Now if only I had follow-through.

-- So, I had trouble in high-school. Well, middle-school too... ok, all school. And to help prevent any such trouble for any possible future children of mine, I am looking back on problems I had, and thinking of ways to raise the theoretical children where the problems I had will be nonexistent.
-- Looking back at myself I see a few problems that I had, and some that still linger with me, hindering my, quite expensive, college experience. I had trouble concentrating (which I know is quite normal), serious short term memory problems, difficulty completing individual assignments, and when I was in an academic hole I would easily lose hope and shut down. Now that was not amazingly descriptive, but Ill delve into more detail and some possible solutions to my problems.

-- Trouble concentrating is... everywhere, and difficult to combat. In our world of ADD and ADHD we like to treat everything away. I myself was diagnosed with ADHD or some equivalent (it was long ago, and I was young) and was proscribed some meds for it, which I am told helped. Unfortunately I felt like it was a crutch and threw my pills away, much to the dismay of my mother- apparently they were expensive or something. But in my quest to compete with the rest of humanity from the same start point I eventually found a workaround solution that at the time I called "hyper-threading."
-- Now, hyper-threading from what I understand was a computer buzzword that meant the processor switched between tasks at incredible speed or something, it made sense at the time and what it is called is largely irrelevant. So, the problem I found, with my mind at least, is that the more I isolated myself and my senses, the more my mind would wander. If I secluded myself in my room where all there was to do was the assignment, anything would peak my interest and draw me away. Now I am sure some of you KNOW this already, I know lots of people who study with music on in the background, or with something on the TV. But it was rather groundbreaking at the time for me. Up until then the answer was "you are easily distracted, we should remove all distractions," and I feel this is incorrect. The mind of the distractable, is going to be distracted. So the key lies in working with this urge and using it to cause the attention to bound back to the task at hand. Don't play new songs or TV shows, play old songs (not dance tunes, for the love of god not the dance tunes) or some old reruns on the TV that you have seen a million times. While focusing on your work, when your mind gets distracted, which for me was several times a second, your attention flows to the obviously entertaining medium assaulting your senses, but it being a boring old rerun your minds curiosity is fulfilled and you can immediately switch back to working on the assignment at hand. An additional key feature of using old songs or reruns that you know lies in the subconscious dialogue. When you get distracted by something you already know the questions is not as it would be for something new and exciting: "What is going on now?" it is instead "What part are they at now?" If you noticed, the second question evokes the process of memory, specifically the long term stuff. By using your long term memory as a whole during studying or working on assignments you strengthen that part of your mind as a whole, making it easier to recall later. Also if you have seen the episode a million times and know what happens, it's less likely to hold your attention for long.
-- So in short, train yourself to switch your focus quickly, and place yourself in situations where everything around you is rather known, so you can switch focus back to what you want to do rather easily.

-- Short term memory problems are not all that amazing, we have all had a situation where we forget a name we just heard, what we just ate, or who we just slept with. Short term memory loss like that is not uncommon, and it is so common in a school setting that I would dare to say it is ubiquitous, but I don't remember what that means. The kind of memory problem I had goes beyond this... so far beyond that it is safe to say it was not even memory at all, but rather active thought.
-- When I was in the third grade I started doing homework, kind of late, but Oregon's dump stat was education. It started simple enough with math problems, advanced new stuff. Now, we had to submit these all hand written, with the whole problem transcribed out of the book because it was the 1870s and pencils were all the rage, not really that difficult for anyone, but for some reason it took me an hour to do 20 problems, clearly am academic problem. My teacher at the time, Mrs. Gray, thought the best solution was to pull me aside and do a problem in 3 minutes. She did it several times several different ways and then asked me why I was stupid. Great educating I know. Looking back I can remember 1, I was actually pretty bad at simple math, and 2, it took me more than half that time just to copy the damn problem out of the book.
-- Transcription is an amazing process, you look at your source, read it, know it, move to where you are going to write it, hold the pencil right, shit what was the problem again? Wait, was I on three or two? let me just check my notebook paper, ah, two, awesome, so Ill just read three, wait was I ON two or did I finish two? No, three, ok, and it's... 3+2, woah, big stuff here, ok, dont use your fingers, that is cheating, haha, I have five fingers on my hand, if only that was relevant, ok, back to problem 2... wait a minute. fuck.
-- In the course of moving my eyes from one textbook to paper, I would manage to forget what problem I was on, and then lose faith in my own memory, question myself, check again, and repeat. My memory was SO BAD I could not hold on to three characters for a split second. Clearly this made it hard to do the work, but nobody could recognize the actual problem and help me, I sure couldn't. But now I am an adult, and luckily my long term memory is good enough for some hindsight.
-- Looking back I think a good way to remedy this would be to use common memory games, or flash cards, and with my children, ill start this at about age -3 months. Specifically a kind of game where someone showed me a flashcard for a moment, hid it, and then I had to write down what I saw. Later on the time it would be shown would be reduced, and the amount of text would become larger and less intelligible. A card with a phrase on it is easier to remember than a similar sequence of random bits. I like this idea, and I look forward to doing it with my children. I think it will prevent this from ever being a problem for them, and do other things, like increase reading speed, and perhaps some other things I can't even think of.

