Monday, April 25, 2011

Practical Knowledge

I've just finished reading the book, "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell. And just like any of my other readings, I always take important notes. So I've highlighted a lot of good points in the book. Actually, there's so many that's worth keeping and sharing.  But there's one part that has struck the head out of me and feel the urged  to write about.  And that's about  "Practical Knowledge."  Something that I've been trying to explore in my mind while reading.  For the reason that, it's the thought  that explains a portion of me.

In chapter 4 - The Trouble with Geniuses, Malcolm Gladwell wrote the case of Christopher Langan.  The man whose IQ measured one ninety-five, more than that of Einstein's one fifty.  And as described in the book -  "too high to be accurately measured."  Malcolm then delved into the life and history of Chris Langan, and cited a better understanding to why inspite being a genius, he still ended-up unsuccessful in life. He compared him with another genius named Robert Oppenheimer, who was equally bright like Chris Langan.  The difference he pointed out between the two  was their  family background which became the defining factor why  Oppeneimer became by far more succesful than Langan.

Through Malcolm's study of their backgrounds, he was able to give a very interesting explanation to these two genuises, and why they both ended-up on the opposite sides of success.  The theory of psychologist Robert Sternberg was the one he noted to make his point strongly convincing.  And here's what it says on the book:

"... To Sternberg, practical intelligence includes things like "knowing what to say to whom, knowing when to say it, and knowing how to say it for maximum effect. " It is procedural: it is about knowing how to do something without necessarily knowing why you know it or being able to explain it. It's practical in nature: that is, it's not knowledge for its own sake. It's knowledge that helps you read situations corectly and get what you want. And, critically, it is a kind of intelligence separate from the sort of analytical ability measured by IQ. To use the technical term, general intelligence and practial intelligence are "orthogonal": the presence of one doesn't imply the presence of the other. You can have lots of analytical intelligence and very little practical intelligence, or lots of practical intelligence and not much analytical intelligence, or - as in the lucky case of someone like Robert Oppenheimer - you can have lots of both.

So where does something like practical intelligence come from? We know where analytical intelligence comes from. It's something, at least in part, that's in your genes...IQ is a measure, to some degree, of innate ability. But social savvy is knowledge. It's a set of skills that have to be learned. It has to come from somewhere, and the place where we seem to get these kinds of attitudes and skills is from our families."*

I remember when my sisters' and I were in high school, everytime somebody in school would know that I was  related to either one of them, they'd say, "..so you're the sister of ____?" And when they'd introduce me to other girls, they'd say the same thing - "..she's the sister of ____"  Yes, it was clear that I didn't have any distinctive identity in school but the "sister of ___."  And this could either be my older or younger sister.  This was because my two sisters were straight A's students and both of them were popular in school for being top achievers. While I, on the otherhand, was the "forgettable" one.  The one who lived in the shadow of the sister.

I considered myself a shy and average type of student in school.  While my sisters were marching up the podium several times to receive awards and medals, I was out there having fun and mocking with friends. I didn't care if my grades were B's.  For as long as I didn't have failing grades, I was ok with that. What I'd love to do was to spend the day hanging out in the library checking out all the books in circulation, or chitchatting with friends on the school grounds.

When we all went to university, my sisters' still continued to collect A's and even became scholars and cum laude, while I was still the same content student just getting by with  fair grades.  I never got jealous or bitter though with what my sisters achieved academically, even if my parents would brag about them profusely to every friends and relatives.  I would just be on the sideline listening and waiting to be called  - "...the sister of ____", and in return I'd show them my cheekiest smile.

Today, I already have my own identity.  I don't live in the shadows of my sisters anymore.  Though I've never been an A student or a scholar/cum laude, I'm equally successful as my sisters. Success in my definition as having a comfortable and secure life(that includes monetary). Like,  I get to purchased my own car and home with my own earnings without seeking financial assistance from my parents or sisters.  I'm living the kind of life I've always wanted to have. And whenever I look back, I keep wondering how I get here knowing that I've never excelled in school- that I'm always the shy gal who's just cool with a fair mark. But there's one thing that's prominent in me though,  I love taking risks and meeting challenges.  If at times I feel awkward, I choose a character to get by a situation. I don't know, but I just know how and when to deal with stuff.

There are also few people I know  from school who's just average student like me, but now I'm surprised to hear how successful they are in their own chosen field.

