Christina backs up each of her recommendations with scientific sources. None of the advice is bad. I have put a star next to the items which seem particularly good overall.
Below you will find an assortment of other snippets of advice from Christina. Feel free to apply it or not, according to your own situation. The idea is to listen to strategies that work for a variety of people, just in case something they do will also work for you.
Take small but concrete steps to turn large visions into reality
“Large visions or dreams can be very daunting, which is why so many people will live their lives without even attempting to realize them. I have found that taking small but concrete steps towards my visions leads to relatively quick and tangible rewards.
If it can be done in a minute, do it now
“The best productivity advice I’ve received (and put into practice every day) is that if something comes across your desk that will take less than 60 seconds to complete, do it immediately.
Set aside a few minutes each night to reflect on all of the day’s events
“As I do so, I jot down in a journal the biggest takeaways from each day in an effort to retain lessons learned.
Say no often
“Focus on the trade-off. The more I think about what I’m giving up when I say ‘yes’ to something, the easier it is to say ‘no.’
Schedule time for self-care, both physically and mentally
“I specifically designate time in my calendar each day to work some sort of physical activity into my afternoon, and I prefer to spend this time alone. Whether through a full workout or simply a walk around the perimeter of the office, I find that being on my own during this time helps me think clearly without distractions.
Make the bed
“Making the bed each morning is the easiest way to start your day with a win.
“I regularly invest 15 minutes in a day to talk with someone whom I typically wouldn’t talk with but is related or has some interest in something I am focused on–this could be either professionally or personally.
Make time for music
“Keeping a positive attitude about work is important to me. Positivity helps you better connect with colleagues, customers, and partners, and it makes you more memorable in their eyes. To stay positive, I make time for music every day.
Get outside your comfort zone
“Embrace the unexpected and pursue the unfamiliar. I try to do, read, listen to, watch (or even eat) something new every day. Whether that’s related to my professional development or personal enjoyment. I’ve observed over my career that those who are able to draw from a vast base of knowledge or variety of experiences have an advantage.
Read before picking up a device
“Every morning, before reaching for any electronic devices, I like to read for 30-40 minutes, generally books on philosophy or a good biography. Most recently, I read Seneca: Letters from a Stoic.”
Stretch, breathe, swim, and set goals
“It’s important to have a clear mind each morning in order to have the most productive day possible. I wake up each morning and have 15 minutes to myself to stretch and be aware of my breathing to relax my mind. Afterwards, I get my body moving by swimming for 30 minutes in order to increase my mental wellness, improve blood flow, and get ready to tackle the day.
Remember the difference between a productive innovator and an executive decision maker. Christina’s advice in the article above suggests that she is more of an executive decision maker, constantly distracted by meetings, interruptions, and memos. Deep-working innovators and creators will have a slightly different approach to getting things done.
It is hard enough raising an ordinary child to be successful. How much harder it is to raise a Dangerous Child, with all the sharp but polished edges that implies. So first learn the basics well, then refine your approach with the greater project in mind.
The spirit and determination for a successful life must come from within the child — you cannot provide it. But you can provide the wisdom of your experience to help shape and nurture that spirit and determination as it grows and becomes manifest. __ Source
The following article is republished from the Al Fin Next Level blog. Those who are familiar with the topics in the Dangerous Child blog find much that is familiar to them.
Mainstream Coed Schools are Failing Boys
Girls read more books. They outperform boys on tests for artistic and musical ability. More girls than boys study abroad. More join the Peace Corps. At the same time, more boys than girls are suspended from school. More [boys] are held back and more drop out. Boys are three times as likely to receive a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. More boys than girls are involved in crime, alcohol, and drugs. Girls attempt suicide more often than boys, but it is boys who more often succeed. __ The War Against Boys
For some odd reason, modern schools are designed around the needs of girls. It should be no surprise then that girls are thriving in schools from K through university, while in comparison boys are languishing.
Boys need more physical activity, more risk taking activities, and more rough and tumble play. Most female teachers are not comfortable with giving boys these needful things. And so schools continue to put boys through hell, which disadvantages many of them throughout their education — which is too often curtailed as a result.
