Fascinating, simple, useful. Take conscious control of your habits and you’re suddenly consciously creating your own life.
As I sit in business and board meetings, I notice that few people take notes.
I wonder if they have better memories than I do, but then, I realize that they have been trained, like most of our society, to let content wash gently over them and pass by un-noted, un-synthesized, un-digested.
One of the most powerful differentiators I’ve found in life, both in academic and professional settings is the skill and habit of taking clear notes.
I came across an interesting piece in the Atlantic recently re: note taking with some important tips and perspective on note taking.
If civilization is based on learning from and building upon the best thinking that’s gone before, then note taking must be one of the keys to building or at least fighting entropy in our civilization.
I do not agree that the best notes are taken on a PC. I may be old school, but I can write/draw/think much more quickly with pen and paper than I can with a computer. If some hand-written notes turn out to benefit from digitization later, I can quickly dictate them into text using my Android phone. Capture and synthesis the most difficult and valuable part of the process, digitization falls far down on my list of priorities.
The last point in the Atlantic article mentions note’s usefulness in court, but I find them useful in any setting where differences in recall or opinion might creep in. The power of the scribe is a well-known and very useful phenomena, essentially, the person who creates the written record (notes, legal agreements, historical interpretations, etc.) have a special power over the written record of the event. Harold Innis has an interesting perspective on the power of the scribe through history and in the refinement or entropy of our current civilization.
I came across a very simple implementation of the ideas from the Atlantic article in the Cornell Note Taking Method.
The division of labor leads to specialization leads to great efficiency, but probably not in the case of business leadership.
Charlie Munger has a fascinating perspective on educating business leaders that were excerpted on Farnam Street.
In my experience, history was the ideal course of study in preparing for business leadership. It is, essentially, the study of causation, including analysis of all possible contributing factors, not just the engineering, psychological, technical, or cultural variable sets.
Of course, in business, studying history often takes the form of case studies.
Has over specialization and turf protection blinded business leaders to larger issues and insights that case studies of business success and failure might reveal?
How could analysts pushing collateralized debt obligations not see the house of cards they were building? Were they missing the forest for the trees because their education and the culture they worked in were overly specialized?
Munger’s wisdom not only makes sense, it has earned him (and Buffet) some real dollars.
This great blog post by Maira Kalman of the NY Times sums up why I love teaching Franklin! Read her blog post here
Here’s a taste of her post.
Franklin has much to teach both young and old about a life of learning and productivity.
When I published my summer course catalog focused on middle and high school students I had no idea what was coming!
Many adults asked, “What about me?” and “How about my curious elementary-aged student?”
So, by way of clarification and expansion:
Elementary/Grammar Stage Students:
I am happy to adjust (or create) courses for younger children. I homeschool my children ages 5 and 8.
It’s never too early to read poetry together and talk about the images it creates in our mind, how those images affect us, and how poets feel, notice, think, and write. I particularly love Robert Louis Stevenson’s, A Garden of Children’s Verses; it’s even illustrated by the illustrious Tasha Tudor. Of course American history, natural history of the Northwest, creative writing, and drawing all have their place along the trail.
While I appreciate the Trivium, I do not completly agree that children are buckets to be filled with facts during the “Pol Parrot” stage as Dorothy Sayers and other advocate (You know who you are, Susan W-B!).
I strive to offer balanced nutrition to body, soul, and mind especially at this young age because I agree with William Butler Yeats:
Education is not filling a bucket but lighting a fire.
In young students, so eager to soak up the world around them, I find the ideal kindling for starting fires that will last a lifetime.
Middle School/Logic Stage Students:
High School/Rhetoric Stage Students:
Life-long Learners/Adult Students:
- Dedicated time to pursue studies.
- A clear plan of study that’s motivating.
- A safe place to know what you know and learn what you want to learn without self-consciousness.
Working out is easy, all we have to do is walk out the front door and keep going and yet, personal trainers exist because a combination of encouragement, kind instruction, and accountability yeilds greater results for most people than “Just Do It.”
- Do you wish you understood current events, history and geography better?
- Do you miss the fine literature you read in college?
- Do you wish you could capture the moments of your life more beautifully in words or in photographs?
- Do you fear becoming one-dimensional with the focus your work requires?
What would you like to learn?