The Big Think

July 9, 2014

Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed

Filed under: Business,Education — jasony @ 5:44 pm

Interesting article

The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek:

The ultimate tool for corporations to sustain a culture of this sort is to develop the 40-hour workweek as the normal lifestyle. Under these working conditions people have to build a life in the evenings and on weekends. This arrangement makes us naturally more inclined to spend heavily on entertainment and conveniences because our free time is so scarce.

I’ve only been back at work for a few days, but already I’m noticing that the more wholesome activities are quickly dropping out of my life: walking, exercising, reading, meditating, and extra writing.

The one conspicuous similarity between these activities is that they cost little or no money, but they take time.

Suddenly I have a lot more money and a lot less time, which means I have a lot more in common with the typical working North American than I did a few months ago. While I was abroad I wouldn’t have thought twice about spending the day wandering through a national park or reading my book on the beach for a few hours. Now that kind of stuff feels like it’s out of the question. Doing either one would take most of one of my precious weekend days!

The last thing I want to do when I get home from work is exercise. It’s also the last thing I want to do after dinner or before bed or as soon as I wake, and that’s really all the time I have on a weekday.

This seems like a problem with a simple answer: work less so I’d have more free time. I’ve already proven to myself that I can live a fulfilling lifestyle with less than I make right now. Unfortunately, this is close to impossible in my industry, and most others. You work 40-plus hours or you work zero. My clients and contractors are all firmly entrenched in the standard-workday culture, so it isn’t practical to ask them not to ask anything of me after 1pm, even if I could convince my employer not to.

The eight-hour workday developed during the industrial revolution in Britain in the 19th century, as a respite for factory workers who were being exploited with 14- or 16-hour workdays.

As technologies and methods advanced, workers in all industries became able to produce much more value in a shorter amount of time. You’d think this would lead to shorter workdays.

But the 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.

We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.”

May 23, 2014

A Trophy for Tee Ball

Filed under: Education,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 9:06 am

Congratulations, graduates: you’ve done exactly what you’re expected and legally required to do!:

“We raise our children amidst constant preening, fawning, coddling, pampering, and congratulating, and then scratch our heads and wonder why they eventually enter adulthood so entirely unprepared for the rigors and challenges of the real world.

‘What?! I showed up to my job on time for a whole year, completed the minimum amount of work required, and performed at an overall standard, to slightly substandard, level — yet nobody’s handing me a ribbon or giving a lengthy speech heralding my many achievement?! Unacceptable! I’ve been bullied! I quit!’

We get them hooked on recognition and flattery at the age of three, and by the time they’re 23 they’ve become full-blown addicts. They develop a dependency on attention and affirmation, and can’t handle living in a universe that doesn’t stop to give them a cookie every time they complete some minor, routine task. This attention-seeking, ‘hey, notice me!’ mentality can lead them down a dark path towards resentment, jealousy, depression, and Snapchat accounts.”

May 4, 2014

Curiosity

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 9:32 am

Curiosity: the secret to your success:

“We are all born with boundless curiosity, but as we grow older, a battle springs up between what Kashdan calls the ‘anxious mind and the curious spirit’. Our instinct to explore is tempered by our desire to conform. We stop asking questions, because we learn that it makes us look stupid. We stop putting ourselves in positions where we are open to uncertainty — and therefore vulnerable. But in our pursuit of a secure and comfortable life, we lose sight of what really drives us. ‘It begins in compulsory education,’ says Kashdan. ‘When we train people to follow rules, we stop them listening to their own instincts. We stop asking, What am I excited by, what am I motivated to pursue?’

People with the greatest fear of the unknown — those of us who suffer from a ‘hyper-avoidance’ of distress — tend to be the least open, or curious. But cultivating a curious attitude can help to curb our general anxieties.”

April 28, 2014

Educational Incompetence

Filed under: Education,Politics — jasony @ 9:18 am

ANOTHER university stops students from handing out Constitution | The Daily Caller: “Two students are suing the University of Hawaii for violating their First Amendment rights after administrator prevented them from distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution — demonstrating a frightening lack of knowledge about the very legal document they were attempting to censor.

Students Merritt Burch and Anthony Vizzone, members of the Young Americans for Liberty chapter at UH-Hilo, were prevented from handing out copies of the Constitution at a recruitment event in January. A week later, they were again informed by a censorship-minded administrator that their First Amendment-protected activities were in violation of school policy.

