Thinking, Fast and Slow Chapter 2


This chapter is titled Attention and Effort.

Here are some key points:

  • People acquire skills to make common tasks quicker to do. People want to move tasks from System 2 to System 1 only for that which they do frequently.
  • System 1 cannot handle multiple topics.
  • System 2 sometimes does not turn on unless we know to activate it. In baseball a week’s worth of plate appearances is too small a sample to make a judgment. We need to know what a reasonable sample is and remember to think about that to avoid System 1 noticing a simpler pattern.
  • Switching tasks also requires mental effort.

Here is what I found most important as a math teacher. To avoid mental overload people break processes into multiple easy steps. They also record immediate results on paper. The algorithms and skills problems in a math class can help train students to use this process. The distractions of computer mediated systems and the way they may discourage use of paper for recording intermediate results worry me even more about computer mediated systems.

Providing a summary of this chapter to students could also explain the importance of showing work beyond just clearly communicating mathematics.

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