Monday, March 9, 2015

March Update

I will post at least once a month--that's the plan.  How ambitious!

I'm reading…what?  Oh…Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.  Recommended to me by a former pupil.  Actually kind of a funny story.  I'd been tutoring, on and off, the son of my boss.  When we started he was in 7th grade, and my boss basically just wanted someone to come hang out with him once a week and act as a sort of intellectual big brother.  We had some kind of purported weekly work--help him with math, I think--but he never actually had any math so we ended up just talking a lot.  Then I told his mother I thought it would be useful if I just gave him a bunch of stuff I thought would be useful for him to learn--maps of the world, world capitals, timelines of history--because his school, while good, wasn't challenging him enough.  So we would spend half of each session going over his 'assignments' from me--I'd have him fill out maps, or make him explain the history of the Reformation--and then for the second half of every hour (we'd only meet for an hour) we'd play Civilization together. (Which I justified to his mother--accurately in fact--in terms of how educational it was.)

Anyway… that was our first segment of time, and it lasted about three months.  Then he got busy with school, and I got busy with my burgeoning salmon-farming business, and we stopped meeting.  Then last year, she hired me again to help improve his essay writing--again, the school wasn't really giving him enough feedback (his teacher just gave him an A on all his assignments, seemingly without reading them).  So we read some eight-grade books together and wrote essays on them (Lord of the Flies, To Kill A Mockingbird).  And that was fun.  He's a very smart kid and generally we'd have interesting conversations about whatever.  Like, he would suddenly remark that he'd seen a special last night about the way the Chinese effected dynastic successions or something, and did I know that in China there was no tradition of philosophy, as such, because all the philosophers gravitated towards writing poetry. (Or something).  And then I'd respond in some way and we'd, you know, engage.  And I bought him a bunch of books to read, too.

Anyway… where was I?  Right, so that was last year.  But then this fall, his mom emails me and says that (NAME OF SON) has been asking about me, and now that he's in high school he doesn't really have time for tutoring--or need--but did I maybe want to think about having dinner with him one night, so we could talk?  Because she thinks he still needs intellectual mentoring, and what-not.  (I should have said that the father and mother have been going through an amicable divorce though all of this, but that he's not around as much).

So anyway, last month we went to dinner and chatted.  And it was interesting on many levels, though not maybe the most enjoyable dinner I've ever had (he talked a lot about video games--which he doesn't actually play, but which he does watch other people play on YouTube.  A lot.  Which seems odd to me.)

Anyway, long story short: he recommended the book, the Kahneman book.  And I'm reading it.  And though I feel a lot of it is sort of common sensical, and though I've already read so many reviews or essays about the book that at least 40% of it seems old hat by now, I'm still enjoying it.

1 comment:

JMW said...

I kind of think you as my intellectual big brother, too.