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Posts Tagged ‘discipline

Spoiler alert: In order to make a point, I need to reveal events in episode 2 of the latest season of Black Mirror on Netflix.

The episode is titled Smithereens and features an ex-teacher who kidnaps an underling who works at a social media company of the same name.

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Some viewers of the episode might wonder if real world entities like Facebook have as much reach as Smithereens. These viewers need only find out about data analytics and how Facebook has been used to influence political outcomes.

So it is not surprising to assume that the episode is about blaming social ills on technological affordances. After all the series creator, Charlie Brooker, has showcased this tendency over five seasons in Netflix.

This might be the first episode where the victim, the ex-teacher, blames himself for getting distracted while driving and causing two deaths. The guilt weights heavily and he resorts to kidnapping the Smithereens employee in order to speak directly to its CEO.

It takes two hands to clap: A greedy company to design an engaging app and an ill-disciplined user to use it regardless of context and circumstances. No one has a gun to our heads to make us watch videos while we cross the road.

The social media company holds it hand up waiting for us to complete the clap, but clapping is not appropriate in every circumstance. It does not take much to put our hand down and move the screen away from our eyes for a while.

You might be reading this because of the clickbait title and image. I hope you read on even though this reflection is not about punishing your child. It is about inculcating discipline.

Earlier this week, my son decided to share what his school mates do for meals outside of school. Some of them have such huge allowances that they drink a Starbucks coffee every day. Others microwave marked up and over-processed food at a 7-11.

Some might argue that the kids are not drinking actual coffee nor are they consuming good food. I choose not to focus on this health issue. Instead I wish to share some strategies of helping kids manage their money, their time, and themselves.

Managing money
Some of my son’s classmates come from rich households and this shows in their allowances. Their weekly expenditure on Starbucks alone exceeds my son’s weekly allowance and public transport fares combined.

Parents want the best for their kids and for me this does not meaning giving them everything they want or more than they need. It means nurturing good values and attitudes with something as basic as managing one’s allowance.

One simple way to help kids manage finances is to discuss their weekly allowance and to show them how to use it. This means getting down to specifics of what they might eat at breaks and lunch, and how much to spend.

My son also has to save part of his allowance to buy what he wants. This is typically e-wallet gaming money which can take a few months to build up. This teaches him not only the basics of financial literacy, but also how to prioritise and to persevere.

Managing time
Money is tangible in that it can be held or exchanged for some commodity. Time less so.

Kids will spend hours on devices if we let them and if we do not teach them how to walk away. Even adults are guilty of doing this, so who are we to judge? But judge we must because kids need to learn to allocate time to different tasks.

We do two things in our home to help my son manage his computer gaming time. We discuss limits and we use a timer.

When he was younger, we typed up and laminated a contract that stated expectations, limits, and consequences. We stuck the contract on the computer desk where he plays and works.

Now that he is older, we do not rely on the old contract. We have a spoken agreement on how much time he can spend on the computer on weekdays and weekends. He sets the timer, and when it goes off, he has to stop using the computer.

This means that he must decide how much time and effort he can spend with his gaming buddies. His expeditions must be planned instead of leaving everything to chance or emergence.

Managing self
Managing one’s finances and time are part of managing one’s self. But there are other aspects of self management, e.g., social behaviours.

A significant issue growing up is dealing with negative peer pressure. The do’s and don’ts are too numerous to list, so we have opted not to fight that battle. Listing a set of “commandments” does not teach a child to think critically and independently.

Instead I introduced the concept of “spheres of influence” to my son. I told him that when he was younger, my wife and I were the only ones in that sphere. As he grew up more relatives, other adults, friends, and acquaintances stepped in and out of that sphere.

The growing sphere is a natural function of learning in social contexts. However, only his original parental sphere has his best interest in mind. The other spheres may have non-ideal or less altruistic goals.

My son experiences this for himself every day, so the spheres of influence are not just a theoretical concept. If we tell him what and why he needs to do something, he knows we have his well-being in mind.

The spheres shape each person and condense into who they are. The quality of a person manifests itself in self-management and some expressions are more obvious than others.

I look for small evidence of self-management. He clears his food tray without being reminded. He does not abandon his bag in a public place. He greets “uncles” and “aunties” on his own.

Being a mild child, he is shy about the last one and needs constant reminding. But that is why he has parents. We are there to instil that discipline.

I tweeted this yesterday because I have been reflecting in my blog while bed-ridden with a fever.

I was not exaggerating or taking creative license when I said that thinking and typing hurt. A hot head, sensitive scalp, and headache made it hard to think. My achy joints helped me empathise with someone with arthritis.

Looking at my daily entries from this week alone, I realise how my fevered pitches were riddled with construction errors and logical gaps. I have tried correcting what I could find, but I am sure that some persist.

So have I learnt not to blog when I am ill? No. The only time I stopped blogging was when I was hospitalised briefly in 2014. Then I did not have my tools or my wits about me.

Reading and openly reflecting is a discipline I have developed over the years. It should take a lot more than a fever to prevent me from doing this.

Not that I wish to tempt fate. I am perfectly fine with the universe leaving me to muddle about with my mundane thoughts.

This LifeHacker article advises that you not tag Evernote posts because tagging disrupts workflow, particularly for creative thinking. However, this argument is flawed in more ways than one.

One assumption is that tagging happens during the processes of creative work. This not only adds to cognitive load, it also is a distraction. However, it does not consider tagging only at the end of the process. This is like doing a summary reflection as part of a disciplined process.

Tagging at the end also attempts to capture the essence or concepts of a process or a learning experience. In cognitive terms, this adds to mental schema. We tend not to remember details; we prefer broad concepts when faced with overwhelming information. The tags aid recall of details by first activating broad concepts.

Creative thinking is not just a result random inspiration. It can be part of a disciplined process. Inspiration can strike when people have a disciplined routine that helps the mind relax and make seemingly serendipitous connections. These activities might take the form of runs, meditation, doodling, blogging, or a host of other regularly scheduled activities.

I tag constantly. I tag my daily blog entries, Diigo bookmarks, Evernote items, and files on my Mac. This not only helps with recall, it also helps me make connections between seemingly disparate concepts. If this is not creative thinking, I do not know what is.

I lurked at a new Twitter chat space, #ictmentor, and caught this question mid-stream.

I have two seemingly diametric responses.

One is that you need to rethink the need to consolidate when you are dealing with streams of consciousness like Twitter. You might go crazy trying to take it all in. Anyone who has tried really Storifying a hotly debated hour-long chat will know what I mean.

The other is that you will want to figure out what to take away from the stream. Did you catch a fish? Were you inspired by the serenity? Did you discover a new species? You will want to take stock or have some sort of record.

My responses are not quite at opposite poles. They both depend on at least two things: 1) practising discipline, and 2) being reflective.

Discipline could take the form developing a routine. Just like regular exercise, developing a schedule of when you check or chat on something like Twitter keeps the blood going and increases the likelihood of finding what you need.

Being reflective is not just a trait, it is also a habit that can be borne of discipline. I make myself write everyday in this blog as I think out loud. Like exercise, I do this for my health and not to show off.

Like exercise, this can be hard to do when you start at first. But with practice, it gets easier and becomes part of who you are.

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