"People may forget what you say.
They may forget what you did,
but people will never forget
how you made them feel."
I was a drop-out college student who attended that small, cheap public university in the middle of nowhere as a last resort because I ran out of options in my country. Studying there was nothing short of life-changing. Long story short, 11 years later, I just earned my doctorate degree not so long ago and working my dream job.
By the way, after graduating from the small state school, I got accepted in a much larger research university that gave me a free ride. But it was that little school that I had to work my ass 20 hours a week for 4 years that feel I owe my big gratitude for. That little school was the one that gave me hope that I could change my life and had professors and faculties that went out of their way to help a no-name international student. The other day, I was offered an internship in a very good place. The international student office told me I couldn't accept it because of the laws or whatever. There came a professor whom I barely talked to. She was then the head of the business school - one of the departments I did IT support for. She offered to go with me to that office to argue with the director of the international office on behalf of me. And she did. And she won. I didn't have to say a word.
I think it was how you make them feel that makes them remember what you did, not the other way around.
Just to add one thing:
> People may forget what you say. They may forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Maya Angelou is the source of this quote
Plus, state schools are cheap in your home state. You can avoid crippling debt and get more faculty support, thus avoiding having to figure out the rules on your own with a $50,000 per semester Damocletian sword over your head.
So, while I like your story, I think that those with an agenda would view it as a justification for harsh policies - since some people succeed even when things are harsh. (Forgetting that more people succeed when things aren't harsh - and I've heard lots of stories to confirm that too.)
I didn't have a choice not to attend a cheap public school.
I just want to tell my story to share the story that good teachers are everywhere, even in cheap public schools.
For years I’d tried to learn algorithms to clear big 4 style interviews. But for reasons ranging from subject matter difficulty to motivation I’d fail again and again. When I got an interview call I had a competitive programmer teach me over chat every night one problem at a time explaining his thinking.
I improved by leaps and bounds within weeks and also cleared the interview.
What’s being imparted isn’t just mere knowledge but an enthusiasm for the subject. The fact that it can be a lot of fun to work on such problems even though they’re not of any “practical” use. The journey of the instructor and how they themselves learned to overcome difficult topics. The multiple ways they have learned to look at a topic which are too long for a textbook to cover.
Customized feedback on how to improve, the right problems to work on, motivation when you’re losing interest. It’s very difficult to replace all of this.
Now to be fair a lot of real life teachers fail this bar and MOOCS can probably replace them but both are incomplete in any case.
This showed me once and for all that if you’re chasing true expertise then mere reading books or watching videos will never get you as far as people learning the subject from each other in a social setting with motivational instructors and incentives.
It's experience, either from questions you received during lectures you gave, questions you asked yourself in lectures you attented to, or just road blocks you encountered while learning it on your own.
Every time I get a question about something in a training I give, I make sure people will never have to ask me again (unless it's part of the flow of the lecture). Every time I asked myself something, or blocked on something, I make a mental note of it, whatever the subject is. Sometimes, years later, I just happen to teach that subject, and it comes back to me.
I don't know why good teachers do that. Personnally, I started to do it out of anger. I felt like it was so unfair somebody failed to understand something because of a missing piece of information. I found it infuriating, it's a pain that has no reason to exist. We have been teaching things for centuries, why do we keep not communicating knowledge correctly ? Eventually I made peace with human imperfection, as I battled too much with my own, but the habit remains.
Maybe obsession is what makes anybody great. It's not sane, but it's a hell of a motivation.
But even then it doesn’t mean I’m actually doing the math like if a real person were on the other side expecting an answer.
Also you are looking at the first generation of MOOCs...which I agree...aren't that great but overtime...new technologies will get added to them. Better algorithms, better learning tools and probably even live streaming lecture similar to what you see on twitch. The basic MOOC will be free and then if you want the "social interaction" element of it then you can pay for it.
I've universally observed that autodidacts may appear to learn faster, but in reality they're spending an order of magnitude more effort and time. If you applied 10% of the time reading that an "autodidact" applies reading, then took the other 90% of the time an autodidact spends reading and instead spent that time speaking with experts in a social and exploratory way, you'd learn many times faster than the "autodidact" would who spent all their time only reading and consuming learning material.
When you consume learning materials, you are adapting your thoughts and knowledge to what you're learning, but when you don't understand something, without someone who can answer questions in a highly individualized way, you may have a really hard time finding answers to questions purely from material. Having a person to talk to though can bridge gaps in understanding faster than even the best written textbook.
