Words play an enormous role in nearly everyone’s life. Therefore, the effective use of words through the act of writing and the act of speaking becomes a vital skill to perfect over the course of one’s life.
“Our civilization is unable to do what individuals cannot say” writes John Ralston Saul at the outset of his book A Doubter’s Companion:
“And individuals are unable to say what they cannot think. Even thought can only advance as fast the unknown can be stated through conscious organized language”
So the issue of gradually perfecting one’s use of language is not simply an issue for writers (or aspiring writers), but is one that impacts anyone who relies upon language for communication.
“Public education does not serve a public” Neil Postman writes in his book The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School , “It creates one.”
And the one it creates, at least in the United States, is one bound by “false gods.” These tiny deities often go unnoticed but that doesn’t mean their effects are unnoticeable.
As the subtitle suggests, purpose is what Postman’s book is all about.
For anyone interested in the “educational” system in the United States — what it teaches and what it fails to teach — the work of John Taylor Gatto is invaluable. The folks at Tragedy and Hope media have loads of great interviews with him.
There is a huge disparity in quality of education between your elite private school and your typical public school. Gatto outlined 14 traits he found in the former type of school that were sorely missing from the latter.
They provide a great foundation for anyone trying to pursue an enriching and useful education. They are: Continue reading
Concentrated practice over time cannot fail but produce results
THEORY OF MASTERY
The Theory of Mastery presented in the book that the quote above is taken is best understood as a rejection of the “Romantic Genius” ideal.
It’s a harmful ideal really, one that divides the world in two: the creative geniuses with natural talent are all over THERE while I (who is, naturally, assumed to have no natural talent) am forever stuck HERE.
This is not only destructive, but false.
Past masters and those still living, as Greene shows, were obsessive practitioners of their craft (often exceeding 10,000 hours) and practiced that craft with an intense focus. Repeat this over time and that’s how you become masterful.
Forced schooling was perfect for the times, but the times were not perfect.
During the 19th century the elitist hive mind was buzzing with such questionable memes like Social Darwinism and Scientific Management. The first one gave moral justification to overt racism by dressing it up in scientific garb. The second made factories incredibly efficient by making people incredibly inhuman. Both had an enormous impact on society. Continue reading