Simple changes to the pace and tempo of the school day, such as incorporating several brief recesses throughout the day, devoting more time to physical education, and including more hands-on activities go a long way towards alleviating some of the natural restlessness of boys and harnessing male energy in positive ways. How much Ritalin could remain on the shelves if we created schools that are ready for boys rather than boys who are ready for schools? __ Lori Day
Boys have a different style of learning than girls. According to a study titled “Teaching Boys: A Global Study in Effective Practices” by Dr. Michael Reichert and Dr. Richard Hawley, eight categories of instruction seem to succeed particularly with boys:
Lessons that result in an end product—a booklet, a catapult, a poem, or a comic strip, for example.
Lessons that are structured as competitive games.
Lessons requiring motor activity.
Lessons requiring boys to assume responsibility for the learning of others.
Lessons that require boys to address open questions or unsolved problems.
Lessons that require a combination of competition and teamwork.
Lessons that focus on independent, personal discovery and realization.
Lessons that introduce drama in the form of novelty or surprise.
Most K-12 schools are not boy-friendly, and in the same way most modern universities are not man-friendly. But universities and university departments that still care about competing in male-dominant fields will usually find a way to treat male students in a fair and equitable manner.
Young men may be a vanishing breed on the college campus, but there are some colleges that have no trouble attracting them—schools whose names include the letters T-E-C-H. Georgia Tech is 68 percent male; Rochester Institute of Technology, 68 percent; South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, 74 percent. This affinity pattern points to one highly promising strategy for reconnecting boys with school: vocational education, now called Career and Technical Education (CTE). __ How to Make School Better for Boys
Locking kids indoors for seven or eight hours each day may be good for most girls, but it is hell on boys. Boys need exercise — lots of exercise. And they need to learn to take physical risks, something that is strictly forbidden at most schools.
We overprotect kids, trying to keep them safe from all physical dangers–which ultimately increases their likelihood of real health issues.
We inhibit children’s academic growth (especially among boys), because the lack of physical activity makes it harder for them to concentrate.
When they fail to conform quietly to this low-energy paradigm, we over-diagnose or even punish kids for reacting the way they’re naturally built to react.
Most boys are rambunctious. Often they seem like they’re in a constant state of motion: running, jumping, fighting, playing, getting hurt–maybe getting upset–and getting right back into the physical action.
Except at school, where they’re required to sit still for long periods of time. (And when they fail to stay still, how are they punished? Often by being forced to skip recess–and thus sit still even longer.) __ Boys Need to Move
Researchers in Finland discovered that boys do better in reading and math when they are allowed more physical activity, with less time sitting in a classroom. Girls did not need nearly so much exercise as boys, according to the Finnish researchers. We should pay attention to the suggestion that boys and girls may benefit from entirely different approaches to schooling and child raising.
Very young children such as toddlers between 1 and 4 years, need at least three hours a day of exercise, broken up into shorter segments of time. Older children are said by various agencies of the US government to need at least one hour of exercise daily, but the real benefits for boys probably come from at least three hours a day of exercise for older children as well as younger ones. This would most easily take the form of roughly 15 minutes of exercise out of every hour of waking time. In other words, short periods of exercise throughout the day, interspersed with longer periods of other activities such as eating, dressing, schooling, homework, and occasional longer exercise periods.
The current guidelines for children 6 to 17 years of age include being physically active for at least 60 minutes or more each day with aerobic, muscle and bone strengthening activities. __ Source
A unique approach to schooling known as “forest schools” seems to offer benefits for boys (and probably some girls) which cannot be obtained at conventional schools. Here are some possible benefits from forest schools:
1. Building confidence and independence
Building dens, navigating with a compass and using a knife in woodwork are just some of the activities that instil children with confidence and a sense of independence.
“Children feel empowered as they learn more about their own natural environment,” explains Worroll.
2. Feeling empathy for others and nature
Working as a team in a natural setting bonds children as a group. It also makes them aware of the need to care for each other and for the environment.
3. Physical fitness
Running around and climbing trees develops muscle strength, aerobic fitness, and coordination. A Scottish study found activity levels were 2.2 times higher in a typical Forest School day than during a school day that included PE lessons.
4. Health benefits
Studies have highlighted a multitude of health benefits to being outside -sunlight and soil microorganisms boost the body’s levels of serotonin, the chemical linked to feelings of wellbeing, while vitamin D, which is essential for bone and muscle health, is also provided by the sun’s rays.