The students were told that they could only distribute literature from within UH-Hilo’s ‘free speech zone,’ a small, muddy, frequently-flooded area on the edge of campus.

Administrators further clarified their level of respect for students’ free speech rights, making comments like, ‘This isn’t really the ’60s anymore,’ and ‘people can’t really protest like that anymore,’ “

The administrators protested against The Man back in the 60′s. Now that they are The Man the would love everybody to just settle down and be quiet.

April 22, 2014

Better Choose Right

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 9:08 pm

Texas Students Choose Career Paths In The Eighth Grade, And That’s Creating Anxiety:

“A new Texas law requires public school students to decide a career track in eighth grade. It’s a sea change with challenges for schools — and some anxiety for kids.

Before this school year ends, nearly 400,000 eighth graders in Texas will have chosen to enroll in one of five specific areas of study adopted by state lawmakers under House Bill 5. There’s STEM, which stands for science, technology engineering and math; business and industry; public service; arts and humanities and a category with mostly advanced courses called multidisciplinary studies.

The choice eighth graders are required to make is huge. It will determine which courses they begin taking when they enter high school this fall.

It’s like being asked: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’

But for real.”

April 12, 2014

More to a good life than college

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 12:55 pm

More to a good life than college – KansasCity.com: “‘When you could pay your way through college by waiting tables, the idea that you should ‘study what interests you’ was more viable than it is today when the cost of a four-year degree often runs to six figures,’ wrote Glenn Harlan Reynolds, in an essay for The Wall Street Journal.

Our son worries about choosing the wrong path. No more are the 20s the years of do-overs.

‘We aren’t allowed to make mistakes,’ Silas says of his generation.”

(Via .)

April 3, 2014

Amen

Filed under: Audio,Business,Education,Music — jasony @ 6:01 pm

The Amen beat and its repercussions for copyright. A really interesting 18:00 piece if you have time for it.

April 1, 2014

Radiolab: An Appreciation by Ira Glass

Filed under: Audio,Education,Science — jasony @ 6:24 pm

Transom » Radiolab: An Appreciation by Ira Glass: “Artists compete. Not head to head like athletes, but in their souls. Within the appreciation of our fellow artists is the tiny wince, ‘I wish I’d done that.’Ira Glass joins us again on Transom, this time for a loving and envious homage to our friends at Radiolab, Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich. A radio master salutes his comrades. The great thing about Ira’s analysis is that it’s so detailed. He breaks down exactly what’s so good about Radiolab and why. You could almost learn the tricks and do it yourself. Almost. Honestly, though, you’d lose. It’s better sometimes just to appreciate.”

I’m a RadioLab addict and am always sad when there aren’t any in my feed (a tendency reinforced when I first discovered it a few years ago and mainlined probably 100 hours of the broadcast). If you don’t know this incredible show, you really do owe it to yourself to give it a listen.

February 28, 2014

Education

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 3:19 pm

Building a Practical College Degree for the New Economy: “”

Related: The End of Higher Education’s Golden Age (h/t Sean for the link)

“Many of my colleagues believe that if we just explain our plight clearly enough, legislators will come to their senses and give us enough money to save us from painful restructuring. I’ve never seen anyone explain why this argument will be persuasive, and we are nearing the 40th year in which similar pleas have failed, but “Someday the government will give us lots of money” remains in circulation, largely because contemplating our future without that faith is so bleak. If we can’t keep raising costs for students (we can’t) and if no one is coming to save us (they aren’t), then the only remaining way to help these students is to make a cheaper version of higher education for the new student majority.”

What can’t go on forever, won’t. Promises that can’t be kept, won’t be. Prepare accordingly.

February 21, 2014

Color Between the Lines

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 10:08 am

Go Ahead, Let Your Kids Fail:

“The other day, after one of my talks, a 10th-grade girl came up and shyly asked if I had a minute. I always have a minute to talk to shy high school sophomores, having been one myself. And this is what she asked me: ‘I understand what you’re saying about trying new things, and hard things, but I’m in an International Baccalaureate program and only about five percent of us will get 4.0, so how can I try a subject where I might not get an A?’ I was floored. All I could think as I talked to this poor girl is ‘America, you’re doing it wrong.’ I was 15 in 10th grade. If you can’t try something new in 10th grade, when can you? If you can’t afford to risk anything less than perfection at the age of 15, then for heaven’s sake, when is going to be the right time? When you’re ready to splash out on an edgy assisted-living facility? Now is when this kid should be learning to dream big dreams and dare greatly. Now is when she should be making mistakes and figuring out how to recover from them. Instead, we’re telling one of our best and brightest to focus all her talent on coloring within the lines. This is not the first time I’ve heard this from kids and teachers and parents. But I’ve never heard it phrased quite so starkly.”

