What It Takes To Be Great

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series What It Takes to Be Great

One day, I’m going to make an acronym for everything. Like, that last sentence will turn into: “ODIGTMAAFE”, and people will be all: “OMG!? AAFE?! LOL!”.

Also, a little warning — there are going to be a lot of links. Break yo’ self!

So, I’m sitting there, eating my curds and whey, when yet another good-looking reader (Gav) sends me a link. You know, one of those external links that comes up every once in a while, and just so resonates with the kind of things you read here, that it simply has to be brought to everyone’s attention. CNN Money/Fortune Magazine, way back in October 2006, put up this sooper harticle entitled What It Takes to Be Great.

Wait, before I go into that, the Gav himself is a pretty amazing guy. Right before the JLPT fiasco, kids were saying things like:

Making an [sic] random English penpal sounds like quite a task and scares me more than a little. Making a random Japanese one seems absolutely impossible. [WC]

and

For someone like me the very idea [of making Japanese friends] is terrifying [ren]

To which der Gavinator replies:

Feel the fear and do it anyway! If you wait for fear to disappear before you do anything new, you will never do it. [Gav]

So you already know this guy is going to be sending you good articles.

Anyway, What It Takes to Be Great is pretty great. It’s definitely got its fair share of gems of wizduum, like this:

In a study of 20-year-old violinists by Ericsson and colleagues, the best group (judged by conservatory teachers) averaged 10,000 hours of deliberate practice…It’s the same story in surgery, insurance sales, and virtually every sport. More deliberate practice equals better performance.

You like that? 10,000 hours?! Sound familiar?

Next time you feel like throwing out your SRS altogether [an ill-advised course of action, IMHO], feel this instead:

[Practice] regularly, not sporadically. Occasional practice does not work.

But I think the most important line comes here:

…talent has little or nothing to do with greatness…It’s nice to believe that if you find the field where you’re naturally gifted, you’ll be great from day one, but it doesn’t happen. There’s no evidence of high-level performance without experience or practice.

Talent has little or nothing to do with greatness. Everybody sucks at the start. Write it on your liver. Practice, son. But the process doesn’t have to be, as the Fortune article at one point suggests, “painful”. Remember what Julie Poppins said in Terminator: “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, Mr. Frodo!”. Dude, forget a spoon — make a whole freaking smoothie, get a bag of sugar. Get as much sugar as you need, do whatever you need to do to make the process fun. And be sure to divide it into tiny little i+1 chunks so you can get a lot of cheap wins and feel great. Timeboxing, sentences, whatever it takes. Remember, you want to be doing:

activity…that reaches for objectives just beyond one’s level of competence, provides feedback on results and involves high levels of repetition.

So, baby steps. Anyway, enough from me. Go check it out for yourself. And if anyone finds other sooper harticles like this, feel free to share.

Did you see that? I just went a whole post without making a single disparaging comment about CNN and how they generally suck.  “The New Economy: Boom Without End?“…yeah freaking right, Willow Bay and Stuart Varney! Your former employer’s policy of making you pretend to turn breathless declarative statements into cooly considered interrogatives by merely adding a question mark fills me with the liveliest of disgust?

糞ォ・・・

Series NavigationWhat It Takes To Be Great 2: AJATT and Malcolm McDowell’s Outliers…wait… >>

  29 comments for “What It Takes To Be Great

  1. October 5, 2008 at 21:24

    Hm, that’s a pretty good article. Ok, I already though that most of the “I have a special gifted talent and you don’t, therefore you’ll suck your whole life” was a bunch of BS when told to me, but this confirms my thoughts. So thanks!

    Also, this (weird enough) works better as a motivator than some of the success stories at this blog.

  2. Daniel
    October 6, 2008 at 01:15

    Not an article, but a very interesting book about why some people achieve success whereas others don’t:

    www.amazon.co.jp/%E5%A4%A2%E3%82%92%E3%81%8B%E3%81%AA%E3%81%88%E3%82%8B%E3%82%BE%E3%82%A6-%E6%B0%B4%E9%87%8E%E6%95%AC%E4%B9%9F/dp/4870318059/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1223223196&sr=8-1

    夢をかなえるゾウ is pretty easy to read, it is funny, and best of all, it’s in Japanese!