5. Improved mental health
Today’s children are experiencing increased stress caused by a range of pressures, from school exams to social media. Mental-health professionals acknowledge that maintaining a relationship with nature can be very helpful in supporting children’s emotional and mental wellbeing.
6. Learning by experience
Research suggests young children learn best from experience, by using their senses actively rather than passively, and it’s via these experiences that learning remains with us into adulthood.
7. Exposure to manageable risk
At Forest School, children can run and make a noise, get their hands dirty and experience manageable risk, which is essential for healthy child development, through activities such as supervised fire building and cooking.
8. Better sleep and mood
Children – and adults – sleep more deeply after either playing outside or going for a long walk, and mood lifts just from breathing in a few lungfuls of fresh air.
9. Learning about spiritual meaning
Outside the confines of four walls, without the distractions of electronic devices and excessive supervision, children can move, explore and discover at their own pace, connecting to the natural world – a place not created by man, that had deep spiritual meaning for our ancestors. __ Benefits of Forest School
It should be clear that boys need more exposure to the outdoors and to manageable risks, as well as to rough and tumble play and physical exercise in general. Forest schools seem to offer one possible solution to this puzzle that is caused by innate sex differences in educational needs. Clearly many possible solutions to the needs of boy students are possible — if society chose to make boys as much a priority for the future as it has made of girls.
There is a strong argument to be made that boys and girls should be educated in separate classrooms — if not in separate schools. This is not politically correct, but then most wise and effective ideas and most profound truths in this world are not politically correct in this age. We must do the best we can anyway, and make sure that we outlive the insanity.
We may have to fight some of the most powerful corporations in big technology, however:
Big Tech is Making the Problem Worse
The average age of children given their first smartphone is 10 years, in the US. Boys are often given video games much earlier. These electronic devices can bring unhealthy obsessions — leading to less exercise, more sedentary time, and less direct face to face social contact with family and friends. The impact on children and adolescents of such obsessions with electronic devices and social media has yet to be well defined.
There is a preponderance of evidence that social media and smartphone usage seriously damage the mental health of adolescents. Suicide rates among adolescents and young women have skyrocketed from 2007 to 2017.
Smartphones and social media consumption by adolescents are intertwined. Almost all the social media platforms and smartphones are supplied by the following five Big Tech companies: Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Apple. These five companies have a total market cap of $3.5 Trillion. They are the wealthiest and most powerful companies in the world.
Both boys and girls should have limited contact with sophisticated electronic devices, social media, and uncontrolled access to the internet until at least the mid teen years. The social life of family, school activities, play, as well as their experiencing of the natural world around them — and reading — should take up most of their time. Developing their skills of movement, pattern, music, and language, should take up most of the rest of their waking hours that are not devoted to necessities such as eating and such.
The War Against Boys Continues
Boys are different from girls, and should be raised and educated differently. Modern feminists are determined to continue their war against boys, however. They see no need to accommodate the needs of males at this time, when men are disappearing from so many college campuses.
As long as radical feminists hold dominant positions in government, media, academia, foundations, NGOs, corporate human resources departments, etc., boys and men — and those who love them — will continue fighting an uphill battle. Homeschooling may work in some cases — if it incorporates self-teaching, self-discipline, and self-guidance — as in the Robinson Curriculum.
Vocational high schools and post-secondary schools can provide useful skills that allow boys to generate incomes and experience in the world of money. There are many areas of employment that continue to be dominated by males for strong practical reasons. And there are still some conventional grammar schools, high schools, colleges and universities that try to treat males fairly, overall.
In much of the western world, we are living in a politically correct age of insanity. But these things tend to occur in cycles, so look for your chance to wound this PC turkey at every opportunity — and be ready to finish it off when the time comes.
Are boys and girls the same on the inside? Are their hearts, lungs, and brains the same? Should we expect to see identical achievement and performance from men and women, once the playing field is leveled?
Perhaps twenty or thirty years ago an educated person might have been excused for denying any differences in structure and function between the brains of human males and human females. But things have changed.
… over the past 15 years or so, there’s been a sea change as new technologies have generated a growing pile of evidence that there are inherent differences in how men’s and women’s brains are wired and how they work. __ Neurobiologist Nirao Shah
If not for the Y chromosome gene Sry, no embryonic testicles would be produced. If not for embryonic testicles and their large-scale production of testosterone, no males — and no male brains — would be produced.
