Education, knowledge, and skill

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Something about watching my wife homeschool our passionately headstrong daughter has made me think about education as a whole and what we value.

I think there’s something that we forget about in later grades with kids, and that’s the importance of practice and repetition.

I understand that our entire education system is meant to fill the kid’s head with as much knowledge as possible as quickly as possible in order to send them to the next step. Tests are meant to measure if the kid is doing well enough, and originally if they weren’t, they’d have to do the class again. (I don’t think they do that anymore.)

It’s a system that favours “clever” children. Those that can do something quick and efficiently the first time. Unfortunately, it’s also a system that in the end fails those same kids. Because they didn’t need help, they never learned study skills like time management, note taking, or prioritization.

The Awkward Yeti comic Motivation to Learn

It could be that I’m slowly turning into the “old artsy hippy”, but I think we need to start prioritizing doing something properly over doing it right. The current education system pushes kids to be smart or first in their class and not to be good or deeply know their subject.

One of my favourite teachers in high school taught me a valuable lesson when I asked her a ridiculous and precocious question in chemistry class. She said something I’d never heard a teacher say before, “I don’t know. I’ll look into it and get back to you.” She did and honestly I can’t remember what it was about, but I remember that statement and it has shaped a lot of my thinking since.

No knowledge I learned in school, no fact I had to memorize, no test I’ve ever taken, has been as important as the ability to research something. Boss wants a special pivot table in Excel, give me some time to look it up. I need to figure something out for a book, look it up.

So many of the abilities I use for my various jobs and projects, I learned from struggling in university or work, not from being clever in high school.

You don’t get better at something by constantly struggling to regurgitate what your teacher says. You get better by practice and repetition.

It’s also important to understand that our system favours a certain demographic of people. Not just post secondary education, but also the lower grades. Minorities and lower income families have a massive disadvantage in the way our education is set up.

I was extremely lucky overall, but there were advantages that I didn’t get because I was from a low income home. I didn’t get to do the more expensive sports or activities, I didn’t have the option of music, I didn’t have the newest tech, I didn’t have access to paid tutors, and I had to work through my university (3-4 jobs 30+ hours a week). I was, however, the only child in the house, I had a large extended family I could to for help, I had an excellent high school, I was clever, and I was a white male.

Basically, I think the push for the best grades leads kids to rely on natural cleverness or memory, and doesn’t lead to people who understand how to manage their lives or how to work to make or learn something with depth.

Repetition, practice, research, time management, and being able to admit when you don’t know something are skills that we need to pass on. Also critical thinking and detecting bullshit.

Be safe and be kind,

Éric

What’s in a name?

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

*Warning Incoming Rant and unpopular opinion*

So there’s been a big uproar lately when a gate attendant mocked a child’s name on social media. (News Story Here). At this point most people are going to be offended and think the gate agent should be fired right?

Unfortunately, most people I’ve seen comment have said the gate agent did something wrong but the parents of the child are really to blame. The name is Abcde (Pronounced Ab-sid-ee).

I’ve seen people say that the parents (actually they almost always say the mother which has its own series of issues) are setting up their child to be mocked. How could they do this to the poor girl?

To everyone who seems to be so offended by the name, are you okay? I’m sorry someone hurt you.

How is this name any different than other names that could get kids teased? Seriously how is this worse than Angus, Richard, or Moon-Unit? Names change, evolve, and some disappear.

One of the arguments I see is, “Stupid Americans who want attention.” It’s fascinating how if this was a child named Séraphin or Apple, people wouldn’t be half as offended.

From a (obviously sensitive and biased) parent, this strikes me as a weird combination of intellectual-snobism and moral superiority. There’s a lot of signs of intellectual decay in the US, but this isn’t one. It’s a random and odd name that has been around for over a century. Sure there are fewer than 500 people with the name at any one time and the child will constantly have to explain it’s not a mistake, but it’s still not a good reason to shame someone.

