Education Must be About Thinking – 7 Takeaways for June 6, 2021

William Shakespeare

1. “You can’t help someone you don’t understand”

If You Want to Be a Better Writer, Start Listening Twice As Much As You Talk – Sinem Günel – (Medium)

This is one of those adages that traces its origins back to Epictitus — “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” — and probably even further. Everyone knows it. Everyone can parrot it.

Why do so few actually do it? I’m not pointing fingers — I’m as guilty as anyone. If anything this takeaway is as much a reminder for me as anything else.

Do this: listen.

2. “Tolerance demands discomfort “

Every Excess Hides a Lack – Mark Manson – (MindF*ck Monday)

The dilemma of being tolerant of other people’s beliefs, actions, foibles, or whatnot, is that it’s a spectrum. Some things are easier to tolerate than others. Some make us uncomfortable, some make us so uncomfortable as to test our very ability to be tolerant of others. And some cross the line.

The irony is that in order to practice tolerance, you must be willing to sit with things that upset you or make you uncomfortable. Yet, if your adopted ethic is that no one should ever be upset or uncomfortable, then you make any sort of tolerance impossible.

The reality that we can’t tolerate everything doesn’t mean we shouldn’t tolerate more than we probably do. Much of the upset we have to be willing to sit with is of our own making.

Do this: examine what upsets you. Is it really worth it? Some things are, absolutely, but so many things are not.

3. “Resourcefulness . . . is infinite”

The Invaluable Trait that Helps You Make the Most of Any Situation in Life – Srinivas Rao – (Unmistakeable Creative Blog)

As I was reading this essay discussing the trait of being resourceful — what it means, how it helps, and how to cultivate it — my mind went in a slightly different direction.

Why isn’t this something we teach in school?

I mentioned a week or so ago that school, especially higher education, nominally teaches you how to learn (except it doesn’t really). If that were true, wouldn’t teaching the value of resourcefulness be a natural and incredibly valuable extension? Simply looking at what you have and learning to ask “what else can this do?” can be so incredibly enlightening.

Do this: Look at what you have. Ask yourself are you using it to its fullest? As an example, Rao suggests you “see your phone as a tool for creation and not just a device for communication,” and my mind begins to consider possibilities.

4. “The more social ties we have, the happier we are.”

How to Live – Derek Sivers – (ebook)

The statement itself is a difficult one to swallow for an introvert like me. And yet, I get it. It’s not easy, but I get it.

What brought this to my attention this week is Derek Sivers new book, How to Live – 27 conflicting answers and one weird conclusion. It’s a surprisingly difficult read because it’s not so much “about” anything specific as it is a collection of independent statements — one could even say pithy aphorisms — on that topic. It requires thought. Even Sivers says so: “It’s meant to be read slowly.”

I think that might be the only way it can be read.

Do this: cherish your social ties.

5. “Tulsa massacre had been largely absent”

Holes In Our History – Dan Rather – (Steady)

I had a conversation earlier this week with my gen-x niece, who mentioned that she’d never been taught anything about the Tulsa massacre in school.

Neither had I. The first I’d heard of it was just a few years ago, in a comic book mini-series adaptation of The Watchmen on HBO. The show opened with the attack, and at first, I thought it was some fictional alternate history. While certain aspects are certainly fictional (it’s a sci-fi comic book, after all), the attack was brutally and unforgivably real.

I was shocked.

From Rather:

We are living in a time where we are seeing cynical attempts to bury the past on many fronts.

Let’s not let that happen.

Do this: learn more about The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. And commit to not burying the past, but learning from it.

6. “A generation ago, delivering the news was a civic duty. Now it’s a profit center.”

Production values – Seth Goden – (Blog)

Let’s not over-simplify this. News has always a for-profit enterprise unless you’re PBS/NPR or similar. Newspapers and other news delivery services have always been aggressively competing for eyeballs. Sensational headlines aren’t really new. Misleading stories aren’t really new. Even clickbait isn’t really new. (National Enquirer and Weekly World News were the grocery-store equivalents of clickbait news — and there were people that believed ’em!)

Multiple things have changed. The ease of publication. The ability to “test” your headlines in real-time. The ever-shorter attention spans of the news-consuming public. Perhaps most importantly, the apparent unwillingness of the average consumer to vet what it is they consume.

Yes, I do believe that Walter Cronkite and his cohorts of the day took it as a civic responsibility — more so than many, if not most these days. But it’s always been a profit center.

Do this: be different: vet what you consume.

7. “My conviction is that education must be about thinking— not training a set of specific skills.”

How to Think like Shakespeare – Scott Newstok – (ebook)

Some of my takeaways must seem like a broken record as they all circle around a common theme, once again reinforcing my pre-conceived opinions. Nonetheless, this bubble I’m in seems important.

I stumbled across this book in some of my other reading, and that takeaway, from its introduction, hooked me. I’m partway through and finding it a thought-provoking read. (Full of quotes, by the way.)

Do this: encourage thinking and problem-solving in yourself and others.

What I’m Reading

In progress (also on GoodReads):


1 thought on “Education Must be About Thinking – 7 Takeaways for June 6, 2021”

  1. Leo,

    Re: Item No. 5, the Tulsa Massacre article.

    As usual, you have stimulated my thirst for answers to issues that I didn’t even realize I had questions about (pardon the grammar…).

    At the almost ripe age of 82, I, too, had never heard of the Tulsa Massacre until about two months ago when I read an article in, I believe, The Atlantic.

    It got me to thinking about how the recent spate of monument-tumbling, building-renaming, and other such revisionist history has been played over the past few years.

    The internal war that occured in this country between the years of 1861 and 1865 HAPPENED – for real. How those who say that the individuals on either side were right or wrong or deserved or did not deserve to be recognized in the aftermath must be seen in the light of the attitudes and mores of those past eras. I suppose the revisionists want West Point to stop teaching tactics based on what the Germans did during WWII or what Lee did during the War Between the States, or the Civil War, or the war of Northern Aggression, etc.

    Today we preach political correctness to the extent that we cannot even bring up or discuss actual events of the past without worrying that we might step on someone’s figurative toes.

    That is, to me, a bunch of oats that have already been through the horse once. Perhaps we should stop aid to Egypt and South Africa and Germany because of what happened in their relatively recent past history. At least it is still OK to talk about the “Great Wars” (WWI and WWII) as long as you acknowledge the “good guys” and the “bad guys.”

    OK, off my rant. Great Newsletter. Please keep it coming.

    PS: I am about 2/3 of the way through “Sapiens.” So pleased that I read about your thoughts on it. Terrific book – even if it raises more questions for me…oh, that’s what it is supposed to do…

    Thanks, Leo.


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