How we learn.

As I gear up to again educate myself, diving headfirst into the bibliomania of law school, this is a subject I’ve been thinking quite a bit about.  What is it that makes people smart?  If I can read and absorb the reading pretty fast, does that make me a better learner?  Is it memory that makes intelligence?  Or the selective application of knowledge?  Is Bloom’s Taxonomy really right?  How the heck did my team win third place at trivia last night when all of my teammates don’t know stuff?  Was it all strategic guesing and tactically applied point values?  Do we learn from example, or experimentation, or practice?

A part of my thinking springs from this post.  While I appreciate the language of old textbooks, the value of a Classical education, and the ancestry of words, I am a product of my time.  I absorb patterns, broad concepts, and methods.  I don’t memorize well, but I research very well indeed.  Long lectures don’t hold my attention, but I can process multiple streams of information at once.  I work best when I have a distraction.

What does this all mean?  Are we moving faster, our spastic educational system a sign of our inability to sit still?  Can you really learn speedily, and when do you reach a limit of diminishing returns?  What is the point of a workbook with an answer key?  Is the motivation for understanding genetic, or imparted from the outside world at an early age?  What makes someone stop being curious?  How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop, and why do we value the search for answers when an ultimate solution seems so much less interesting?

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The Doozer

I’ve been spending some time recently thinking about my life, and its direction, and ultimately where I’m heading.  Perhaps it’s this new law-school thing, or setting off for a new life at the other extreme end of the country.  Perhaps it’s partly spawned by my own fear of change, or the trapped feeling I think I am escaping by yet another move.  it just seems my life continues to move in spirals, and I want to know why.  Why do i get this sense of wanting to achieve?  Why do I then feel trapped by that achievement, and an intense urge to move on to the next thing?  Why are all of us trapped in this larger cycle of acquiring things, or getting that better job, or marking our status in some other significant way?  What are we really trying to hold on to?

I come to the conclusion again and again that there’s a great number of things I can do without.  I can do without a house – I would be content to rent for the rest of my life.  I can do without the stuff-trappings of suburban life.   I can do without a garden, even though I don’t want to.  I can do without a fireplace, porches, a dishwasher, ice cream, candles, bookshelves, and garlic.  Eventually I will probably have to do without my parents, and I will deal with that.  I can do without time to myself or time enough to consider all the long term implications of my decisions.  And yet, I have this great desire to hang on to the markers of my life, both tangible and intangible.  I build up picture albums of the people and things important to me.  I tell myself stories, post on this blog, and in a hundred other ways seek to preserve things of value.  I collect all the patterns of a life, building my self image into it, only to feel more and more hidebound as time wheels on.  Eventually I ask myself what I’m doing here and how I can get out.  Freedom beckons and I run to it, damaging some of the life I’ve built up along the way.  And for what?  Am I really free in the end, or do I just fall back into the same habits and patterns again without choice.

The only solution I can come up with is that I can’t help but be a Cotterpin.  I’m a builder by nature.  I am happiest making something – knitting, baking, building my own house, sand castling, or working on some other constructive project.  At the same time, I am not satisfied being identified by objects.  Once I begin to feel that I am only known as the builder of certain things, that there isn’t enough structural flex to allow me to be percieved differently, of course I feel trapped.  I’m not just a Doozer, after all.  I’m a little bit of a Fraggle, too.  Until I can build without having to destroy, I guess that personality will remain split.  Regardless, I always come back to being a builder.  I guess the Doozer in me is stronger.

For the Beana.

So, I’ve never done an online comic strip before.  And now I have.  And next time I really think I should use borders or something…

Fist of Power 1

Fist of Power 2b

Fist of Power 3Fist of Power 4

If I were a superhero, I’d be the Sedgehammer.

Eliminating weedy brush everywhere?  Perhaps.  Sounds like guerrilla gardening.  But what I really wanted to talk about today is Superheros Anonymous (because what real superhero isn’t anonymous, anyway?).  I found out about this lovely little group through this CNN article, and it sounds fabulous, as it combines two of my favorite things – dressing up and doing good.  I mean, who wouldn’t work with the homeless or children when they could do it IN COSTUME?!?

But there are pertient questions that go along with this type of activism, particularly along the lines of vigilante justice.  I think most of us would be against individual masked figures taking the law into their own hands.  But there are steps that each of us could take, and don’t.  We are too often voiceless witnesses, or onconcerned passers-by.  Crimes should be reported – that’s the only way the system works.  If a costume is a barrier between our private lives and the possible consequences of being active citizens, so be it.  If there are specific laws regarding citizens arrests and the actions we can take as individuals, we need to be respectful of state laws.  Being respectful of the law does not excuse us, however, from being active participants in the community.  It’s not just about jury duty and maintaining your lawn.

As for the comments issued about “Where these people are out in public, and there’s children around and everything, and these people are not revealing their identities, it’s not a safe thing,” it strikes me as a little ridiculous.  When is the last time you went to a public park and could identify everyone there?  Ok, never?  What about the last time you could ID everyone in such a place on physical characteristics alone?  This is why witnesses aren’t good evidence – our memories are shady.  So while we may not know what the man behind the mask really looks like, there’s a good chance we wouldn’t have remembered him if we’d seen him clearly.  Do-gooder with a cape and no mask?  Well, that might stick in our mind a little.  Isn’t that the point?