Many sex differences in adult brain structure and behaviors are the result of in utero organizational effects of gonadal steroid hormones, in particular androgens and their aromatized derivatives, estrogens, both of which are present in substantially higher concentrations in male fetuses due to testicular steroidogenesis. Brain differences between the sexes can also arise from diverse factors, including the expression of genes carried on the sex chromosomes and discrepancies in maternal treatment of male and female progeny. Together, these factors mediate differences in neurogenesis, myelination, synaptic pruning, dendritic branching, axonal growth, apoptosis, and other neuronal parameters. __ Neuroscientist Margaret McCarthy in The Scientist
Neuroscientists have been homing in on brain differences between men and women for many decades. Thanks to better tools for brain imaging and genetic analysis, our understanding of these stark sex differences is growing clearer and more detailed.
Sex differences in lower animals often reflect sex differences in humans, providing a clue that a large part of human sex differences in brain and behaviour have been programmed in by long periods of evolution.
… animal-research findings resonated with sex-based differences ascribed to people. These findings continue to accrue. In a study of 34 rhesus monkeys, for example, males strongly preferred toys with wheels over plush toys, whereas females found plush toys likable. It would be tough to argue that the monkeys’ parents bought them sex-typed toys or that simian society encourages its male offspring to play more with trucks. A much more recent study established that boys and girls 9 to 17 months old — an age when children show few if any signs of recognizing either their own or other children’s sex — nonetheless show marked differences in their preference for stereotypically male versus stereotypically female toys.
… “These findings have all been replicated,”… Women excel in several measures of verbal ability — pretty much all of them, except for verbal analogies. Women’s reading comprehension and writing ability consistently exceed that of men, on average. They outperform men in tests of fine-motor coordination and perceptual speed. They’re more adept at retrieving information from long-term memory.
Men, on average, can more easily juggle items in working memory. They have superior visuospatial skills: They’re better at visualizing what happens when a complicated two- or three-dimensional shape is rotated in space, at correctly determining angles from the horizontal, at tracking moving objects and at aiming projectiles. __ Stanford Medicine
A large meta-analysis of brain volumetric studies recently established that there are significant sex differences in the volumes of various compartments of the brain.
On average, males have larger total brain volumes than females. Examination of the breakdown of studies providing total volumes by age categories indicated a bias towards the 18–59 year-old category. Regional sex differences in volume and tissue density include the amygdala, hippocampus and insula, areas known to be implicated in sex-biased neuropsychiatric conditions.
… On average, males have larger grey matter volume in bilateral amygdalae, hippocampi, anterior parahippocampal gyri, posterior cingulate gyri, precuneus, putamen and temporal poles, areas in the left posterior and anterior cingulate gyri, and areas in the cerebellum bilateral VIIb, VIIIa and Crus I lobes, left VI and right Crus II lobes. Females on average have larger volume at the right frontal pole, inferior and middle frontal gyri, pars triangularis, planum temporale/parietal operculum, anterior cingulate gyrus, insular cortex, and Heschl’s gyrus; bilateral thalami and precuneus; the left parahippocampal gyrus and lateral occipital cortex (superior division). __ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3969295/
These results can only be considered preliminary, although they came from a large set of compiled data from 126 detailed scientific studies of male and female brain and brain compartment volumes.
Human Males and Females Have Complementary Brain Talents
The study below used brain tensor imaging to look at the brains of 428 young human males and 521 young human females.
Sex differences are of enduring scientific and societal interest because of their prominence in the behavior of humans and nonhuman species (1). Behavioral differences may stem from complementary roles in procreation and social structure; examples include enhanced motor and spatial skills and greater proclivity for physical aggression in males and enhanced verbally mediated memory and social cognition in females (2, 3). With the advent of neuroimaging, multiple studies have found sex differences in the brain (4) that could underlie the behavioral differences. Males have larger crania, proportionate to their larger body size, and a higher percentage of white matter (WM), which contains myelinated axonal fibers, and cerebrospinal fluid (5), whereas women demonstrate a higher percentage of gray matter after correcting for intracranial volume effect (6). Sex differences in the relative size and shape of specific brain structures have also been reported (7), including the hippocampus, amygdala (8, 9), and corpus callosum (CC) (10). Furthermore, developmental differences in tissue growth suggest that there is an anatomical sex difference during maturation (11, 12), although links to observed behavioral differences have not been established.
