Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Some follow up reading

During the first part of the class where we went over the blog posts and the possible reasons for why one might be charitable to others, I mentioned the book Excellent Sheep, which I'm currently reading. What I've read so far is not particularly uplifting, but you might find it interesting to shed light on your own circumstance.  The focus is on elite college students (think of the Ivy League) and the hoops they must jump through, how that effects them as learners and as human beings.  Outwardly creating the appearance of extraordinary competence, inwardly these students are quite miserable and full of doubt.  To the extent that you are just like the students characterized in this book, it provides an argument that all of you are deserving of empathy, from your peers and your teachers.

During the latter part of the class in discussing intrinsic motivation, I mentioned the concept known as Flow.  The link is to a book by that title.  With little effort, you should also be able to find a TED talk on the subject by the book's author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  It is my view that if you've learned that on occasion you can find Flow in what you do, and do so while engaged in an activity that brings some joy or value to others, then you're very close to finding your life's work.  And if you learned to do that while in college, then college was a very valuable time for you.

In my own reading, I read Flow after reading Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow.  I did that while teaching our course for the first time, when I only had 8 students and taught it as a seminar (but still there were attendance issues).  You might find this blog post I wrote at the time interesting as it tries to tie the various themes together.  I didn't check all the links in that post but I noticed the particular link to the bat and ball problem was broken, which is why I've provided an alternative here.

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