Homework vs Repeated Practice

From Reddit ELI5: How is it possible that homework has no correlation with academic success, when repeated practice is important to so many other activities?

Lots of interesting nuggets of information there. For example this, about the benefits of metacognition:

Teacher in my 7th year here! Lots of people hit the bigger points; you get the feedback too late. Kids also have a tendency to just toss out graded work once they glance at the grade. BUT, last year and this year, I’ve started something new, which is putting up the answer key and having my students grade themselves AND write a short paragraph on what they missed/how they can improve (I teach environmental science to juniors). The reflective piece is what gets graded; I don’t care what you got wrong, I just care that you KNOW what you got wrong.

It took a WHILE to convince my students this wasn’t a trick, “I got everything wrong last night….is it a zero?” “No.” “…..are you sure?” And had to elaborate over and over again that it is NOT in their best interest to just look at the answer key, since I pick difficult problems on purpose that even my high-fliers couldn’t get full points on

Also, the practice can’t just be any form of doing something:

As someone who teaches without homework, here is my answer :

when you practice something, your heart must be into it. By that, I mean “focus”. If you “practice” a sport or a musical instrument by just going through the moves, you don’t progress at all, because it’s the little adjustments you do when focusing that make you improve.

Now, let’s take mathematics, for instance. The problem with the old teaching is that the teacher says something and nobody gives a fuck if you’ve understood or not, you’ll figure that stuff at home by doing homeworks. Guess how efficient it is… Mathematics is most and foremost UNDERSTANDING principles. Did you ever learn multiplications by rote until 15×15 ? I doubt it. Can you DO 15 x 15 ? Probably. Why ? Because you understand the CONCEPT of multiplication, so whatever numbers I’m throwing at you, you know how to multiply them.

Finally there’s also this bit that under-emphasize the famous “10,000 hours” rule:

The 10,000 hours “rule” originally came from the paper, “the role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance”.

Gladwell just over-emphasized the importance of the 10,000 hours portion of the study and not the actual takeaway about the value of practice. He decided to make the 10,000 hour rule a causation, when it was really just a correlation.

The original goal of the paper was to determine how much of elite performance was nature vs nurture. The 10,000 hours was a bit of a throwaway that is generally regarded as unimportant to the overall takeaway.

Dark Mode on Photography Posts

Just a quick announcement that posts under the Photos category on this blog are now shown in a simple dark mode style. This applies both on single post view, and on the category view itself. It makes photos in the post pop up more, and I rather enjoy it that way. Check here for an example post.

If you’re interested in the technical aspect of it, have a look at my studio blog’s post (it’s CSS with a little help from SASS).

Fixing Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Anterior pelvic tilt is a condition where one’s pelvic bones are tilting to the back. This commonly happens because of prolonged sitting and general inactivity, especially when done in improper posture.

I think I have it on some degree. I’ve been mostly sitting down working with computers for more than a decade and a half. I’ve been trying to mix it up with standing up while working the past few years, but it doesn’t seem like that’s enough to fix things.

The most noticeable effect, that I think is related to this condition, is that nowadays my lower back feel uncomfortable pretty quick if I sit down either on a chair or on the floor without a backrest.

Example of anterior pelvic tilt (right) compared to normal pelvic positioning
Example of anterior pelvic tilt (right) compared to normal pelvic positioning. Source

I did some research on this and found several articles with information and recommended exercises. The best I could find so far is this one from Built with Science. I like it because it goes through the details of what is causing it, what it affects, and finally it proposes some exercises that I feel make sense. It can be boiled down to weakened muscles on certain areas due to prolonged sitting. The exercises are aimed to improve those muscles which can end up improving the tilt as well.

The list of anterior pelvic tilt exercises recommended by bultwithscience.com
The list of exercises recommended by article. It’s pretty concise.

The exercises take only about 10 minutes a day, and they’re easy to remember too. I’ve done it for a few days and now I notice when my hip’s doing the tilt. It helps me recognize muscles I didn’t know I have around the hip area, and with this newfound awareness I can use those muscles to fix the tilt. It still feels odd when I’m on the right posture, and my body still wants to revert to the tilting posture where it is still more comfortable with. However, with consistent exercise and more awareness, I hope things will feel better.

If you feel you’ve been sitting down for a long time every day for work or other reasons, I’d recommend checking out that article as well.

The Blessed Childhood of the Confident

I was reading “On Confidence” where it discussed about why some people don’t have the confidence to face others who might judge or oppose them, something I am certainly still struggling with. The discussion moved, interestingly, toward some thoughts about proper parenting, which I copied below as something I’d like to keep strongly in mind:

The judgement of others have been given a free pass to enter all the rooms of our minds. There is no one manning the border between them and us: the enemies are freely in us, wandering wildly and destructively through the caverns of our inner selves, ripping items off the shelves and mocking everything we are. […]

Where does such underconfidence around enemies come from? We should, as ever, begin with parents and sketch an imaginary portrait of types who could unwittingly create such tortured mindsets. However ostensibly loving these parents might have been, they are also likely to have felt a high degree of trust in the system. If the police were investigating one of their friends, their guess would be that the authorities were correct in their suspicions. […]

When it came to their own children, these underconfidence-generating parents would have applied a similar method of judgement: the issue of how much and where to love would have been to a large extent determined externally. if the world felt the baby was adorable, they probably were (and if not, then not so much). Later, if the child won a maths prize, it was a sign not just of competence at algebra but of being, far more broadly, a love-worthy person. Conversely, if the school report described the child as an easily distracted dreamer, who looked as if he would flunk his exams, that might mean the offspirng didn’t quite deserve to exist. The lovability of the child in the eyes of the parents rose and fell in accordance with the respect, interest and approval of the world.

To be on the receiving end of such parenting is a heavy burden. We, the recipients of condiitional love, have no option but to work manically to fulfil the conditions set up by parental and worldly expectations. Success isn’t simply a pleasant prize to stumble upon when we enjoy a subject or a task interests us; it is a psychological necessity, something we must secure in order to feel we have the right to be alive. We don’t have any memories of success-independent affection and therefore constantly need to recharge our batteries from the external power source of the world’s flickering and wilful interest. Unsurprisingly, when enemies come on the horizon, we are quickly in deep trouble, for we have no ability to hold in our minds the concept that they might be wrong a we right; that our achievements are not our being, and that the failure of our actions does not presuppose failure of our entire selves. Rendered defenceless by our upbringing, we have no border post between inside and out. We are at the mercy of pretty much anyone who might decide to hate us.

Contrast this with the blessed childhood of the confident. Their parents would have maintained a vigorously sceptical relationship to the system. The world might sometimes be right, but then again, on key occasions, it could be gravely and outrageously wrong. Everyone was, in their eyes, endowed with their own capacity to judge. It is not because the crowd is jeering that the accused is guilty, or vice versa. The chief of police, the lead reviewer of the Times, or the head of the Pritzker Architecture Prize might well be idiotic; these things happen. In their role as parents, the messages of the confidence-inducing were no less generous in their scepticism: ‘You are loved in and of yourself because of what you are, not what you do.

You aren’t always admirable or even likeable, but you are always deserving of affection and charity of interpretation. It doesn’t matter to me if you end up the president or the street cleaner. You will always be something more important: my child. If they don’t have the wisdom to be kind, fuck them!’. Without necessarily intending this, the parents set up a soothing voice that still plays on a loop in the recesses of the mind, especially at moments of greatest challenge. It is the voice of love.

A Rush of Information

“Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” is quite possibly my most favorite show in Netflix. During a particular moment of profundity in a chat with Trevor Noah, the show’s host Jerry Seinfeld said something that resonated strongly with me as I’m going through some challenges in life:

Everything you need to know, you’ll figure out when you need it.

Even if you miscalculate and make the wrong decision, you needed to know that. I always say that pain is knowledge rushing in to fill a gap. When you stub your toe on the foot of the bed, that was a gap in knowledge. And the pain is a lot of information really quick.

Happy and Uplifting Facts

Stumbled upon a list of happy and uplifting facts on Reddit. Here are some of my favorites:

Bees get sleepy after drinking nectar and occasionally take naps on flowers.


Sunflowers face the sun. When they cannot find the sun, they face each other.


Mother dolphins sing for their babies while they’re in the womb.


Your dog really does genuinely love you, it’s not just a case of depending on you for toys and food.

It’s been studied that the oxytocin levels in a dog’s brain sharply elevate when they see a human they have a positive relationship with. When exposed to the scent of their owners in an MRI machine, the dogs’ levels elevated higher than any other scent.

EDIT: For those asking, yes, cats love you too. Similar studies have been conducted on them. If your cat follows you around, purrs, wiggles the tip of their tail, or stares at you/stares into your eyes and blinks, these are telltale signs your cat adores you.


Physical activity releases dopamine so by motivating yourself to work out you will be more happy because of the actual action and from the results if you stick with it. Now if you haven’t exercised today do a few pushups or situps!


Sometimes in movies, when dogs/wolves are supposed to look mean and threatening, their tails would have to be redone with CGI because their tails won’t stop wagging from doing such a good job acting.


And the last one got me thinking:

Mr. Rogers was the same both on-camera and off-camera.

Sounds simple, yet at this point of my life I find it to be a constant challenge and effort to understand myself, so I can both be kind and genuinely true to myself regardless of the situation.

Financial Rules of Thumb

This page has various rules of thumb related to property, saving, investing, and so on. My financial knowledge is weak and I’m well aware that these rules of thumb are starting points, not hard and fast rules, but they help me nevertheless.

For example, on investing:

If you don’t understand it, don’t buy it –  best advise I have seen … if you make an investment without having a pretty decent understanding of that holding you are a gambler 

And here, about saving:

48 Hour Rule – This thumb rule is useful against impulse purchases. The rule states that when you have a strong urge to make an impulse purchase then postpone the purchase for 48 hours.

Remember – most advertisement is about mind manipulation and that has an immediacy to it. It is why (in the UK), credit purchase has a 1-2 week cool off period

The Root of Unhappiness

The root of my unhappiness seems to be unfulfillment of my wants.

The unfulfillment is sometimes something that I can’t control. There are external factors that can cause it.

The wants, however, definitely come from within me. They are something I can control. The less I want things, the less I face unhappiness.

This gets confusing because it feels to me that what brings happiness is fulfillment of my wants. So if I reduce my wants to avoid unhappiness, I have fewer source of happiness as well.

So perhaps the clue is to decouple wants and happiness. I read in a book once that it is efforts toward mastery that brings true happiness. Maybe that is the key. Maybe I should spend more time there, instead of giving too much time to wants.

Lastly, perhaps another true source of happiness is being grateful for what I already have. If I can do this, I feel it can naturally reduce wants as well.

So, going forward, this is what I want to focus on:
– Reducing my wants, by
– Getting happiness from mastering things, and
– Getting happiness from being grateful.

On Learning Useless Skills at School

An answer to the age old question of “why am I learning this at school, I’ll never use it in real life”:

[…] doing math, reading, and writing actually develops the connections between the neurons in the human brain, re-wiring it to complete the tasks you practice in those areas. The layman result is it literally makes you smarter. Studying math that you will never technically use makes your brain better at performing discrete and logic-based tasks. So, the information actually matters very little, but the practice is essential. If a child focused on science and math in school, they will be better at tasks like construction, where you need to focus on measurement and intuitive design and workflow. Reading practice helps the brain fire faster and to more quickly comprehend a work of art as an adult.

Top 15 Sci-fi Books, According to a Redditor

Someone on Reddit claimed that they have been reading nothing but science fiction for the past 6 years, and made this list as a recommendation:

  1. The Sparrow (Mary Doria Russell)
  2. Hyperion Series (Dan Simmons)
  3. The Stand (Steven King)
  4. I, Robot (Isaac Asimov)
  5. Dune (Frank Herbert)
  6. The Forge of God (Greg Bear)
  7. The Forever War (Joe Haldeman)
  8. Not Alone (Craig Falconer)
  9. The Sirens of Titan (Kurt Vonnegut)
  10. Nightfall (Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg)
  11. Old Man’s War (John Scalzi)
  12. Childhood’s End (Arthur C. Clarke)
  13. Spin (Robert Charles Wilson)
  14. Starship Troopers (Robert Heinlein)
  15. Footfall (Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle)

There is more summary of each book, and honorable mentions, in the Reddit thread.