Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Richard P Feynman and me...

Another reason to be depressed about an Irish childhood (that included brutal education for the masses) Frank Mc Court listen up and add this one to your list!!

Now, when i was young, and i'm not saying that i'm old, but anything to do with education was boring, pointless and maybe even impossible!!

Mathematics, Physics? Forget it, you need to be a genius or prey to a god that was generous with brains, maybe i was abducted by space aliens and had my brains scooped out and i've been waiting many years for them to grow back and now this.

My world needed an education hero, where the hell was he... America?

It sometimes pains me to read about Richard Feynman and think, why oh why didn't i have a teacher like him, he was smart enough to know how people learn and would have done a better job than the half wit we had teaching us Physics

(Readers note: I was eternally grateful to the teacher i had at the time, he showed about as much interest teaching as i had in listening, it was a win win scenario, until you were expected to pass an exam
At the time i thought he was fab i could drift off into a slumber or check out what the birds were doing on the branches outside the window, mother nature is very active in Ireland sometimes, yea know?)

I recently read 'Surely you're joking Mr Feynman' and i would like to share a few memories

The most interesting thing i like about Richard Feynman is he didn't think he was a genius at all, he had a very different was of thinking, of seeing the world, he concentrated on what he was doing and didn't get too hot and bothered by what others were doing, there is a lesson there, work on yourself.

When it boils down to it, if you could model his approach to work and life, pretty soon everyone would think your a genius (even though you know your not!)

One of the first lectures he gave, Albert Einstein was at it, yep he was pretty smart!

Through learning to draw Richard saw how art teachers teach by osmosis and not by instruction, by learning to draw, he saw that kids absorb information little by little and not in one big gulp

By cross training in his field and having an interest in other non related fields, this gave him a 'differnt bag of tools' in his mind to work with, one time some scientists he talked to were working on a problem for 2 years, he merely suggested 'Why don't you try it this way?' and the problem was solved in half an hour.

The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out

A lot of the examples he gave, like mental arithmetic square root numbers, were things he did for fun, and anybody could do, but he had a vast collection of these and when needed he had a resource of data in his head he could apply to the task at hand where everybody else had to reach for a pen and paper

Richard would model his ideas, the when working on a problem, he would say, 'It's like...' and work on the issue visually and rather think about the issue, he would see it and the problem and then the solution.

He got that way of modeling thinking from his dad, when his dad was explaining about a kind of dinosaur he was telling him,
Do you see the top of the barn? It's head would have been at the top of the roof, this helped him see the dimensions and it made a dinosaur relative to a kid (no cousins were hurt here)

On Models he said:
Models don't have any money, if they did, they wouldn't be modeling

On Experts he said:
I'll never make a mistake again reading the expert opinions. Of course, you only live one life, and you make all your mistakes, and you learn what not to do, and thats the end of you

Through out his life he did fun experiment's, he liked playing with things and figuring out how they worked, he reached a point where he was burnt out, had enough and he decided to take a playful approach to work and life

In one of his other books he went to talk to his kids math teacher when she complained about his kid solving a maths problem using another method, the teacher looked at him and said 'What would you know about maths?' He said nothing and agreed with her

How would you decline a great job offer?

So i wrote them back a letter that said:
'After reading the salary, i've decided that i must refuse. The reason i have to refuse a salary like that is that i would be able to do what i've always wanted to do - get a wonderful mistress, put her up in an apartment, buy her nice things...with the salary you have offered, i could actually do that, i know what would happen to me.

I'd worry about her, what she's doing; i'd get into arguments when i came home, and so on
All this bother would make me uncomfortable and unhappy. I wouldn't be able to do physics well, and it would be a big mess. What i've always wanted to do would be bad for me, so i've decided i cant accept the offer'

At the time of reading about Richard i was having problems with the laptop i was using and instead of getting frustrated i was thinking
'What would Richard Feynman do? What would Richard say ? 
Yep, i started thinking like that and now i can report the laptop in a much better condition, all my hair is still on my head, some in my ears too, there no birds chirping, but the bats are flapping, school must be over?

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