The flip side is that people who spend most of their time asking questions and getting answers may not ever get the experience of struggling through problems and never fully learn to exercise those skills, ime
But, limited time and energy makes both approaches useful.
I'm stuck in the same rut of lack of motivation. Interested to hear what clicked after he explained it to you?
I think this is also true more generally than just for students. I've given a keynote presentation about it at a conference this year if anyone finds that interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lckris5U5iw
I have a friend who's a metalworker. He'd never beat me in an algebra test, but he's damn smart when it comes to manipulating the physical world. He also happens to be very thoughtful and insightful about film and photography. But I'm not sure he considers himself "smart", even though he does original and careful analysis in the areas that he cares about.
Another friend is -- as far as I'm concerned -- an absolute genius at understanding people psychologically, their decisions and motivations. I'll never be as smart in my own preferred areas as she is in this. But I don't think that most people would give her a "smart" badge for it.
Often this comes up in written fiction: authors will describe the characters and their thoughts and motivations in a mode natural to how they perceive things: some authors spin up plots and intrigues at every turn, others focus on raw emoting.
So I tend to view smarts as a personality trait, when we're dealing with healthy folks with no other issues(and realistically, most people are battling something else most of the time without necessarily being aware of it). There's a limited degree of smarter-is-smarter that shows up in testing, and then after that it starts being about personality-driven specializations, the ways in which they overcome problems. The archetypes are easy to spot in school: the student who seems to ignore any lecture or materials and rushes to get help from the teacher or study buddies, versus the student who quietly reads the text and never asks a single question. Both types can get perfect scores in some subjects, but usually not across the board, effortlessly. And as projects grow in scope and cover more skills, awareness of personality-driven limitations becomes more essential to success.
That said, passion can drive you super far.
See Yerkes and Dodson law and I think Hebbs also touched on this topic.
The mice were given 5 levels of (uncalibrated!) electric shocks, which has since been taken to be the "arousal" axis; their task was to learn not to go down a dark hallway, and the number times they attempted this before learning that dark hallway = shock has since been taken to be "performance". This resulted in a jagged 5-point line in which the fastest learning did not occur at the highest or lowest shock levels.
That's it. That's the experiment. Needless to say, even if the result were perfectly trustworthy, extrapolating this out to a neat bell curve that describes the performance of humans studying for a calculus test is unscientific. But like all pseudoscience, it has a sort of intuitive appeal. It should be noted that Yerkes and Dodson themselves never made any claims about "arousal" and so on - they were just trying to measure the effect of electric shocks on the speed of animal habit-formation.
Here's a fairly comprehensive review of the methodological flaws with Yerkes-Dodson, too numerous to go into detail on here:
My understanding tis that the studies were replicated in rats, cats and humans.
> Despite the limitations of their study, the findings of Yerkes and Dodson were subsequently replicated in cats (Dodson, 1915), rats (Broadhurst, 1957; Telegdy and Cohen 1971) and people (Dickman, 2002; Bregman and McAllister 1982; Anderson, 1994), and became part of the lexicon of the field of psychology as the “Yerkes-Dodson Law” (Young, 1936; Eysenk, 1955).
But the weird thing is that if you take two adults and compare their IQs the difference there has a negligible weighting for environmental factors. Modern studies put the heritability of adult IQ upwards of 80%. This also has the extremely counter intuitive implication that our privileged child's academic advantage in youth doesn't necessarily carry over into adulthood. And similarly an adult who came from a less fortunate background will not often suffer (at least in terms of intellectual ability in so much as IQ can measure) for it, as an adult.
The reason I mention this is because the person coming from a privileged background would ostensibly have a much higher degree of belief in themselves and presumably a wider array of well supported interests. Our '8 year old solves nuclear fusion in spare time' clickbait articles invariably, coincidentally, happen to have a parent or two who is a nuclear physicist. Yet in the end that self confidence and supported interests don't amount to anywhere near as much as we'd expect.
One other major argument against this is the sharp rise of parenting where parents genuinely belief, and work to prove, that their child is the next Einstein. And this happening at the same time that the Flynn effect has entirely disappeared, and in some cases substantially reversed, in much of the developed world. The Flynn Effect was the observation that IQs were increasing over time. IQ is a relative value with 100 always set as the mean with a standard deviation of 15 points. But a '100' in 1900 was scoring, in absolute terms, worse than a 100 in e.g. 1920. And this kept happening. But then sometime around the 1990s this trend began reversing. 
