Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Unfair advantage and reward, and how to get them.

It's not all in the genes.

This is a very intriguing post by Half Sigma, on memory versus active intelligence. There's a rich field to be explore here, about getting and maintaining advantage.

It's also about starting early - as early as pre-pregnancy, according to a doctor friend (and Phil Hammond). For example, the womb needs to be in good condition, not shrivelled by a smoking habit. It''s said that the foetus will steal whatever it needs, so surely there needs to be plenty of the right vitamins and minerals in the mother's body. And after birth, early, plentiful and positive emotional and intellectual stimulation.

Then there's education - being taught principles and strategies. I read somewhere that in Japan, trainee professional Go players aren't allowed to learn through play until their reading has brought them up to 1-Dan level (sort of like Black Belt). That's instead of learning the hard way. In any case, does the hard way actually teach you? Or do you decide to try harder next time? Or tell yourself the other guy was lucky? Or maybe just give up?

And the right social and professional connections. And choosing the right career, and the right place for it to flourish.

Some years ago, I watched a programme about a very senior British civil servant/politician in Hong Kong at the time of the handover to China. He quoted what appears to be an old saw, though I hadn't heard it before: "Eat right, work right, marry right."


Nick Drew said...

You're in education, Sackers - what's your view on the theory that schoolkids eating rubbish 'food' at lunchtime makes them hyper all afternoon, and wipes out half the school day accordingly ?

(as well as making life on the buses hell for everyone else at chucking-out time)

Sackerson said...

Things have changed. When the cafeteria system first came in years ago and kids could have whatever they wanted, it was chips and blue pop every day. And the schools brought in chocolate bar/crisp vending machines. There was a lot of fuss and that's all gone, and kids are given access to fruit, milk and water at break. I think a lot of their behaviour relates to fractured relationships at home, plus TV and computer games, plus gang culture and music. And adults just don't take enough interest.

Paddington said...

In the US, I believe that much of the problem, apart from crap food, is that many of the young boys don't exercise. If they walked to school, or ran for 30 minutes a day, a lot of the fussing would probably go away.

Elby the Beserk said...


You clearly haven't been on a bus with schoolkids in a long time. They are sugared out of their heads before they get to school, climbing on the the bus with sweets and fizzy drinks a gogo, as if breakfast at home was not an option.

In the good old days when education made sense, you did the work requiring concentration in the morning, and then after lunch, physical activity and art/handwork/manual activity.

Bottom line is that kids will do whatever their parents let them get away with; for a large chunk of the population this is now life in front of a screen with packaged "food" for sustenance.

And here we are today...

James Higham said...

That adage at the end is so true, particularly the last bit.