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November 26, 2002
Learning and foolishness

In the first sentence of this, I originally spelt "Straits Times" as "Straights Times", a blunder that was just waiting to happen. Rightly or wrongly, I corrected my original posting, in response to a comment (containing the inevitable joke) from John Ray, and added this as comment number two:

Thanks John. It's beginning to dawn on me that when you run an "education" blog, mistakes like that count twice.

I've taken the liberty of correcting the posting, which said "Straights", until now.

That's one of the downsides of comments. Had John's comment merely been an email, I could have corrected the mistake with minimum visibility.

I was always one of those "could do better if he tried harder" pupils. It's not that I can't spell; merely that, sometimes, I don't.

Maybe, as some bloggers do, I should leave up all errors however big or small. Once you correct "obvious" mistakes, who knows what other retrospective airbrushings you may later decide are excusable? Is this a slippery slope I've just stepped onto? Have I entered the realm of education blog cheating?

Comments anyone?

In general, I am finding the handling of comments tricky. Where, now, does anyone put a comment on the above? As a comment on this, or under where my reply-comment quoted above was first put? What if there are now further comments in both places?

Learning is often hard to distinguish from making a fool of oneself, and then making a further fool of oneself in response to the original foolishness when it is pointed out. Sympathetic teachers are those who have recent experience of themselves doing some learning, that is to say, foolishness. Some teachers should be sympathetic/foolish teachers, but not all.

I started this blogging business because I felt that I wasn't learning enough from the other things I was doing, and it's working. Thanks to blogging, Brian's education is in rapid motion again, whereas before blogging it was nearly immobile. Blogging has placed me back in the zone of moderate discomfort, where we all belong for as long as we are alive.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:23 AM
Category: Brian's education

"Learning is often hard to distinguish from making a fool of oneself"

Poor Brian! I AM contrite! I did not mean to engender such despondency.

Best Wishes
John Ray

Comment by: John Ray on November 28, 2002 02:29 PM

No no John, don't beat yourself up. My point was for educators. Remember, when you find yourself despising some poor kid who can't get whatever it is you are trying to explain which is so obvious he must be totally thick not to get it, what it was like when you last got in a muddle. I was cheering myself up, American style, by turning a cock-up into a "learning experience".

For further John Ray induced torment, go to Samizdata, and my post there of Tue 26 about Australia. (Sorry I don't seem to be able to make links from within comments here work, don't know why, but no doubt some smug so-and-so will tell me.) Basically I said that Australians didn't get to vote for anyone until about 1950, and had to get my public apology up good and soon before further humiliation ensued.

Now that is a cock-up, and committing that really did make me despondent. Christ Almighty. But it wasn't John who made me despondent by telling me what I'd said, it was me for saying it in the first place. Some Aussie somewhere would have been bound to pick up on it sooner or later.

Oh well. Bash on.

Comment by: Brian Micklethwait on November 28, 2002 02:54 PM

Heh, well, it's just your humanity showing. Nothing like a good cock-up (oh, you Brits really know how to use language!) to keep you humble. I've certainly done my share!

blog on, Brian!

Comment by: lars on November 29, 2002 02:22 PM
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