Tag Archives: discipline

Shokunin – dedicate your life to mastering your skill

You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That’s the secret to success…and is the key to being regarded honorably. – Jiro Dreams of Sushi

 

Last night we watched Jiro Dreams of Sushi on Netflix Instant, and we both fell in love with Jiro. For his amazing work and his intense focus on being a Shokunin (show-koo-nin).

I wouldn’t say he is eccentric. He just works relentlessly every day. That’s how Shokunin are. The way of the Shokunin is to repeat the same thing every day. They just want to work. They aren’t trying to be special.

And in the words of Jiro, once you choose your occupation you must immerse yourself in it and fall in love. Which I think is important. This is not for any job you happen to fall into, it is a chosen profession. And if you are lucky enough to get that choice then dive in and become a Shokunin.

That’s what I want to do. I dream of working that hard, every day, and never stopping. No retirement, no vacations, just a simple dedication to something I love. For years I have built up the discipline and focus needed to be so resolute.

And I’m at the point in my life where I get to make that choice. I have taken a year off work to find my occupation. The whole time living off savings and dedicating myself to writing. Every day I wake up and write, take a break, and write some more. And I’m proud to say in the last year I’ve never taken a weekend or holiday. I’ve gone on vacations and written during them.

I’m proud of that dedication, but I know I’m no Shokunin. To meet that standard I will have to persevere for another 9 years.

 

Shokunin. (source: hayashida)

 

The Japanese word shokunin is defined by both Japanese and Japanese-English dictionaries as ‘craftsman’ or ‘artisan,’ but such a literal description does not fully express the deeper meaning.  The Japanese apprentice is taught that shokunin means not only having technical skills, but also implies an attitude and social consciousness. … The shokunin has a social obligation to work his/her best for the general welfare of the people.  This obligation is both spiritual and material, in that no matter what it is, the shokunin’s responsibility is to fulfill the requirement.” – Tasio Odate

More women in Computer Science – a simple solution from Harvey Mudd

An interesting story from the New York Times shows how current president of Harvey Mudd College, Maria Klawe, turned her school into a computer science powerhouse for women.

She started her work in 2006, amidst a big downturn in female computer science graduates. “As recently as 1985, 37 percent of graduates in the field were women; by 2005 it was down to 22 percent, and sinking.”

Harvey Mudd was even worse with graduates in the single digits. This year that rate is nearly 40% and here’s how it happened:

In 2005, the year before Dr. Klawe arrived, a group of faculty members embarked on a full makeover of the introductory computer science course, a requirement at Mudd.

Known as CS 5, the course focused on hard-core programming, appealing to a particular kind of student — young men, already seasoned programmers, who dominated the class. This only reinforced the women’s sense that computer science was for geeky know-it-alls.

To reduce the intimidation factor, the course was divided into two sections — “gold,” for those with no prior experience, and “black” for everyone else. Java, a notoriously opaque programming language, was replaced by a more accessible language called Python. And the focus of the course changed to computational approaches to solving problems across science.

“We realized that we needed to show students computer science is not all about programming,” said Ran Libeskind-Hadas, chairman of the department. “It has intellectual depth and connections to other disciplines.”

Dr. Klawe supported the cause wholeheartedly, and provided money from the college for every female freshman to travel to the annual Grace Hopper conference, named after a pioneering programmer. The conference, where freshmen are surrounded by female role models, has inspired many a first-year “Mudder” to explore computer science more seriously.

via NY Times

Can Every Child Get Straight A’s?

Over the weekend you missed a stellar debate I had with Amy. It started from the piece, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, by Amy Chua in the Wall Street Journal. You have to read it and then come back and tell me how deeply it offended you.

The thing that got us going was a debate over straight A’s.

My point of view is that I will demand straight A’s, no matter what. I mean with the ultra-low requirements of our schools getting an ‘A’ simply means turning in homework. It is amazing how few can even do that. Just thinking about it makes me want to set the bar even higher, with honors classes and extra projects.

Simply put, I do not see any reason why students in America should not get A’s. I think that striving to do so is the only way to fix our schools because it requires resetting parental expectations – both to get parents more involved in homework and to get us as a group and a nation to expect nothing but the best.

I don’t know, maybe I’m being naive about this. Maybe I should consider those students who have trouble in math and let them off.

What do you think, am I a complete tyrant for thinking this? Will you hold your children to the same standard that I and “Chinese Mothers” do/will?

If not, please give a reason why.

Update: a response to this post was added: No! Every Child Cannot Get Straight A’s

 

Can Every Child Get Straight A's?

Over the weekend you missed a stellar debate I had with Amy. It started from the piece, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, by Amy Chua in the Wall Street Journal. You have to read it and then come back and tell me how deeply it offended you.

The thing that got us going was a debate over straight A’s.

My point of view is that I will demand straight A’s, no matter what. I mean with the ultra-low requirements of our schools getting an ‘A’ simply means turning in homework. It is amazing how few can even do that. Just thinking about it makes me want to set the bar even higher, with honors classes and extra projects.

Simply put, I do not see any reason why students in America should not get A’s. I think that striving to do so is the only way to fix our schools because it requires resetting parental expectations – both to get parents more involved in homework and to get us as a group and a nation to expect nothing but the best.

I don’t know, maybe I’m being naive about this. Maybe I should consider those students who have trouble in math and let them off.

What do you think, am I a complete tyrant for thinking this? Will you hold your children to the same standard that I and “Chinese Mothers” do/will?

If not, please give a reason why.

Update: a response to this post was added: No! Every Child Cannot Get Straight A’s