Mistakes

Today’s blog is by Spencer A. Allen

So much of life is about mistakes. It was once a problem of enormous importance to never make a mistake, thereby never revealing the depth of my ignorance. I took to heart Lincoln’s warning: “Remain silent and be thought a fool or speak out and remove all doubt.”  In my mind, the the likelihood that revelation was more likely than not.

But the only way we learn is to make mistakes and repair them. Even when we receive training on some discipline, then actually doing them poorly is first required before we become accomplished.  School kids, like I was, often get the idea it is not safe to make mistakes.  I tell those I teach the reason they are in school is because it is a safe space to make mistakes and try not to react badly when they do.  Many instructors fail to support the idea of a safe mistake place by overreacting to minor spills, slow trips to the restroom, or failing to recharge computers.

We send our athletes to specialized training camps our dancers and cheerleaders to places where they can accel, but that is all about excellence.  How about the rest of us who need to learn from our mistakes to become competent – especially those whose parents can’t afford dance or training camp. 

Kids are loud. Adults sometimes find that annoying, kids get into scuffles, adults get very emotional about potential injury. But locking down the education process to the point of regimented 50-minute classes where students complete 10 or 20 multiple choice questions by reading several pages in a book.  They don’t get to stretch their imaginations or time to complete more complex or in-depth study.

Maybe high school should adopt the college model. Two-hour classes and one and a half hour classes on alternating days.  Let them find something that brings them joy – not be crammed full of facts in preparation for a test. That will keep statisticians busy appeasing state legislators with tests results that tell us nothing about learning.

Thanks for reading, Spence Allen (SAllen@woodyedmiston.blog)

High School

Senior year. A final year of learning supposed to get us ready to enter life as an employable person, able to cope with others and make some contribution to society. Or something like that.
Have you ever noticed in this over psychoanalyzed society how often those four years of high school enter into our adult lives. For instance, movies include all kinds of high school events that spill over into adult behavior and cause by all sorts of bad things. Serial killers; dissed as kids for their disabilities, their weakness or poverty become murderous. Shy teens decide that attempting to better themselves is impossible because they are of the wrong “caste.” Carrie, of course is one of the more calamitous. In how many Criminal Minds and SVU episodes have the high school victims becoming the adult bullies. Former high school heartthrobs are dead at the hands of this person who has become a predator?
Even Hallmark Romances are heavily sprinkled with stories of high school sweethearts who are reunited. They are popular. They feed upon the regret of an audience who all wish some lost love would have worked out.
But twenty years later, many of us are still reacting to today’s events based on what happened to us in High School. We still see ourselves as outside the “cool kids” group. We are afraid to talk to a co-worker because he or she is too pretty. Worst, we refuse to talk to co-workers because we think we are too pretty. Alternatively, we live on those high school memories of long-ago football or Class Favorite successes without every accomplishing much more. High School is a place to make mistakes. It’s not a launching ground that defines who we will be in the future. It’s just supposed to educate us at the lowest level. We should never stop learning and we don’t need school to do it. We never finish learning, and that is the successful way to approach life. We must not have college to succeed, but we must keep learning. Never before has this been easier. Learn something today, it will do you good.

Swimming in the Ocean

Your potential of having a life full of accomplishment is your ability to be comfortable with uncertainty.

Arlington J. North

Why do we ignore the risks while blithely swimming in an ocean full of man-eating creatures? Those who are close to the seashore almost completely ignore that risk unless sightings are posted. There is some uncertainty in that – but not a lot — attacks are one in 11 million. But people do get attacked and killed.

Many more are afraid to fly although there is a one in five million chance of dying from it. Walking down the street is 1 in 400. We hop in our cars to just go for a drive when the chance is 1 in 103 of it killing us. But our fears and uncertainties paralyze some of us over the more mundane unfamiliarities.

The uncertainty of going to college in another town; taking a job in a state where you have never visited, much less lived; these are things many of us face. College in another state, hum? It is comfortable, and certainly cheaper, to go to a local community college. Where you live may have a very low cost of living, parents, friends and all sorts of things like that. Those things are real and sometimes limiting. You cope.

But It is a little sad to watch fear of risk stop talented people.

 But human beings have a need for a sense of awe and it is important that we tap into it. We look at the stars and wonder what they mean; why do we find them fascinating? Nature constantly amazes us, and we wonder how it all works. What makes it do those things that give us awe. It is their uncertainty that causes awe in the stars and nature and in other people. Every human has a need to be awed and when we are, we are better for it.

