Thursday, July 07, 2011

"Lucky isn't the best you can do, it is just what happens to you"

From this morning's "Family Circus" (which is weirdly restricted online so I will not be including an image).

Mother to Billy: "ALWAYS TRY YOUR BEST." (parents seem to talk in uppercase in the strip)
Billy's response is: "Why can't I just be lucky?"

Within seconds I had a new formulation for my motto: "Lucky is better than Smart" (with its vital addendum "As long as you can stay Lucky"). Now we have the more rhythmic version:

"Lucky isn't the best you can do, it is just what happens to you." 

I can see myself using this phrase with children, but it isn't the sort of sing-song one would use with another adult.

I have a few more versions I have been kicking around recently:

"Lucky is how I live my life, but I get paid to be smart"
"Hope for good luck, plan for bad"

One part of the search for a new phrasing is that the contrast between "Lucky" and "Smart" sounds like you are calling someone dumb, and there are situations where that is not going to inspire people to be smart. The other part is trying to minimize the confusion. I often get the impression people think I am advocating "lucky" over "smart" when in fact it is the opposite (thus the addendum).


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What would you change in history?

I had one of those kid questions: "If you could change one thing in history what would it be?"

I didn't have an answer right away. As I was still thinking about it I was also listening to some debate about the nature of the bible. Then it occurred to me, if movable type was invented thousands of years earlier people would not be able to view any one book as so amazingly special. Also think of the improved literacy throughout history.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jill Bolte Taylor's story about her story-teller

This is one of those simple and somewhat obvious truths about ourselves. It is amazing to me that anyone can hold on to any religion based on the stories of other people. 

From: MY STROKE OF INSIGHT: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey. by Jill Bolte Taylor
Pages: 143-4

As my left brain language centers recovered and became functional again, I spent a lot of time observing how my story-teller would draw conclusions based upon minimal
information. For the longest time I found these antics of my story-teller to be rather comical. At least until I realized that my left mind full-heartedly expected the rest of my brain to believe the stories it was making up! Throughout this resurrection of my left mind’s character and skills, it has been extremely important that I retain the understanding that my left brain is doing the best job it can with the information it has to work with. I need to remember, however, that there are enormous gaps between what I know and what I think I know. I learned that I need to be very wary of my story-teller’s potential for stirring up drama and trauma.

In the same vein, as my left brain enthusiastically manufactured stories that it promoted as the truth, it had a tendency to be redundant - manifesting loops of thought patterns that reverberated through my mind, over and over again. For many of us, these loops of thought run rampant and we find ourselves habitually imagining devastating possibilities. Unfortunately, as a society, we do not teach our children that they need to tend carefully the garden of their minds. Without structure, censorship, or discipline, our thoughts run rampant on automatic. Because we have not learned how to more carefully manage what goes on inside our brains, we remain vulnerable to not only what other people think about us, but also to advertising and/or political manipulation.

I wish I was thoughtful enough, and took enough notes to do book reviews. Since mostly I listen to audiobooks while driving I cannot easily take notes. That said, I can easily recommend this book. There is a very compelling personal story, and some really good life advise in general.
She does seem to abuse the word "energy" in a very New Age way, but I found myself forgiving her usage as typical metaphor runaway.

 Note: just missed the "once a year" mark for posting on the blog.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Critical thinking creeps up on little kids feet

It is hard to know if casual Dad talk ever turns into thinking critically. Sometimes they say "remember that thing you told me?" and then we can clarify or teach each other a few things.

My favorite feedback came from talking to John(7) about noises in the house. I gave the standard talk about houses heating up in the day and cooling down at night, and stairs releasing strain after you walk up them. Then to make a particularly personal point, I told him about the illusion I deal with most mornings. While I'm waiting for the water to heat up so I can shave, the pipes are expanding and pinging as they heat up. Both the running water and pipe noises combine to make me think that one of my children is sneaking up to say "Boo!" to me (as is their want). I cannot resist looking, even though it is almost never the case. Sometimes I even say "I know you are there..." to nobody.

Story over, now maybe he will stop dragging me to his room to get his PJs because he is afraid of ghosts (the practical reason for telling the story).

Next morning I'm waiting for the water to heat up so I can shave, and this time I'm sure there is a child sneaking up on me. I poke my head around the corner, and there is John grinning ear to ear. He announces "This time it WAS me!"

Sharing critical thinking can be fun :-D