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402 days. 402 (plus or minus… mostly minus) posts.

Tag: teaching

Day 113: Feynman’s Father

Two very good friends of mine became parents today. They are wonderful, intelligent and curious people, and I can only imagine their inquisitiveness will emerge in their daughter as well. I’m excited to watch her learn and grow.

Richard Feynman (1918—1988) was a theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize winner who introduced the concept of nanotechnoloy to the world in 1959. He was a brilliant and innovative man who, by all accounts, was delighted (tickled, really) with beauty and mystery of the world.

I don’t remember how I stumbled onto this footage of Feynman describing his relationship with his father, but it’s incredibly telling. Feynman describes a man who taught his son how to think critically, relate concepts to reality and seek deep understanding over base memorization. Although the video starts a little slowly, it’s a great six-minute watch.

“He knew the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something, which I learned very early … So, that’s the way I was educated by my father, with those kind of examples and discussions. With no pressure, just lovely, interesting discussion.” – Richard Feynman

Day 100: Borrowed from Bertrand

To celebrate 100 days of blogging, I’m taking a little blogging break tonight to figure out my taxes (Step 1. Look at pile of receipts. Step 2. Watch The Bachelor. Step 3. Look at pile of receipts again.). It’s going to be a long night.

While I shuffle paper and create the same spreadsheet five times over, I’m borrowing some content from philosopher, mathematician, historian and social critic Bertrand Russell.

Bertrand Russell

These are his 10 Commandments of Teaching. I love them and originally found them on my absolute favorite blog, Brain Pickings.

From Mr. Russell:

Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue, not intended to replace the old one but only to supplement it. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

  1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
  3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
  4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
  5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
  6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
  7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
  9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
  10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.