The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out

Since I posted  an article about the documentary Another Perfect World a couple of weeks ago, I’ve wanted to post a BBC documentary called The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out. It was made in 1981 and is an interview with Richard P. Feynman, an amazing Nobel Prize winning physicist and hugely intelligent and inspirational individual.

After watching the documentary I bought his first book, a collection of anecdotes that sort of adds up to an autobiography, called Surely You’re Joking, Mr Feynman! (Adventures Of A Curious Character). At the risk of sounding melodramatic, this book changed my life. Not only is it filled with highly emotional stories, like how Feynman dealt with being one of the participants in the Manhattan Project (developing the atomic bomb which was used against Japan in World War II), but it’s also filled with some incredibly funny and bizzare anecdotes, like how Feynman used to play pranks on his fellow physicists and break into their filling cabinets, filled with top-secret research documents, and leave little notes for them.

Perhaps the most appealing thing about Feynman though is he views on learning and teaching. He believes strongly in learning by understanding, not by rote and his practical, logical and uncompromising views are eye opening and inspiring. After reading the book, I truly felt different and looked upon life in a different way. I’d highly recommend it.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s part one of the documentary. You can find the rest of the parts on YouTube. Enjoy!

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  1. Beej says:

    As sad as it might sound, one of the books that changed my life (or at the very least, my way of thinking about academics and language) was Stephen King’s “On Writing.” It sounds like it did the same thing for me this one seemed to do for you. I even use an essay in my classes now called “What Writing Is” to get my students thinking about exactly why they’re having to endure me for 16 weeks at a time. If you’ve not read it, I suggest it. So hey, it’s another book suggestion!

    I might have to check this one out. Anything that talks about getting rid of the ridiculous notion that rote memorization is learning. It’s not. I learned a very interesting fact at a Core Curriculum Assessment Workshop this May: students only retain 20% of a course, and that 20% is entirely up to the teacher. The more you stress one aspect, the less they pay attention to another. With that in mind, my next few classes are going to be interesting…

  2. Gordon says:

    @Beej I heard that Stephen King book was excellent. I think a friend of mine has read it. I’ll need to check it out as obviously I love writing and I like Stephen King. Sounds like the perfect combination to me :)

  3. Tesh says:

    I must stress that learning is a spectrum. Rote memorization is at one end, fuzzy feel-good fluff like Investigations math is at the other. Both are detrimental to actual intellectual development. The truth is somewhere in the middle; we need to know “what” and we need to know “why” and “how”. They don’t make sense without each other.

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