My Best Teaching Is One-on-One


Of course, I team teach and do special lessons, etc.


But my best work in the classroom is after the lesson is over --
going one-on-one,
helping individual students with their assignments.


It's kind of like with computer programs, walking the client through hands-on.
The job isn't really done until the customer is using the program.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Misinterpreting 1984, implications to security

(From a post of mine to a conversation in progress on /. .)

Learn anything from 1984?

No, we didn't.

My high school English teacher had it pegged:

1984 was neither predictive nor prescriptive. It was descriptive.

An allegory for society as we know it, through a lens double-tinted ever-so-slightly to two extremes, to bring a known secret out in sharp relief.

1984 is the world as we know it, viewed through the glasses of someone who thinks he is smarter than the rest of us trying to see it from the eyes of the rest of us.

Which is why it gave me a headache to read.

Very instructive book. Too bad most people don't think far enough to see the real message.
I think it was my junior year high school English teacher who pointed this out to me (and the rest of her class).

Now, whether Orwell was "right" or "wrong" is the wrong question. Whether our society is becoming "more" or "less" Orwellian is a red herring.

There is a part of our world which functions like this. It has always been this way, since Adam and Eve in the Garden, since Cain, since the Pharaohs, all the way down to the present. (Consider the nomer, "the father of lies".)

Now the lesson which we need to learn is that the Orwellian world mimics the real part of our world.

But we need to be careful how we understand this lesson, or we end up thinking the universe is out to get us.

Or we end up thinking that it's all right to lie, or that there is an establishment that preaches that it is all right to lie for some "greater good". (There are many such establishments, but that is also a red herring.)

The surrealism of youth is not evil. But we do leave it behind.

(There is no choice, even if we try to hang on to the glories of the past, time drags us with it.)

The conclusion of the novel does condemn those who use the instability of "facts" as an excuse to use factoids and factisms to their own gain. (To clarify, it is not the facts that change, it is our understanding of them.

Skipping a lot of literary analysis, pretty much, we will each one of us find ourselves having to face our own worst fears sometime in life. At least once, maybe more than once. (See Abraham, for instance.)

There is a reason that the world is surreal when we are young. Our lack of experience gives an edge to all our senses. But that edge is false.

No, it is not really false. It is just not perfectly true.

When we are young, the best understanding we can have is always going to more or less miss the true mark of reality. We do not have the experience to interpret our experiences properly.

This is a reverse vicious cycle, because we cannot understand without experience, and the only way to gain understanding is to get some experience, and, with the experience of things that are new to us, there must be some incompleteness in our understanding. Therefore, we shall make mistakes.

Which requires more experience, and more incomplete understanding, if we really want to understand things properly, a serious conundrum, but not evil. Incomplete understanding can lead us to complete understanding, if we will let it.

The mistakes leave us open to being judged by the society around us, both the outer societies and the hidden societies.

Because of the judgments of the hidden societies, we will be put on trial. We will be tested, whether we will be true to ourselves or not. And we will find that the real test is not in the events of the trial, but in what we do afterwards.

Winston and Julia find that their affair was an illusion. Of course it was. They also, in the immediate aftermath, find themselves thinking that they have betrayed each other. This is not unusual. When we betray ourselves, we necessarily betray those around us.

Self-betrayal is a common tool of terror politics and tyranny. Reinforcing the impression of self-betrayal by making the betrayal of others explicit is another tool of totalitarian society, as is pretense of rescue.

I would have preferred a preferred a stronger affirmation of the value of reality over surreality in the plot, but it would have been out of character for both Winston and Julia, also for Orwell, himself. It would also have made the novel less accessible, as literature.

But we see in the end that both Winston and Julia have grown up a little. They both understand that life is inherently insecure. And the novel leaves them contemplating whether to give in to the illusion of security provided by the self-deluded Big Brother organization, or to take the next step to real freedom.

They could consider continuing in clandestine activities precisely because they know that everything will be taken away, sooner or later.

Freedom is just another word for being able to behave as if one has nothing (left) to lose.

Real security is in having nothing to lose.

(From here, I'll have to sometime bridge from one linguistic context to another and pick up information systems security, but that will be in a different blog.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Superiority complex

I'm writing from first hand experience, here.

When you have had it beat into your head that you're not as good as other people, you tend to develop an inferiority complex.

You know better, you know that other people aren't really better than you. Better at some specific thing, but not better in the sense of class. You know you are good at some things. You know that there are some things you are better than many other people at.

But you've had it pounded painfully into your head that you are inherently no good. Inferior. And pain hurts. So you pretend that you are inferior.

But it doesn't settle well. So, you tend to start finding ways to assert your superiority, to counter balance.

This is where the superiority complex kicks in.

Superiority complex can be expressed in two general ways. (Often, both ways in the same person.)

One way is to start simply asserting oneself. This much is actually not inherently bad. But if it goes too far, it becomes overweening pride, which is obnoxious. but still not too bad. One might call this supremacy complex.

The other way is to start trying harder than before. This isn't bad, it's good. But then it may progress to insisting on trying harder than other people. Again, this much is not all that bad, even though some find it obnoxious. (That others confuse it with humility is also worth noting.) It is often called superman complex.

If supremacy complex goes too far, it tends to seek identity with similar people and asserting group supremacy. (Racism, nationalism, sexism, politicized religionism, etc.)

Some of my Mormon friends got dragged into this kind of thing. I managed to stay out of it, partly because I could recognize a spirit that conflicted with the tenets of service that we call core.

If a superman complex goes too far, on the other hand, it seems to avoid group identification. There is a sense of "I can go it alone." Or, at least, a sense that one should be able to go it alone. On the one hand, you're trying to help others, but on the other hand, you aren't letting others help you.

I did not avoid this one, but I am discovering that the superhuman complex also conflicts with gospel principles. Well, I've been fighting with myself over this for thirty years, actually, so I'm thinking it might have been something I brought with me from the spirit world, from before birth.

I've noticed that a lot of the conflicts we have in this world, courtroom battles, market battles, family/spousal feuds, gang/fan violence, outright wars, seem to have roots in superiority complex.