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Posts Tagged ‘why

Thanks to a retweet by @engrg1, I read this excerpt from a book. But I was a bit concerned when I read it.

I do not have the full context of the chapter, but I think that the paragraph stands alone well.

I fully agree with the last sentence (the bits underlined at the end). It is a call to do with what you have instead of making excuses. Find the time! Raise the money! Create buy-in and ownership! Make the effort!

But I wonder about the long term wisdom of just focusing on the HOWs of change and not the WHYs of it. I am not referring to the resistive WHYs. I am referring to the WHYs that provide a mission and drive things forward.

Those WHYs fuel the HOWs of finding the time, raising the money, creating buy-in and ownership, and making the effort.

Sometimes I wonder if the conversations that my wife and I have over dinner and YouTube videos have any impact on my son.

Yes, we watch YouTube videos and not television programmes over dinner. We talk about them and we unconsciously model communication and thinking skills for our son. This was not obvious to me until a recent father-son chat.

Every weekday I ask my son about his school day and his homework. Practically every day the answers are the same: Meh, boring, and arrgh!

Except one day. My son asked me why he had to perform science experiments to answer questions they already knew the answers to.

How many teachers or research scientists ask themselves this question? It was a particularly good question because it critiqued the purpose of doing experiments and the strategy for teaching science.

The standard response to this question might revolve around learning or practising the scientific method. But the core issue is really about whether the focus is developing a discipline or being driven by curious discovery.

Any good teacher would want his/her students to have both. That said, I would wager that most teachers would err on the side of content delivery and disciplined thinking. But what if the teaching of science as a discipline takes out the joy of discovery?

This is one reason why we have the dichotomy of formal learning in school and informal learning elsewhere. There are rules, methods, and objectives in school, but they typically suck the life out of learning.

Outside of school the learning is looser and practically undisciplined in the sense that it does not start or end with subject silos, specific instructional objectives, or time-tested strategies.

The latter sort of learning is like how a child catches values, listening skills, and thinking skills at a daily setting like dinner conversation.

We need both formal and informal channels, of course. But I would err on the side of the informal if they are going to help my son develop the mindset he needs for his future.

Some people are driven by status and money. Some are driven by corporate missions.

But when the extrinsic motivations run out or are stripped away, what is left?

I think the difference between the mediocre and those who are good at what they do is the drive that stems from passion. But that too can waver.

One way to remain passionate about what you do is to ask why.

“Why” keeps you fresh, centred, and open to change. “Why” gets you in trouble too. But asking “why” is worth the trouble.

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Why? by Editor B, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  Editor B 

An ex-colleague who is now retired gave me some unsolicited advice: Don’t ask why. Just do. I told him that the day I stopped asking why would be the day I quit.

A recent string of events had me asking why again.

The Centre for e-Learning was asked to present at three external events over the last two weeks [1] [2]. Over the next two weeks we are organizing events within our institute. The differences in attendances at the external and internal events could not be more stark.

I compare workshops we organize for free (internally) and those we conduct for a fee (externally). I have to practically beg for people to attend the free internal events and turn away people from the often expensive external events.

Why do folks outside seem to appreciate what we do more than the people in our own organization?

I know the saying is that a prophet is often not welcome in his own home. But why?

Why ask why? I have a few answers, but not all of them.

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