Warm and Foggy Weekend

We went to our first PathFUNDER tonight with Christopher Walter and Christy. The theme of the event was “an evening in the woods,” and it was executed wonderfully. There were birch tree artifacts everywhere, and, with permission, Lindsey absconded with a centerpiece! It was great to see former teachers and other familiar faces.


Church was interesting this morning. The children’s message was about maintaining balance in life. And the sermon reiterated that notion, and gave us the following acronym as a means of checking our balance.

SWEEPP. Sleep. Work. Eating. Exercise. Play. Prayer. If we are conscious of maintaining balance within and among those areas in life, then we should be doing okay!

After lunch at the Town Plaza with Dan and Peg, we went up to their house to meet Christy and pick up the baby stroller. Here’s a pick of us learning how to push it!


And another picture with the car seat in place.


On Looking Professional

Zack: You should cut your hair and trim your beard before you interview for an internship.
Me: I would definitely do that.

(I am a law student with shaggy hair and a beard. I don’t look like a lawyer should look. I’m aware of this. I just don’t care right now. When will I ever get a chance to carelessly grow a beard or have longer hair again? The fact that “I don’t know” is a possible answer to that question is reason enough for me to do it now – not later – not never.)

Walk to School

This is my walk from Xi Jiao Hotel to Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. These videos are about ten minutes each and nothing exciting happens. There is no sound because I was talking throughout and have no idea what I’m saying. I’ll try to fix that sometime. For now, just feast your eyes on lovely Beijing.

Update 2009: Video offline.

Why Homework?

Why are students assigned homework? Isn’t eight hours of school enough to get the lesson across? Do teachers like grading? I’m sure some of it is state mandated, but I think there should be some containment, if only because homework itself runs contrary to what we strive for later in life, which is establishing a separation between our work and our personal time. Children and teens should be taught that there is a place for work and a place for play, and that they shouldn’t be playing at school all day and working at home all night.

I’m talking about elementary and high school, mostly. Sometimes there is extraneous homework in college, but from experience it is usually avoidable or for your own benefit. Well, isn’t all homework for you’re own benefit? I don’t think so. College and graduate school are distinct from lower-ed in that you aren’t required to be at school for the same duration. You aren’t under the scope of a teacher for the same duration, so some guided study outside of class is helpful and necessary.

Don’t get me wrong, learning can be fun, but it should be contained. I think children would approach school with a better attitude if they were able to leave it behind when they boarded the school bus home. I remember working and feeling like I could never escape from my job because I felt obligated to take some of it home with me. To me this was almost normal, but others were aghast at how it effected me. To them work was just an nine hour drama that they could leave behind, while I drove home feeling like I was going to have a heart attack. Not fun.

What’s the difference? Did they grow up without homework? Ha… I don’t think so. But, the homework doesn’t help. Maybe I just liked what I was doing more. Who knows.

Academic Cred?

Robin Hanson posits that we go to school both to learn and to get credentials for learning. Depending on the type of person you are, the value of either may vary.

The basic assumption is that credentials indicate how much you’ve learned, however I believe there is a flaw in this reasoning. Credentials (grades, test scores, etc.) may indicate how much you have learned, but more likely they indicate how well you are able to learn. And from my experience the later is as important as the former. I read somewhere that education exists to teach us to tolerate undertaking tasks that we abhor. That’s a bit pessimistic, but there is some truth in it.

Are we hired for our knowledge or for our ability to acquire knowledge? It probably varies based on the position. High skill positions will likely require you to implement the tools acquired while in school, however a firm often requires you to reformat your knowledge. In other words, if you’re better able to adapt and learn their process you will excel.

Hanson suggests to grad students that they focus on content instead of format. That is great advice that I wholeheartedly agree with, however my personal experience is mixed. Compelling content was vastly more important that the format it was presented in when I worked at a digital entertainment company. Whereas in law school there is a huge amount of emphasis on format and structure – it’s suffocating at times, yet it is in the interest of clarity and efficiency.

The balance between learning for the sake of learning and learning to excel often conflict, and that has proved to be one of the most difficult things to cope with in law school. But the pursuit is rewarding and keeping the big picture in mind helps when you lose focus of the content and get stuck in the format.