  3. Adam
    October 6, 2008 at 02:05

    夢をかなえるぞうはめちゃ面白い。テレビドラマも出ているから皆是非観てみてね

  4. Will
    October 6, 2008 at 06:53

    Being a programmer and an artist, people sometimes assume I have a natural gift in order to be talented in two seemingly contradictory hobbies. Yet, I’ve spent hundreds of hours every month programming and drawing for several years. Definitely somewhere around 10,000 hours in total (and still going).

    Thomas Edison also comes to mind. He really sucked at making light bulbs. It took him over 10,000 freaking tries before he got it right. If anyone lacked talent in something before achieving greatness, it was him.

  5. James
    October 6, 2008 at 17:38

    Sorry to be a smart-arse, but weren’t you suggesting in an earlier post that the SAT is flawed because you get better at it with practice? And yet now is it agreed that practice is the way to get better at anything?

    The article above concluded that practice makes you better, but motivation makes you practice. So perhaps SAT scores are more a measure of scholastic aptitude than it seems at first, since motivated students are more ‘apt’ to do well in college (and beyond).

  6. Brent
    October 6, 2008 at 17:55

    James,

    He argued that the SAT and other standardized tests are flawed because they measure test-taking ability rather than what they’re intended to measure. To do better on the test, all you have to do is take it again and again–your test-taking ability (and score) will go up but you won’t know anything more about what you’re supposedly being tested on.

  7. James
    October 6, 2008 at 20:19

    According to the article, the only people who do things again and again to get better are those with motivation. So the people practicing for the SAT (and getting higher scores) must have motivation, which is a desirable quality in a college student.

  8. Squintox
    October 6, 2008 at 21:09

    Yes, but I don’t think the SATs were invented to measure motivation…
    I took “IGCSE”s in high school, standardized testing in school subjects. For biology, I got past papers and their answer sheets and started doing them 2 weeks before the exam. My precentage went from a miserable 48% to a 91% in the last paper I did. I got A in the actual exam.

    I was still clueless about Biology, and I definitely was not interested in Biology at all. I was motivated to pass the test, but not motivated to learn more about Biology, two completely different things.

  9. Chiro-kun
    October 7, 2008 at 02:55

    ゾウって駄洒落?面白そう。

  10. James
    October 7, 2008 at 16:11

    Well my point isn’t really to defend the SAT or standardized tests. I just think there is a subtle irony contrasting this post praising the efficacy of practice with his previous post which seemed to criticize the efficacy of practice.

    Sorry for nit-picking! I love the blog!

  11. October 8, 2008 at 00:37

    I was brought up with a belief that seems very common these days and probably comes from all those 80’s films: if you can’t be a virtuouso in the space of a montage then you just don’t have the talent – so try something else. And it’s total bullshit. It’s taken me years and I still have to remind myself but the best motto anyone can teach their kids is this one:

    IF IT’S WORTH DOING, IT’S WORTH DOING BADLY AT FIRST.

    I’m not underestimating talent but at most talent is merely an unfair advantage. Unless the skill is something which requires a some physical attribute you don’t have (if you’re tone deaf there’s nothing you can do for example) with hard work you can learn to do anything. And if you work harder than the “talented” people in the end you may do better than them. ‘Course when the talented bastards also work hard… grrr lol!

  12. Nukemarine
    October 8, 2008 at 14:41

    James – [Well my point isn’t really to defend the SAT or standardized tests. I just think there is a subtle irony contrasting this post praising the efficacy of practice with his previous post which seemed to criticize the efficacy of practice.]

    The point that seems to be missing is that if you study and practice for the SAT and JLPT, you get good at the SAT and JLPT. If that’s what you want, yeah go for. But the thing is, most are equating being good at the SAT as being best of the best and being good at the JLPT as being good at Japanese. I know guys that spent countless hours (well, I’m not going to count them at least) practicing Tekken. That’s hard work, that’s also fun. However, in the end, they’re good at playing Tekken, not at any form of martial arts. There’ll be some bleed over (hand-eye coordination), just like there’s bleed over from those that study for the JLPT (vocabulary knowledge, grammar to point) and the SAT (umm, good at Jeopardy?).

    So Khatz wasn’t dissing the hard work, he was dissing the direction that hard work was aimed. Anyone studying for the JLPT is probably not doing all of the following: Watching Japanese news, Japanese dramas, reading mangas, talking over Skype, listening to Japanese music, and visiting Japanese websites. They are specializing their effort into only one thing: the JLPT.

