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Success & Stupid Jobs

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L Hunter

on 26 September 2016

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Transcript of Success & Stupid Jobs

"Stupid Jobs"
(Thinking Critically About Education and
Why We Work)
In "How to Be a Success," author Malcolm Gladwell demonstrates how work, not natural talent, makes for success. In fact, by using example after example, his argument goes a long way in establishing that there's no such thing as "natural" talent.
In "Stupid Jobs Are Good to Relax With," Hal Niedzviecki argues that a "stupid" job (i.e. a job that requires very little intelligence, education, and/or work) can be a path to freedom and creativity. In his words: "it's better to have a low-paying job and freedom than a high-paying job and a 60-hour workweek."
The key to this freedom, however, is to be happy with less. If you don't want to buy a lot of things, then you don't have to make a lot of money.
The point I'd like to examine now is how both of these essays might lead one to ask why we bother going to school.

After all, in Gladwell's examples, successful people earn their success outside of class hours. Schools might have provided some of the resources, like computer labs, but specific curriculum and courses had nothing to do with the 10,000 hours of practice that went into developing expertise.
And Niedzviecki points out how all the time young people are spending at post-secondary school is often a waste, since once they graduate they can only find "stupid" jobs.
Many of us end up studying subjects that we don't even love -- subjects that we would never spend 10,000 hours on unless we felt we had to in order to get a pay cheque.
Some well-known education experts have argued that this problem starts in kindergarten....
Now, let's shift gears a bit and pick up on an earlier point -- Niedzviecki's suggestion that stupid jobs can actually have benefits, as long as you're prepared to live with less. In his words: "you're trading material wealth and luxury for freedom and creativity."
He's referring to the stress of what many people call "keeping up with the Joneses." That is to say: we crave the new car, the bigger house, the latest clothes, the newest phone, the bigger TV.... In order to get all these things, we go into debt, and end up having to work more and more and more to pay for them.
Why do we do this?

Isn't is easier to exist with less?
These questions are addressed in a series of short films; the first is called "Story of Stuff."
What do you think?

How many of you have gone shopping not because you need anything, but because it's become a leisure activity?

How many of you have purchased a new phone or TV when the old one worked just fine?

What are the repercussions of this lifestyle?

Take, for example, Ken Robinson's talks.
Here are three more short films that deal with specific products. Each is about 8 minutes long.
I'll end this prezi with a quick anecdote: I read a book called "There's Lead in Your Lipstick" and it really increased my awareness of the chemicals in cosmetics and soaps. I had heard that we shouldn't really need to wash our hair -- using shampoo strips the natural oils out of our hair and stimulates excess oil as a result, which makes it seem like we need to wash our hair, so we do, which only stimulates more oil, and so on.
So I decided not to wash my kids' hair. Ever since they were babies, they've soaked their hair in warm water in the bath or the shower, but never used shampoo. Guess what: it works. Their hair looks great.
Full transcript