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.
When sharpening, a few variables produce the desired result:
- The quality of the sharpening steel
- Angle of approach
Most large group education uses:
- a lowest common denominator sharpening steel (so no one gets hurt),
- a sharp angle (a rigid, methodical approach)
- high pressure (homework, drill, grades and standardized testing).
I use the finest quality sharpening steel (Aristotle, Plato, Newton, Jefferson, Franklin, Emerson, Thoreau)
An angle of approach suited to you, today.
What will light the fire of curiosity and love of learning right now?
Low pressure, in fact, my life’s work is to create a safe, exciting bridge between your heart and mind and the great hearts and minds of our civilization.
What steel have you found most formative in your sharpening process?
I’d love to hear in comments below.
In my search for a meaningful path toward my own education, I’ve found the following thinkers and ideas useful. I started with Jefferson and Franklin, men I admired. I then looked to their favorite authors and educational methods. From there, my latticework continues to expand.
Literally, the walking around school led by Aristotle.
Imagine Aristotle leading discussions with his students as they wandered the grounds of the Lyceum in Athens.
Imagine Thomas Jefferson walking in the woods around Monticello late each afternoon after a long day of studying. He suggested his nephew, Peter Carr, take such walks.
Now, imagine your own child, mind filled with beautiful, challenging words and images, discussing them while walking through the woods near Battle Point park. We stop, read another passage, begin our discussion and continue talking as we walk over the bridge and up the hill. Hearts pumping, oxygenated blood flowing, minds racing to cement fresh connections.
What Aristotle and Jefferson knew from experience, modern science has proven.
Young people have bodies that need movement and brains in bodies in motion learn better.
See this interesting site on 12 Brain Rules, #1 is exercise.
So, my question is… why don’t more teachers teach moving children?
I work on the premise that iron sharpens iron.
To advance intellectually, we must run the mind up against even harder and sharper steel in the form of great writing about great ideas by great people. I work to ensure that this interaction creates the quantity and quality of friction that sharpens without cutting. See Mortimer Adler speak on this topic here (highly recommended)
To that end, I seek to hold creative tensions between:
Tools I use:
In a 1:1 tutoring or private class session we might:
In a public class or camp we might, on day 1:
Classical tutoring defined:
Private instruction given to a student by a highly skilled teacher focused solely on helping the student build a strong, broad academic base from which to build a habit of excellent life-long learning. These tutors often used the proven Enlightenment techniques of the Trivium and Quadrivium. In days of yore, only the extremely wealthy could afford this best of educations. Today, Christ Church college, part of Oxford University in England, still uses this 1:1 student:tutor method with famous results.
Christ Church says of its tutorial system,
The benefits for your student:
1. Undivided Attention – from a passionate, creative, patient teacher.
2. Tailored Curriculum – to meet the student’s and parents’ needs and interests.
3. Personal Pacing – to maintain your progress and active involvement.
4. Faster Progress – and increased momentum gained toward a love of life-long learning.
5. Advanced Skills – that classroom teachers would love to teach, but often can’t because they must “teach to the middle”.
6. Deep Insights – into the subject matter because little time is wasted on classroom management.
Using technology (Skype or Google Talk). this type of private tutoring relationship is now affordable and practical to deliver to families like yours.
Will this work for your student?
Yes, if your student is:
Contact us if you’d like to discuss the possibilities for your student.