New Zealand has a law that stops names that could be dangerous, offensive, or confusing. This stops people from naming their child after an honorific, so Princess, Duke, Justice, Baron, etc. It also stops long names like, “Oh god why did my parents call me this?” or names that are too short or consist of one nonstandard character, “i” or “*” There are laws like it all over the world with various levels of success.

Again I’m biased. One of the first people I told Keladry’s name to (before she was born) said that it was very trendy and went on to tell me how they only wanted simple common names in case they wanted to be in the public eye later in life.

Beyond my daughter, I’m also the son of Camille and Yolande so I understand non-standard names and my opinion is to just be kind and speak up against bullying instead of encouraging it.

Names are sounds we use to identify each other. I can find something to tease someone about any name but that doesn’t mean I should. “If you didn’t want them to be teased you shouldn’t have called them a euphemism for toilet?” Poor John.

There was a time people would have mocked anyone called Elizabeth instead of Elisabeth. Get over yourself and stop thinking you’re better than a poor parent whose child was openly mocked for their name.

What a person’s name is, isn’t an excuse for ridicule and shame on anyone who thinks it is.

Éric

Muse BS and Why It’s Hurting Your Art

Try telling this to a woman who's giving birth.

So you consider yourself a “Creative Type”? That means you’ve either spent your life being told you’re special and sensitive or you’ve been told that you’re a useless dreamer that needs to get a haircut and a real job. (Whoa flashback…)

If you consider yourself a creative type and want to feel you’re special go read this Article and don’t come back.

If you want the truth go read the article and come back to read the rest of this post.

Lies

You came back, great. Do you feel like you were just submerged into a giant vat of corn-syrup?

I’m not going to comment on all the points. Most of them are just sily.

First off there is no such thing as a creative type. It’s the same crap as the myth of “Talent”. My definition of creative type: Do you create something? Yes? You’re a creative type. The text before the list does say that everyone can be a creative type.

The biggest lie is the first point in the article:

They work when the work comes to them…meaning that they only paint, draw, write, sew, dance, or write out business plans when they feel like it. Creative people know the mind performs best in small bursts of concentrated work.

If you consider yourself creative and you only create when you feel like it then you’re doing it wrong. That might seem like a harsh judgement but it’s true. The only way to improve or get anything done is by doing it. Even when you don’t feel it!

The myth of the magical muse that will spray you with inspiration is not only a myth it’s an excuse to not create.

Try telling this to a woman who's giving birth.
This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Sometimes you need to force things.

If creating something was as easy as waiting for inspiration or a muse, everyone would be doing it and Memes like this wouldn’t happen.

Dangerous

It takes ten years, or a million words, or ten thousand hours, to get good at something. If you waste your time waiting for inspiration you’ll never get to that point. (Something I wish I’d been told at 18.)

Art takes work. I know that’s not what you want to hear but it’s hard, it hurts, and it takes a long time.

If you don’t work through the difficulties and wait for magical assistance, you’ll never create anything.

That’s the danger of making creating something mystical, it gives people an excuse not to do it. Only the chosen ones can create. So many times people say, I’d love to do this but I’m not good enough.

If a 5 year old kid told his parents he wanted to be a soccer player but he felt he didn’t have the talent they’d laugh and tell him to practice. Why don’t we do that with artistic pursuits?

Hard Truth

No one is born with the talent for art. No more than they’re born with the talent to walk or talk. They are learned skills that you have to work at. I haven’t worked that hard at the walking thing and the bruises on my legs prove it.

What you are born with is an incredible mind and body that can learn and adapt. The important thing is to do it and then re-do it over and over again.

Will your first attempts suck? Hell yes.

Will it be worth it? Immeasurably! You know that feeling when you listen to a great piece of music, read a great book, see a great movie, hear a great line, or see a great piece of art? You know that feeling of elation that comes with it, and the need to share it with others? Now Imagine, that you could see that in someone because of something you created. Effectively seeing someone geek out over what you’ve created.

That feeling combined with the sense of accomplishment is one of the greatest feelings I have ever had.

Be Your Own Muse

Go out there and make something, bring something new into the world. Prove to all the evil out there that you can make something beautiful.

