Self Schooling is a long-term project focused on a self-taught curriculum based in the Biology, Ecology, Algorithms, Data, and Society (BEADS) subjects. A first round of materials—books and apps—is now available on this selfschooling.com website. For the 2017-18 school year, Self Schooling is focusing on three more specific questions; testing if computers can take three areas of knowledge that are now thriving in graduate schools and deliver them all the way down into the middle school years.

  1. Landscape Ecology: Can the results that ecologists are now getting in simulating the behavior of local ecologies be put into a visual form that is accessible even to kids?
  2. Network Algorithms: Can the methods of “Deep Learning” be made accessible to the point that middle schoolers can watch their computers learn? And understand how they do it?
  3. "Veritas”: What is the concept of “truth” that kids need in order to thrive in the 21st century? (Hint: It’s not the one they now get in mathematics class.)

As we grapple with these three challenges, we will report our experiences—and hopefully our progress—here.

Why a Focus On the Middle School Years?

by James Bailey |

Now we're getting deeper. To succeed in Week Three’s programming assignment, we will need to be facile with programming and facile with linear algebra. That second facility needs to be discussed a bit more, because Deep Learning and linear programming actually have little if anything to say to each other. Their current flirtation is an accident of history.


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by James Bailey |

There is no heavy lifting in the Week One introduction. We are simply introduced to so-called "supervised learning." Supervised learning builds on a corpus of examples where the correct answer is already known. The Deep Learning algorithm tries to match the approved answers, in the same way that students have done for centuries, as noted by Leonardo da Vinci:


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by James Bailey |

It costs $49/month to follow the Deep Learning sequence in its entirety, but you get a seven-day peek for free. That is enough to listen to the lectures in Week One, take the Week One quiz, and then listen to the Week Two lectures. You should.


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by James Bailey |
AncientEgypt

Mathematics began with map, the “earth measure” of the ancient Egyptians who had to restake the land along the Nile after its annual flood. The land itself had its full richness of particularities: a little higher in one corner, needing a bit more fertilizer in another, and perhaps in the same family for four generations. The Egyptians, however, lacked the disk drives to store all this data richness and the computers to process it, so inexorably a “place” became a “polygon”, shorn of all its ecological specificity.


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