Posted in education, know better do better, mindset

Keyboard skills

When I was in college, the phrase “keyboard skills” evoked many negative reactions from many of us.

Learning to play piano was, succinctly, not a good time.

But even at the college level, we weren’t handed a Beethoven piano sonata and asked to plunk it out by whatever means necessary.

This is what we’re doing to kids in schools. On the other kind of keyboard.

Technology is a big deal right now, and many people clamor for more and more technology.

Testing is also a big deal, and the majority of the Tests are computer-based.

But at no point are kids being taught how to type. Not in a slow, systematic way that actually yields students who can touch type.

Maybe they’ll be shown where their fingers go and it will be explained some. But kids in kindergarten are being asked to log in to computers, and the only way you can do that is to type in your user name and password.

(What they’re doing after that varies. Working with a mouse or a track pad seems appropriate maybe.)

We didn’t even have computers in school until I was in late elementary school. (Shakes fist at kids on lawn.) And yet we learned to use computers. People my age and older are not in short supply in the tech industry.

Children don’t need to be on computers from when they’re young to be able to learn them. Children do need to be taught to type if they’re going to be effective using keyboards. (I have so many thoughts about what we should and shouldn’t be doing in the lower elementary grades and younger, but that’s a series of rants for another day.)

I was talking to a friend who does IT work. He said that they have young programmers who hunt and peck. Pretty quickly, but still.

Delay computer use in schools. Teach keyboard skills.

Posted in education, know better do better, mindset, motivation, parenting, thoughtfulness

Donations through purchases

The Kid mentioned to me the other day: “Mom, did you know Tony the Tiger donates money to keep sports in schools?”

We had a short conversation about it, and I told him I’d look up the details.

Here are the details: you buy a box of Frosted Flakes. You upload your receipt, and Kellogg’s donates $1* to an organization funding school sports. I didn’t look for further details about the organization or what they’re doing—I didn’t think our conversation would be that in-depth.

Did you notice the asterisk? I did, and I had to zoom on my screen to be able to read the fine print.

Max donation is $1M.

So we talked. He was happy about it at first—$1 per box seems pretty good. (We also talked about how sports and sugary cereals don’t really go together.)

But then we talked about the upper limit. And we talked about all the people who could potentially buy the box, thinking they’re donating to school sports, and they’re not.

“But Mom, they’ll stop the commercial [that I saw] once they hit a million, won’t they?”

Well … I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe not. And we talked a bit about how ads are purchased. (Didn’t even get into nefarious intent, just “we bought two weeks’ worth of ads so they run for two weeks, regardless.”) So they might still be running after Kellogg’s has donated their million.

“That is the crappiest thing I’ve ever heard! Oh my goodness!”

Lesson learned: if we want to donate to a cause, donate to it directly.

Posted in food, gifts, know better do better, marriage, mindset, thoughtfulness

Sweets for your sweetheart

Valentine’s Day is coming up (if January ever ends)…

A gift that provokes anxiety or guilt (or both!) is not a good gift.

If your partner is reducing or eliminating junk food, buying chocolate, cookies, candies, etc. is not a thoughtful thing to do.

Likewise, if you’re reducing or eliminating junk food, don’t ask for or expect junk food. Unless this is a special occasion.

In any of these cases, perhaps have a conversation ahead of time about it so everyone is on the same page.

“I know that you’ve always gotten me this fabulous box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, but I don’t want to have that much chocolate on hand any more. How about [a smaller portion/ something else/ we just go out] instead?”

Surely there are ways to show and receive love that aren’t filled with sugar? Maybe even aren’t edible at all?

Posted in connections, ebb & flow, know better do better, mental health, mindset, socializing, vulnerability

Your contribution to collective emotional pollution

“You choose what you put out into the world.”

I don’t remember where this crossed my path recently, but it was timely.

It ties in to an earlier post about negative people—from a first-person perspective.

My output of complaining goes in cycles. When I notice it’s increasing, I make an effort to cut it back. It makes my life better, and it makes better the impact I have on the people around me.

(There’s a difference between complaining and talking about something negative that’s happening.)

Soon after seeing the sentiment, I was posting on Facebook. I had been driving The Kid to school, followed by getting myself to work, and the way drivers in front of me interacted with traffic lights was not enhancing my morning commute.

I know there are people who would have joined me in my rant about these drivers.

I chose to post a light and lovely story about The Kid instead, which still got interaction—from many of the same people—but of a different variety. And we were all a little smiley-er for a moment.

(Caveat: there’s a lot of bad stuff happening in our world, in our communities, maybe in our families or homes that we need to speak out about. We can’t pretend these things don’t exist. I’m not at all suggesting that we whitewash all that and just share rainbows and unicorns. Again: there’s a difference between complaining and talking about something negative that’s happening. I could argue that staying silent in the face of injustice—whatever the scale—is allowing said injustice to be put into the world.)

If making the world better by contributing to it in a positive way is insufficient motivation for you, there’s some truth to “you get what you give.” Not in a tit-for-tat kind of way, but I can attest that seasons in my life when I have been friendlier, more attentive, less negative, etc. to and around the people in my circle of influence, in general, I have been met in kind. And it has been easier for me to let go of those who did not treat me in kind. (Certainly, exceptions exist. There are people whose insecurities don’t allow them to be kind, regardless how they are treated.) Saying, “I’m going to be nice to people just so that people are nice to me” might leave a smear of “ulterior motive” in your intentions and knock things out of whack.

Or, we could just boil it down to: reputations are hard to change. Build a good one.

You choose what you put out into the world.

 

Posted in know better do better, mental health, mindset, podcasts, socializing

Podcast quote: negative people

I started listening to the Work Life podcast, by Adam Grant. I love it! Super-interesting.

Since they’re relatively close to the beginning of the podcast, I started at the beginning.

Season 1, Episode 3 was “The Problem with All Stars,” and while it was interesting to listen to, the piece that was most striking to me was not about the main topic at all.

From the transcript:

“Emotional contagion is something that I became interested in many, many years ago when I was working with a colleague, ‘Meg’ as a pseudonym, and I wasn’t even reporting to her, she was just working in my environment. I knew she was negative but I didn’t think much of it. And then one week Meg went on vacation. And it was amazing. Like suddenly the team, me, everybody — our shoulders lowered, we were more relaxed and happy. And then she came back and everything went back to the way it was and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, how amazing that this person, who I didn’t even report to could have such a tremendous influence on not only my mood, but the mood of everybody else.”

This isn’t surprising, but it brought to mind a lot of scenarios from the past few years. Times when I’ve been frustrated to be consistently in the presence of constant negativity. Times when I’m sure I was the one bringing the group dynamic down. Scenarios from longer ago, also from both sides of the fence. Which brings me to…

The concept applies to family dynamics, of course. When one person in the house is always (or even just often) miserable or angry or high-strung, it takes a toll on everyone in the house. And because this typically develops over time, it follows the boiling-a-frog fable. (In that case, the person who points it out is more likely to be ostracized than the person causing the problem … but that’s a tangent I’m not going to ride out today.)

And socializing.

Really, it applies to anywhere with people you’re in proximity to. At the grocery store and someone ahead of you is chewing out the cashier? Changes your environment. Someone unpleasant on the train? Next table over at dinner is full of crankiness or anger or vitriol? These change your experience, even if they’re not chronic, like a coworker or housemate would be.

Obviously we don’t have control over all of these situations, but it’s worth the time and effort to see where we can eliminate or reduce contact with negative people … and also to be introspective enough to know when it is us. (Not self-deprecating and assuming it’s always us … introspective and having a solid guess as to when it’s us.)