4/3/13 questions and discussion
1-how much specialization can we tolerate?4
2-should we encourage public shaming and if yes, are there limitations?3
3-isn't it a good thing when really bad people kill themselves?2
4-which is more ethical: standing on principle or compromising?1
5-how does one make good life choices?5
6-how effective is sensitivity training?3
7-is food becoming a chore in America?
how does one make good life choices?
Tor: college undergraduates typically don't have a clue as to what they ought to study for. I was a student advisor for years and came to hate the "Strong interest test". Ellen Watts said we have to do from day one what we love to do, shunning all other options. Taking a job one hates in the meantime is wrong. You will find like-minded people if you stick with what inspires you, so it won't be long until you're a leader in this field. This is how consultants come into being. Since my days as advisor I met some of those former students, some say they wish they'd listened to me, or they fall around my neck in gratitude for having listened. I don't know how generalizable this anecdotal data is. But i believe if we love something, we won't tire of it. It's the "Devil's Ladder" = and endless ladder and if one loves the steps up it, you won't mind the endlessness.
Rachel: what if what one loves to do something but doesn't have the capacity to succeed, or, capacity or no, they just don't succeed?
Tor: they will find a way. They may not become a great athlete but they will become a great coach. As to capacity, this is the problem with schools. Schools ought to primarily seek to expand individual capacity instead of our present mass approach.
Rachel: don't we need a base level of education?
Tor: that's a tiny piece of and endless universe of things to learn. Treat teachers with gratitude and respect. We don't ask lawyers' clients to rate the but we do rate our teachers!
Rachel: oh, come on, we rate each other all the time!
Tor: it's easiest to spot a child's interests when they are youngest, Kindergarten. In a market economy having a variety of teachers is better than central planning. I see a future for us of an explosion of innovation and productivity. A school system that's out of step with changes happening in society is doing more harm than good.
Eric: if my life choice was to teach, not ending doing that means something isn't right. I do feel a lot of my skills aren't being used. My volunteer work does better employ my strengths. As much as I want to teach, the system doesn't want me to teach. If the system holds one back, how do we get past it? I'm scared to death to take more tests.
Because of my student loan debt I sometimes wonder if it was worth it, after all is said and done.
Rachel: are you happy?
Eric: happy enough. And I do hope to yet find my niche. The problem is how do we work around bad systems?
Jon: I'm reading Michel Foucault's sociology text Discipline and Punish: the history of the prison. The section I'm reading now deals with the relationship between how we deal with criminals and how we deal with each other. He argues that fundamentally it's the same thing. That society today is test based, evaluation based, investigation based. That the West has simultaneously developed capitalism and societal structures need to expand that economic system via efficiencies, productivities, maximizing individual potential via accurate examination of individual skill sets. I describe this here tonight to suggest that perhaps this dynamic isn't necessarily always good. In my case, the times of my life that were most productive were when I studied Art. My time was largely unstructured and I mostly did what I wanted to do. As a result I felt fully engaged with what took my interest. I felt responsible for using my time well so my discipline was much better than now. Foucault's described categorization which is needed to best deal with both criminals and workers does not respond kindly to someone like me. I have nowhere to go in order to work in the way I work best. It doesn't exist here and now. Lastly, to Rachel's points, I once read Bill Gates told an interviewer that if he'd been born in the 1800s he would not have had the impact he's had now because his skill set -- perfectly suited to our current technological age -- would likely only have made him a good accountant in 1850.
Mike: I take a long view on US education. We started it here in the 1700s with nothing and we overtook the rest of the world in short order. We did it. It was due to the fact that we have a meritocracy. Then, more and more outsiders and agenda types began to influence the system in the name of Fairness and Righteousness. We find ourselves now in the situation where jobs are disappearing (robots!!). In a meritocracy it's a kind of evolution, life finds a way. We need fewer workers, more innovators. Like our two young guests here tonight wasting their teen time hanging out with us because they know it will do them some good.
Jon: can you imagine a gifted person being unable to reach their potential for reasons beyond their control?
Mike: that's called "too bad!" We need only a tiny number of people anyway. If one's born on third base you still have to pass through rings of fire. We ought not regulate meritocracy.
Rachel: pursuit to advance oneself doesn't mean one will reach their potential, or have an upward trajectory. Some of us have ample supports. Implied in the question is whether the end goal is to be self-providing, working within existing power structures. Ideally we are happy there, but just because something makes one happy doesn't mean one ought to pursue it. Just because we want to doesn't mean we get to. Being content is good. Being able to enjoy life to our best. When we start out our capacity is foremost in our minds. Being encouraged to follow our skill sets, etc. is a good.
Jack: this seems to be about picking what one enjoys vs. what's practical. Our changing technology is indeed changing our work force. Naturally we each have our own interests but if the jobs are not in line with these interests, then what?
[well, as Mike put it, it's Too Bad!]