only read the books?

Or a pilot who has never flown a plane, but read it in books?

Or even these gate-keepers of religions, who have never achieved awareness, but can repeat all the slokas?

Scary, isnt it?

random Uffs,

TS.

**TruthSeeker**- Posts : 947

Join date : 2012-08-18

## Re: Education: Theory vs. Application

i agree with your broader point that developing a physical picture is the most difficult part of physics. formulas aren't particularly useful to do this. the reason is that human intuition leads students astray. it is dangerous to trust intuition when a student is first learning about forces, velocity, and acceleration. there have been numerous surveys that shows that students get consistently tripped on pretty much the same things.

**MaxEntropy_Man**- Posts : 12711

Join date : 2011-04-28

## Re: Education: Theory vs. Application

My broader point is not that developing a physical picture is the most difficult part of physics. My broader point is that it is the ONLY way to correctly teach. Be it Physics, Medicine, Pilot training, or even Religion.

Teach it by application.

What is Force?

Why teach it as a formula?

Why not show it?

Put two identical looking vehicles, with different mass, and let them rip through a paper wall, as they accelerate equally?

And so on.

Simple concepts, but a kid will always remember the application. Then treating it as another multiplication problem.

What I dont get it - If it is so easy to teach, why aint teachers teaching it with application?

TS.

Teach it by application.

What is Force?

Why teach it as a formula?

Why not show it?

Put two identical looking vehicles, with different mass, and let them rip through a paper wall, as they accelerate equally?

And so on.

Simple concepts, but a kid will always remember the application. Then treating it as another multiplication problem.

What I dont get it - If it is so easy to teach, why aint teachers teaching it with application?

TS.

**TruthSeeker**- Posts : 947

Join date : 2012-08-18

## Re: Education: Theory vs. Application

TruthSeeker wrote:My broader point is not that developing a physical picture is the most difficult part of physics. My broader point is that it is the ONLY way to correctly teach. Be it Physics, Medicine, Pilot training, or even Religion.

Teach it by application.

What is Force?

Why teach it as a formula?

Why not show it?

Put two identical looking vehicles, with different mass, and let them rip through a paper wall, as they accelerate equally?

And so on.

Simple concepts, but a kid will always remember the application. Then treating it as another multiplication problem.

What I dont get it - If it is so easy to teach, why aint teachers teaching it with application?

TS.

watch walter lewin's lectures.

**bw**- Posts : 2922

Join date : 2012-11-15

## Re: Education: Theory vs. Application

TruthSeeker wrote:My broader point is not that developing a physical picture is the most difficult part of physics. My broader point is that it is the ONLY way to correctly teach. Be it Physics, Medicine, Pilot training, or even Religion.

Teach it by application.

What is Force?Why teach it as a formula?

Why not show it?

Put two identical looking vehicles, with different mass, and let them rip through a paper wall, as they accelerate equally?

And so on.

Simple concepts, but a kid will always remember the application. Then treating it as another multiplication problem.

What I dont get it - If it is so easy to teach, why aint teachers teaching it with application?

TS.

here is a small example of why the language of mathematics is important in teaching physics and why one can't rely on solely physical pictures.

when a student first encounters newton's second law, they are often taught a particular statement adapted from newton's original principia, that a body at rest continues to remain at rest and a body moving at a constant velocity, continues so, i.e. the net external force acting on the body in either case is zero.

right about then the student encounters circular motion with constant angular velocity and is then told that there is a centripetal force which maintains circular motion. this confuses a number of students because they confuse constant

__velocity__with constant

__speed__. hopefully, the student has by now encountered a decent amount of vector analysis and calculus. if that is the case, the problem is easy to fix. it can be readily shown using the idea of increments of time and the corresponding increments in velocity (even as speed remains constant), that in fact there is a centrally directed acceleration. i don't know of an easy non-mathy way of getting this across.

i am a big fan of teaching a first physics course using largely physical picture with plentiful free body diagrams, line diagrams and so on. however, in a serious high school physics class, especially AP physics C class that is taken by a number of students preparing for STEM careers, one should not shy away form using vectors and calculus liberally in addition to physical pictures. math often simplifies things which are otherwise too laborious and cumbersome to teach using qualitative arguments exclusively.

