Browsing the archives for the learning tag

Laser Ninja Robots and the French Revolution

family, Life as it is, Mistakes

As a master of making mistakes, it is important that I recognize them and learn from them. That way I can stop making that same mistake and go out and find some new error while trying to do well.

A Video Worth Watching

In this case of an error on my part, it has to do with the French Revolution and planning. Now, I don’t mean to say that I am a revolutionary or an instigator of uprisings or anything of the sort. Rather, it has to do with my son’s report for school on the French Revolution and his decision to earn extra credit through making it a video – and, to his credit, making it the sort of wonderfully funny video that only he could make.

My Mistake

My error in this was simple. My son told me that this was his decision and that he had some ideas. Like a concerned parent that has learned some wisdom, I did try to stay out of it so that it could be his own vision and humor and video to present to the class. In addition, I also demonstrated some additional learning from other mistakes by watching to make sure he was making some forward progress. That is, I noted his study on the French Revolution and even saw that he had gotten DVD’s of documentaries on the subject, after all, I had seen what happened in his test of whether teachers really read the essays turned in for a grade.

But in hindsight, that wasn’t enough. I realized this at midnight on the night before it had to be turned in, when I realized that while fully animated, he had not yet rendered the video. Knowing what sort of computer he has in his room and how ancient it is, I quickly offered to install the software on my photoediting system so that the rendering would complete that night. And he still had to assemble the final video from there.

My mistake was simple. I have spent a long time learning how to plan and execute complex projects, but I have never sat down and shared that knowledge with him. Now, I am not talking about formal project management and creating gantt charts, but rather simpler planning on how to get from here to there – once we have identified where here and there are.

What I am Learning

I am a fan of the Getting Things Done, or GTD if you prefer, system by David Allen for most of what I need to be done. And while my execution of the system is flawed and erratic, I have long since loved and used his Natural Planning Process for most of my one-man projects at work and home. I even once made this simple diagram while reading and rereading the details of the process in David Allen’s book and I keep a copy on my wall at work where I can always see it:

[Image removed due to incompatibility issues in IE]

So I met with my son and reviewed these questions – trying to help him see where we can do better next time. In discussing what “wild success” means, it became clear that the video could have been made much cooler than it already is. When translating “wild success” to “the most awesome thing you could imagine your project doing at the end”, he responded, “It could have ninja laser robots worked into it somewhere.”

So there you have it from one wiser than me. Plan your french revolution properly, and laser ninja robots might just save the day. Of course, as it is, the teacher kept a copy and shared it with every class he had that day. Imagine what would have happened, had we hit the wild success of the laser ninja robots worked into the story line as well.

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On Being Teachable

Life as it is, photography, Spiritual Journey, Vulnerability

I love to learn. Sometimes, though, I forget how little I know, and in so doing I lose my chance to learn something. This is a character defect of mine, this arrogant pride of my intelligence, and it can lead me into being an arrogant know-it-all if I let it get away from me.

But how to do so? That’s a real question….

I’ve worked against this a long time – and not always with success. If the opposite of being proud is to be humble, then I needed to work on being humble, i thought. I tried this and it never worked for me. CS Lewis had it right when he wrote as Screwtape, a senior demon in hell, to Wormwood, Screwtape’s nephew – an apprentice demon on his first assignment in the field. Screwtape warned that humility was fatal to demon-kind, but easily defeated as his advice went.

“Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to this fact? All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware he has them, but this is specially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, ‘By jove! I’m being humble,’ and almost immediately pride – pride at his own humility – will appear”

So how to defeat this, when to try by will alone is to create some sort of proud false-modesty? Yuck! That’s even worse than being a know-it-all in my book. It’s true that the only thing worse than false pride is false modesty.

The answer is in something simple – it is in not trying to be humble. It is in trying to simply stay teachable. In fact, if i can stay teachable in all situations, and with all people then i am coming closer to something good – something close enough to being humble that the difference doesn’t matter.

“Every man you meet is your superior in some way. In that you should learn from him”
Abraham Lincoln

Tonight was the classroom discussion for a wildflower photography class I decided to take. I took it because I recognize the instructor as a master at nature photography, and every time I have gone to one of his workshops, I am amazed at how little I know and how much he can teach me.

So once again tonight, I arrived and since it was a lecture, I found myself skeptical as to what I could learn and couldn’t i skip this lecture – after all, I have already heard several of his lectures. But I could be teachable, so I took out my notebook, and started writing notes on his ideas and the structure of his lecture and anything else I could learn and be taught. And as I opened myself up to being teachable, I found myself learning about topics of which I knew nothing, and seeing the results of ideas I had read about but never seen attempted. This being teachable stuff works!

May we all become teachable a little more today than we were yesterday.

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