  13. Ivan the Terrible
    October 8, 2008 at 19:40

    Calvin Coolidge noted this ages ago…

    “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

    …but people don’t want to think like that, given all the effort involved, so the ‘greats’ in any field remain few.

  14. Leo
    October 8, 2008 at 21:32

    “So Khatz wasn’t dissing the hard work, he was dissing the direction that hard work was aimed.”

    That seems about the same to me, to tell someone his effort is not worth it if it is for what it’s been aimed at is condescending at best.

    “I know guys that spent countless hours (well, I’m not going to count them at least) practicing Tekken. That’s hard work, that’s also fun. However, in the end, they’re good at playing Tekken, not at any form of martial arts.”

    I don’t think anyone ever thought Tekken master = martial arts expert. The point is more like that person is practicing tekken because to be eligible to a tournament for instance, they would have to pass a test where they need to execute all the combos in the game withing an given time period. Now I might know all the ins and outs of a game and still be poor at executing, but that test was made just to prove that I know something. When a fight starts, obviously there would be more involved than just knowledge, just like with language, there are people that know all the grammar and a lot of vocabulary and still can’t speak fluently(explained by Dr. Krashen if you bother to read his theory on foreign language acquisition). The JLPT was made to test primarily someones knowledge and someones proficiency. Obviously it is not easy to test someones language proficiency on a piece of paper, but they do test knowledge of the language, and for some people(like corporations) knowledge is a requirement for fluency, so while everyone knows JLPT 1 != native level fluency, someone that passes it with a high score is probably a lot closer to it than someone that can’t. Obviously it is not a rule, but true most of the time.
    When you are doing AJATT you are still acquiring knowledge about the language, big time, only not from traditional sources like teachers and textbooks but from real life sources like friends and newspapers. The JLPT is there in an attempt of measuring that knowledge and your ability to use it, the former a lot easier, a task it is able to do reasonably well, though not perfect, though not many people claimed that anyway.

    “Anyone studying for the JLPT is probably not doing all of the following: Watching Japanese news, Japanese dramas, reading mangas, talking over Skype, listening to Japanese music, and visiting Japanese websites. They are specializing their effort into only one thing: the JLPT.”

    Wrong, you assume people studying for the JLPT are not doing AJATT. Really, why can’t people realize that just reading a JLPT book once a day does not mean that is all I’m going to do just that. I mean I can study for the JLPT and use japanese websites, listen to jmusic, read/watch the news when I want to and watch anime/drama if I need to relax, a day has 24h you know. Reading a textbook in japanese about a test in japanese seems pretty AJATT to me… Claiming people that are taking the JLPT of not doing AJATT is like one of the worst arguments possible, together with “THE FEE!!!!”
    Besides, there has been issues with motivation and AJATT before, where people can’t do AJAAT 24/7 and the JLPT was never mentioned as the cause of it, motivation was. You take the JLPT and label it as just a “test”, you are forgetting about the big picture, like the people that use it as a motivation for AJATT and the people that take it because they have to, doing that might be good for your argument but not at all helpful to these people. If someone can’t do all of which you mentioned, there might be underlining issues of motivation and availability(as I said many people that are not taking the test are also no able to do many of those things, so there is no hard evidence that JLPT = decrease in amount of time and/or effort towards AJAAT), which can’t be disregarded or used as excuses to bash the JLPT.

  15. Homebound
    October 8, 2008 at 22:16

    Sorry Leo, but in my experience most people studying for the JLPT, they focus solely on that and many believe that passing the JLPT will mean they have reached native fluency (some people believe they will be better). None of them are doing AJATT. They have confused the test with the skill. Thus, while they may be very good at taking the JLPT, many of their conversational Japanese and general usage is poor. On the other hand, many are quite good at Japanese and recognise that passing the JLPT doesn’t equal fluency, BUT they think they need the test to get into Japan so they can ‘immerse’ themselves and reach that fluency.

    No one is suggesting that you can’t be studying for the JLPT and doing AJATT at the same. The point is that it’s a little silly, because if you can speak and understand native-level Japanese it should be evident. For example, that I can write this comment in English should prove I’m a native (or native-like) speaker of Australian English. I don’t need a test to prove it and I would never take one to do so.