It will be hard but all you need is a way to make yourself do it, even when you don’t want to. Make a schedule, set up a system of awards, create deadlines, do what works to make you work.

Use Habit, Persistence, Stubbornness, and hard work to create your own muse; one of practice and experience.

And when you feel like you can’t or it’s too hard, remember the feeling of joy and power you get when you create.

 

Good Luck and You should be creating,

Éric

Writers aren’t their Characters, or their Plots

I read a news story last week and brushed it off as some sort of misunderstanding, prank, or click-bait. Today I saw another one. In short a man in Maryland was detained and forced to have a psychological evaluation, then suspended from teaching English in a grade school. All because he’d published a Science-Fiction book about the worst school shooting in America, he published this book under a pen name in 2010. This was before he was hired.

The police apparently closed down the school and swept it for guns and bombs, they did the same to his house. All despite the fact that he had no police record, had no red flags in his public records free for anyone to check, and didn’t have any firearms registered in his, or his alter ego’s, name.

This is by far the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.

I will allow that maybe we don’t have the full story and there’s maybe something that we haven’t heard about yet but I wouldn’t be surprised that this is the whole story.

It reeks of a bad movie plot and is scary for anyone who’s ever written anything violent. It also makes you wonder if the fact that he’s African American has something to do with it. (It’s sad that this article makes a little more sence in a racial context. Really sad.)

The book looks like a bland YA mystery novel with some science fiction aspects thrown in. From what I’ve read it looks a little derivative but that’s still no reason to put a man in jail or the psych ward.

In high school I published several stories in the newspaper that were murder mysteries, written from the point of view of the murderer instead of the investigator. I thought it was clever. The worst that happened was one teacher asking me if I was ok and that she was willing to talk if I needed it. Who knows what would happen to me now.

If a writer is criminally responsible for writing something that makes the authorities worried, we’re about to live in a very bad world.

The idea that someone could be mentally unstable or violent because they wrote about it in fiction isn’t new but that doesn’t me its ok.

Fiction is supposed to be a safe way to explore our feelings and our world. It’s an exploration for both writer and reader. It’s a way to work through difficult themes and emotions. It’s no more a barometer for mental stability than the kind of cereal someone eats.

This kind of overreaction isn’t new. It often seems that in an effort to make everyone feel safe we’re attacking everything that may be dangerous.

It’s not a far jump from, “He wrote a book about school shootings, let’s investigate every part of his life and keep him away from the children,” to “He wrote about a banned subject, let’s throw him in jail for subversion of people.”

And it’s not just the “Man” or police. We live in a world where “SWATTING” is a thing. Sometimes my faith in humanity wavers.

What do you think? Was he violently investigated for being a writer, being African American, or is there something else going on?

Éric

Happy and letting others rant for me

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

Letting Others do my Work

Today I don’t feel like ranting. I’ll let others do it for me:

On stupid comments and other stupidity: This Behaviour is Not OK! by S.M. Carrière

On a similar note, in that it includes retail customers: Maybe You Get Bad Customer Service Because You’re a Bad Customer By Matt Walsh

If you don’t want to read these two awesome posts, just remember that being nice to people in customer service shouldn’t be the exception. Also let them do their job without getting harassed sexually, verbally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually.

Good Mood

I’m in a good mood. You might think from this blog that this is a huge exception and you’d be mostly right. I get worked up and protective a lot. Probably more than I should.

But today I’m happy. You might be asking why. It’s simple, spent last evening in a bookstore with my wife, a good friend, a baby, and a famous author. (There were a couple hundred other people too.)

Our Friend, K.R. asked us to go to a book signing with her. My wife said yes without even asking me (K.R. has an adorable baby boy and my wife can’t say no to being around babies) When I found out who the author was I was pretty excited.

I haven’t read anything by Diana Gabaldon but I had heard great things. Her Outlander Series is said to be one of the best Romance, Action, Adventure, Historical, Time Travel series ever.

