Image from Bernd Helfert

Tachydidaxy or Speed-teaching is the practice of rapid, technologically assisted learning.

The exact origin of Tachydidaxy is a subject for debate. Technology has always played a part in education, whether it be the basic introduction of printed books or more advanced neural tinkering. A firm date cannot be stated but most historians mark the Interplanetary age as the time when the fundamentals of tachydidaxy were developed. In this period educational technology moved beyond better presentation/availability and moved into the realm of adaptive tools. Biofeedback monitors reached levels of sophistication that, in conjunction with a library of lessons (each in multiple formats) could judge student engagement and understanding and adjust the lesson accordingly. Not long after this nootropics were introduced that worked excellently in conjunction with the monitors.

By the second century a.t. the technology was effective and safe enough that many toddlers were literate age three, particularly those destined for superbright status. By the end of the Interplanetary Age a tendency for conformity was noticed amongst subjects of tachydidaxy, and although young teens often gained degrees or doctorates, the electronic hothousing could inhibit their individuality. For this reason the practice has been modified by different cultures over the subsequent millennia to allow for periods of childhood to occur with almost no directed learning at all. One common practice in human autotopias is to have minimal mandatory education, young children are taught to a basic standard (reading, writing, domestic skills etc) and left to their own devices. The child can choose on their own when to seek education again, what for and for how long. Since life expectancy is extended for most nearbaseline clades, the period considered to be "youth" is also often extended by an arbitrary amount. Further tachydidaxy may not occur until the individual is several decades old on some worlds; by this time the individual has established an idiosyncratic personality which is generally little affected by the educational process. In those polities where conformity is valued and expected, however, speed-learning and knowledge grafting may occur at a very early age, which tends to suppress individualistic tendencies. With knowledge grafts in particular great care must be taken to maximise education over indoctrination, though many empires fervently disagree over exactly where that line falls.

Tachydidaxy methods have undergone millennia of development; different times, cultures and clades have adopted a diverse range of technologies and techniques. Superior clades, for instance, possess so many modifications for intelligence that tachydidaxy focuses more on how to efficiently organise the sheer volume of information being processed at ony one time. By contrast nearbaseline's prioritise maintaining an optimum working environment and mindset. For vecs, virtuals and neogens learning can be so radically different that all learning comes in the form of knowledge grafts. Consequently categorising a practice as tachydidaxy or non-speed learning can sometimes be difficult. In 5,411at a committee of the Terragen Federation Bureaucracy worked to definitively establish some basic guidelines on tachydidaxy techniques, these have become a popular (though not universal) standard throughout the Sephirotics. The committee outlined three fundamental characteristics that an educational technique has to have in order to be considered tachydidactic:

1) Adaptive tutor. Whether sophont or software whatever is providing the skills and knowledge to be learnt must be able to adapt to the user. This includes but is not limited to: interactively responding to queries, customising lesson format (textual, visual style, AR/VR etcetera), managing the amount of information being taught and being able to synthesise lesson plans on any topic, no matter how interdisciplinary said topic may be.

2) Memory boosting. May be provided through subtle mnemonic teaching, nootropic supply or by working with appropriate neurotech (e.g. DNI). Whatever the technology used tachydidaxy methods should be able to adequately fix the key memories from each lesson, ensuring that rote learning is not required.

3) Motivation control. At its simplest this can be provided through lessons that are entertaining, more advance methods utilise neurotechnology to manipulate the student into a sustained state of motivation, concentration and contentedness. With this feature tachydidaxy stands above other methods by ensuring that its students will learn to the best of their ability, regardless of whether or not they enjoy the subject, are intimidated by it or face other distractions.

There are many other characteristics that a tachydidactic lesson may include such as forcing altered states of consciousness, directly editing memories and temporary personality suppression (to name a few) but the fundamental three are the benchmark. Exactly how effective tachydidaxy can be is an area of intense debate and study. The best tests of tachydidactic methods involve making several copies of an individual, teaching them with different methods in a set time period and testing their ability after. A widely used rule of thumb is that compared to non-technological methods of teaching a nearbaseline using tachydidaxy will learn an order of magnitude faster. For some tasks this is slower, but for others (especially those relying mainly on memorisation) two orders of magnitude can be achieved.

Regardless of its precise effectiveness tachydidactic teaching has been a pillar of Terragen culture and development since its inception. Few sophonts exist that, at some point in their long lives, haven't used tachydidaxy to learn the pre-tech equivalent of a lifetime of knowledge.

Related Articles
Appears in Topics
Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers and John B
Updated by Ryan_B , 2016
Initially published on 30 December 2006.