Flynn observed an average increase of about 3 points per decade. In many places in the world today we are seeing a decline of about 2 points per decade. Think about what that means in absolute values. That's a net change of -5 points per decade. That is one third of a standard deviation decline, per decade! Getting into hypotheses here is counter productive and outside the point I'm making which is simply that we've, in most parts of the developed world, decided to begin pretending that every child is special. If IQ were connected to self confidence and belief in oneself - we'd expect to see something at least vaguely looking like a positive correlation here. Instead we've seen a completely unprecedented and sharp reversal in IQ.
 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect#Possible_end_of_p...
20% isn't negligible.
As a not directly related aside this also leads to another really interesting aspect of heritability. It changes as the average environmental situation changes. As we get closer and closer to environmentally equal, any given trait's heritability approaches 100% as the only differences left between individuals become genetic. As an obvious example consider height. Malnourishment tends to stunt an individual's growth. So in an area where some significant chunks of the population were malnourished and others were not, you'd see a much lower heritability for height than in places like the US where that environmental factor has been mostly eliminated.
However, if the instructor is sincere, likes what he/she's doing, or I'm not being emotionally or wordly punished for my mistakes, my grades can easily compete with the top three.
It's a response to perceived hostility / cooperation. I need to feel that we're on the same side. If I feel otherwise, I just study enough to pass the class, because my life is more important than a petty hostility in a class. The bad thing is, when I feel that cooperation, I study even less and get much higher grades, because I can listen and learn in class, since I don't spend any effort to protect myself from the instructor, and concentrate instead.
One professor is particular is really great, and I'd sign up for a class with him each semester even if the topic isn't interesting to me. He even suggested pursuing publication for a term paper I wrote, and helped me through the process.
It takes a special kind of person to be able to do that, and it seems like those types of professors are the kind of people who are happy spending all day working on academic stuff. The previously mentioned professor goes home in the evenings and devours books and news to catch up with the latest developments in his field. Another professor sits in his office until 7-8 in the evening. They live in breathe their studies but I try not to fault those who want to have a life outside of academia too.
ps: to elaborate, we want to share things with other beings, when we bond over positive emotions, our mind get engaged, motivated, open, happy. As an example, my college math class was mostly the bottom of the barrel (me included). Our teacher though, was very invested both in the topic and in making us understand. Nobody cared at first, but with time, even the most uninterested of us ended coming on optional weekend classes. Why ? He cared. There are other similar stories about management. Dehumanized management creates more problems, a simple honest/respectful manager, even if harsh, will get 10x more results.
Slightly related: students learn a lot because of having a crush on someone. I've learned a bunch of things this way too. It's not something that can be structurally exploited, though.
If you're motivated to learn in order to impress a potential mate, rev that seems like something that might rely reduce - in part - to seeing sexual stimulation? That element might be exploitable, there may even be a way to do that morally?
As for exploiting this, or a bunch of other "nonstandard" sources of motivation, I worry in practice about what I personally call "educational games problem" - both teens and adults quickly notice when all you're doing is sprinkle some artificial "fun" on top of the same old drudgery. They're not tricked by it. It's the education part, not motivation part, that has to be secondary and sneaked in, for the whole thing to work. That's why you can get 12-yo to study undergrad-level physics as a side effect of Kerbal Space Program - they naturally learn to get better at the activity they find intrinsically rewarding.
rely -> really
seeing -> seeking
Perhaps a small volume of typo corrections could be allowed as edits for longer than the normal edit period.
I wonder how you made this one :). Mobile?
Someone driven to know more about something will somehow manage to overlook teacher's humanity.
First principle: It's a lot easier to teach someone something once they understand why it's important to them.
With all respect, I’m calling bullshit on this. Social connections were thee only thing you learned? Where did you learn how to read so you could understand the C++ texts you were reading? Who gave you lessons to help with critical thinking so you could understand programming is not a linear process? Hell, who taught you how to count? If you had done none of this, you’d be claiming you self taught since an infant.
Simply casting your entire education to the side is extreme. There may be parts of the system that you disagreed with, perhaps the structure of the school day, but saying it had no benefit makes it sound like a pendejo argument.
The teacher I have the most positive memories of is the math teacher who told me I wasn't going to learn anything more in his classes and gave me permission to spend them in the library practicing for the exams instead.
Obviously I learned some things in school simply by virtue of having to spend so much time there as a kid. That doesn't mean I couldn't have had a better educational and life experience not going. The fact that I attended an elite university probably helped me getting some jobs early in my career but it wasn't a positive educational experience for me either.
