Education Work-life balance

I’m cheating… am I a bad person?

Here’s a funny story. I came up with this blogivation (blog+motivation) idea a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t do much of a design for the website – it’s a standard WordPress with Twentytwenty theme. So really all it took me was maybe an hour including setting up the domain plus a simple server. But then the first thought I had was – am I going to make it. Like seriously, 365 blog posts, 1 a day, it’s almost impossible. What if I hit my toe on a side of a bed in the morning, I’ll turn really grumpy and I won’t do anything that day?

So I cheated. In fact, I am cheating even now. It is 1 pm on the 31st of December still old 2019 year and I am sneakily scheduling the blog post to be posted on the 3rd of January. By now you probably figured out that the previous 2 blog posts have been written before too. Why do I do that? Am I not believing in myself already?

Let me give you a simple human lesson. On the 1st of January, I will be most likely sleeping until 1 pm and then I will be healing a hungover with my wife somewhere on the beach. On the 2nd of January, we have already made plans to go to the beach and have bbq with friends. Stuff piles up and that is not an excuse but that is good planning of life. Like with a business, the better prepared you are the better results.

Now does it make me a bad person? You see, I believe that our educational system created this horrible definition of cheating. We compare cheating at school with cheating on your wife. It’s the same word, right? But is it the same? No! And before you decide to close the browser tab and ban my name from your Linkedin account, hear me out. One of my favourite talks is Ken Robinson talking about creativity. He says that from a very young age we are taught not to make mistakes and it kills our creativity. But mistakes are part of our lives. So I’ll go a step further and I’ll say that schools teach us the wrong definition of cheating.

When you’re young, they teach you to play games with your classmates, to study with your classmates, to spend time with your peers. But when it comes to an exam, you’re left on your own. And if you ask someone next to you for help – you’re penalised. Fast forward 20 years we have people at work who are unsure how to do their task under stress and time pressure (sounds like a school exam, right?) and they will not ask for help because it’s their job to figure out. But is it? Is it better to figure it on your own in a few hours or is it better to ask someone and maybe figure it out sooner?

There are 7.5 billion people in the world currently. We are no longer individuals, we are no longer by ourselves. We are one collective of humanity and we have to learn to use it. Starting from our educational system, we have to teach our kids of good cheating. I am a business owner and a programmer with roughly 15 years experience, but if you’ll ask me on a spot how is bubble sort algorithm different from quick sort, or ask me what are exact progressive rates of income tax – I might not know the answer. But I will open up a browser and type the question in the search and I will tell you. Or I will ask my accountant or another senior programmer. Because in 2020 I believe it is so much better value for everyone that we know how to find the information than that we know that particular information.

But don’t get too excited. I do believe in a strong educational basis. One of the biggest complains I have for graduate programmers is that they don’t know how a processor (CPU) works or what is RAM used for. However, I don’t expect them to know how to add binary numbers (something that they taught us in my times). Because let’s be honest, in order to find some information you need to possess some too. In order to find out what the progressive tax rate is for income tax in New Zealand you need to know that we do have progressive tax rate, or in order to know the difference between a bubble and quick sort you need to understand what the algorithm is and what sorting is. And you might know nothing, you might need to start with learning what an algorithm is and what sorting is and reach your own answer, but that’s the beauty of 2020’s world – the access of information we have is so easy and we all have to make use of it. So read books, read the internet, educate yourself but most importantly – seek the information, ask and answer, talk to people at work and teach your kids to cheat. Because in the adult life no one will memorise Pythagoras or any other formulas, they will just write them down and stick on their monitor.

So yes, I do intend to cheat, I will have a couple of blog posts written as an emergency cheat because planning and predicting is only good to a degree. For all unforeseen circumstances, some small, good cheating is allowed.

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