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14Jan/125

I don’t wanna, but I gotta

 
this coulda been me

I don’t want to be composing this blog, but I am.  If I was born in Utah, I'd probably be a Republican, a Mormon, and a Romney supporter.  Thank you, Mr. Silverman.  "Makers" please admit you were fortunate.

In response to a friend's request, I just read the New York Times Article, "Big Study Links Good Teachers to Lasting Gain." http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/06/education/big-study-links-good-teachers-to-lasting-gain.html?_r=1  The article summarizes a scientific investigation which concluded that kids who have had the luck to be taught by "good" teachers, have increased earning capacity, more college degrees and a lessened chance for teenage pregnancy.

Since I worked as a teacher in public schools for 20 years, and I brazenly consider myself a "good" teacher, this article made a great read. You ask, how do I know I was a good teacher?  Well, parents, administrators and lots of students have said I was, and I immodestly have decided to concur.  Note:  Accolades will be sent on request. 

Though, this article made me puff up a bit, obviously, I know that there is a lot more to becoming a successful, good human being than having a good 7th grade science teacher. Where you are born, who your parents are, your DNA, every life experience molds us into who we become.

If you were fortunate to have had the right genes, lived in the US and had a basketball coach for a dad, you might be Michael Jordan.  If you had had George Romney for a dad, you'd most likely be a Mormon and a Republican.  Personally, I'd prefer to be Michael than Willard (aka Mitt).

I don't want to get into a discussion of self-determinism and free will, but since, I have no choice, I strongly concur with B.F. Skinner's words as follows:

"In the traditional view, a person is free. He is autonomous in the sense that his behavior is uncaused. He can therefore be held responsible for what he does and justly punished if he offends. That view, together with its associated practices, must be re-examined when a scientific analysis reveals unsuspected controlling relations between behavior and environment"

I thank and blame my life experiences for making me who I am. Thanks Mom and Dad.   Likewise, a bit of the good stuff about me is due to my 7th grade science teacher.  Thank you, Mr. Silverman.

Apparently, many in this country sincerely believe that each person decides who he/she is  and what he/sh will become.  They believe that individuals are solely responsible for their success or failure.  If you are a billionaire, it is because you earned it.  If you are a panhandler on the mean streets of Dubuque, you earned that too.  Take the credit! You did it or you blew it.

It is the belief of this writer that if we are affixed to an immutable concept of self-determinism, we lose our empathy, our compassion and the impetus to help the less-fortunate.  Note; the word "fortunate" itself conflicts with the concept of self-determinism.

Recently, a well written comment was posted on Facebook in reference to my last blog, The-Makers-Takers-and-Fakers.  It read,

"We see Obama supporting equal outcomes and not equal opportunity.  That is a loser for everyone in the long run."

To this I respond as follows:  Opportunity is not opportunity unless people have had events and people in their lives to enable them to take advantage of opportunity.  Open doors are not enough to assure social mobility.  We gotta do more.

Interactions between humans affect humans.  I wish there was a Mr. Silverman out there to help the "makers" of our society look into their being and credit all the people and events which enabled them to be "successful" and then see what they can do to enable others to a good life, or perhaps they just want to live in gated enclaves.

Ya Gotta Earn the Key

Posted By Matt 1/14/2012

Comments (5) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Matt – Terrific blog. I concur completely. Penny

  2. If it is all genetic, pre-determined, then our society’s most practical solution would be to establish committees charged with determining whether the mating of a particular “breeding pair” (perspective parents) to each other would produce offspring that would “improve the breed”. If not, they should not be allowed to breed, right?

    Conversely, if it is all about life experiences and societal influences, then that same committee should be tasked with reviewing each person’s “life resume”, to determine whether each putative parent had sufficient external influences that would serve to benefit the next generation as a result of that pairing.

    What part then does the soul, the drive, the determination, the spiritualism and spiritual outlook of the person play? What part does the decision to do right or wrong play, for a person who has the capacity both to know right from wrong, and to make a choice?

    Which factor plays the most important part in the formation of the complete human being? Is it the same factor and relative ratio for each person? And what about the hope and optimism for the human condition that we should each have?

    Human beings may be able to be described formulaically; I just believe that we have the ability to describe, define and apply the formula.

    • I love your comments….you are clearly of great genetic and environmental background. I believe our actions are determined by a combination of good genetics and good environment (and we know it too, otherwise, we would not spend so much time working with our kids and selecting spouses.) The fun stuff is we don’t know how the mix works, and there is a gigantic bunch of stuff not in our control… just too many damn variables. Additionally, we all need to pretend we have free will so we can influence others and feel human.

      Courts cannot excuse criminal behavior due to the offender’s lack of free will because punishment or lack of punishment may affect consequent behaviors…(I have a hard time believing that Jeffrey Dahmer (sp?) just decided to be a serial murderer, but we cannot as a society tolerate such behavior, so we lock em’ up or kill ’em and hopefully that discouages addtional anti-social behavior. The internal guilt mechanism for the Dahmers of the world apparently doesn’t exist, hence for whatever reason there is not a self applied brake to stop their anti-social behavior …. Does the absence of a conscience mean a person is more responsible or less responsible for their anti-social actions? Less conscience = less free will ?

      As for the spiritual side of the equation, it is my belief that many of us need (why I do not know) to explain the mysteries of human interaction. The spritual explanation for action or inaction works for many, but not for me… However, if I was Michelle Bachmann, it might work, but then again if I looked in the mirror and saw Michelle, I would probably kill myself.

      Thanks for the reading and especially the well thought out comments. (will this last statement increase your likelihood of responding to future blogs?)
      Matt

  3. Correction: I just DON’T believe that we have the ability to describe, define and apply the formula.


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