However, if it's true that people learn from people they love, then it might be hard to learn from a comment that is calling what someone says "bullshit" and calling them a "pendejo".
EDIT: fixed typo
I'm a software developer who was self taught online. All social skills with others at work were as stated developed from social experiences outside school. Forums or even reddit helped me progress in writing. I think school isn't necessary if motivated and the field of interest doesn't require legal obligations to meet by some degree or specialist program. The education system is arguably similar to any other capitalist entity and desiring society to feel it's needed or required. It's a real shame because it's a debt machine in a poor economy where the previous generation didn't need a degree and could get a home in their name young.
Look up google duplex to see what I am talking about.
I can confirm that I dislike teachers who can't be bothered to properly prepare their lecture. I also find it easier to make connections with teachers that do put effort in.
I believe reason is informed by emotion to a degree that's difficult to appreciate until it has been tested.
That's why it's so disturbing to see issues such as basic economic security largely ignored in what are generally "good times".
Also, since the article mentions it...fear can have a really positive effect when it comes to learning something. One year, we had a teacher who made us stand up in the beginning of the class and he would then ask for vocabulary. You had only little time to answer and if you got it correct, you were allowed to sit down. Obviously, no one wanted to be the last one standing, especially in a class of 31. It was the best class I've ever had and I learned a lot.
That doesn't sound right to me, but I'm not to question it, since I realize how different people can be about such basic matters.
What I'd like to bring here is: could it be that people differ in "types" of work along the same lines as they do politically? Not correlated, but semantically related.
I wonder if there's a divide between the type of student who could dutifully learn something because it's the thing they're supposed to do, and the type of student who won't learn much if they aren't interested, but will quickly become proficient, if not master, the subject if they have the passion for it? The classic divide between dutiful order and creative chaos, in other words.
> One year, we had a teacher who made us stand up in the beginning of the class and he would then ask for vocabulary. You had only little time to answer and if you got it correct, you were allowed to sit down.
Isn't it related to the concept of "eustress" [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eustress]? Fearful stress versus "challenge" stress. I keep hearing bits and pieces about it (particularly from Tim Ferriss), but don't have the large picture.
I'm not really a fan of the word "divide" here because the dutiful learner can absolutely benefit from the positive effect of being interested in the subject matter. On the other hand, he/she won't suffer the negative consequences of not really being interested.
> Isn't it related to the concept of "eustress"?
Related in the way that some students probably had a positive response. As for me...it was definitely a negative threat, although not as bad as citing a poem in front of the class for example. It also didn't lead to any growth in that department, it was an ever-recurring hurdle to be feared. But, as I said, it worked really well when it came to the aspect of learning the vocabulary. For that alone it was absolutely worth it.
I know I burn out quickly if I'm disinterested, but could work on something exciting — a website redesign was the latest — for hours, forgetting about food and rest.
Back in the uni, I'd postpone some assignments until the very last date if they weren't interesting. They'd still be good, but making them on time wasn't important to me. Same with revising/learning for a test, or an exam.
(To be fair, a lot of it is also in the anxiety. I'd postpone any project — more so one that involves public presentation — if I was afraid to not do well enough, let alone fail.)
That's actually another very interesting aspect. The environment (on the basic level) can absolutely matter. Students that pay attention in class and do everything they are told with utmost care may slack with homework because their home is completely different from school. The opposite can be true as well, with students, not being comfortable at all within a school setting, excelling at studying on their own.
Not when there's only two values measured. What else do you have in mind?
I'd never encountered people who experience separate influences, academically (that I know of). The best-indicative situation I'd seen (or, perhaps, only noticed) are people who don't do well in school because their home environment is discouraging and negative.
That said, my experience is such that, at school, I'd enjoy doing tasks – exercises, experiments etc. – but would avoid homework as much as possible. I wouldn't be able to sit down and learn anything by rote in a library: somehow, it increased internal tension, I was unable to sit down for the process.
On the other hand, I once memorized the Latin noun declension system in an evening, before the exam – more as a result of procrastination on my part than a motivated necessity.
I'm one of the people I've described (first example). I do excel in school/work environments. Paying attention for hours on end, regardless of whether it was "boring" or not, was never an issue. That's how I aquired pretty much all my knowledge. However, at home, I had trouble doing my homework, doing assignments or even learning for a test. The latter two I would usually do the day/evening before (at the latest possible opportunity). Homework, I sometimes skipped cough cough. If one class would have been suddenly canceled, I would have had no troubles doing the homework in that time frame at school. My home environment was generally neutral and it's also not like I did something more interesting with my time that I couldn't do it.
