Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

There is a story that keeps replaying in my life.  It is about the big shots and the little guys.

 The big shots are the people who got the As in school, became the prom king and queen or won the football game.  They got into their top college choice, went on to graduate with honors and got a great job with a big firm.  They don't pay a lot of taxes and probably vote Republican.  They have all of the
power and do not really care about the little guys.

 Oh yeh, the little guys.

The little guys are the ones who really do the work, have hourly jobs, don't make a lot of money.  The little guys were always too shy or felt too unconfident to raise their hands in class.  They may have gone to college, but only with great financial difficulty.  They were there for their family.  And, they probably voted Democrat.

The little guys read about people who were movers and shakers in the world but couldn't imagine themselves ever really making a difference.  The big shots were too busy getting ahead to care.  And, neither character ever really had the chance to be developed into an actual being.

Beam up to NOW.  The world is a complicated place with lots of undeveloped characters who think of themselves as big shots and little guys.

  But, really, the world is a big, sometimes simple place full of complicated characters.  Nothing is really that difficult to understand.  Power comes in many colors, styles and boxes.  Getting someplace requires taking steps.  Dreams are a great rudder.  If you don't believe you can do something it doesn't matter how big your cheering section it.

I learned to embrace humility by looking at a mountain and a lake this summer.  They were not made by a big shot or a little guy.  Regardless of your belief in God, Higher Power, Buddha or whatever, you cannot argue with a mountain or a lake.  And, I can talk and talk about what I want to do, but, the bottom line is that I know I can make things better.  Just me.  I am a little guy who has been tossed in the sea of people who I thought knew more and better.  I am a big shot who has through the generosity of others had some pretty wonderful options.  And, through my own curiosity, courage and grit I have taken many small steps and gone places.  And, I although I have voted both Democrat and Republican, I am real and not defined by a political label.  (I may always have the belief that just saying "game over" and starting anew or withholding the bathroom is the only way of cleaning up the world's political issues.)

So, I was looking back at posts and picked out some moments that speak to me now:

(1) "My name is Sal Khan.  I'm the founder and original faculty of the Khan Academy, an institution serious about delivering a free education to anyone, anywhere, and I'm writing this book because I believe that the way we teach and learn is at a once-in-a-millennium turning point." (Introduction, The One World Schoolhouse--Education Reimagined)

(2) I remember as a teenager thinking about what I wanted to do, and it wasn't creating an entirely new product--it was making things better.

 BASF We make things better.

And, now, I am doing it AGAIN.

(3) "Quiet persistence"  I had to read almost all of Quiet  The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Susan Cain) to stumble on "...excellent students seem not only to possess the cognitive ability to solve math and science problems, but also to have a useful personality characteristic:  quiet persistence." (201)  This was right after the Mahatma Gandhi quote:  In a gentle way, you can shake the world  and "Aggressive power beats you up; soft power wins you over." (197)

1.  Is going to college worth it because of the cost and outcome?
2.  Do kids learn skills and content in high school that is really valuable, or is it just a grind?
3.  Does high school and college prepare a student for finding a job and really living in the world?

And, for those questions I am convinced I can help find answers.  (IT IS OK TO ASK WHY)

(4) What is "learning"?  In my experience, you have learned something if you can pull it out and use it after you figured it out.  And, to do that, either you have to want to use it or there has to be a really good reason for using it.

So, yes, I am going to invite people who are considering college to ask themselves if it will provide what they are looking for.  And, yes, I am going to give writing a book about the Grateful Dead's influence on our lives a try.  And, YES, I am going to own the experience of home schooling and write about that, too.  And, it's not going to be perfect, but it will be worth it.

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For  or Have I?

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