Monday, March 19, 2007


Had an acting class tonight. First class. I didn't perform, just watched other students doing their pieces. A mixed bag, including some obviously talented people, but there was one girl there who just utterly pwned the entire room.

She was very smart, I think, but it wasn't anything to do with her intelligence. She was sexy, but that wasn't it either. She was just working her ass off from the moment she started to the moment she ended. Or more accurately, from moments before she started until moments after she ended -- and when she was done, and the teacher gave his critique, she was working her ass off through every second of that as well. Instead of bowing to the teacher's authority or striving to be independent, or just sitting it out and not even listening, all of which are tempting responses to a teacher's critique, she was working intensely to get every last ounce of useful information out of every single word. There was no high school power dynamic running through her head; it was all about working.

If there's one thing programming and acting have in common, it's that talent isn't what makes success. Talent is a necessary prerequisite for success, but hard work is what actually makes it happen. In schools, when I was a kid, they got everything backwards. Good grades meant you were smart, bad grades meant you were stupid, and the consolation prize was a star for effort. Research has shown, however, that praising kids' intelligence is actively counterproductive, while praising their work ethic encourages them to develop it. The prize you get for effort shouldn't be the consolation prize. It should be the only prize.

Because that's pretty much how it is in real life.

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