That's pretty good. Latin is a case where I wish I had been forced to learn vocabulary at home...because it was absolutely necessary since we basically only read Latin texts during class, every single time, with the exception of grammar every blue moon.
I see what you mean. It reminds me of the way modern computer RPGs handle character morality.
It used to be (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Fallout: New Vegas) that the player character's goodness/badness would be measured on a spectrum. You'd be considered more "good" (moral, altruistic, kind) the more "good" things you did, and vice versa. Your "good" actions could eventually negate all the "bad" actions you've done over the course of the game, as long as there are enough opportunities to gain those morality points.
Nowadays (Mass Effect, Tyranny), it leans more towards a two-scale solution, where your "good" actions are measured alongside your "bad" ones. In this case, your saving the smith's child doesn't make people forget how you'd ruthlessly killed an innocent merchant for their stuff earlier. You could be totally "good", totally "bad", and anywhere in between; a divisive figure (with both "good" and "bad" scales tipped up high), or someone who doesn't take that bright of a stance, opting for not rocking the boat instead.
(Tyranny, in particular, handles the social reaction to your actions brilliantly, in my opinion.)
> However, at home, I had trouble doing my homework, doing assignments or even learning for a test.
Now that you say it like that, I do remember that I found doing the homework at the uni more... "possible", I guess, to doing it at home. There were often "windows" in our schedule – periods where there are no classes between any other two. I knew that, if I were to go home during a "window" (maybe I was tired, or maybe I was depressed that day), I'm not going back to uni. It felt like the work day was over, in this case.
Do you have any idea why is that so? Is there some sort of mode-switching happening between the workplace and home, where different priorities take hold?
> Latin is a case where I wish I had been forced to learn vocabulary at home
Vocab is a bitch, whatever the language. It's the meanest problem I have. Grammar, phonetics, even subtle semantic differences – I grasp all that pretty well, but vocab? Can't handle it unless I rote it – which, even if you're learning a language at the uni, is a tough nut to crack for me. I just can't memorize stuff that way. I need to work with the lexicon within a context: a book, a newspaper, a film – anything. Otherwise, it doesn't work for me.
That's good to hear. It always bothered me in a way that you were able to make your "bad" deeds become forgotten by doing some "good" things here and there. One notable exception was the "Childkiller" status in the early Fallouts (haven't played 3 and beyond) which led to possible encounters with bounty hunters.
> Do you have any idea why is that so? Is there some sort of mode-switching happening between the workplace and home, where different priorities take hold?
I do think it's because of the "tension" disappearing when you are at home. However, even that doesn't work entirely for me. For instance, I'm a night owl. On weekends, it's impossible for me to get up the same time I would on a work day, regardless of how often the alarm bell goes off. So while I would easily get up at 6:00 in the morning on a Monday while going to bed at 2:00, it would be impossible to get up the same time on a Saturday, even if I went to bed 2 hours earlier. One exception would be having to get up to travel somewhere. Now, one could argue that that "tension" isn't tied to a physical environment but that would point against the learning at home/homework stuff we experienced. Of course, there is the possbility that our body distinguishes between getting up at the right time to get to school/work and doing school stuff at home after school due to undetermined differences. I'm also trying to remember how it was when I had, for instance, two hours of school, four hours of free time and then another two hours of school. I do think the tension disappeared once I was home (unless I had a test or something later that day) but it gradually came back when sitting in class. So it's probably a mode that is on as soon as you wake up until you are home again. That mode is likely also emotionally and physically taxing on our body due to the tension. As soon as we hit home and are powering down, we (ideally) recuperate. Getting back up and increasing the tension again is maybe not ideal for our body (?) which would mean that longer pauses (like the four hours I mentioned) are not really beneficial. Something like that, I would guess.
> Grammar, phonetics, even subtle semantic differences – I grasp all that pretty well, but vocab?
We are similar then, as we grasp the feeling for a language rather easily. For instance, I was very good at writing French words (and also pronouncing them) and getting all the accents right. That was due to the sound of the word but also how the word "flowed" or looked. Of course, if I didn't know what the word meant, it would be pretty pointless. At least for me, ideally, I learn the language from the ground up, seperately from any other language. This really helps with trying to translate something from one language into another one when it simply can't really be done, as is often enough the case. And yes, learning words from context is the best.