    However, if you have to take the JLPT (and I mean HAVE to), because the company you really want to work for requires it and won’t even look at your application without it, then, yes, you do need to take it. But you should already be at native-level fluency, right? So no big deal…

    Without trying to be as blunt as Khatz, if you are using the JLPT as motivation because you otherwise wouldn’t have any then why are you really learning Japanese? It seems like such a contradiction to say “I really wanna learn Japanese but I really lack motivation so I’m making myself study for the JLPT.” That sounds like wanting to know something for the sake of knowing it. And especially with languages I think that’s silly. Learning any language isn’t about knowing the language, it’s about interacting (through TV, music, movies, text, social situations) with the people who speak that language. If that in and of itself isn’t enough motivation to learn the language you want to learn…well…why do you really want to learn it?

    In regards to the article, I like it. And I think it is quite true. Goal-oreinted practise is the number one factor. You’ve gotta love what you do and you’ve gotta practise it with specific aims to get better.

  16. Adam
    October 9, 2008 at 10:50

    Homebound>いいこと言うね。大賛成!

  17. beneficii
    October 9, 2008 at 13:24

    勝元は「大学院に通おうとする。」と言った事がありますね?それはどうしますか。(私も日本の大学院に通おうとします。)

    (私の日本語はどうですか。)

  18. nacest
    October 10, 2008 at 02:04

    I’m not interested in taking sides in the discussion about JLPT, but I’d like to offer a different point of view about the “JLPT for motivation” concept.

    Getting fluent in Japanese is a long task, and for some people it may, at times, feel far and out of reach, causing discouragement. So creating smaller goals, shorter steps that can provide a rough evidence of one’s advancement, can certainly help “foster” one’s motivation. They can give something more firm to grip on to. I’m sure Khatz has written about this before.
    These goals can be “being able to read a manga”, “being able to have a simple conversation” and the like. “Being able to pass JLPT 2” may just be one of those (and it has the, albeit silly, advantage of giving you a tangible proof of your advancement, the certificate). After all, we want to be able to do everything a Japanese native is able to do, and a Japanese native is certainly able to pass, say, JLPT 2.

    That said, this reasoning is useful only if the JLPT is used as a “backward testing tool”, and with the awareness that it’s not a true estimator of your fluency level, but only of a rough advancement. Studying specifically for it is thus out of the question.
    To be clear, I’m not saying that this kind of goal is a particularly good or efficient one (certainly not cost-effective), just that it may be possible and legitimate.

  19. beneficii
    October 10, 2008 at 04:22

    nacest,

    I can sympathize with that. Even as we faithfully, or almost faithfully, follow AJATT, Antimoon, or some other method, there is usually a little doubt tucked away in the corner of our minds about is this really going to work, which can sometimes come out to shame us, such as when others, or those who seem to be learning authorities (such as teachers) might say that we’re just playing, that we’re not really serious. If we’re still too early or are not yet comfortable with output, such criticisms can be weapons that strike us hard–Khatz, in one of his blog posts, quoted a woman who had dealt with that. Therefore, the certification may even be an early substitute for output to _show_ others that the technique works.

    Still, the JLPT is by no means an end to itself and if you sound like a native, you shouldn’t need it.

  20. Leo
    October 10, 2008 at 06:11

    “Sorry Leo, but in my experience most people studying for the JLPT, they focus solely on that and many believe that passing the JLPT will mean they have reached native fluency (some people believe they will be better). None of them are doing AJATT.”

    As I said it my thinking is not a rule, everyone is different, however, you are generalizing the JLPT students based on your experience, which isn’t a great thing to do either. I admit my thoughts are more based on the person doing AJATT and taking the test, yes there are people only interested in the test, but they are most likely not having problems with burnout and motivation anyway, since they are not doing AJATT.
    If you can’t admit that it is possible, or that there is actually people out there that you don’t know that are doing AJATT and also taking the test, then we have a problem.

    “No one is suggesting that you can’t be studying for the JLPT and doing AJATT at the same. ”

    What part of “studying for a japanese test using all japanese resources” does not fit into your definition of “All Japanese All The Time”?

    “I don’t need a test to prove it and I would never take one to do so. ”
    Yeah, I’d think your passport already proves that?

