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a natural vs. training  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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In another thread, I mention hiring housekeepers most of my adult life. There are basically two kinds of housekeepers:

1) "what do you want me to do now?" every four minutes.

2) "Step aside this place is filthy!"

The second is the kind I would hire. A natural. In two hours my place would be passible by my standards and in four hours it is passible by the standards of anybody. I didn't have to provide any direction.

Some people are keen on woodworking stuff. They are a natural. Tony and Emily were in the tipi and all sorts of stuff was created around them. Including the bee hut. The area just became better and better the longer they were there. I remember seeing Emily planting seeds in all sorts of odd spots whenever she had a spare moment.

Katelin was a natural in the kitchen. Great food which seemed effortless on her part. And the kitchen got cleaner and cleaner with each passing week. Other stuff near the kitchen started to improve too.

Sometimes you think "well, they aren't a natural, but maybe they will grow into it. A bit of training, a bit of patience ..." So far that seems to be generally not the case. But I still hold out hope for the exceptions. And it does seem to be part of the mission here: people that are not sure what they want to do next can come and see if they find their passion.

Another angle on this is:



The trick comes when the price tag comes. Some people will spend an hour building a box and want $20. Others will spend a week building the same box and want $700 - after all, it took a lot of time and they had to buy a lot of tools.

So I embrace folks learning stuff. It just seems odd that folks seem to think I should pay them to learn and buy them a bunch of tools.

I guess we all want to work with / live with the naturals. And there is a lot to be said of the people that are learning too. I suppose the problem is the $700 box.
 
Bill Bradbury
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Hi Paul,

I've been reading your reboot threads lately and I hear a lot of frustration. That's tragic, because there is no reason that this shouldn't be all wine and roses for you all the time. It seems that what you call a natural is someone who has spent time with a master. The master(often a mother/grand or father/grand) teaches the apprentice by doing the task and then watches the student perform the same task. The student not only learns how to perform the one task, but also a slew of related side tasks as well.
I would suggest that you actively search for a few of these types, even if you must pay them, and have the inexperienced people shadow them until they learn to become fully aware of the immensity of the undertaking at hand. These masters are responsible for their apprentices and everything the apprentices do. If there is a mistake, the master is to blame, not the student.
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Bill Bradbury wrote:Hi Paul,

I've been reading your reboot threads lately and I hear a lot of frustration. That's tragic, because there is no reason that this shouldn't be all wine and roses for you all the time. It seems that what you call a natural is someone who has spent time with a master. The master(often a mother/grand or father/grand) teaches the apprentice by doing the task and then watches the student perform the same task. The student not only learns how to perform the one task, but also a slew of related side tasks as well.
I would suggest that you actively search for a few of these types, even if you must pay them, and have the inexperienced people shadow them until they learn to become fully aware of the immensity of the undertaking at hand. These masters are responsible for their apprentices and everything the apprentices do. If there is a mistake, the master is to blame, not the student.


I agree. I'm pretty handy and motivated but I am so because my parents were. I grew up in a house that was full of tools and projects. If it weren't for them I'd probably be pretty useless. Of course, I'm experienced but lack the will to pay attention to detail so my stuff ends up crooked a lot. It doesn't bother me. I call it character. It drives my dad batty though.
 
paul wheaton
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Bill Bradbury wrote:It seems that what you call a natural is someone who has spent time with a master. The master(often a mother/grand or father/grand) teaches the apprentice by doing the task and then watches the student perform the same task. The student not only learns how to perform the one task, but also a slew of related side tasks as well.
I would suggest that you actively search for a few of these types, even if you must pay them ...


We have a series of bumps in the road. We have had some people come out that had a LOT of experience and could do great stuff. But they could only come out for a week or so. My brother has a LOT of experience, but he "does not suffer fools gladly." - which is an environment where a few people can learn, but others cannot. Then we have a LOT of student-types come. Some students are sure that they are experts. I am now really weary of hearing from people about their amazing expertise only to find them struggling with the basics.

I feel like it would be easy to bring in several experts throughout any given year, but it would be for a few days to a few weeks. In fact, lots of awesome experts ask to stop by pretty regularly. The key would be to have folks with a fair bit of knowlege and experience build their knowledge even more when the experts are here and then retain that knowledge here.

Ahhhh .... complicated.

And I'm going to stick with "natural". There are some people that don't have a lot of skill, but they ramp up VERY fast! And then they enjoy this space so much, they just do more and more and become truly awesome.

Further, I think there will be people that come here with zero skills in something and then they start to tinker. Next thing you know, they are utterly obsessed with it and in a few weeks they can rival some of the greatest world experts.

- -

Story time.

I think it was 1993 when I tried to grow my first garden as an adult. It was an utter failure. I was not a natural. And then I obsessed on it and read a hundred gardening books. I then grew a magnificent garden and my obsessions with horticulture has been burning ever since. I soon had too many things growing in too small of a space and needed a much bigger piece of property to grow stuff on.

But when it comes to cooking, I am not a cook. I do a mediocre job at cooking when forced to. And despite many people trying to force me to cook, and many people attempting to train me, I just didn't. When I was being a single dad, I did a lot of cooking because that was the right thing to do.

In the world of software engineering, a hundred people can have the same level of experience, but if you assign them all the same task, you will get a hundred different results. Two of them will do a great job in a reasonable time. 60 of them will never finish - and they will suffer and grow angry through the process.

So .... experience plays a role. As does being a natural. And having a passion.

- -

My purpose in bringing this up at all is that everybody has different levels of aptitude, experience, passion, whatever for every sort of thing that is do-able. When designing how a community works, I think it is critical do design something that works for everybody, or nearly everybody. Something so that a person can show up, explore their passions and find out in what space they are a superhero.

But I cannot afford to pay people to learn what they don't like.

Mark Shepard has a deal where the only people he allows onto his land are people that have money AND a business plan on how they are going to do a business on his land and Mark will profit from it. I think there is wisdom there. At the same time, I really like the idea of hosting some sort of incubator where people can build experiences and figure out what their future smells like.

 
Julia Winter
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You are already requiring some sort of cash outlay from every person who wants to come, I believe. Maybe you should require a resume' from potential residents? I'm envisioning a form letter that goes out to all who express interest, maybe with some hard copies for those that inexplicably show up without an invitation (that doesn't happen, right?). I could help write such a thing. . .

Thanks for your interest, here are the categories of resident (potato village, mushroom village, gapper, ant village) and here the requirements for each placement. Please write us back and tell us
- what category you'd like to start as
- what accomplishments you have that support this (with photos, please)

I don't think it's crazy to ask for letters of recommendation. This will weed out a few sociopaths, maybe.

I could see requiring a sort of deposit for everyone, that would be paid pack when it's time to go. This would cover the cost of a Greyhound ticket to Seattle or whatnot (if you really want somebody to go, someone will volunteer to drive them to the Greyhound station, I'm guessing). However, if a person non-innocently trashes an expensive item, then maybe they don't get their deposit back. Skin in the game.
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I like the idea that there could be a "natural" in the shop. Their presence means that tools naturally get sharper and better cared for as time passes. Projects that are near completion get completed. Things get more and more organized as time passes.

I think most people like to tinker in a shop - the shop will have 30 different unfinished projects. And things get to a point where you cannot take on a new project because there is no more floor space.

 
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