-- Slackers are everywhere, and while I often had amazing plans and ideas on how to do the assignment, I had terrible follow-through. This of course, would lead to slacking, and missed assignments, but I will get to that later.
-- Finishing things is not only important in school, but in everyday life. We all know people with outstanding aspirations and plans, and we all know they have had them for a million years. The most important part of any plan is actually doing it, all of it. Without finishing crap it is quite meaningless. If every half baked plan or idea in the past 100 years was fully baked and then implimented to it's end, success or failure, the world would probably be a better place. Of course someone would bring up the holocaust or WW2 in general, and there I must say, that's what happens when you have follow-through, results.
-- Now, assuming any child of mine would automatically be a person that would not commit genocide, I won't feel bad about raising them with a strong capacity of follow-through, but how to do this? As I said, this is not only important in school, but in all aspects of life. When making a person, as a parent, you would need to encourage, and if all else fails, force, a child to finish things they start, or are a part of. Always play games to the end, no matter how boring they are. later in life say 4-10, help them choose a craft idea, and help them finish it. Give them a passion for seeing their own finished works, and you will have given them a truly amazing gift.

-- In my life, I did not have an amazing ability to finish what I start. I always sought to get a new clean slate, often seeing my life as a movement from one clean slate to the next. I would struggle from one semester to the next, always tell myself how great the next year would be. In the end I did not finish high school, I got out and got a new clean slate in the army, which I got out of three months early to go to college, and now college is taking a downturn... hopefully ill pull through, but not next semester, but right now, in this one.
-- Often in school I would work myself into a hole. I would miss an assignment, getting a 0, miss another, get a 0, and eventually I would stop trying, not seeing how I could recover from so many scores of 0. Now, I am mostly to blame here, and I acknowledge that, I messed up my life, but some things helped. The problem with me was the fact I did not understand that a shitty assignment was still half credit, and that half credit was leaps and bounds over a big fat zero. It took me a while to figure out on account of my awkward dance with math. And the problem I see in society is the fact that getting something 59% done is portrayed as being the same as getting nothing done.
-- With myself it was strange, I would put off assignments to the last minute, then not do them because I did not think I could do them well enough to matter in the sliver of time I left myself. This of course it wrong. I won't explain how averages work here, but believe me when I say jotting down a shitty assignment and getting an F is better than a 0. And for the longest time I could just not grasp that. getting out of the massive hole of 59% seemed daunting to me. Something I needed to understand from a young age is that crap is better than nothing.
-- On that note I want to talk about the grading system. We all know it, 0-59=F, 60-69=D, 70-79=C, 80-89=B, and 90-100=A. Not universal, but it is close enough. I personally like this system, it is simple to remember, simple to apply, and simple to understand. But for some reason it intimidated me away from working further on anything. It made it seem like I could get so far on something, and still fail, which is true in life, but a bad mindset to have in early education. To fix this ill probably start my kids out on a scale similar to the GPA scale. a 0-4 representing the same scale above really. Deep in the psyche though I believe it will make everything seem easier. Instead of trudging up 59 stairs just to get into the realm of "frowningly acceptable" you step from 0 to 1. It just seems much less daunting a task, even though it is really the same as going from an F to a D on the other scale. Finding a way to prevent my kids from getting into my mindset on this specific matter is on my to do list...

Now if only I had follow-through.

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