Tom Pittman's WebLog

2022 March 8 -- Fun vs Teaching

I guess this "fun" business is still nagging me (see "Fun vs the Golden Rule" last week and "Tom, you are crazy!" yesterday). Living and/or working around people whose personal value systems are hostile to the Golden Rule (GR) is definitely not fun. I cannot imagine it being fun for anybody, but I'm not inside their heads and I never held this conversation with anybody, so I can only guess.

Computers have no values at all, but the software that runs on them tends to reflect the values of the respective programmers, which is why Unix is so horrible: the system is designed for the convenience of its own programmers, which is the antithesis of GR thinking. That mentality poisons everybody who adopts the unix mentality -- and all their software -- which effect I noticed decades ago, long before I discovered the centrality of the GR in Christian teaching (Relationshipism, which is essentially selfish, obviously excepted). Anyway, the consequence of this is that when programming a non-unix computer (like the original Mac, not OSX), the computer itself is not a drag on whatever "fun" there might be in programming it, although the software tools I use carry their own imprint of their respective programmers' values. The Mac team wanted to "make the world a better place" (I believe that was their line, but it's essentially GR) but that ebbed away when Steve Jobs replaced them with unixies. So programming on what's left of the original Mac, using my own tools, is far more fun than using anything currently on the market.

What about teaching? My own assessment, based purely on my selfish personal feelings after my first year teaching college, was "While I like seeing the students' eyes light up when they get it, programming is more fun." Those exact words, 36 years ago, long before I understood the primacy of GR in my own value system. Teaching college students (who want to be there learning) is not as much fun as programming a computer that does my every bidding exactly. That was also before the destructive effects of removing moral absolutes (including the GR) from public school walls trickled into the American workforce and (specifically) into management positions of American industry and educational systems.

These last six months exposed me to the loss of GR morality in the American public school system as never before, and I don't like what I see. It ain't fun. But that's not what I'm here for. I still have GR values, and so does the guy running the show. He and I have different opinions on the origin of GR values, but it still works. We together can make the world a better place, even if he cannot find other people to join our crusade. There are still fumes in the public gas tank, individual people who hold GR values, and when God is ready to connect us up, nothing can hold us back. That's what makes it worth doing, even if it's not fun (for me: his idea of "fun" is different, but not incompatible).

Besides, I still get to program a fun computer using fun tools in service of this project. The other guy wants to take that away, but he's projecting onto me his own notion of fun. I think I can work out a happy middle ground, a win-win solution where everybody is happy, where I still get to do fun things in service of a GR project, and he has management control of the software. I have done that all my life, so this is not any different.

Teaching students who don't want to be there, or who don't want to apply the GR to their own participation, is part of the job -- so I accept it as such -- but it's not any part of the fun. It's a drag that reduces my own productivity. I used to think of teaching as something like programming a biological computer, not as reliable in doing what I ask of them as the silicon variety, but somewhat in the same direction. We had to give that up. There no longer are any stated outcomes -- except they have fun and want to come back the next day. We hope they will do some of what we give them and learn from it, but there's no motivation, other than their own fun. It's not much of a win, but I guess it's better than zero. Druggies high on the adrenaline of making computers obey are better for their neighbors than druggies high on chemical substances (or even playing video games), neither of which has any redeeming social value. The world is (microscopically) a better place than if I didn't do this. GR is served.


Fun vs the Golden Rule
"Tom, you are crazy!"
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