Thursday, June 30, 2011

Educating Children to Stimulate the Economy #lifehacks

I watched a micro-documentary on Dutch television about Tiger Mothers, the opinion of the commentators was that all these children are unhappy and that there is no such thing as 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, although the other commentator rephrased it to Parato's terms of 20-80. Or as Gladwell says: "... the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours."

I believe he is wrong, and I will tell you why.

In international terms I am above average with an IQ of 135 measured at age 10, although only a little above average when you consider that since I was tested the IQ points are rising with approximately 1 points every 3 years. [1] One of the reasons I am above average is not because I have a good brain, it's because my parents encouraged me to start reading when I wanted to start reading at age 2 or 3. This means that when I was tested for my age I had a better grasp of language than my peers to which the test is compared, on average they have a smaller grasp of language when they are tested as they are proficient in only one language and start at a much later age. Their mathematical grasp was also poor when they were tested as they didn't spend hours in their younger years with their father writing a mathematics computer program and playing the computer program to get more than just proficient at mathematics.

I am not a wonder child, I haven't played piano in years. And I couldn't start any kind of lessons at age 3 when I wanted to start, I had to wait until age 12. I stopped after a couple of years and picked it up again at age 24 practised "Moonlight Sonata" - until 26 - between 6 and 8 every evening, and created my own musical notation as I found regular music notation unclear at a glance. 10 years later with a littler prompt of my own notation I can play most of Moonlight Sonata's introduction from the top of my head at part of it using regular music notation.

And as I mentioned before I was stimulated at young age to play with computers, the ZX81, and with my father's help wrote a program to help me do sums at young age. This meant that when I went to study Information Technology I was so ahead of my peers that I ended up being discharged from all the IT subjects as the school believed that they and I were wasting our time spending time in class.

I could give other examples, and this all was not because of this magic number of IQ which was averaged to an age level average which is based on children which aren't encouraged to excel in what they want to or should do. I didn't and still don't have the feeling that there was no pressure on my shoulders due to a high IQ, quite the contrary. And I have a contradictory feeling that I was given too much freedom to get less than a score of 10 out of 10 (US equivalent of an A) in many cases. In the end I feel that my parents where too lenient when I was young and to accepting of outside arguments, such as with piano, that children should start learning certain things at a certain age.

I will not be a Tiger Father, and I won't be an easy father. I can't say what I will do, and I want to allow my children to develop themselves in the direction they want and encourage them to put in the 10,000 hours to achieve that which they want to achieve. And perhaps as I have suggested before I want to remove choice, so they can never blame themselves for making the wrong choice.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The unhappiness of action and inaction?

Like many people I am lazy, this is sometimes handy as it means I will automate mundane important tasks and ignore unimportant tasks. And it's a pattern that I'm not always happy with, even with it's obvious advantages. I go on time management binges, spend my time creating frameworks for organizing my time, yet I often don't get to the execution of the framework. The journey is sometimes more fun, than the goal.

This means that many handy, and even some fun things, are left in to do lists with little chance that they will be crossed off. And I'm quite happy with the situation.

This leads me to the reason I started this post: I watched Dan Gilbert's TED video Why are we happy? and came to the question: Can I enable myself to see my inaction as a choice? And choose something different?

I may be unhappy whether I do or don't, says Gilbert. Wondering whether I made the right choice until the end of time. It's also impossible to see the choice as immutable as the choice can always be changed at a moments notice. And yet, as is suggested by Gilbert, the power of the mutability of decision is an illusion. Having the ability to choose will make it impossible to know whether the path chosen is the right path - even if there is no right or wrong.

This leads me to believe that the Reinhold Niebuhr quote: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. should actually read: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can change, the courage to not change the things I can, and the wisdom to make choices immutable.