    “Without trying to be as blunt as Khatz, if you are using the JLPT as motivation because you otherwise wouldn’t have any then why are you really learning Japanese? It seems like such a contradiction to say “I really wanna learn Japanese but I really lack motivation so I’m making myself study for the JLPT.””

    Everyone has a motive, a reason they want to do something. I never argued people that take the JLPT for motivation wouldn’t have any otherwise. It is true however, that with many issues involving the AJATT method, motivation being the biggest one imo, any tactic that fits the method and that will prevent you from burning out should be valid and not bashed upon like in his original post. Really, he talks about small, winnable goals in another post and now bashes people trying to use one of those goals to avoid burnout? That is one of the reasons I was surprised with his post in the first place, the whole feeling that I can grab a JLPT site or textbook and use it to mine sentences, but the moment I think about taking the test I should stop learning the language? Make other goals? What is wrong with this one?
    You comment leads to “if you have to use other sources of motivation outside learning the language, then you shouldn’t be learning in the first place” which is kind of the same stuff that was on the end of his post, and something I find very condescending.

    “Learning any language isn’t about knowing the language, it’s about interacting (through TV, music, movies, text, social situations) with the people who speak that language.”

    I think you are kind of mixing things there? We certainly have to “know” the language in order to use it. I agree that is not the main point, but I was referring to the actual use of the language. Like the point of immersion is so that we can learn what a word means, how to use a verb or a particle, without using traditional textbooks and grammar references, but by seeing it in action in the real world. Finally, when we achieve fluency, we are able to use this knowledge, only on the subconscious level, without thinking before using every word and particle in a sentence. But the point is we use the same knowledge as given in traditional resources, only the manner in which we acquire this knowledge is different(through immersion) my point is that while the JLPT can be a poor test of someones proficiency, it is reasonable at testing someones knowledge, and that is also another possible reason why some people think it is so important.

    “If that in and of itself isn’t enough motivation to learn the language you want to learn…well…why do you really want to learn it?”

    As I said in other comments, in my personal case, the test is not the end goal, it is just a step along the way. The problem, for most people is how much motivation that brings, sure the end result looks nice, but some people might need a more attainable goal, a more short term goal to keep them going. That is where the JLPT comes in, just like khatz small, winnable games concept, only not on the same scale or time frame, but within the same line of reason. Suppose I take a JLPT text book and make a goal of reading 1 chapter a day, and then answering all the questions the next day and so on. It is in japanese. You could say that “well the time you use doing that could be spent reading a manga or watching a jdrama/anime” but then, not only we would need to discuss someones tastes(I’d never watch naruto for instance, personal taste, regardless if it is good for learning japanese or not) but also we’d need to put the quality of those media forward, and nowadays it doesn’t look too good for japanese TV either.

    In the end though, if you can’t understand why people take the JLPT for motivation, I could ask if you have experienced burnout, which is central to motivation, and central to the AJATT method itself. If you are doing AJATT and have not experienced burnout yet, then you are very lucky indeed.

  21. Leo
    October 10, 2008 at 06:20

    “Still, the JLPT is by no means an end to itself and if you sound like a native, you shouldn’t need it.”

    I agree, but that goes both ways too, if I sound like a native, I shouldn’t have a problem passing it.

  22. Homebound
    October 10, 2008 at 07:15

    Hi Leo

    Obviously we’re never going to agree on the JLPT, so I don’t see much point in continuing (much rather be doing something in Japanese). I would like to say that I understand the need for motivation and validation, but I personally think that the JLPT is a poor source for it. Certainly, I do understand why someone would take it for motivation though. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s easy to pass the test, I just think the effort could be spent. But if you enjoy reading the study materials and/or want to take the test, what business is it of mine.

    In regards to burnout, yes I have experienced it. But I press on, I find something more fun do, or a more fun way to do it (I quit Heisig for a week and then decided to start again). Sure, I’ve spent five minutes singing an English song, or spent a day or two watching Dexter. But, while I was doing it I was wishing I was doing it in Japanese and thinking about ways to make my life more fun.

    I HAVE to know this language. I’m in the lucky position of having a few class friends in Japan. And I’m not gonna wait for them to get fluent in English to have deep conversations with them. My wall is plastered with their photos – and any time I feel like quitting I see them and I remember why I started this slightly insane journey and I keep going. That, I think was the main point of the article, and this site. It has to be fun, and you have to persevere.