The study revealed fundamental sex differences in brain structural architectures of young human males and females. Such structural differences will need to be correlated with behavioural differences — such as the differences in choices of occupations which have proven to be so troubling to feminist academics and policy-makers.
Larger Study in Brains of Grown Men and Women Reveals More Sex Differences
In the new study, a team of researchers led by psychologist Stuart Ritchie, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh, turned to data from UK Biobank, an ongoing, long-term biomedical study of people living in the United Kingdom with 500,000 enrollees. A subset of those enrolled in the study underwent brain scans using MRI. In 2750 women and 2466 men aged 44–77, Ritchie and his colleagues examined the volumes of 68 regions within the brain, as well as the thickness of the cerebral cortex, the brain’s wrinkly outer layer thought to be important in consciousness, language, memory, perception, and other functions.
Adjusting for age, on average, they found that women tended to have significantly thicker cortices than men. Thicker cortices have been associated with higher scores on a variety of cognitive and general intelligence tests. Meanwhile, men had higher brain volumes than women in every subcortical region they looked at, including the hippocampus (which plays broad roles in memory and spatial awareness), the amygdala (emotions, memory, and decision-making), striatum (learning, inhibition, and reward-processing), and thalamus (processing and relaying sensory information to other parts of the brain).
When the researchers adjusted the numbers to look at the subcortical regions relative to overall brain size, the comparisons became much closer: There were only 14 regions where men had higher brain volume and 10 regions where women did. __ Sciencemag
The point is not that men have larger brains than women. The important thing is to look at specific brain regions where men’s brains seem more developed, and compare this with the specific brain regions where women’s brains seem more developed. Then you can move forward in the attempt to correlate brain developmental and functional differences with the abundant real-world behavioural differences between men and women.
A Closer Look at the Above Study
… performance on mental rotation tasks (Maeda and Yoon 2013) and physical aggression (Archer 2004) are on average higher in males, whereas self-reported interest in people versus things (Su et al. 2009) and the personality traits of neuroticism (Schmitt et al. 2008) and agreeableness (Costa et al. 2001) are on average higher in females. A full explanation of these cognitive and behavioral phenomena might benefit from a better understanding of brain sex differences.
… There is more to sex differences than averages: there are physical and psychological traits that tend to be more variable in males than females. The best-studied human phenotype in this context has been cognitive ability: almost universally, studies have found that males show greater variance in this trait (Deary et al. 2007a; Johnson et al. 2008; Lakin 2013; though see Iliescu et al. 2016). This has also been found for academic achievement test results (themselves a potential consequence of cognitive differences, which are known to predict later educational achievement; Deary et al. 2007b; Machin and Pekkarinen 2008; Lehre et al. 2009a, 2009b), other psychological characteristics such as personality (Borkenau et al. 2013), and a range of physical traits such as athletic performance (Olds et al. 2006), and both birth and adult weight (Lehre et al. 2009a). __ Cerebral Cortex Ritchie et al 2018
The greater variance in cognitive ability in males as compared to females is another source of concern for feminists in academia, politics, and in both governmental and non-governmental bureaucracies.
Men Dominate at the Highest Levels
Whether looking at the number of male vs. female CEOs of large corporations, leaders of governments, winners of Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals, top chefs, most skilled chess grandmasters, the best aircraft pilots, the most dominant athletes, top surgeons, best violinists, most successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, etc. etc. — males tend to outnumber females.
Charles Murray’s masterful book “Human Accomplishment” looked at the achievements of top mathematicians, scientists, artists, etc. between the years 800 BC and 1950 CE. Murray discovered that — just as in contemporary Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals — men vastly outnumber men when it comes to historical accomplishments.
Murray found that women consistently make different career choices than men, which divert them from the path of great achievement time after time.
