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Could a past socialite at school be at a disadvantage later on in life?

Socializing too deeply early on at school is often a disadvantage in later life; the most successful people are those with strong raw talents that learnt to socialise out of school.

The reason for this disadvantage is institutional and would be difficult to decouple from a mainstream education. The social hierarchy at a school promotes the social status of people that (a) are older or part of the educational bureaucracy, (b) demonstrate superficial interest in manufactured culture, (c) belong to mainstream cliques with lowest common denominator values, and most of all (d) are non-disruptive and therefore willing to follow the rules and authorities of the institution. This is as opposed to later life where in a less rigid social structure freethinkers move ahead from others depending on their ability to be (e) disruptive and on their human merit: (f) intellectual and (g) social.

It should be quite clear that, while a school may attempt to educate pupils which it often achieves to a high degree of success, the actual social structure is counter to the abilities eventually self-learned by a freethinker [e, f, g].

When a person that does not feel part of an institution and does not socialise as readily with it, they are not as easily influenced by the institution and: (h) criticise it and (i) differentiate themselves from it — often this means the band geek buries themselves in music and the nerd starts to read science text books in their spare time. While later on they are not handed the opportunities that would have arisen from a high social status at school they are: (j) less impeded by new hierarchies that they join, (k) now promoted based on the merits that they fostered while on the fringes of the educational institution.

On the contrary, the person that felt one with the institution and was celebrated for conforming to the values of its social structure has now learned behaviour that: (l) either brings no benefit to their existence in the new hierarchies or (m) actually counts against them. Worst of all, since they never learnt how to exist apart from a hierarchy (n) they prefer the security of groups over the risk of trying to do things their own way, (o) are likely to lack technical skills, (p) and might still be friends with the people they grew up with in school which would create "stickyness".

As a closing point, of course there are exceptions, for instance: there are those with (q) leadership qualities and (r) high emotional intelligence that were successful at school while also able to control their school experience to their own long-term advantage. There are also many unsuccessful geeks and nerds whom only gain (s) intellectual skills, (t) simply belonged to a much worse-off social clique with the same problems, and most importantly (u) never learn to socialise and take risks.


This article is a response to the New York Times article: “Why Nerds Succeed”


Enhanced Autodidactism for the Chronically Lazy and Hyper-active

If you find it difficult to concentrate: you might think it is difficult to finish projects or learn new things. This requires protracted effort, not something you are able or willing to give. Maybe you’ll give up: why bother forcing yourself to continue when you have no natural inclinations.

But don’t.
Don’t try to push harder when you start to lose concentration. Do what you are most comfortable with: change direction and keep your energy levels high.

Here are my suggestions on the changes which I’ve found have made me a more productive learner:

  1. Set yourself very short-term goals. Goals that can be achieved in mere hours. Break tasks up.
  2. Build habits; avoid long-term goals. Build habits that ensure you progress. Goals, once set, will cause you stress. Habits become second-nature. (Particularly build the habits around the fundamentals.)
  3. Don’t force yourself to do something that you’re losing interest in. Very few people would be able to manage that without negatively affecting their mood and making themselves worse off.
  4. Move onto the next difficult task if you’re losing interest. To remain productive, all you need to do is challenge yourself: make sure that everything that you move to is difficult, useful and requires learning. Don’t take shortcuts. You can always come back at a later date when you’re less bored by the topic and have smarter solutions. Distract yourself with other work, not entertainment.
  5. Always do what you love (if you can). This is for your sanity but also your productivity: you can’t work as hard when you’re not enjoying yourself.
  6. Write every useful non-obvious bit of information down. Write in as concise and clear a way as possible. And write for yourself: what you find illuminating; what you found challenging; the example which exemplified the problem most. Every couple of days pick up one of your books and skim it. It will jog your memory and give your frames of reference so you are able to quickly pick things up if you need them at a later date.
  7. Network with people that have skills you want. Find mentors. 
  8. Don’t overdo it. If you’re close to a burn-out you need to stop and find balance.

Discuss on news.yc


UPDATE: Following a comment I read on lesswrong, I’ve written a short update here.

(Source: sebinsua.com)