January 20, 2014

On Learning

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 3:45 pm

Thank God I wasn’t college material | The Matt Walsh Blog:

“whatever society says, and whatever direction the schools push our kids, one fact has always remained: if you want to be successful at something, you must do it and do it well. That’s what I’ll tell my kids when they’re old enough. That’s what I’d like to tell all of my fellow young people. It’s not enough anymore, and I’m not sure it ever was enough, to simply follow the well-traveled roads, accumulate your grades and your degrees and then emerge into the world, waiting for wealth and prosperity to rain down upon you from heaven.

You have to put some skin in the game. You have to find your niche and master it. You have to be the best. Conquer it, whatever it is that you want to do. Be better than everyone. Be a visionary while everybody else is checking the handbook. Take risks while everybody else stays cozy and comfortable. Be good at something. Then, once you’re good, become great.”

A really good short essay on the continuing self-implosion of our higher education system. I’m completely in agreement* (especially with his postscript where he says he’s not anti-learning, just anti-current-busted-system-that-indentures-people).

I have friends who have proudly never cracked a book since college that I do not understand. I spent five years in college (5 1/2 actually), and if I haven’t learned at least as much in the ensuing 20 years since then I am not living up to my potential. Read. Read everything. Then think. About everything. Find connections. Explore new areas. See where disparate fields connect. Life is way way way too short to spend it all in mental stagnation.

*obviously this doesn’t include fields that really do require a degree, like doctor, pharmacist, engineer, etc. There’s an argument for the importance of a liberal arts college degree for general well-roundedness, but the people that espouse this unconditionally have a hard time defending it when it comes at an ever increasing cost. Should you pay a million dollars for “well-rounded?” Well, of course not! Ten thousand? Yes! Somewhere in the middle that “yes” starts to become hard to defend.

The future of education is rushing at us at the speed of, well, the future. Interesting times…

January 19, 2014

Is the American School System Damaging Our Kids?

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 2:33 pm

Is the American School System Damaging Our Kids?:

“As a society, we tend to shrug off such findings. We’re not surprised that kids are unhappy in school. Some people even believe that the very unpleasantness of school is good for children, so they will learn to tolerate unpleasantness as preparation for real life. But there are plenty of opportunities to learn to tolerate unpleasantness without adding unpleasant schooling to the mix. Research has shown that people of all ages learn best when they are self-motivated, pursuing answers to questions that reflect their personal interests and achieving goals that they’ve set for themselves. Under such conditions, learning is usually joyful.”

January 8, 2014

Does Education = Success?

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 10:33 am

More College Does Not Beget More Economic Prosperity: “Hordes of academically weak and disengaged kids have been lured into college with the idea that getting a degree–any degree, from anywhere–means they’ll enjoy a hefty gain in earnings. Unfortunately, many of them coast through without adding anything to their human capital. They may have a degree, but that and $3 will get them a coffee at Starbucks , where they’re apt to work.”

Interesting article.

January 6, 2014

Good in Theory

Filed under: Education,Music — jasony @ 3:55 pm

Everything you always wanted to know about music theory. Well, at least everything you’re probably ever going to need. In Theory V in college we got into Shenkerian Analysis and other 20th century arcana that I’ve always thought of as an unnecessary analysis imposed from the outside. Outside of extended theory classes and dead 20th Century composers, not too many people still use that silliness. Gratefully forgotten.

Still, the YouTube classes listed above are a great place to start if you want a clear and step-by-step introduction to real music theory. It goes fairly deep, too– probably covers 99.9% of popular, non-symphonic/movie music nowadays.

Plus, it’s narrated in a dulcet British accent, so there’s that.

Another Way of Learning

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 3:43 pm

Consider alternative schooling: Column:

“Back in the 19th century, when Massachusetts Board of Education Secretary Horace Mann toured Europe looking for models of public education to import to America, the one he chose came from Prussia. Inflexibility and uniformity were Prussian specialties, and when Mann brought Prussian-style education to America, those characteristics were seen not as a bug but as a feature.