  23. Leo
    October 12, 2008 at 10:46

    “Obviously we’re never going to agree on the JLPT, so I don’t see much point in continuing (much rather be doing something in Japanese). I would like to say that I understand the need for motivation and validation, but I personally think that the JLPT is a poor source for it. Certainly, I do understand why someone would take it for motivation though. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s easy to pass the test, I just think the effort could be spent. But if you enjoy reading the study materials and/or want to take the test, what business is it of mine.”

    I couldn’t care less if the JLPT is the best or worst test in the world, all I wanted people to do was acknowledge that studying for the JLPT can be done with no harm inside the AJATT method and that motivation is an issue that the JLPT can also help with, something the owner of the blog doesn’t seem to agree on, and that is why I posted and people commented. If you can see my side, good, we can agree to disagree and leave it at that.

    “In regards to burnout, yes I have experienced it. But I press on, I find something more fun do, or a more fun way to do it (I quit Heisig for a week and then decided to start again). Sure, I’ve spent five minutes singing an English song, or spent a day or two watching Dexter. But, while I was doing it I was wishing I was doing it in Japanese and thinking about ways to make my life more fun.
    I HAVE to know this language. I’m in the lucky position of having a few class friends in Japan. And I’m not gonna wait for them to get fluent in English to have deep conversations with them. My wall is plastered with their photos – and any time I feel like quitting I see them and I remember why I started this slightly insane journey and I keep going. That, I think was the main point of the article, and this site. It has to be fun, and you have to persevere.”

    Then you can appreciate the many different ways people will deal with it, you used your way, as I use mine and other people use theirs. If you can see all sides of the coin then that is all I wanted.
    Good luck on your studies.

  24. Enki
    October 18, 2008 at 15:27

    Maybe this has been mentioned before, but you might like this:

    I was reading a book called This is Your Brain On Music, a book about music and neurology. There’s a chapter discussing what makes an expert musician and…well…

    “The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world class expert- in anything. In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is equivalent to roughly three hours a day, or twenty hours a week, of practice over ten years. Of course, this doesn’t address why some people don’t seem to get anywhere when they practice, and why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others. But no one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it taks the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.” [emphasis mine]

    Of course, going the AJATT route, ten thousand hours can be achieved in far less than ten years~ But, personally, I’m liking the implications of this.

  25. wenhailin
    October 22, 2008 at 17:49

    I was reading Time magazine the other week, and noticed they reviewed a book that dealt precisely with this topic. The book is called Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else. It is by Geoff Colvin. This is what Time said:

    “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? goes the old joke: Practice, practice, practice. The author, a FORTUNE editor and columnist, is not a big believer in innate talent. “Great performance is in our hands far more than most of us ever suspected,” he writes in this provocative book. But ordinary practice isn’t enough for extraordinary results. Colvin is a believer in “deliberate practice,” highly mentally demanding activity designed to improve performance, which should be repeated a lot – with feedback. Oh, yeah, says Colvin, “It isn’t much fun.” But it delivers”

    Sounds like a book worth having a look at. Has anyone read it?

  26. January 22, 2009 at 11:41

    I’m really loving this blog, dude!
    And though this article isn’t really about the JLPT test (I read the one that it does), but the controversy happens to focus here (well, I’m a few months late, but who the hell cares), I thought I’d just say I completely agree with Khatz. In fact it is something that for years now I’ve been thinking about ALL standarized education. That is to say, “scholarization” it is completely flawed IMHO. The fact is NOBODY can teach ANYTHING, all the LEARNING comes from yourself. You can learn stuff; nobody can teach you stuff. Even in schools, colleges and the sort, the belief that the so-called “teacher” is actually “teaching” you is an ilusion, nothing more. Of course, it’s business, right?
    I’m currently learning Japanese on my own while assisting class at my University. In all seriousness, those classes… jeez, I wanna shoot on the foot when I’m sitting there so most of the time I don’t go ’cause I feel I’m wasting my time. I better stay home and do some real studying. And because of that I’m waaaaay ahead of my class. Best decision ever… though I need the goddam college degree so that’s the reason I keep attending.
    Though, as I said, I believe we can all learn anything and there’s no need to go to classes for that (at least, not inherently).

    Thank you… and as a native speaker of Spanish, a hope my Japanese will be good as my English, though I keep making some mistakes, here and there.

    This blog rocks. I love it

    Bye

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