Last edited by MaxEntropy_Man on Mon Oct 12, 2015 9:37 pm; edited 1 time in total

**MaxEntropy_Man**- Posts : 12711

Join date : 2011-04-28

## Re: Education: Theory vs. Application

bw wrote:TruthSeeker wrote:My broader point is not that developing a physical picture is the most difficult part of physics. My broader point is that it is the ONLY way to correctly teach. Be it Physics, Medicine, Pilot training, or even Religion.

Teach it by application.

What is Force?

Why teach it as a formula?

Why not show it?

Put two identical looking vehicles, with different mass, and let them rip through a paper wall, as they accelerate equally?

And so on.

Simple concepts, but a kid will always remember the application. Then treating it as another multiplication problem.

What I dont get it - If it is so easy to teach, why aint teachers teaching it with application?

TS.

watch walter lewin's lectures.

excellent reco!

**MaxEntropy_Man**- Posts : 12711

Join date : 2011-04-28

## Re: Education: Theory vs. Application

Ok. I will watch. And Kids will still learn theory. Memorize formulas, score 99% on a subject they are clueless about.

Its not about me, in case U miss to read.

But thanks,

TS.

Its not about me, in case U miss to read.

But thanks,

TS.

**TruthSeeker**- Posts : 947

Join date : 2012-08-18

## Re: Education: Theory vs. Application

"right about then the student encounters circular motion with constant angular velocity and is then told that there is a centripetal force which maintains circular motion. this confuses a number of students because they confuse constant

is this a case of job security for teachers?

Ridiculous.

__velocity__with constant__speed__. hopefully, the student has by now encountered a decent amount of vector analysis and calculus. if that is the case, the problem is easy to fix. "is this a case of job security for teachers?

Ridiculous.

**TruthSeeker**- Posts : 947

Join date : 2012-08-18

## Re: Education: Theory vs. Application

I don't understand your comment.

I was writing based on my experience with teaching my daughter.

I was writing based on my experience with teaching my daughter.

**MaxEntropy_Man**- Posts : 12711

Join date : 2011-04-28

## Re: Education: Theory vs. Application

My original post was simple -

Teach by showing application as in real life examples around, than telling the formulas.

If a tap is on. And the water fills a bucket 30 inches in height. It fills it one inch higher every minute.

Where is calculus in this?

Teach it this way.

Thats all,

TS.

Teach by showing application as in real life examples around, than telling the formulas.

If a tap is on. And the water fills a bucket 30 inches in height. It fills it one inch higher every minute.

Where is calculus in this?

Teach it this way.

Thats all,

TS.

**TruthSeeker**- Posts : 947

Join date : 2012-08-18

## Re: Education: Theory vs. Application

There are different levels at which one can teach physics. Obviously what's appropriate for a high schooler who has a calculus course behind them is not appropriate for a seventh grader.

**MaxEntropy_Man**- Posts : 12711

Join date : 2011-04-28

## Re: Education: Theory vs. Application

Hmm. Not to a 7th grader, but even to a 1st grader.

The beauty of education when taught with real life examples is - a kid learns it each time when they see it.

A HS student need not be reminded how a bucket gets full of water, at what rate, when they turn the knob.

It is NOT about learning calculus, or Force, or Centrifugal or Centripetal force. Its merely knowing why they post 40 MPH sign when you are driving in CO mountains, and need to take a sharp left/right turn.

Show and Teach the kids, practical examples.

Thats all I say. Ask any kid - Ok, this is the "concept", now give me 5 examples from real life?

I personally believe that the day, Indian education system shifts from exam based theory - to application/practise - is the day when Silicon valley of innovation will shift to India.

G'nite,

TS.

The beauty of education when taught with real life examples is - a kid learns it each time when they see it.

A HS student need not be reminded how a bucket gets full of water, at what rate, when they turn the knob.

It is NOT about learning calculus, or Force, or Centrifugal or Centripetal force. Its merely knowing why they post 40 MPH sign when you are driving in CO mountains, and need to take a sharp left/right turn.

Show and Teach the kids, practical examples.

Thats all I say. Ask any kid - Ok, this is the "concept", now give me 5 examples from real life?

I personally believe that the day, Indian education system shifts from exam based theory - to application/practise - is the day when Silicon valley of innovation will shift to India.

G'nite,

TS.

**TruthSeeker**- Posts : 947

Join date : 2012-08-18

## Re: Education: Theory vs. Application

TruthSeeker wrote:

It is NOT about learning calculus, or Force, or Centrifugal or Centripetal force. Its merely knowing why they post 40 MPH sign when you are driving in CO mountains, and need to take a sharp left/right turn.

