Tuesday, January 17, 2006

How to Do What You Love

I just love Paul Graham's writing, especially when he veers into advising people what to do with their lives. That could be irritating if it was done poorly, but he does it in such a warm, funny way that I want to read it again and again. How to Do What You Love:
"Teachers in particular all seemed to believe implicitly that work was not fun. Which is not surprising: work wasn't fun for most of them. Why did we have to memorize state capitals instead of playing dodgeball? For the same reason they had to watch over a bunch of kids instead of lying on a beach. You couldn't just do what you wanted.

I'm not saying we should let little kids do whatever they want. They may have to be made to work on certain things. But if we make kids work on dull stuff, it might be wise to tell them that tediousness is not the defining quality of work, and indeed that the reason they have to work on dull stuff now is so they can work on more interesting stuff later."
My interest in his advice relates to my thesis -- I'm coming to see that in a world where our work and learning are becoming more self-directed (or we'd like it to, anyway), we're finding that we're not particularly good at identifying and pursuing the goals that will make us happy. Schools have been making decisions about our education for us, and employers decide what we should be working on, both organizations "freeing" us from having to decide what we really need/want to learn and work on. I think the web has helped many of us realize that we have the resources and power to make these decisions for ourselves.

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Just a note for myself...Stephen linked to a good follow-up post from Rob Wall.