December 2019 Articles

The Lesson to Unlearn

Paul Graham ·

Interesting take on testing in education as it relates to success in other aspects of life and as a representation of learning.

The most damaging thing you learned in school wasn’t something you learned in any specific class. It was learning to get good grades.

When I was in college, a particularly earnest philosophy grad student once told me that he never cared what grade he got in a class, only what he learned in it. This stuck in my mind because it was the only time I ever heard anyone say such a thing.

For me, as for most students, the measurement of what I was learning completely dominated actual learning in college. I was fairly earnest; I was genuinely interested in most of the classes I took, and I worked hard. And yet I worked by far the hardest when I was studying for a test…

Having Kids

Paul Graham ·

Before I had kids, I was afraid of having kids. Up to that point I felt about kids the way the young Augustine felt about living virtuously. I’d have been sad to think I’d never have children. But did I want them now? No.

If I had kids, I’d become a parent, and parents, as I’d known since I was a kid, were uncool. They were dull and responsible and had no fun. And while it’s not surprising that kids would believe that, to be honest I hadn’t seen much as an adult to change my mind. Whenever I’d noticed parents with kids, the kids seemed to be terrors, and the parents pathetic harried creatures, even when they prevailed.

When people had babies, I congratulated them enthusiastically, because that seemed to be what one did. But I didn’t feel it at all. “Better you than me,” I was thinking.

Now when people have babies I congratulate them enthusiastically and I mean it. Especially the first one. I feel like they just got the best gift in the world.