 Young people, strong and capable should try as many new things as possible. I don’t mean just teens; I mean young strong healthy people. One day you are going to be old and your biggest regret will be not taking a chance at being awe; of learning other things.

You don’t know what you don’t know. When you take that chance to be awed, to see the other side of the mountain, to plumb the depths of the ocrean; you will be awed by what you did not know. Take a chance don’t be reckless, but start small, get our adventure legs under you. Then GO!

Everything I know about the Current Political Climate I learned from Dr. Seuss

By W.D. Edmiston

There is a big divide over politics today. I have my opinion, you have yours. But those not as familiar with the commonality of political rancor over the ages – it can all be summed up well with what we learned from Dr. Seuss.

Everything stinks till it’s finished.

That true of politics. But the great thing about how our world has worked out for over 200 years is that when the people get their wish, not those of one extreme are the other, it smells relatively well in the end.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not. The more you read the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go.

So, since the founders left the power vested in the people who are all in the same pot, not the uber rich of the average politician, we make better choices for the public. That means all of us should read up, get up and do something about the things we really want to happen in our world.

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one Alive who is Youer than you.

This is encouraging to those of us who have never been involved in “campaigning” for something you want. You. Everyone in America is an individual, given a voice by those who founded the nation. The idea that some people try to shush you because they think their ideas are better than yours, or call you names just means they haven’t read enough and just don’t know.

Only you can control your future.

This could be either an encouragement to those in the above paragraph or a warning to those who want to control you. But it is also a warning of sorts to everyone. Both what you do and what you have done helps define who “you are Youer” than. Doing defines us much more than what we think or say. It indicates more than anything what you will do in the future.

Sometimes the questions are complicated, and the answers are simple. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act.

This is also both an encouragement and warning. Some call  it Kharma, some say “what goes around comes around” but the fact is what you put out is what you get back.

If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew. Just go right along and you’ll start happening too.

Those who encourage the division and the discord in their lives get division and discord. Eventually, we tend as humans to sweep the discord away and search for tranquility. Keeping positive as an individual is more powerful to your future than staying mired in the discord. Those who continue to trouble us tend to get their comeuppance one way or the other. Mr. Trump seems to take a little more direct response to what’s happening in his world. It is something that seems uncharacteristic of a President. Especially those who are unfamiliar with Eisenhower and Theodore Roosevelt.

 I’ve heard there are troubles of more than one kind; some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve brought a big bat. I’m all ready, you see; now my trouble are going to have troubles with me.

Thank you Dr. Seuss.

Thinking about thinking

 “We are normally blind about our own blindness. We are generally overconfident in our opinions . . . We exaggerate how knowable the world is. . . people don’t think very carefully.  They’re influenced by all sorts of superficial thinking in their decision-making. . .”

Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking Fast and  Slow

Making an unqualified statement about your decisions is as difficult as having dinner with your future in-laws.  Having an idea is so threatening to other people we must qualify it with an “I think” disclaimer.  It’s that or be labeled as not being nice – or worse, racist.

Try saying, “I think the third quarter figures indicate greater investment in marketing is needed.”  You might as well say, “The third quarter figures indicate greater investment in marketing is needed but my Ichthyology degree from Thunder-Bolt Community College and Stock Car Racing Track, doesn’t really give me much credibility on the subject.”

“I think.” in a sentence asks permission to say something, as if you would modify it if no one agrees. Really, would The Terminator have scared anyone by saying “I think I’ll be Baaak.”

Welcome to My Blog Page

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Bread and Games

We live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, and political groups.  I ask in my writing ‘What is real?’ Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo realities manufactured by very sophisticated people use very sophisticated electronic mechanisms.

Phillip Dick, Philosopher

Writer, Novelist [1]

Using a Hegelian concept of “being” or “reality” our society is offering more and more opportunities to participate in activities that create an alternative reality.  That is why the young person who handed your coffee and change this morning seemed not to connect with you at all.  The place where you intersect with their world is not on that easily accessed, safe, electronic media.  His reality does not include you. He does not belong to your reality.  That can’t be good.

[1] Phillip K. Dick, Philosopher, Writer, Novelist who wrote Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, The Adjustment Bureau