"Fear being a positive effect" is also dependent on the student's character. For me, being intimidation and motivation by fear has completely negative effect. I always respond with "Come on, is this what best you can do? Using fear, because you can't use a more complicated technique or you can't be sincere with us? We are equal here. You're teaching something, and I'm trying my best to learn it. You don't have permission to harass me with this."
My comments in this thread are still valid for my work life. I still don't work with fear, and don't play along with people which are not sincere and show resistance to them. On the other hand, I'm the guy which others call me "extremely disciplined, and with great work ethics". If you want me to cooperate, just show me what you're aiming for. We can work together towards it, otherwise I'll indefinitely refuse to obey your "instructions" blindly.
Pushing a person for its best is separated with a very thin line from harassing that people. If that line's not well observed, one may burn out a lot of people while trying to motivate. These burn marks heal very slowly and hard, especially in the early ages.
If one has great work ethics, there is a possibility that the student with connect better with the teacher. Do you have concrete references that prove that under the condition that the teacher has great work ethics, the effectiveness of learning is independent of connection to the teacher. Equivalently, do you have references that show that the effectiveness of learning is more or less the same in both of these cases: (1) Teacher has great work ethics and students have better connection to the teacher (2) Teacher has great work ethics and the students have poorer connection to the teacher.
> fear can have a really positive effect when it comes to learning something
You seem to be presenting a personal anecdote that opposes a peer-reviewed study of Patricia K. Kuhl from University of Washington but you do not present any evidence to corroborate your claim. It's great that fear worked out well for your class but without supporting evidence for it, I doubt if this would work for the majority. I would be wary of using fear as a tool while teaching.
This has a built-in failure mode caused by the fact that the student is optimizing the objective function, "Reduce the potential for public embarrassment," and not the one the teacher wants, which is, "Learn the vocabulary." At some point, the student decides that the safer path is actively refusing to study and refusing to be embarrassed by this choice. No one knows if they could really learn the material or not (probably not even them), and they maintain self-respect by having the balls to stand up to someone they do not like (especially pre-university, where attendance is legally mandatory and you have little to no influence over your assigned teachers).
I have seen this play out with several obviously bright people (to counter your anecdote with another anecdote). It is particularly sad because it fails expressly for those struggling the most with formal education.
How do children determine who to pay attention to? who to learn from?
1. Skill / Competence ("whose arrows hit the target?")
2. Success ("who brings back the big prey?")
3. Prestige (cues of attention, deference)
- use what other people are doing
- they are worthy of paying attention to
4. Age (ie, scaffold to incrementally experience)
- what might be useful to you later?
- males copy males, females copy females, etc
Tangential to this is what I consider an absolutely extraordinary phenomenon. The unexpected explosion of creativity that occurs in a subject subsumed in the throes of new romantic love ;)
I had never for a moment considered this a reason why whenever I was asked as a kid "who is your favorite teacher" without hesitation my answer was always "my brother" and never any of my actual school teachers.
For downvoters, I'd like you to email me. I'd like to have the feedback why this isn't an interesting observation to make (that hating a teacher may produce opposite results).
Note: we were master students and other classes that didn't do dictatorial handholding were much better. I had studied 2 bachelors and 0.5 masters up to this point.
Teachers that say: it's on you to come to the lecture and if you fail the class because you never show up that's on you, are much more my style.
I've tried to define love and hate in similar terms, minding what I think is their opposite nature. Self sacrifice to help another person is love, self sacrifice to hurt another person is hate. I think it works.
Much like depression is not sadness. Sadness is meaningful. Depression is the dullness of absolutely nothing having meaning anymore.
In this case, I think emotions lead to memory leads to learning. It's more important to care about the instructor and the material than it is to feel positive about it. To purposefully score low, you need to master the material enough to prevent yourself from being right by accident.
big and small are just relative descriptions. Something can be both big and small, consider the moon (big to us, small to the sun), but it is hard to describe somethings size while not thinking/comparing/considering about it.
Light and dark can be considered emotions to. You can harbor light and dark thoughts at the same time on the same subject. Light and dark are still opposites, like big and small. I don't find the argument compelling yet that love and hate are not opposites.
If indifference is the opposite of love, it is also the opposite of hate. That would make love and hate the same or close. I don't buy it. I would consider negative and positive to be opposite, and zero to be niether. Zero is apathy/indifference.
Your point about 0 is resonable, but it’s more of a U shape.
Both are intense feelings that will stimulate arousal. In practice, it’s easier to move from love to hate and back to love than it is to move either to apathy — and cycling between them doesn’t involve apathy at all.
And then we have things like disgust, which I would say is more dissimilar to love than hate.