School advice from N.Taleb

COWEN: Based on your own upbringing as a boy, if you were giving advice to someone raising a child through the age of 18, what would be the takeaway you would offer from your own life experience up to that age?

TALEB: Get a degree from school, but become an autodidact. Don’t waste time trying to get an A because you’re not going — we’re gonna talk about it with Bryan — you’re not going to remember all that shit. You always remember what you try to read by yourself.

Read as much as you can, and try to get the lowest possible passing grades you can at school.

I remember the stuff I read by myself, that I was driven. I don’t remember stuff that was given to me at school. It’s an allocation of time.

I discovered that I wanted to be a writer as a kid. I realized to have an edge as a writer, you can’t really know what people know. You’ve got to know a lot of stuff that they don’t know.

I started reading books voraciously, and also read books that, with some instinct, that would be helpful 20 years from now. Therefore, it’s not the latest nonfiction best seller.

So I read a lot of stuff. And I think that I would recommend doing the same. Read as much as you can, and try to get the lowest possible passing grades you can at school. Don’t study stuff like history because it’s going to be revised.

Geography, history, all these. For instance, chemistry or stuff like that. Math is, I think, probably the only thing you can pick up at school that’s useful.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Self-Education and Doing the Math (Ep. 41 — Live at Mercatus)

Noted for when my dauther is in school and I’m getting too much wrapped around grades – provided she still reads a lot.

Don’t just get organised

When most people sit down to write one of those lists, they are actually trying to combine at one time all five of the phases we have defined for mastering workflow: collect, process, organize, review, and do. They are simultaneously attempting to grab things out of their mind, decide what they mean, arrange them in some logical or meaningful fashion, jumping immediately to an evaluation of each against each other and deciding what they need to do “most importantly.” One is usually rewarded with a short-term payoff of the crisis of confusion relieved, but left with still a vague sense of gnawing vulnerability to what’s uncaptured, unprocessed, unorganized, unseen, and underestimated.

Why Getting Organized Usually Hasn’t Worked

Kids and gaming

One is the false sense of accomplishment that games give you. Zelda does this very well. You have your main quests, but also a lengthy list of side quests you can tackle. It’s very goal oriented and each time you sit down to play, there is a sense of satisfaction at completing a portion of the game when you’re finished.

I want my children to understand that this is a false illusion. You have accomplished nothing beyond entertaining yourself. In a culture where entertaining oneself is a primary form of idolatry, I want to be very careful with the example I set and how we communicate about it to our children. Entertainment is serving yourself. Which is fine and good, but in a proportionate amount compared to how we spend our time overall.

On Gaming & the Breath of the Wild

Child’s play

In our culture, when something is easy, you refer to it as “child’s play,” even though play is the work of children, and it requires enormous focus and effort. (Anybody who thinks a child’s play is always easy and fun should witness the passion and epic fits of frustration my sons manage to throw themselves into.)

Hard at play – Austin Kleon

A truly good man does nothing,
Yet nothing is left undone.
A foolish man is always doing,
Yet much remains to be done

Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – chapter 38

A lot to ponder there. Time to get of the life’s treadmill.

You don’t need a life plan. You don’t need motivation, self-confidence, peer support or even luck. All you need is the willingness to take the next most obvious step – then repeat the process again and again, regardless of how you feel. Try it. Happiness comes from seeing the results of your efforts. You don’t need it before you start. – Adrian Savage