School was practice for working in the factory. Thus, the traditional public school: like a factory, it runs by the bell. Like machines in a factory, desks and students are lined up in orderly rows. When shifts (classes) change, the bell rings again, and students go on to the next class. And within each class, the subjects are the same, the assignments are the same, and the examinations are the same, regardless of the characteristics of individual students.

This had its advantages back during the Industrial Revolution, an assembly-line era where uniformity was more important than anything else, when Henry Ford was happy to sell you a car in any color you wanted, so long as it was black. But this is the 21st century, and now times have changed. You can buy a thousand different kinds of shampoo, so why should your kid have only one kind of education?

Many parents, thus, are embracing alternative education — like homeschooling or online school — not only as a way of escaping the often-poor instructional quality and questionable discipline of public schools, but also as a way of escaping the rigidities they bring.

It’s easy to miss just how much inflexibility is introduced into American life by the traditional public school approach, but those rigidities are legion.”

Read the whole thing

I’m very excited about the future of education. As the current system continues to creak and groan at the seams, turning out subpar students and abysmal thinkers, we have witnessed a flowering of alternatives. It is the normal occurrence to meet a student from these alternatives and find them much more eloquent, relational, and educated than the average public school student. Here’s hoping that alternative choices– and the improvements they bring– continue to flourish.

December 28, 2013

Don’t Blame the Tool

Filed under: Business,Education,Maker — jasony @ 9:15 pm

Your Camera Doesn’t Matter: “When it comes to the arts, be it music, photography, surfing or anything, there is a mountain to be overcome. What happens is that for the first 20 years or so that you study any art you just know that if you had a better instrument, camera or surfboard that you would be just as good as the pros. You waste a lot of time worrying about your equipment and trying to afford better. After that first 20 years you finally get as good as all the other world-renowned artists, and one day when someone comes up to you asking for advice you have an epiphany where you realize that it’s never been the equipment at all.

You finally realize that the right gear you’ve spent so much time accumulating just makes it easier to get your sound or your look or your moves, but that you could get them, albeit with a little more effort, on the same garbage with which you started. You realize the most important thing for the gear to do is just get out of your way. You then also realize that if you had spent all the time you wasted worrying about acquiring better gear woodshedding, making photos or catching more rides that you would have gotten where you wanted to be much sooner.”

(Via .)

A Matter of Degree

Filed under: Business,Education,Humor and Fun — jasony @ 9:35 am

12 Things Only Music Majors Understand

Ha! This nails it. I can relate to just about every one of these.

December 18, 2013

Edumawhatnow?

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 9:27 pm

Sand in the Gears:

“Every month, money flies from my checking account to the education savings accounts of my children, because I don’t want them to become hobos. This is one way I allay my fear the world will eat them up. It’s a mark of a good parent to worry over where—and whether—his child will go to college, isn’t it? I need to confess a profoundly un-American heresy: I question what my children will get for the money. I don’t question the value of education (though we make it a panacea for deeper ills of the soul); I doubt the capacity of most educational institutions to impart much beyond what one could obtain with, as the protagonist in Good Will Hunting notes, ‘a dollar-fifty in late charges at the public library.’ I know there are teachers who can help a student get far more out of Dracula, say, than he might acquire on his own. They can cultivate in him a healthy awareness of the various psycho-sexual literary analytical clubs with which the text has been bludgeoned for decades, for example, or even help him challenge dominant beliefs about what Dracula, and monster literature more broadly, means to us culturally. There are teachers like that; I’ve seen them in action, and they are a heartening, humbling species to behold. The practical reality, however, is that most educational institutions have no interest in rewarding excellent teachers, or even understanding which of their teachers are truly excellent. They are in the business of slinging feed to cattle.”

December 17, 2013

Quoth

Filed under: Education,Quoth — jasony @ 9:41 pm

“If I depended on a skilled work force I would not depend on a public education system to provide it for me”
Mike Rowe

Don’t miss interview with Mike Rowe about the state of work in America:

December 15, 2013

What Pain To Gain?

Filed under: Business,Disclosure,Education — jasony @ 2:47 pm

The Most Important Question You Can Ask Yourself Today:

“So I ask you, ‘How are you willing to suffer?’

Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns.

Choose how you are willing to suffer.

Because that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have the same answer.

The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?

Because that answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life.”

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress