Ouch!

No one showed the little guy how to use the software. Homeschooling teaches people that learning is an approach, not a curriculum to be memorized. He just found what he needed on YouTube and then got underway. He worked entirely by himself with no input from any of us. He laid out the sort of little visual story he wanted, drew all the cells with his computer mouse, and aligned the music to the visuals. It only took him a few days to get it all done. When I first saw it, I asked him how he was able to get the mouth shapes to align perfectly with the words being sung. He said he looked up some form of encyclopedia that showed pictures of mouths as they form phonetic sounds, and memorized it.

I asked him how it was possible for him to do all this. He said, “Well, I’ve had the program for almost a week now.”

Oh.

And the older brother has an interesting voice there too. Don’t know if they will “go far” but there’s definitely basic talent there.

21 thoughts on “Ouch!”

  1. Shows why I refuse to be impressed by the flourishing of university degrees. They’re for the people who can’t do this.

  2. I think this chap needs to understand that this just isn’t that abnormal.

    Both of my kids are state-schooled. One learnt piano, paid for by us. I picked up Cakewalk Music Creator on Steam when it was in a Steam sale (something daft like £20) and a £10 midi cable and we set it up together and I gave her a brief whirl with it. She’s now doing multi-track recording of her own songs. She’s done multiple music tracks, 4 voices, instruments, learnt how the sequencer bit worked. The other one? I picked up Sony Vegas video editing in a sale (about £20) and pointed her at it. She goes out with a video camera and makes little films, does game playthrough videos with audio synchronisation. Titles? Fades? Effects? I didn’t teach her that.

    Their friends are playing about with software, or Photoshop. One lad is doing claymation animations.

    And it’s more than anything about the cost of this stuff. You just wouldn’t get that bothered if a kid broke a video camera today, so you can let them go off with it. You can get all that video and music stuff I mentioned for less than taking the family to an Arsenal game once. You can rent Photoshop for less than a round of lattes in Starbucks.

  3. bloke in spain,

    They don’t even teach you to do things like this. I know someone who did a degree in photography and my point to a mutual friend was that that didn’t exist until recently. It used to be taught by getting a subscription to Amateur Photographer and by going to local photographic societies. If you wanted to get work, you turned up to a newspaper with your portfolio. I’m going to try and join Alamy as I’m a keen amateur, and they aren’t interested in whether I’ve got a degree or not.

    I was reading something by the CEO of Pluralsight, that do online computer skills training, and their big push now is towards accreditations – they know that people going off to learn away from home by someone talking to them, like it’s the 14th century is just way more expensive than using video for learning (about $50/month instead of £1000).

  4. Harry Haddock's ghost

    . I know someone who did a degree in photography and my point to a mutual friend was that that didn’t exist until recently.

    Sorry, but that is bollocks. My best mate went from sixth form to do a uni degree in photography, and that was 1988, and he had to compete to get in, because the courses were well established and recognised way of entering the industry. And, yes, he is now a professional photographer.

  5. This kid might be some sort of a genius or he might be pathetically autistic. In any event, untutored geniuses rarely end well, and over-tutored ones likewise. And home schooling is often more child-centred than the female-dominated primary school version.

  6. Bloke in Costa Rica

    No-one taught me how to program in 6510 assembler, either, and that was 1984. There has always been a minority of inquisitive kids who push the envelope of what is possible with the hardware and software of their day. Stigler is right. It’s that today the barriers to entry are practically non-existent. A Raspberry Pi is 25 quid’s worth of gubbins that does much, much more than a $20000 SCADA system from ten years ago.

  7. Dear Mr Worstall

    ” … learning is an approach, not a curriculum to be memorized.”

    It would be grand if our state education establishment learnt that simple lesson.

    DP

  8. DP

    “It would be grand if our state education establishment learnt that simple lesson.”

    It has, and to disastrous effect. Child-centred learning focussed on individual learning styles, and an emphasis on technique/skills rather than knowledge, have together left numerous children unable to cope with the world of employment, where they are expected to learn promptly and in the same way as their colleagues. Child-centred learning may be great for producing creatives and luvvies, but it’s poor at producing engineers and linguists, lawyers and doctors, etc., all of whom have to memorize vast amounts of data before they are able to exercise their judgement.

  9. “but it’s poor at producing engineers and linguists, lawyers and doctors, etc.”

    Are you sure sticking lawyers in there helps your case? I’d always presumed lawyers were the rejects from dog obedience classes. It can’t be hard. There’s so many of them.

  10. Harry Haddock’s Ghost,

    “Sorry, but that is bollocks. My best mate went from sixth form to do a uni degree in photography, and that was 1988, and he had to compete to get in, because the courses were well established and recognised way of entering the industry.”

    I’d never heard of them before about 5 years ago. OK, so maybe there were a few courses around.

    “And, yes, he is now a professional photographer”

    Show me someone who cares about photographers having a degree.

  11. Thank you Theophrastus.

    Slowly but surely teachers are moving away from child-centred learning. Sadly education luvvies, sadly, are still far behind.

    The thing is that the sort of learning described for that home-schooled child is still possible if you go to school No-one stops you doing it. What school does is ensure all the other things, that he isn’t learning currently while he does only this, are at least given some emphasis.

  12. Philip Scott Thomas

    Theophrastus –

    Are you familiar with Wittgenstein’s dictum: Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent? Perhaps you might like to take it to heart.

    I’ve been aware of these kids via Sippican’s blog for some years. I’ve even bunged them the odd quid or two. They are a couple of great kids.

    Your opinion of them, sans any knowledge, facts or familiarity, says more about you than about them. And what it says, in short, is that you are are a weapons-grade dick.

  13. Child-centred learning focussed on individual learning styles, and an emphasis on technique/skills rather than knowledge, have together left numerous children unable to cope with the world of employment, where they are expected to learn promptly and in the same way as their colleagues.

    In case you hadn’t noticed, ‘the world of employment’ is vanishing fast. Most kids starting school today will end up self-employed, not working eight hours a day in a cube for a big corporation. They need to know how to do things on their own initiative, not sit there waiting for their boss to tell them what to do, then mindlessly doing it.

    Child-centred learning may be great for producing creatives and luvvies, but it’s poor at producing engineers and linguists, lawyers and doctors, etc., all of whom have to memorize vast amounts of data before they are able to exercise their judgement

    Fortunately, we have machines that are very good at memorizing and searching vast amounts of data. We call them C-O-M-P-U-T-E-R-S.

    Any job which just requires storing vast amounts of data and no real creativity will be obsolete before a kid who starts school today graduates from it. At thirty years old, if current schooling trends continue…

  14. Any job which just requires storing vast amounts of data and no real creativity will be obsolete before a kid who starts school today graduates from it. At thirty years old, if current schooling trends continue…

    There are already no such jobs. All the jobs that deal with big data — accountants, statisticians etc — already are doing the creative side of the work. Book-keeping died long ago. Computers already do almost all warehousing, invoicing etc.

    Most kids starting school today will end up self-employed, not working eight hours a day in a cube for a big corporation.

    Big corporations employ a small fraction of the modern work force. The only genuinely large employer is government. Those changes, again, are old hat.

    People have been prophesying the end of employment as we know it for 100 years. And they’ve been wrong all those times. Because the same jobs need to be done, whether self-employed contractors or employees.

    They need to know how to do things on their own initiative, not sit there waiting for their boss to tell them what to do, then mindlessly doing it.

    Yes, but you can’t teach that. You really can’t. (The literature on this is quite explicit, although not well known outside education circles, I accept. The more traditional methods of teaching actually tend to be slightly superior at getting students to solve problems.)

    All you achieve with “progressive” methods is a kid who thinks at the same level as a kid taught with “traditional” methods, but who doesn’t read as well and can’t manipulate numbers as well. Very quickly that means they can’t cope with difficult concepts, because their understanding of the underlying concepts is shaky.

    Canada used to have great international (PISA) scores. Then they revamped their system in line with your concepts. Now they are slipping down the rankings rapidly, as their students aren’t properly equipped with basic knowledge with which to build your vaunted “thinking skills”.

    If you try to teach flair in football by emphasizing kicking the ball round and “finding your own way” then you get incompetent players quite quickly. To get a player with flair, you must first get a player who has such control of the basic skills that they are automatic. Only then can that be extended into the game. We all know that. Yet in education the same concept is apparently too difficult to grasp.

  15. People have been prophesying the end of employment as we know it for 100 years.

    A hundred years ago, ’employment as we know it’ didn’t even exist in most countries. ‘Employment as we know it’ is a brief aberration of the industrial era, and will go away when it does.

    Because the same jobs need to be done, whether self-employed contractors or employees.

    No, they don’t.

    No-one’s going to be working in a cube all day when they can make most of the things they need in their garage. No-one’s going to be hiring thousands of accountants to manage accounts, when they produce most of the things they need themselves. No-one’s going to be hiring thousands of statisticians when government has gone bankrupt, when there are no big corporations left to collect their taxes.

    Vast amounts of ’employment as we know it’ are just going to disappear.

    Training kids for industrial-era work today makes as much sense as training them to plough fields when the first factories were springing up around the country.

    Yes, but you can’t teach that. You really can’t.

    You don’t need to. Most kids are naturally curious and creative. Schools have to work very, very hard to teach that out of them.

  16. PST:

    “Your opinion of them, sans any knowledge, facts or familiarity, says more about you than about them.”

    I didn’t express an opinion about the kids, except to say that the younger one was either a genius or autistic. (My very talented brother-in-law is autistic.) I did, however, express huge scepticism about home schooling.

  17. In case you hadn’t noticed, ‘the world of employment’ is vanishing fast. Most kids starting school today will end up self-employed, not working eight hours a day in a cube for a big corporation. They need to know how to do things on their own initiative, not sit there waiting for their boss to tell them what to do, then mindlessly doing it.

    Actually, I thought it was going in the other direction. What with regulations piling up, living wages, and all this other bullshit it must be getting harder and harder to create an SME these days. Sure, self-employment will always be an option for a handful, but I reckon we’re going to see most people lumbered with a choice between working for a gigantic corporation of facing a lifetime on the dole.

  18. Tim Newman,

    “Actually, I thought it was going in the other direction. What with regulations piling up, living wages, and all this other bullshit it must be getting harder and harder to create an SME these days. Sure, self-employment will always be an option for a handful, but I reckon we’re going to see most people lumbered with a choice between working for a gigantic corporation of facing a lifetime on the dole.”

    But most of that either affects everyone, or works against hiring employees.

    The real future is some big corporations that actually aren’t that big, but just outsource most of their operations, loads of small companies doing that operational stuff and those companies hiring some employees, some freelancers.

    IT departments inside organisations are often now little more than a group of people who specify the system to be built and then give the specification to a provider and then run QA on the delivered product.

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