I wasn’t expecting too much (Writing and public speaking aren’t skills that every writer has). She was hilarious, interesting, and intelligent. She probably has one of the coolest stories on how she got published (I’m Super jealous) and had no issue making “Men in Kilts” jokes.

The series is also partially inspired by Doctor Who and one of my favourite companions Jamie McCrimmon.

Overall it was a great talk, and a wonderful evening.

frazer14

Publishing

I’m still waiting on word from the publishers that I submitted my novel “A Study in Aether” to back in October. I’ve decided I’ll email again next week and if I don’t get a response from them by end of July, I’ll look into alternates. Every time I think about them I flip flop between three thoughts, “They hate it so much they don’t want to reply”; “They think its ok and are considering it but don’t know”; and “They completely forgot about it”.

Expect me to not mention this until end of July. Unless I get an email soon.

Once I get a response, if it’s a no, I’ll have to decide if I want to go back to submitting to agents, pay for an editor and resubmit to the other company that was so nice, or self-publish. Each one of those is scary for separate reasons.

 

Well that’s it for now.

Hope you’re having a great day.

Èric

On Privilege

Someone on my facebook posted the following article and it made me mad. Not in the usual way in which I compeletly disagree with the author. I just think the author has missed the point entirely and in doing so is encouraging ignorance.

Authority, Google, and Privilege

The author starts by making a grand statement about how, white people (Especially allies and anti-racists) believe they have the right to his time because he has furthered anti-racist discourse. He goes on to say that depending on his mood he’ll either respond thoughtfully or link them to something. And then sometimes he’ll tell them that he’s “not there to serve as a resource to them”.

You’re probably thinking that he’s being pretty reasonable if not the nicest guy in the world right? And on the surface that’s what it looks like but let me tell you that the author is showing his own privilege and his own arrogance.

I don’t believe that people have the right to insist that he answer their questions. I don’t believe that he must answer the questions. What I truly believe is in the right of those people to ask the question.

If you actively champion a cause, in a public venue, you are positioning yourself as an authority. If you are willing to do that you must accept the consequence that people will want to both learn from you and challenge you.

Someone said in reply, that the man isn’t an “Answer Monkey” and to just use google. I suppose that’s fair, except that google will give you millions of replies, not all of them trustworthy. Asking someone you respect is simpler and safer in most cases. Is it lazy, a little, but we’re human, and sifting through endless research for every question isn’t possible on a day to day basis.

Public discourse is part of how the world learns and grows. To try and stifle it is wrong. If he was talking about botany, instead of race, he would just sound like he hated that people talked to him.

Is it Privilege to ask a person questions about something he’s positioned himself as an authority on? Yes but it’s a justifiable privilege that is a human right not “White Privilege.”

Trolls and definitions

The author goes on to explain that, while he was working on a paper, he decided to check out an interracial dating hashtag on twitter. He wasn’t happy with what he saw so he decided to put out a snarky Tweet.

Checks out #insightsbs. Sees white people describing their racial fetisheses as ‘not racist.’ Gives up forever.

The author than was then surprised and annoyed when someone responded by asking him to define Fetish. The person also made it clear that he was challenging the author and that he disagreed and probably would even after the author explained himself.

This folks is a form of Troll. They’re not living under bridges but they are damn ugly. What these kinds of people like to do is “fish” for an argument. Cast a line out and reel it in. Effectively trolling.

This form of Troll is the kind that says, “I’m not [add IST Here] but…” You can argue with them all you want but they’ll just keep poking you until you devolve into a swearing pile of poo. Then they’ll tell everyone how mean and wrong you are.

However, the question is ok. If I had seen the Tweet, I might have asked the same thing. Fetish is a loaded word with multiple definitions. Not to mention that Fetishism is the name of a serious Psychological condition, in which a person is obsessively aroused by a type of object. I understand that the word is used, in slang terms, as meaning a sexual deviance, or naughty like. (He certainly isn’t talking about the definition where people think that the bone of a saint has magical properties.)

