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Explanation Failure

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To the editors:

Professor(s) Schank may be spread more than a little thin ["Northwestern's New A.I. Hotshot," December 15].

The student who associated the QWERTY keyboard with the "endless ham" story had, in all probability, read of both in The Harbrace Handbook, the largest selling college textbook in the country. In citing examples of well developed paragraphs, the Handbook uses the keyboard tale on p. 311, and the cut ham story on p. 332. These are by far the most memorable examples in the paragraph section, and ones which catch students' interest. Could this be the failure of "explanation failure"?

Even more surprising was the description he presented of the computer-graphics experiment which would allow students to witness an explosion in a chemistry lab. The good doctor presents this as a future vision, while Drs. Loretta Jones and Stanley Smith (UIUC) have marketed their Chemical Reactions, which presents such explosions on video disk, for several years. This video disk won the 1989 EDUCOM/NCRIPTAL awards for Best Chemistry and Best Integrated Software.

What we teach as basic research in the community college prevents such errors.

John Mintier

Chicago City-Wide College

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