Monday, January 24, 2005


(Excerpt from The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson)
(point of starts with Hackworth)

   How could he inculcate her with the nobleman's emotional stance--the pluck to take risks with her life, to found a company, perhaps found several of them even after the first efforts had failed? He had read the biographies of several notable peers and found few common threads between them.
   Finkle-McGraw couldn't prevent his granddaughter Elizabeth's parents from sending her to the very schools for which he had lost all respect; he had no right to interfere. It was his role as a grandparent to indulge and give gifts. But why not give her a gift that would supply the ingredient missing in those schools?
   It sounds ingenious, Hackworth had said, startled by Finkle-McGraw's offhanded naughtiness. But what is that ingredient?
   I don't exactly know, Finkle-McGraw had said, but as a starting-point, I would like you to go home and ponder the meaning of the word subversive.

<Matt speaking>
I've been thinking about this a lot over the past year or so. What makes some take risks and some be fearful? How much risk one is willing to take shapes so much of a personality.

Mark (Stehlik) spoke on this during his "Last Lecture." He talked about how schools aren't teaching students how to fail. This means that people take fewer risks, and actually accomplish less.

I talked to my mom about this over break, about risk aversion and risk taking. She said that somehow she raised her kids to take risks.

Parents want their kids to never hurt, to never feel pain, but that means they're overprotected, unable to fully mature and be full people.

I can't express what I mean perfectly right now, but I'd like to expound on this more at some point.



Helen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Helen said...

*fixed typos*

First of all, I made up a blogger account just so I could comment on your BLOG. Love. Can you feel it?

So. Taking risks. I would have to say that I agree with the notion that there are two kinds of people, people who jump and people who fear, but I don't know if it's the parents who are solely responsible for that. I grew up the daughter of two CalTech grads, eventually earned my spot at a veritable ivy-league-prep school ... and now I'm earning my BFA in music (*voice*, no less -- an even bigger gamble than most instruments, I would say).

And though my parents are supportive insomuch as they are still paying for (some of) my college education, they are not exactly pleased that I'm working towards a degree that means very little if I'm not applying for music-related jobs.

Anyway, what was I saying? The risk. I think risk-taking is unrelated to upbringing. Or maybe it was the influence of Ms. Frizzle on my young impressionable mind: "Get messy. Make mistakes!"

Matt said...

Hey Helen!

I'm saying that parents have to do with taking risks, but not necessarily that every risk you take has to be approved by your parents.

My oldest sister is a very risk taking woman, and in high school she repeatedly took risks that weren't condoned by my parents. But they had raised her to take risks (but not necessarily ones that they encouraged). Oddly enough, my mom said that she raised us to argue with her.

I don't say that there's a 100% foolproof correlation, but parents can train their children to be followers who never step out of line and never put themselves in the way of danger, or to go out there and realize failure isn't that bad.