So should I say that we all have one thing in common? That we are not geniuses but still smart ones; that probably we don't have (or have less) analytical knowledge, but we have more "practical knowledge."

When I analyze it, I believe the theory is correct and Gladwell has explained it very well. What he has just missed-out here is the correlation between "common sense" and "practical knowledge" which I think has the same nature and degree of relevance.  And which can provide more reasoning why some low-key people are smarter than the highly educated ones... But about the assumption that we get it from our family,  that part for me is a little bit shady and needs more thoughts.

*"The Trouble with Geniuses, Part 2", pp 101-102, OUTLIERS by Malcolm Gladwell

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Happy 125th Birthday Vancouver, BC!

Vancouverites are celebrating a special day today. And of course, there's lot of fun activities downtown.  It always delights me to hear exciting news like this because it reminds me of  bubbling Vancouver a year ago...

The global early news posted a question to the viewers this morning: "What's your memorable moments in Vancouver?"  As I heard this, the 2010 winter olympic popped up right away in mind. 

Yes, it was the winter olympic that was the most distinct to me because I'd never seen this city flocked by so many people at one time.  And the canadian spirit was so overwhelming!...Like I always say - it was viral...

Here's how I journalized it in my facebook account.

Little Red Maple Leaf by Myla Palisoc on Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 9:47am

Red is the trend dominating these days in Vancouver. I'm not really a big fan of color red. But it reminds me of my mom. It's her big time favorite hue, and those times, I thought she's over indulging with it. But lately, I've realized red offers a lot of delectables in variety. When added with black, it creates drama. When mixed with bright colors, it lights up the mood. When matched with white, it definitely signifies distinction. That's why most flags have red color in it...Like this little red maple leaf with a white background.

It's just everywhere in town...A maple leaf mark on the cheek of a little girl; another on the muppet hat of that hunky white guy; on the hooded jacket; on the scarf; on a jersey shirt; on the shoes, wrist, and I wonder where else they've tatooed the maple leaf that's unheard of. And of course, not to forget the very apparent canadian flags that's standing at every named stalls or gizmos around. You name it. They flag it. Everybody is loving it, and no one can't get enough of it. Even me, the not-so-into-it person, is hooked up to this contagious patriotism.

I've never seen this much patriotism in my whole life. I find that these are patriots of a different kind. They're not people who are protesting to oust a dictator; or fighting for justice and freedom; or rallying for an important cause. But they are citizens who come together; raising their fist for their team, and cheering gold for their country. Wow! what a fun way to be a patriot. So overwhelming to watch; So ground-shaking. It gives me goose bumps.

I'm not usually a crowd person. And if there's any way for me to avoid it, I don't hesitate. I prefer watching from afar and gauge the outcome. But on this occasion , for some reason, this time I want to be there. I want to be one of them, because I sense a magnitude of positive energy. I want to feel it and have it too...And so there I go, been here with the crowd of canadians for two weekends now. No matter how stifling it is because of the long walk and wait, but I still merge with the over enthusiastic canadians.

The energy is just so enormous. The spirit is high. Again, it's contagious. It's infectious. Where in the world can you find a crowd that emits so much positive energy? Where else but here in the olympic games, I guess. Now I know why participant countries grappling hard to take their chance to host the games. It's because of the positivity it brings to their country. But do all these participant countries have the same degree of patriotism in their land during the olympic? Or is it just the canadians?

Nevertheless, it's a good feeling. And if patriotism is a contagious disease, I don't mind getting it. Because it makes me feel significant. When they see me wearing the red leaf, they smile. It's a confirmation that I'm part of their team. And why not? This is my foster home now.

In a few days, the games will close. Every Canadian will go back to their simple life in their quiet town. But everyone will always remember these days in Vancouver. The days where every single Canadian becomes a true patriot...

Well of course, I have a snapshot of my tiny olympic moment as well. I don't want to miss it --This once in lifetime positive patriotism in Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic.

My little red souvenir in downtown Vancouver.  The crowdest place on earth 24/7 last February 2010.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Over the rainbow

Somewhere over the rainbow way up high...
...Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
      And the dreams that you dare to the dream,
          Really do come true...

  As we struggle with the harsh reality of life, this glimmering horizon promises good things ahead...
    ...And for the fallen and the broken, there's hope waiting over the rainbow.

 ...If happy little blue birds fly
       Beyond the rainbow
           Why, oh why can't I?