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April 1, 2012 / Ben Chun

Asimov on Self-Directed Learning

I’m having an Asimov phase: I recently started rereading the Foundation Trilogy, and then today I happened across this interview. I don’t actually know much about Asimov, but this clip makes me feel like I would have really enjoyed hanging out with him.

He pretty much predicts (in 1988) how the spread of computers will lead to the rise of the creative class and the role of the internet in personalized learning. Except they didn’t know back then that it would be called “the internet”. I love how clearly he sees the importance of self-direction in motivation.

Bill Moyers: “What if I want to learn only about baseball?”

Isaac Asimov: “Well that’s all right! You learn all you want about baseball, because the more you learn about baseball the more you might grow interested in mathematics to try to figure out what they mean by those Earned Run Averages and the batting averages and so on. You might in the end become more interested in math than baseball, if you follow your own bent and you’re not told! On the other hand, someone who is interested in mathematics may suddenly find themselves very enticed by the problem of how you throw a curve ball.”


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