Tuesday, June 12, 2012

about this blog, your health & success in this course

Part of the reason I use a blog instead of a website is that a blog is more personal, more journalistic, and more likely to create opportunities for conversation. When we begin meeting in person, every day's agenda and works-in-progress will be documented here. But in-class interaction is limited in time and space, and learning happens everywhere all the time, so even though we only had something like 185 days of class last year, there were 398 posts to the course blog. I frequently create posts like this to raise issues and/or invite discussion; feel free to comment and begin a conversation thread by contributing an idea, resource/link or question.

We all get a lot of information from a lot of different sources-- and some of it is worth passing along. I'll post items about college, financial aid, study/learning strategies and resources, and occasionally random stuff like an eight-year-old girl who builds rockets or a guy playing piano for elephants in the middle of a jungle.  Just now I ran across this article about young people finding yet another substance to give them an achievement "edge." I find this terribly depressing. What is it about [products/substances/things we can buy] that make us believe they can solve our problems more effectively than we can? For the record, the only substances that will help you in this course of inquiry are: water, clean proteins, fats and carbohydrates in moderate proportions every few hours. And the super-secret bonus ingredients? SLEEP & EXERCISE!

We live in a culture that emphasizes shortcuts: don't believe the hype. Every athlete or intellectual/professional at the top of her game is a living testimony to a simple equation: [Passion] + [Diligence] = [Excellence]  If you've ever loved doing something enough to completely lose track of time, you're already familiar with the idea of flow.  If the idea is new to you, I hope you can discover something through this course that will lead you to it.  I'll give you some ideas in August to get you started.

Grantland Rice gave us the idea, "It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game."  He also wrote a verse called "How to be a Champion" that Coach Wooden used to quote all the time:  

You wonder how they do it, 
You look to see the knack, 
You watch the foot in action,
Or the shoulder or the back. 

But when you spot the answer 
Where the glamours lurk, 
You’ll find in moving higher 
Up the laurel-covered spire, 
That most of it is practice, 
And the rest of it is work.

You're about to have a lot of work to do, and there is no way out but Through. This doesn't have to be a bad thing or a stressful burden. In the first couple of weeks we'll talk about balancing your academic and extra-curricular obligations as you prepare for life after high school. In the meantime, please feel free to comment to this post with any ideas, questions, concerns or observations about these topics.  

Sapere Aude.


  1. I wasn't expecting to be as interested as I was when reading the article on the abuse of Adderall. It was odd though, how this time their story was about the extremes good students would go to in order to achieve good grades, instead of hearing the occasional bad students abusing these types of drugs.

  2. I have now officially obtained a laptop and began yoga as well as a healthier diet! Here's to praying I will stay on this good path! Dr. Preston, How did you motivate yourself enough?

  3. This article about drugs is interesting because instead of classifying a group of young people as addicts it's saying that the culture is to blame. I believe this is true. Success should not be achieved when we beat out the competition. It should be seen as the moment we make a positive impact. There are some other good books on this topic: "The Overachievers" and "Hacking Harvard."