The answer is simple. Never grow up. I don’t mean don’t become an adult with responsibility and the weight of the world on your shoulders. I simply mean if you’re writing or directing give yourself enough time to play. Play the fool. Goad. Shock. Laugh. Trip over something that isn’t there. Try something. And never be afraid to fail. That failure is useful too. It’s just another building block.
1 month ago
2 months ago
Cal Newport on straight-A students and career satisfaction:
This pattern is common in the lives of people who end up loving their work. As described in Lesson 1, careers become compelling once they feature the general traits you seek. These traits, however, are rare and valuable—no one will hand you a lot of autonomy or impact just because you really want it, for example. Basic economics tells us that if you want something rare and valuable, you need to offer something rare and valuable in return—and in the working world, what you have to offer are your skills. This is why the systematic development of skill almost always precedes passion.
What I don’t get is why we advise kids to compete for the same things. We tell them to fight to go to the same schools, get the same jobs, and aspire to the same goals, when the rewards are just as high elsewhere.
2 months ago
I’ve noticed good teachers set the stage for what they’re going to teach. Before moving into a new subject, they briefly show what they’re going to teach. A quick sentence or two works, but an even better method is to demonstrate the subject in action.
For example, in programming, build a sample application using the new subject. Don’t stop to really explain the subtleties of each method or technique — show the whole thing off. It creates space for the upcoming knowledge and helps link together concepts as they’re being taught.
Instead, what often happens is a waterfall type approach, where each piece of a subject is added-on to the previous piece — creating a feeling of information overload. It’s easy to form connections backwards, from the new piece to the previous piece, but it’s much harder to form anticipatory connections between a previous piece and a new piece. If the subject is properly demonstrated at the beginning, it’s easier to create both connections, since the brain is less overwhelmed.
2 months ago
Stage one happens when a baby is born. And from that time there starts a process of learning by exploration, by touching. Everything is put in the mouth. Of course it’s not only in relation to things. It’s people as well. But there’s a learning going on that is driven by the individual, that the baby is determining. Parents might … think that they are determining what the baby has learned, but it’s only a minor factor. Probably the baby is learning in a self-directed way.
Now there comes a time when the infant is seeing a wider world than can be touched and felt. So the questions in the child’s mind aren’t only about this and this and this that I can see, but about something I heard, saw a picture of, or imagined. And I think here the child enters into a precarious and dangerous situation because not necessarily, but, I think, in point of fact in our societies, there is now a shift from experiential learning — learning by exploring — to another kind of learning, which is learning by being told: you have to find adults who will tell you things. And this stage reaches its climax in school.
And I think it’s an exaggeration, but that there’s a lot of truth in saying that when you go to school, the trauma is that you must stop learning and you must now accept being taught. That is stage two: it’s school, it’s learning by being taught, it’s receiving deposits of knowledge.… I think many children are destroyed by that, strangled. Some, of course, survive it, and all of us survived it, and that’s one reason it’s often dangerous discussing these questions among intellectual people. In spite of the school what happened to us was that in the course of this stage two we learned certain skills. We learned to read, for example; we learned to use libraries; we learned how to explore directly a much wider world.
Now I think that there’s an important sense in which stage three is going back to stage one for those who’ve survived stage two — creative people in any field, whether in a laboratory or in philosophy … whether artists, businessmen, journalists … all the people in the world who are able, despite all the restrictions, to find a way of living creatively. We are very much like the baby again. We explore; it’s driven from inside; it’s experiential; it’s not so verbal; it’s not about being told.
3 months ago
ROI on experiences is non-monetary, but critically important. As an analytical person, I found investing in experiences harder to justify than investing in assets. To come to terms with this, I developed a simple heuristic: Are the most interesting people I know the ones with the best experiences, or the biggest houses?