The women with careers were 4.5 times as likely as men to say they preferred to work less than 40 hours a week. The men placed greater importance on “being successful in my line of work” and “inventing or creating something that will have an impact,” while the women found greater value in “having strong friendships,” “living close to parents and relatives” and “having a meaningful spiritual life.” As the authors concluded, “these men and women appear to have constructed satisfying and meaningful lives that took somewhat different forms.” The different forms, which directly influence the likelihood that men will dominate at the extreme levels of achievement, are consistent with a constellation of differences between men and women that have biological roots.
… Men take more risks, are more competitive and are more aggressive than women. The word testosterone may come to mind, and appropriately. Much technical literature documents the hormonal basis of personality differences that bear on sex differences in extreme and venturesome effort, and hence in extremes of accomplishment–and that bear as well on the male propensity to produce an overwhelming proportion of the world’s crime and approximately 100% of its wars.
But this is just one more of the ways in which science is demonstrating that men and women are really and truly different, a fact so obvious that only intellectuals could ever have thought otherwise. __ Charles Murray
And yet, both intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals in positions of influence and power continue to force destructive policies on institutions such as universities, government agencies, corporations, and others — and are fully backed by the inferior intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals who infest most mass media outlets.
…the two siblings had something of an inflated understanding of their abilities, developed from their being fresh-faced, and still in need of a few life lessons learned. So they marched themselves into the men’s ATP office to announce rather confidently they were ready to beat any tour player ranked around the Top 200 if someone wanted to take the challenge.
It just so happened that Karsten Braasch of Germany, once a top-40 player, but at the time ranked 203rd, was in ear shot. He thought it would be fun so stepped up to say he’d be happy to take them on.
The date was set and the day arrived. Braasch played a warmup round of golf in the morning, then came to Melbourne Park. The threesome went out to a back court where each sister would have a one-set shot at Braasch. Word had spread around the grounds that the event wsa taking place, which caused tournament officials to restrict admittance to the area to only those with badges.
Braasch would smoke cigarettes and sip beer during the changeovers, and to be honest no longer looked the part of a fit professional athlete. It made no matter. Braasch led 5-0 over Serena before winning the set 6-1, and then posted a 6-2 set victory over Venus.
Society cannot afford to live in a make-believe world where its best women are just as capable in all areas as its best men. It isn’t true, and it is a great waste of talent from both sexes to try to prove the egalitarian ideal.
And so we are faced with a world that needs the best of all of its talented people — male and female. But our bureaucratic planners and policy-makers refuse to allow our best people to do their best. Instead, these functionaries insist on quotas, mandates, affirmative actions, and a long list of other ruinously expensive and damaging regulations and policies that handicap us from doing our best.
In a large sample of mathematically gifted youths, for example, seven times as many males as females scored in the top percentile of the SAT mathematics test. We do not have good test data on the male-female ratio at the top one-hundredth or top one-thousandth of a percentile, where first-rate mathematicians are most likely to be found, but collateral evidence suggests that the male advantage there continues to increase, perhaps exponentially. __ Charles Murray
A strong dose of reality at the highest levels is needed, but it is not clear who will do the dosing — and whether anyone in need of the dose will be capable of learning anything from it.
Dangerous Children can provide a useful antidote to the zombie world of widespread academic lobotomy and politically correct drone minds that dominate in media, academia, government, corporate bureaucracies, activist groups, and other social institutions.
Social engineers would like to destroy the past and start afresh, programming young minds with the new agenda. But the past is written in our genes and manifest in our brains and bodies, generation after generation. The “new agenda” of the social engineers contradicts what any discerning person can see before their eyes — and today’s new agenda quickly becomes the “old agenda” as new whims and fads for social engineering invariably emerge. Without a solid foundation, such ideologies become like layers of slime upon slime.
One of the things that sets Dangerous Children apart is their minds. They learn to think for themselves, and use their own inner compass to determine what to do.
Deep Work is the ability to focus intensely on a problem for hours at a time, bringing all of your cognitive skills to the task — and shutting out almost everything else for that time. This is how difficult concepts and skills are learned. This is how ideas are turned into research papers, books, and inventive products and working systems.
Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time…. deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep—spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way. __ Cal Newport
Deep Work is the opposite of groupthink, and the opposite of busy work. It is the opposite of distraction and the polar opposite of “social media.” It is where the prolific producers of important new work spend much of their time, and it is where the consistently best students get their secret powers.
