One of the big influences for me when I started personal blogging, as opposed to blogging about education, was Zen Habits. It doesn’t look like it, but it’s one of the most viewed blogs on the web, with more than two million readers.
It’s written by Leo Babauta, who was recently interviewed on The Tim Ferriss Show. The podcast episode a great listen for a number of reasons, but I want to focus in on one thing that’s touched on briefly.
Babauta explains that he has six children, with four from his and his partner’s previous marriages, and the two they’ve had together. Some have gone to school, and some have been unschooled:
Unschooling is an informal learning that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Unschoolers learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Often considered a lesson- and curriculum-free implementation of homeschooling, unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods in standardized tests, forced contact with children in their own age group, the compulsion to do homework, regardless of whether it helps you in your individual situation, the effectiveness of listening to and obeying the orders of one authority figure for several hours each day, and other features of traditional schooling in the education of each unique child. Wikipedia
The point he makes is a simple one: if children are always brought up to be told what to do next, to be given a path, then how will they find a path of their own as adults?
He doesn’t make the connection explicitly, but my next thought was that this is perhaps why the default option for most people after school / college / university is to get a job in a hierarchical organisation with a boss telling you what to do.
The radical thing to do, and the thing which is much more empowering, is to reject persistent hierarchy and coercive power relations altogether. Instead, approaches such as consent-based decision making are the way forward. No-one needs someone telling them what to do all of the time — including children.
This post is Day 83 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com.
Ryan Holiday has a monthly newsletter where he shares what he’s reading. It’s got tens of thousands of subscribers. Seth Godin has a daily blog where he shares short thoughts. Hundreds of thousands of people read it. Tim Ferriss records a podcast listened to by millions of people.
When these three authors write books, they go straight to the top of the bestseller lists. Why? Because they’ve proactively built a community of people interested in work they’re giving away for free. Their audience is, for want of a better word, ‘primed’ to reciprocate when there’s something available to buy.
Most of us aren’t working on things that millions of people would pay attention to. But almost everyone is working on something that 100 people would pay attention to, or 1,000. And, at various times, we all have ‘asks’, things that we’d like other people to do. It could be buy a thing, but also test or give feedback on an idea.
Too often, I see people ask for help and get no reply. We could chalk that down to a lack of kindness, or no-one caring. Or we could stop a moment and ponder… Have I been generous? Have I given without any thought of receiving? Have I primed anyone (or any group of people) to respond?
This post is Day 67 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com
I’ve just been listening to an episode of the Tim Ferris Show podcast in which he answers some questions from the community. One of them was essentially about remaining productive when you’re having an off day. Tim answered this by talking about ‘decision fatigue’ and suggested scripting the first 30 mins or hour of your day to get into the right mindset.
This is a great idea and something I’ve kind of meaning to write about for a while. I’ve got a half-finished post about President Obama’s advice to limit the decisions you make – even about clothing.
So here we go. Here’s what I do every morning. It might be a slight update from what I wrote for My Morning Routine.
1. Wake up without an alarm clock. This means that it’s not always exactly the same time, but it also means it’s likely to be a ‘softer’ awakening.
2. Get the children breakfast. I try to start their day off well by being interested in what they’ve got to say. I sit down with them at the table and have a cup of camomile tea.
3. Go to the toilet. I check Twitter while I’m there. Well, at least I’m honest.
4. Make my wife a cup of tea. I take it up to her while she’s getting dressed.
5. Get my daughter dressed. She can do most of this now herself as she’s almost four years old. However, she can struggle with some buttons, etc.
6. Wash myself. I go to the gym or swimming every day and have a shower afterwards, so this is quick.
7. Do press-ups, sit-ups, etc. I use my roll mat for this as we have a wooden floor in our bedroom.
8. Get myself dressed. Depending on how I feel I’ll wear jeans and a shirt/jumper or else a t-shirt and a hoodie.
9. Help my son. He alternates between Khan Academy and Duolingo for a week at a time. It’s had a demonstrable effect on his numeracy and French skills.
10. Have breakfast. This is usually just a slice of toast with butter. About an hour before exercise I’ll eat a banana.
This routine is flexible. Kids are wonderful at being able to play and amuse themselves, so sometimes this takes an hour, sometimes two. It depends. Every morning I walk them to school, which I consider a real privilege.
I’ve just realised that the above makes it sound like I do everything while my wife does nothing. That’s certainly not the case! She makes the house run like clockwork. I’m a mere cog. 😉
The thing missing for me is time to take my own emotional temperature. Usually I dive straight into work when I should probably read more Baltasar Gracián first!