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Chapter 4: Good Bad Attitude

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jonathansimon
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Joined: 2003-06-07

I really dug this chapter. Short and to the point.

Graham gets at the idea that good results are often the effect of breaking rules. Again, I think this comes back to the idea that new thought is controversial.

One of the things that the US does well is the liberal arts education -- learning a broad range of subjects outside your main discipline and their integration. And part of that education is learning to break rules to get your task accomplished.

I break rules all the time. What I have found recently, though, is learning to judge whether my task is important enough to break whatever rule I'm breaking, and how to do it so I don't upset too many people. :)

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johnm
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Joined: 2003-06-06

Here's a Slashdot thread (http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/10/20/0022240) about the online version of this chapter.

oansaldi
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Joined: 2003-12-04

> And part of that education is learning to break rules
> to get your task accomplished.

This sounds very paradoxal to me: "Breaking the rule" is the new rule!

johnm
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Joined: 2003-06-06

> This sounds very paradoxal to me: "Breaking the rule"
> is the new rule!

That's the same as "Change is the only constant." :-)

In a more "serious", rigorous bent, the underlying attitude is about (being able to) deeply question the rules.

johnm
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Joined: 2003-06-06

> One of the things that the US does well is the
> liberal arts education -- learning a broad range of
> subjects outside your main discipline and their
> integration. And part of that education is learning
> to break rules to get your task accomplished.

Really? Where and how so?

> I break rules all the time. What I have found
> recently, though, is learning to judge whether my
> task is important enough to break whatever rule I'm
> breaking, and how to do it so I don't upset
> [i]too[/i] many people. :)

Rock on! :-)

jonathansimon
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Joined: 2003-06-07

I went to Oberlin and I was a double major in music performance and TIMARA (technology in music and related arts). The TIMARA degree was pretty liberal, encouraging students to get involved with theater, video, graphics, programming, etc. in addition to the music (hence the related arts part). I happened to spend most of my time programming music software which is how I got here.

About half way through my degree, I decided I wanted to write music software. I took some courses and convinced the school to let me take a few CS courses that counted towards my TIMARA degree. Then I started writing my own music software.

I was also involved in an NSF sponsored course at Oberlin that was funded to get programmers and musicians together with other artists to make ever vague "artistic works". These things always have a fair amount of "questionable" content, but the idea is cool nonetheless.

Also, Oberlin, in addition to a great conservatory, also has a strong double degree program where students spend 5 years getting both a BM (Music) and BA in a liberal arts or science.

This is pretty similar to what I've heard about the "sister" schools -- Vassar, Mills, Amherst and others. The multidisciplinary thing is alive and well at small liberal arts colleges.

johnm
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Joined: 2003-06-06

[...Oberlin experience...]

Cool but how does that apply to your earlier statement:

> And part of that education is learning
> to break rules to get your task accomplished.

?

I.e., was "breaking rules" part of the curriculum or was it actually just something that you figured out on your own?