I didn’t read the hashtag, and I’m sure there are a lot of nasty/racist things on it but I would want to know why he is equating preference with sexual deviance and saying it’s racist. Don’t get me wrong there are people out there that are racist and sexual deviants, it’s called Ethnic Pornography, and it’s people of different races in subservient positions and cultural stereotypes.

I’m not saying what he said was wrong but that the person had the right or Privilege to ask for clarification.

How it ends

They devolve into an argument. The author says that he doesn’t need to answer the question because it’s not his responsibility to educate people. The Troll tells him that his opinions can’t matter if he’s not willing to argue them.

My Opinion

As a blogger, and public figure, you have given people the right to interact with you. It’s the way public discourse has been done for millennia, and it’s the reason that Bill Nye still debates with creationists. Without questioning there is no growth.

Learning from an authority is more likely to stick in your head and make a positive impact then learning from google or Wikipedia.

Refusing to answer a question because you think it’s a waste of your time is your right, however for every 100 trolls who ask the question, there will be 1 person who is genuinely curious and can grow from your influence.

As much as there is “White Privilege” there is also a form of “Intelectual/Class Privilege” just because you’ve answered the question before, and think it’s a stupid question, doesn’t mean that the person asking is a troll or not worth your time. There are people out there who are ignorant (I mean that in the traditional, “Don’t know anything” and not the hateful people) and the best way to fight ignorance is with knowledge.

I can’t say it enough I truly believe that asking questions is a fundamental human right.

 

Did I misread the whole thing? Do you disagree with me? Let me know in the comments.

On Privilege

Someone on my facebook posted the following article and it made me mad. Not in the usual way in which I compeletly disagree with the author. I just think the author has missed the point entirely and in doing so is encouraging ignorance.

Authority, Google, and Privilege

The author starts by making a grand statement about how, white people (Especially allies and anti-racists) believe they have the right to his time because he has furthered anti-racist discourse. He goes on to say that depending on his mood he’ll either respond thoughtfully or link them to something. And then sometimes he’ll tell them that he’s “not there to serve as a resource to them”.

You’re probably thinking that he’s being pretty reasonable if not the nicest guy in the world right? And on the surface that’s what it looks like but let me tell you that the author is showing his own privilege and his own arrogance.

I don’t believe that people have the right to insist that he answer their questions. I don’t believe that he must answer the questions. What I truly believe is in the right of those people to ask the question.

If you actively champion a cause, in a public venue, you are positioning yourself as an authority. If you are willing to do that you must accept the consequence that people will want to both learn from you and challenge you.

Someone said in reply, that the man isn’t an “Answer Monkey” and to just use google. I suppose that’s fair, except that google will give you millions of replies, not all of them trustworthy. Asking someone you respect is simpler and safer in most cases. Is it lazy, a little, but we’re human, and sifting through endless research for every question isn’t possible on a day to day basis.

Public discourse is part of how the world learns and grows. To try and stifle it is wrong. If he was talking about botany, instead of race, he would just sound like he hated that people talked to him.

Is it Privilege to ask a person questions about something he’s positioned himself as an authority on? Yes but it’s a justifiable privilege that is a human right not “White Privilege.”

Trolls and definitions

The author goes on to explain that, while he was working on a paper, he decided to check out an interracial dating hashtag on twitter. He wasn’t happy with what he saw so he decided to put out a snarky Tweet.

Checks out #insightsbs. Sees white people describing their racial fetisheses as ‘not racist.’ Gives up forever.

The author than was then surprised and annoyed when someone responded by asking him to define Fetish. The person also made it clear that he was challenging the author and that he disagreed and probably would even after the author explained himself.

This folks is a form of Troll. They’re not living under bridges but they are damn ugly. What these kinds of people like to do is “fish” for an argument. Cast a line out and reel it in. Effectively trolling.

This form of Troll is the kind that says, “I’m not [add IST Here] but…” You can argue with them all you want but they’ll just keep poking you until you devolve into a swearing pile of poo. Then they’ll tell everyone how mean and wrong you are.

