Learning Things

When I was first learning Spanish I agonized over the rules for “por vs. para”, “ser vs. estar” and a few others. I was afraid to speak because I might make “a stupid mistake”. Eventually I got over it. The end result is that I can comfortably converse in mediocre Spanish which has significantly improved my quality of life.

Now, if we are a car mechanic repairing the brakes on a car, your mistake could prove to be fatal. In the in between area we see such things as wiring something wrong and after the smoke clears, replacing a part or two.We were schooled such that you needed to have the right answer for everything. My feeling is that we didn’t learn how to distinguish between “a stupid mistake” and “a fatal mistake”. This, of course, was complicated by having different teachers for different subjects where each believed theirs was more important and the general feeling that auto shop just wasn’t important at all. 🙂

This made me think of George Webb‘s ongoing investigation of at least an amazing amount of corruption in Washington DC. George ignores what people say about a situation and, instead, relies on the metadata. This has proved very successful in his investigations.

For deciding what mistakes are OK to make, I think metadata is, once again, the key. That is, what are the consequences of saying “Estar aquí” when I really should have said “Estoy aquí” vs. a mis-calculation on the amount of oxygen needed by a crew on a trip to Mars. This doesn’t mean we should not develop our language, history, … skills — it just means the priority list should come from the metadata and not just by alphabetical order or personal preference.