Create Conflict and Disagree

Conflict is something that, like most people, I’m very fond of avoiding. Conflict is exhausting and makes most people very uncomfortable. Because conflict is rejection. And humans aren’t great at rejection. We like to believe we are absolutely fantastic in every way and get a bit cranky, to say the least, when someone dares to shatter that illusion.

If you’re at a dinner party, it’s not common practice to go around disagreeing with everyone's opinions. People don’t like being told their idea is stupid, who would have guessed?

But if we have an idea that has never been challenged, how do we know that it’s a worthy idea. We naturally assume it is majestic because nobody has ever bothered to tell us it isn’t.

I’m slowly coming around to what I like to call ‘positive conflict’. Actively seeking out conflict around my theories. Finding people that disagree with my ideas, opinions, and beliefs and getting them to argue their contradictory viewpoint.

I say argue but I mean it in the most philosophical way. This kind of conflict isn’t malicious

Malicious conflict isn’t worth anyone's time. And it’s important to understand the difference between malicious conflict and positive conflict.

Malicious conflict is when somebody wants to pick apart your idea without offering a constructive argument against it.

It’s like destroying that kids tower of blocks, then just leaving all the pieces on the floor and walking away laughing and rubbing your hands together basking in the glory of your evilness.

Positive conflict is destroying the tower of blocks so that you can show them how to build what you believe, is a better tower.

As soon as they’ve gone, we decide to knock the tower down. But maybe their tower has a really structurally sound base, so we keep that and use it in our next tower.

Positive conflict is a way of thinking something through, in a way you couldn’t by yourself.

This means looking for people who have different belief systems, thought processes, upbringings and past experiences who understand what you need from them. Who understand the difference between positive and malicious conflict.

It means resisting the urge to gravitate towards the people that are very similar to you at that dinner party. Instead, striking up a conversation with the crazy, eccentric, old uncle.

Because it is only through the process of having our ideas and opinions deconstructed and proved wrong, that we can see what can’t be proved wrong.

Thanks for reading..!

Writing Reviews For Money

I’m no stranger to the blogging world thanks to my Dad. Back in the good old days when blogs first started to become a thing he was already fully on the bandwagon.

We sat down together at the kitchen table and used one of those horribly slow ‘Build Your Website’ internet apps to customize my very own blog.

I tried to find the original blog so that I could link it here, but I think it’s been lost to the sands of the internet.

At the time, I was probably about eight or nine and I was obsessed with reading. I had moved into the realm of chapter books and have devoured all the Famous Five, Secret Seven, Hardy Boys, Three Detectives and Trixie Belden books.

Dad had started to buy me thicker and thicker books so that it was worth his money to purchase the book in the first place.

So we decided that my blog should be centered around book reviews.

He helped me with formulating a structure for my reviews, little did I know he was training me on how to write essays

I think I only managed to write three or four but around the third one, we realised we could hook up the reviews to Amazon or Fishpond. I can’t actually remember which one it was.

Anyway, we hooked it up and I wrote another few reviews then moved on to something else and forgot about my book review blog.

A couple of months later a actual real life check showed up in the mail, made out to a Miss T Smith for $34.40.

I don’t think I ever managed to write another review and my account with whoever was paying me has long expired, but I still remember that day as one of the proudest days of my life.


Grand Cookie Selling Escapade

After selling bookmarks for a two dollars each to my grandparents, and writing book reviews for Amazon I decided I needed to expand my enterprise somewhat.

So ten year old me set to work researching. My research involved sitting, cross legged, in my room with my arms folded stubbornly waiting for my billion dollar idea.

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Crash Course Curriculum

When I first started researching free online learning resources one of the first things I came across turned out to be the most beneficial overall.

The YouTube channel Crash Course has been active since 2012, slowly growing to notoriety over the years. It was hosted by John and Hank Green, although the channel has branched out now with many different experts hosting a series in their specialized field.

There are series on everything from Astrology to Anatomy and Physiology with each video exploring a certain aspect of the topic in under ten minutes.

You can watch a video or two over breakfast or on the loo. There is no excuse to not learn with Crash Course.

The channel is not going to offer you in-depth Havard level intensity, but that's not what I’m aiming for when it comes to my own Self-Educating. I’m simply looking for comprehension and Crash Course offers that. 

I highly recommend the World History and Anatomy and Physiology Series.


Check out Crash Course

Thanks for reading..!

The Importance Of Self-Educating

I was lucky enough to have been homeschooled until high school age, Year 9, or about thirteen. Until then my parents who taught me kept me accountable to a strict learning curriculum. I was constantly surrounded by people who had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and self improvement. With this environment on my side, I grew up loving the process of learning.

When I was about thirteen I managed to convince my parents to enroll me in our local high school. I was curious to see if my lifestyle and knowledge would hold up against the formal education system.

I wasn’t particularly good at maths, I wasn’t a confident speller and I didn’t understand all the social politics that surround that system. But even though I wasn’t strong at maths I loved solving problems. Especially problems that didn’t have the answers written in the back of the book. And even though I wasn’t going to win any local spelling bee, by a long shot, I loved writing and I loved reading.

These skills were what allowed me to stand out in class, not the ability to simply retain facts until the knowledge is no longer required. I’m not saying that all formal education is useless and that we should all run into the woods and raise our children on daisies and dress them in bearskins as we teach them the ways of the earth through contemporary movement around an open fire.

That's definitely not what my childhood education looked like. Although I often think, that is the image that people conjure up when they hear the word ‘homeschooler’. In reality, my parents were kind, intelligent, nerds who wanted to spend lots of time with their kids and teach them how they wished they had been taught.

I dropped out of high school not even halfway through my third year, the middle of term two, because I couldn’t justify wasting my time any longer. The first year had been fun, it was exciting to be the expert in the class and the teacher's pet. But as the terms and the years went on I kept waiting for it to get harder. For the challenge. But that never happened. I even convinced one of my teachers to let me sit in on one of his Year Thirteen classes. Expecting to be well out of my depths, I was disappointed to see that all they were doing was making a scrapbook.

I promise I’m not just full of myself. I did struggle with many elements of my high school experiment, just not any academic ones. After a while, I started to ask my friends if they too found the academic level a little easy. Then not just my friends. I would start talking to kids in hallways and un-strategically segway into my investigation.

My research amounted to three typical questions:

  • Yeah, it's easy but I don’t want it harder.
  • No, I think this stuff is crazy hard.

  • *Melancholy and a dramatic shrug of shoulders* I dunno.

All three of these answers alarmed me exponentially. Fed up with not feeling out of my depth I started my journey of self-educating. The rules were simple:

  • I had to be able to learn about the topic through a process that I enjoyed and was highly engaged in.

  • It had to be free or at least very, very cheap. (I was fifteen when I started guys, babysitting money was the full extent of my funds.)

  • I had to learn about the topic until I was comprehensive enough to be able to hold a conversation with an expert in that field.

This Study Of Everything is not meant to make me a master or everything, nor is it designed to make me the ‘Smartest In The Room.’ It is designed to be a crash course in a very broad range of subjects that will bring me up to the level that I can simply hold a halfway, non-idiotic conversation with the smartest people in the room.

Over the next blog posts in this category, I will share what I do and what resources I use so that you too, can get chatty with geniuses and not look like a complete ass.

Thanks for reading..!