Show and Teach the kids, practical examples.

i've already said i agree with you about laying a solid foundation based on everyday experience. but as the child grows up and starts asking questions about things not accessible through everyday experience what is your plan? as an example, how do you intend based on everyday experience to answer questions they may have about the fundamental composition of matter, about subatomic particles? eventually one of them is going to learn in chemistry or physics that there are such things as electrons, protons, and neutrons, and that their energies are quantized. none of this science can be taught by making an appeal experiential learning (the only teaching method you prefer).

and let me ask you a question, what if your child asks you why the sign says 40 MPH and not 20 MPH or 55 MPH? how do you intend to answer that? did someone pull numbers out of thin air, or did someone in the colorado department of transportation do some calculations?

i am a huge supporter of experiential learning whenever possible, but one cannot ignore the role of serious mathematics in the teaching of science. i do agree that some teachers use mathematics to needlessly obfuscate and hide their own lack of understanding, but if done properly mathematics illuminates what's abstract and fuzzy.

**MaxEntropy_Man**- Posts : 12711

Join date : 2011-04-28

## Re: Education: Theory vs. Application

Yes, we are on same page. Just discussing, rather than arguing.

It does not have to be for college students, though it can be. Foundation of true knowledge and invoking a sense of curiosity is laid down in a child at a very young age. I did attend a HS, where kids up to 5th grade were taught only through experience. I personally did not attend those 5 years, but I can see the value.

Its not limited to Physics/Maths, Why not take a kid to a garden and let them identify a stigma or pistil or a sepal?

To me, ability to relate theory with practise is far more important as a kid.

As for neutrons, protons, electrons - Yes, even today I question - show me how you determined them? :-)

Thanks,

TS.

It does not have to be for college students, though it can be. Foundation of true knowledge and invoking a sense of curiosity is laid down in a child at a very young age. I did attend a HS, where kids up to 5th grade were taught only through experience. I personally did not attend those 5 years, but I can see the value.

Its not limited to Physics/Maths, Why not take a kid to a garden and let them identify a stigma or pistil or a sepal?

To me, ability to relate theory with practise is far more important as a kid.

As for neutrons, protons, electrons - Yes, even today I question - show me how you determined them? :-)

Thanks,

TS.

**TruthSeeker**- Posts : 947

Join date : 2012-08-18

## Re: Education: Theory vs. Application

TruthSeeker wrote:

As for neutrons, protons, electrons - Yes, even today I question - show me how you determined them? :-)

Thanks,

TS.

i am not sure what your question is. are you asking me how the electron was discovered? it's simple enough to google, but based on my memory, j j thompson at cavendish labs some time in the mid 19th century was experimenting with evacuated tubes containing metal electrodes. when he applied a high voltage across the electrodes, the negatively polarized electrode started glowing which led him to conclude that some type of radiation was emanating from it. when he then applied an electric field to it, he found that he could deflect the radiation and the direction of the deflection was dependent on the direction of the electric field. this led him to conclude that the radiation actually comprised of charged particles.

if OTOH you're asking me how i myself have learned this experientially, i have worked a bit in the area of semiconductors. i could get into the details if you're really interested.

**MaxEntropy_Man**- Posts : 12711

Join date : 2011-04-28

## Re: Education: Theory vs. Application

MaxEntropy_Man wrote:bw wrote:

Teach it by application.

What is Force?

Why teach it as a formula?

Why not show it?

Put two identical looking vehicles, with different mass, and let them rip through a paper wall, as they accelerate equally?

And so on.

Simple concepts, but a kid will always remember the application. Then treating it as another multiplication problem.

What I dont get it - If it is so easy to teach, why aint teachers teaching it with application?

TS.

watch walter lewin's lectures.

excellent reco!

is this the guy?

*Marcy's story deserves national coverage because it demonstrates an extreme yet persistent problem that occurs on many college campuses and in many fields. For example, Marcy's case parallels that of MIT physics professor, Walter Lewin. Mr. Overbye mentions the Lewin case, saying "Two years ago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology... cut ties with Walter Lewin... after finding that he had sexually harassed at least one student." There are two factual errors in that sentence: MIT cut ties with Lewin less than one year ago, and the complainant brought evidence that Lewin harassed at least ten students, not one (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/01/23/complainant-unprecedented-walter-lewin-sexual-harassment-case-comes-forward).*

http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/~lopez.513/Letter/Letter_to_NY_Times.html

http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/~lopez.513/Letter/Letter_to_NY_Times.html

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