However, the question is ok. If I had seen the Tweet, I might have asked the same thing. Fetish is a loaded word with multiple definitions. Not to mention that Fetishism is the name of a serious Psychological condition, in which a person is obsessively aroused by a type of object. I understand that the word is used, in slang terms, as meaning a sexual deviance, or naughty like. (He certainly isn’t talking about the definition where people think that the bone of a saint has magical properties.)

I didn’t read the hashtag, and I’m sure there are a lot of nasty/racist things on it but I would want to know why he is equating preference with sexual deviance and saying it’s racist. Don’t get me wrong there are people out there that are racist and sexual deviants, it’s called Ethnic Pornography, and it’s people of different races in subservient positions and cultural stereotypes.

I’m not saying what he said was wrong but that the person had the right or Privilege to ask for clarification.

How it ends

They devolve into an argument. The author says that he doesn’t need to answer the question because it’s not his responsibility to educate people. The Troll tells him that his opinions can’t matter if he’s not willing to argue them.

My Opinion

As a blogger, and public figure, you have given people the right to interact with you. It’s the way public discourse has been done for millennia, and it’s the reason that Bill Nye still debates with creationists. Without questioning there is no growth.

Learning from an authority is more likely to stick in your head and make a positive impact then learning from google or Wikipedia.

Refusing to answer a question because you think it’s a waste of your time is your right, however for every 100 trolls who ask the question, there will be 1 person who is genuinely curious and can grow from your influence.

As much as there is “White Privilege” there is also a form of “Intelectual/Class Privilege” just because you’ve answered the question before, and think it’s a stupid question, doesn’t mean that the person asking is a troll or not worth your time. There are people out there who are ignorant (I mean that in the traditional, “Don’t know anything” and not the hateful people) and the best way to fight ignorance is with knowledge.

I can’t say it enough I truly believe that asking questions is a fundamental human right.

 

Did I misread the whole thing? Do you disagree with me? Let me know in the comments.

Guidelines for Cooperative Gaming Fun!

A cooperative game is any game that you play cooperatively with others instead of opposed to other players. Massive Online Roleplaying games, some tabletop games, Pen and Paper Roleplaying games, and certain video games all fit into this category.

All of them require that you play well with others, but that’s not as easy as it sounds.

**Disclaimer: This is my opinion and I have almost no experience playing MMO-RPGs.**

tumblr_moe2u9w5Cw1qgpnkto1_500

Read more

Discombobulated

Taken from Tumblr, if you know the creator please let me know so I can credit

Hello,

Parasomnia

There are three points in a novel where an author has trouble, the beginning, the middle, and the end.

Ok, all jokes aside this novel is kicking my ass. For one thing, it’s much longer than my previous novels making me think that I should start into the third act instead of still being early in the second. For another thing, I’m starting to move my characters farther in their development than I expected. And for a last thing, I’m worried because it’s so different from everything I’ve written before.

It’s just the middle of the book blues. I’m done with the exciting set up and introduction and now I have to fulfil stuff and twist the knife on my poor sad characters. (Speaking of which if you haven’t voted in the “Who’s going to die” poll or want to vote a second time. Now would be the time.)

New House

It’s seriously impressive how a big life change can throw me through a loop. My wife and I bought a house (I might have mentioned once or twice) and I’m having a hard time adjusting. The air is different, the steps between places are different, the feel of the carpet, etc. It’s all so new. I love the new place, the library is bigger and better but just as calming, and we have a BBQ.

Elizabeth Investigates

Still waiting on one of the publishing companies about “A Study in Aether” I suppose that means it’s good enough that they didn’t dismiss it offhand but it’s not so fraking awesome that they grabbed it right away. If I don’t hear by the end of May I’ll contact them and see if I fell through the cracks.

Websites, RPGs, and Webshows

In January, we hadn’t planned on moving, let alone buying a new house. That’s slowed my plans down for setting up a new website and for updating FADDS. I’m still working on the two of them but slower than I would have liked. As for the Webshow… Well it’s on hold until the house is more put together.

Hopefully by the end of summer we’ll have everything up.

Coffee

Taken from Tumblr, if you know the creator please let me know so I can credit

Have a great day!

Éric