Over 300 years ago, the mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascalsaid, “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”
Adults will watch movies or TV, we will start an argument, we run to social media, we take stimulants or anxiolytics, we go out to eat and drink too much, we play games, pursue empty relationships, and drive ourselves to the end of distraction just to avoid “being bored” or too much alone.
Dangerous Children cannot afford to fritter away their time in those ways. They have things to do, skills to learn, and provisions to make. You cannot pack the work of a Dangerous Child into 18 early years while distracting yourself in “the shallows.”
The Seductive Appeal of The Shallows
The Shallows is the almost inescapable miasma of the internet, social media, and the constant distracting connection to the largely trivial outside world. After being immersed in the shallows long enough, it becomes more difficult for a person to concentrate deeply.
Over the last few years I’ve had the uncomfortable feeling that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going . . . but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think… I used to find it easy to immerse myself in a book or a lengthy article… Now my concentration starts to drift after a page or two. I get fidgety, lose the thread, start looking for something else to do… The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle. __ Nicholas Carr in The Shallows
Nicholas Carr is simply describing in himself what is also happening to a large number of other mind workers who have adapted to making their way in the new hyper-connected world of distraction he calls “the shallows.”
It Did Not Start With the Internet or Social Media
This need for constant distraction from deep and difficult focused work is not something new. Throughout history few people ever mastered the solitary task of thinking deeply and bringing complex and beautiful new objects and ideas into the world. Not like da Vinci, Michelangelo, Einstein, or Newton.
But in times past — before radio, TV, movies, and other popular entertainments — there were far fewer distractions from “thoughtful solitude.” And with the coming of the internet and ubiquitous all-the-time communication, time alone to focus and think deeply can be almost impossible to come by.
Why do we throw away our time on superficial distractions?
… it’s not necessarily that we are addicted to a TV set because there is something uniquely satisfying about it, just like we are not addicted to most stimulants because the benefits outweigh the downsides. Rather, what we are really addicted to is a state of not-being-bored.
Almost anything else that controls our life in an unhealthy way finds its root in our realization that we dread the nothingness of nothing. We can’t imagine just being rather than doing. And therefore, we look for entertainment, we seek company, and if those fail, we chase even higher highs.
Most people were never taught any better — either verbally or by example.
We dread the silence of our very existence so we choose aimless distraction… Coming to such a realization can be life-changing. __ Ali Mese
Perhaps reading books such as Deep Work and The Shallows can be life-changing. Learning to devote more of our time to deep focus and deep work — while avoiding as many shallow distractions as possible — can certainly be life-changing for many.
But at what stage in a person’s life should he learn deep focus and deep work? We see how easily the internet and social media have taken over the mainstream media, much of academia, much of government, corporate culture, and many other social institutions — including large numbers of families. Once a person is “truly hooked,” it is not necessarily easy to pull himself back in order to learn to intensely focus on deep work.
If you watch most very small children, they seem to have been born knowing how to focus deeply. How else could children learn to walk, talk, ride bicycles, negotiate to get their way, and do all the other tasks of young humans, so effortlessly?
It is best to keep young children away from “The Shallows” for several years so that they can develop their powers of intense focus for learning ideas and skills, and for creating new concepts and things. Each family will need to work out its own rules and policies, but it is best to work them out before the child is old enough to develop a strong preference.
If a human cannot focus for long periods of time, is he still a human? Perhaps. But he is certainly no Dangerous Child.
Most modern denizens of the shallows do not read anymore. They skim, scroll down, skip in staccato fashion from hyperlink to hyperlink — and miss any nuance in the material they were “reading.” When bored they jump on social media to text or message an acquaintance to discuss “feelings” about yet more of the shallow distractions that make up much of their lives.
Dangerous Children must pack a lot of learning and skill-building into a short eighteen years. Their lives are not filled up by TV, video games, social media, movies, and pulp fiction. They learn to teach and guide themselves through the unique curriculum that fits their talents and proclivities.
By the age of 18, a Dangerous Child has mastered three ways to support himself financially, can speak three non-native languages, has enough academic credits to finish a college degree in a couple of years, is comfortable starting new businesses or organising expeditions, and has the skills to move over most any terrain or through most any neighborhood. And they know how to think for themselves — something sadly lacking among modern college student cohorts.
