Congratulations on being a slow learner

Quick quiz. Is a “siren” an attraction, or a warning? Since the word is in lower case, and you are likely interpreting it from a modern perspective, you would be correct in defining it as a sound of warning. But in Greek mythology, the Sirens performed beautiful music that attracted passing sailors to the destructive rocks that surrounded their remote island.

Related question. In general, do you consider advertising an attraction, or a warning? Your answer may, in part, determine the nature of your struggle to attain health and happiness.

Congratulations on being a slow learner

“Faster”, “easier” and “cheaper” are the Sirens’ song in this modern age for anyone seeking health and happiness. Despite the proliferation of products and advertisements using this evocative language, consistent health and happiness remain the province and accomplishment of a relative minority. The healthy people among us stuff their ears with wax to avoid the allure of “faster”, “easier” and “cheaper;” knowing that anything that sounds too good to be true generally is, and leads inevitably to a wrecked ship.

That’s not to say every incidence of “faster”, “easier” and “cheaper” is bad; but true health and happiness can be accomplished only with effort and expense applied over time. To some extent, the positive aspects in life are always in a state of becoming. And it is this realization that makes one a slow learner.

Slow learners unlearn or ignore much of what they learned in school about time that is at cross purposes with longterm health and happiness. Timed tasks. Clock watching. Calendar watching. Arbitrary commencements. Deadlines and endpoints.

In school, faster responses are interpreted to mean you are smarter. And it is presumed that slower responses will fail to make the grade in a dog-eat-dog, competitive world. On any given cognitive task, those who finish more quickly or within the task deadline are considered smarter than those who complete a comparable quality of work but require more time.

Where's the fire?

It’s unfortunate that so much of education is conducted in a rush. Academic content is presented with a flash card mentality that leads children to believe, “The quicker I answer, the smarter I am.” And maybe that’s okay if schools were preparing them for adult occupations akin to a game show like Jeopardy.

The speed at which information is accumulated in schools is exceeded only by the speed at which it is forgotten. That’s mostly because school lessons are presented in ways that lack personal meaning. Attempting to help children establish logical relationships and personal relevancy (i.e., teaching them to think) is complex and time-consuming. Therefore, anyone who stops to think—students and teachers alike—are penalized.

Time elements in the education process convey the message that speed and volume are more important than contextuality and relevance. In general, it is better to complete tasks on time by guessing, than by wasting time on introspection or deliberation.

For a long, satisfying life, unlearn or ignore conventional wisdom. The smartest people do not always get the A’s (look at Einstein). So slow down. Take life as it comes. Live day by day. Live within your means. Be aware of sirens and beware of Sirens.  

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