July 29, 2014

Thinking on the Way

A few days earlier I saw an answer upvoted over 7,200 times on Quora, in which the writer said, “Programming is thinking, not typing”. It sounded pretty the same to what Bruce had said in class. In fact, even going far beyond programming, thinking makes sense tremendously. May be that is the reason why I want to write down what I was thinking these days.

To begin this article, I thought about a metaphor – thinking outside the box. However, I remembered clearly what Ken Robinson said in one of his most popular TED speeches – “Schools kill creativity,” which I totally agree. I was deeply touched when Robinson said, “My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy.”

I grew up and became an undergraduate, and then came to realise what important role creativity played in the modern society. However, it seems to me that in the country where I was bred up, got educated, and hold strong emotions, some of my peers are just unaware of even what creativity actually is, for the simple reason that creativity is rarely mentioned, and even deeply suppressed, throughout our whole education system.

So, how to cultivate creativity? Such a question at first came from my upset feelings when writing my blog. It’s been almost half a year since I started writing my first article. I loved writing and wrote hard, while undergoing such a hard time. I wonder, how do those smart bloggers and writers put out great contents all the time? What do they do when they feel like the creative well is running dry?

There are several ways, such as reading, communicating, experiencing, and thinking, all I am trying. And also a new perspective – Trying to combine several different things together, and discover internal logics among various fields. Inspiration is thus drawn, and I would like to treat such combination as a methodology.

In fact, I was sometimes puzzled, for the reason that even after two years’ study in my university, I could not find my fixation. Instead, I was finding a lot more areas that I was absorbed in. And I didn’t discover my keen on programming until I became twenty, which means, this year.

Maybe I should think over the contradictions of becoming whether a generalist or a specialist. It is true that in a highly industrialised society, the world needs those outstanding specialists: the world needs the best programmers to write awesome codes; the best writers to write remarkable books and the best painters to draw magnificent pictures. But at the same time, the world needs those generalists, who serve as bridges among programmers, writers and painters, such as Paul Graham, living his life as a hacker, a painter, and an essayer.

I was thinking it over. I thought of Malcolm Gladwell, well-known for his book Outliers, in which he puts forward a code by saying that everyone can practice 10,000 hours to become a genius. I have been questioning the widely accepted idea for a year; I have been considering it a dozen times throughout the day, but it was not until recently that I felt much clearly all of a sudden. So here comes to my own personal opinion, of great importance: the 10,000 hours talent code is designed for future outstanding specialists, however not for future generalists.

I asked myself the dilemma, then got the answer: I wanted to be a generalist. That is what I really want to be. I have been dreaming of becoming an UX & interaction designer, but may be I can be a front-end engineer, may be a web developer, or even, an iOS app maker!

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”That Charles Dickens wrote more than a hundred year ago is true today in the field of education. While I was criticising at the beginning of the article by quoting “Schools kill creativity,” it goes without saying that we are also provided with the best opportunities in education. Thanks to information and resources online, and thanks to the quick development and popularisation of MOOC, everyone can learn by himself through the internet, with curiosity, with creativity, and with the ability of critical thinking. Rather than a substitution to higher education, it deals with continuity, or to say, life learning. I want to be a life learner.

On the other hand, I think this is also parts of the reason why we need a much more open internet environment. And that is the reason why I tried hard to obtain informations outside the Great Fire Wall when I was in China. The only thing I want, accompanied by my thinking, is the truth.

Yes, I will learn; I will experience; I would like to embrace the fantastic world. And such outlook is perfectly shown in Hermann Hesse’s most popular novel, Siddhartha. The character in the book, Siddhartha, learned everything new on the step of his path; he learned everything just by experiencing – by experiencing the lives of both a Samana and a rich. Eventually, he got the conclusion from his life that, “While knowledge is communicable, wisdom is not. No one can tell you where to find wisdom; it simply comes when you are ready to receive it.” I fall in love with the book the first time I read it. And by the time I have been to many places and met different people, I realised that everyone in this world, has the right to choose the life he/she wants. I love freedom; I want to pursue the life I want, and I am always on the road.

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