Intense solitude can be used for many purposes, depending upon a person’s age and current state of existence. Albert Einstein preferred to spend his time alone solving hard problems. That approach worked for him over his lifetime. When he ran out of problems to solve from outside sources, he invented new difficult problems to solve. These problems took a lot of time and deep work.
If humanity is to move forward to an expansive and abundant future, it will need a large number of people devoted to high levels of intensely productive work, based largely on solitude. Networking will be important at certain stages of refining and extending disruptive new ideas and systems. But distraction at too early a stage will kill them before they can be born.
Residential schools can offer a level of immersion learning that is not possible in the hustle and bustle world of omnipresent distractions such as we see in the conventional day schooling environment. When the residential school culture was applied to trade school learning in Pennsylvania, something very interesting emerged.
“With its old-timey rituals, rigorous scheduling, and immersive culture, Williamson has a military-school feel.” But according to the students she interviewed, the prospect of a good-paying career makes the strict rules more than worth it. __ Source
“Full Employment” and Tuition is Affordable
When they graduate they begin working at jobs with starting pay as high as $75,000 to $105,000 per year. Tuition for all three years is affordable and often free, with most students coming from impoverished and troubled families. Each applicant must take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), and the school accepts only one out of three applicants.
Williamson College of the Trades is a three year residential institution. Students must “dress up” every day in coat and tie, assemble in chapel, and pledge allegiance to the flag.
It’s a residential institution where 19- to 22-year-old kids from hard-up families line up in ties and jackets every morning to be inspected before going to chapel and pledging allegiance to the American flag, and where anyone who violates the no-drugs-and-alcohol policy is immediately out on his ear, no exceptions. And some might laugh at the notion of promising trade-school graduates starting with pay as high as $75,000, and maybe even $105,000, a year debt-free—a future that many Ivy League grads would envy. __ https://www.city-journal.org/williamson-college-of-the-trades
A tough “no drugs and alcohol” policy goes a long way to keeping a young person focused on present tasks and future goals.
Don’t laugh at the idea of trade school. These are jobs that cannot be outsourced to China or Bangladesh. Understand that these days regular university has been dumbed down so far that at least 25% of “four year college” graduates are doomed to a life of minimum wage jobs, and will never pay back their student loans. Trade school graduates with jobs paying between $50,000 a year and $100,000 a year will have a chance for a better life than a huge number of conventional college-goers who either drop out or end up deeply in debt.
Seventy-four per cent of students graduate in three years. More than 30% of these kids go on to get higher degrees. More valuable than any degree is the sense of pride and competence they get from learning the skills that will allow them to get a job almost anywhere.
… real craftsmanship is itself a source of deep satisfaction and communal respect. “I never ceased to take pleasure in the moment, at the end of a job, when I would flip the switch. ‘And there was light,’ ” Matthew Crawford writes about his early career as an electrician. “It was an experience of agency and competence. The effects of my work were visible for all to see, so my competence was real for others as well; it had a social currency.” __ https://www.city-journal.org/williamson-college-of-the-trades
Williamson challenges conventional wisdom among liberals and in the education establishment about the dearth of opportunity for kids who don’t go to a traditional four-year college and the toxins of traditional masculinity. And partly because of that, Williamson changes lives. __ https://www.city-journal.org/williamson-college-of-the-trades
Boarding school culture for boys at Williamson is quite different from the free and easy coed culture at most “four year university” campuses. At most universities, college is a place where kids go to binge, fornicate, experiment with drugs, receive a world class indoctrination, and devise clever ways to have fun using “other people’s money” while accruing a debt that will burden them over much of their lifetimes.
Williamson is a 130 year old trade school that continues to do its best to present an alternative approach to preparing youth for a productive future. And if a skilled tradesman later decides to go on to a higher degree and profession, who is going to stop him?
Note that there are other trade schools that can train students for jobs that often provide higher rates of pay. The Utica Shale Academy is a high school that trains students in high paying college-level job skills for the oil & gas trades. This Mississippi high school trains young students in advanced welding and fabrication skills — trades that are in high demand these days across the US.
Immersion level learning is a powerful tool. There was a time in the US when residential trade schools were more common, as were apprentice-style learning situations. Although Williamson College is a post-secondary school, it is time to consider bringing back secondary school level residential training for the teaching of practical skills and trades.