The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there’s no good reason to go into space—each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision.
Today, in my life, I witnessed an event that is every passionate teacher’s lifeblood.
That moment, and this moment is one of unparalleled ectascy, when a child experiences and falls in love with the same thing you fell in love with when you’re a child of his age.
That moment when his eyes sparkle in sync with a wide grin that only the joy of finding something really interesting gives you.
Today, I taught a bunch of kids(from ages 9-11) to program in Racket, taking extensive help from Systematic Program Design course in Coursera(used their images library.). Trust me, as tough as this sounds, we underestimate kids of today.
While being initially reluctant to approach the REPL but eventually casting away all the inhibition, as only children can, every minute was punctuated with a ‘karthik anna come here!’or ‘it works anna!’ and many ‘next?’s. Delightfully noisy, I tell you.
In a society that has come to fetishize criticism, only children seem to hold onto the explorer’s spirit and that too is being hammered out of them even at apparently fun places like summer camps.
Now with summer camps being all about getting kids ready for speed-maths, Abacus and readying them for higher classes, it took a really progressive mind to introduce programming for children and I jumped at the opportunity to teach them.
Eventually most of them would fall prey to the system but I taught with all that I had hoping that one or two pirates would emerge. And like most interactions with children, adults always come out enriched. I would be moving on to work at an environment where great things are achieved by constantly learning and applying, and learning can only happen when there’s a childlike sense of wonderment and an eagerness to embrace uncertainty.
The first thing I noticed was a healthy skepticism. An impulse to question received wisdom. I saw that when you nurture this skepticism beautiful things happen. I was grilled on everything from parentheses to prefix-notation to why keywords are the what they are( it got so crazy that i had to sheepishly Google some answers!) The entire was session was purely powered by curiosity.
I also noticed an almost immediate love for experimentation. They would do seemingly stupid things and keep at it. They would try different values for the functions, take hints, explore in new directions and in the process learn deeply. They weren’t afraid to say no and ask for help - all you needed to give them was time and an eager ear.
The underpinning of all these was the intuitive belief that the world is a place that can amaze you constantly, that change is a good thing and a selfless desire to spread their knowledge amongst their peers can enrich themselves too.
Kids weren’t taught all these things at their moral education classes, they knew it intuitively. We were programmed for happiness and inventiveness and then society steps and changes the algorithm. Most learn to live with the changes, some bristle.
I just wish the ratio was the other way round.
P.S: Those interested in the material I whipped up for this session, it will be available on GitHub. Just stuck with some college work and hence busy. Will collate the material when I get time. :)
Design is not just what it looks or feels like. Design is how it works.
May 20, 1990: Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson’s remarkable Kenyon College commencement address on creative integrity.
Different degrees of domination and servitude
are what you know as love.
But love is different
it arrives complete
like the moon at the window.
Seek only that of which you have no hope.
Desire only that of which you have no clue.
This is not the Oxus River or some little sea.
This is the shoreless sea.
Here, swimming ends always in drowning
«“Everything is permitted,” exclaims Ivan Karamazov. I don’t know whether or not it has been sufficiently pointed out that it is not an outburst of relief or of joy, but rather a bitter acknowledgment of a fact. “Everything is permitted” does not mean that nothing is forbidden. The absurd merely…
Youth is the time of getting, middle age of improving, and old age of spending; a negligent youth is usually attended by an ignorant middle age, and both by an empty old age.
Sometimes you seldom welcome the change that happens stealthily, while all the while you were looking for a change. Ironically, you are chary to embrace the change you hankered for. Yes, it happened to me as well. It was 2012 February when this happened.
The new city, which was calling out for…
Workaholics are driven by fear, and I have not found myself in a position where I need to spend six or eight more hours at work because I’m trying to make everything okay.
If you’re in this frame of mind and need control, being a workaholic is a socially acceptable way to try to achieve that. Your boss thinks it’s great, and you can get a raise for doing it. In the short run, it works really well because you can — at some level — control what you’re doing and keep pushing the ball forward. You get into trouble when you get better at your work, and there’s an increase in the number of people who want to interact with you and have you do more. So this kind of working method doesn’t scale— you end up exploding.
The people who are doing great art and having an impact on the world aren’t approaching their work in this way. I recently did an interview with the architect Michael Graves. Michael Graves works a lot. He’s been in a wheelchair for more than seven years. He would be excused if he decided to scale back now after what’s been an amazing career. But, instead, he’s working on a multibillion-dollar development in Singapore, etc., etc. If you look at the way Michael works, he brings a good heart and the right attitudes to his projects at all times. He is doing important work — work that changes things. But he’s not a workaholic because he’s not doing it defensively. He’s doing it productively.