Grades are anathema to learning!

The following is an excerpt from an interview of Michael Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg, by Richard Poynder.

RP: What is your memory of school?
MH: School was just boring, except for baseball, marbles, dodge ball etc. School can be lots of fun if you don't care about grades. Grades are anathema to learning.
RP: Why anathema?
MH: When I was concerned about grades I never had a grasp of The Big Picture, it was all "Will it be on the exam?", whereas when I didn't care about the grades I studied the subject as a whole, remembered only what I thought was important, didn't worry about the exams so much, and got better grades anyway. When I was out for The Big Picture, I would read the textbooks for fun, entertainment, and education, not just slave tasking, and the results were better in every way.
The more years I spent in school, the less attention I paid to grades, and in the end I finished college with straight A's in only two years. I had learned how to learn. Something they don't really teach in school. Young kids know how to learn, and then this is taken away from them as school goes on. I relearned it.
RP: The mission statement of Project Gutenberg is to "break down the bars of ignorance and illiteracy." Does that not imply a wish to empower people politically by giving them free books?
MH: Breaking down the bars of ignorance and illiteracy is only political if someone else is trying to keep them up! A political statement tries to set policy; I don't set policy. I just try to lead by example. eBooks are revolutionary in the non-political sense, and yet they could change the world as much as the Gutenberg Press did.
RP: So what is the aim of Project Gutenberg?
MH: Project Gutenberg is about education and literacy, and providing a level playing field. I don't try to change people; I try to change the information infrastructure. We make eBooks and give them away. We don't choose which books or where they should go. What people do with them is totally up to them.


Learning and Teaching

I am reading The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho.
It is different from The Zahir or Alchemist, in the sense that it has more of Christian esoteric concepts and spiritual symbols.

On page 163 of the edition I read, in chapter titled "Personal Vices", I noticed a very interesting-true assessment:
Teaching is only demonstrating that it is possible. Learning is making it possible for yourself.



On the weekends I try to wake up before the dawn to take a walk along the river. I meet elderly, sometimes with their dogs. They smile and say "ohayou gozaimasu!" Even to a "gaijin." I return the greeting and feel happy to start the day this way.

One of those days, on the way back home, I noticed a board, probably written by the shop owners in the area:

Let's pay utmost attention (or let's be alert):
Small courtesy shows our compassion to others.

That is why I still like being in Japan.


Seeing the pain

Compare this:
Michael Jackson, Billy Jean, Live in NY, 2001

With this:
Motown, 1983

Billy Jean was the first song that got me into "foreign."

I just don't get the feeling that he was greatly enjoying it. Oh yes, people were enjoying the show.
As a professional, like all of us who has to do what we are told, what we are paid for, he was just delivering the "final good", in perfect quality.
People who had given the money were happy, enjoying the experience of "seeing the King" so close.
I wonder if anyone ever felt that he was in pain and he was struggling to perform because he had to.
His video hits on YouTube are now counted by millions with comments like, "I am so sad", "Good bye." Great, we were part of the machine who created and destroyed him. Now we have got one more icon down, God save the rest!