Day: February 19, 2011

Learning to work right

At first glance this article would seem to have little to do with college, academics, learning, etc. In fact, it gets at the whole point of higher education, in my opinion. My students often here from me that college has never really been about preparing a student for a job; it is about helping a student learn to live more effectively (which, by the way, generally makes a student more attractive to an employer).

Here is how Cal Newport expressed the insight: “Finding the right work pales in importance to learning how to work right.”

As both my students and my children probably get sick of hearing: it’s not what happens to you but what you think about what happens to you that determines your experiences.

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You must be willing to create crap…

…in order to find the good stuff. That’s sort of what Anne Lamott advised in her book Bird by Bird. One of her chapters was titled pretty much that (using a stronger term than crap).

Daniel Pink posits a similar idea in his piece entitled Why you should come up with at least 1 bad idea today, based on a Wall Street Journal piece by Dilbert creator Scott Adams. Believe it or not, Adams (not known as an optimist) puts an even more positive spin on the idea.

Lamott seems to me to be saying you have to write crap to get it out of your system, and if you’re willing to just let it flow, you will find amid the effluence some worthwhile material. Adams, on the other hand, says that coming up with bad ideas a) gets you started on the process of coming up with something good, and b) provides quality raw material for good ideas. Not just fertilizer, in other words, but seeds.

As I watch speech students struggle to come up with “the” right idea, right structure, right approach, I wish I could communicate this principle. Perhaps Mr. Pink will help do so.

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Con-templating layout

I just realized that as much as I like the new template I applied to the blog, it apparently does not allow for comments to show. 🙁 Not even sure readers can even make comments. So I’ll be monkeying with the templates more. [sigh]

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