Effortful Engagement with Ideas
By Amy Willis
We feel pretty confident that a lot of you are big readers. I mean, you’re here, right??? So this week’s episode ought to resonate with you. Host Russ Roberts treats us to a fascinating conversation with software engineer Andy Matuschak, who played an integral role in the early days of Khan Academy. And Matuschak says, well, books don’t work.
What kind of books do you read? Why do you read fiction? Non-fiction? And how much do you really remember of what you read? For that matter, as Russ asks his guest, what do we really mean by learning or remembering anyway? Are books a “pleasant way of passing time” for you, or does your reading constitute serious learning?
1- What does Matuschak mean by transmissionism, and why is it so hard to achieve with reading (especially non-fiction)?
2- What’s the difference between open-ended and multiple choice understanding either? To what extent can either help you acquire wisdom? How do Matuschak’s thoughts on reading compare to those of Doug Lemov? Who do you think offers the better advice?
3- What advice about forming memories of your reading reliably can you take from this episode? What other suggestions can you provide for your fellow readers and listeners?
4- Have you ever read a book because it was featured in an EconTalk episode (either whole or in part)? Why? Were you glad you did? Again, why? What makes you decide to read a book generally?
5- How can we make EconTalk more of an educational activity??? Matuschak suggests that listening to a conversation or debate is only the first step on a scaffold. How do we help listeners take the next step?
(P.S. We’re so serious about that last question… Good suggestions will be taken very seriously, and we may have books and swag to share in exchange!)