Paradoux of Choice

In our quest to maximize freedom, we maximize choice, but is this maximization of choice leading to maximization of happiness?

In his TedTalk, Psychologist Barry Swartz helps me understand why I hate large restaurant menus.  He articulates nicely, ideas that strongly suggest maximizing choice does not maximize our happiness; rather it is in fact reducing our happiness!   I don’t think there is anything more important to ponder than things that directly affect our collective (he mentions the possibility of Pareto Inefficient economies) and individual  happiness, and I highly recommend watching the entire 19 minute TedTalk (below); but some of the major takeaways are below.

The cost of choices includes:

  • paralysis, the resulting procrastination, and the resulting consequences of not taking action create huge costs for individuals
  • the opportunity costs of not choosing another available choice, subtracts from the satisfaction of making the choice that I made
  • with so many choices, we expect one of those choices to be a perfect fit; and high expectations that prevent us from being presently surprised and “The key to happiness is low expectations!”

Some takeaways:

  • “Everything was better back when things were worse”
  • “…pretty confident we have long since passed the point [number of choices] where choices are adding to our welfare”

Changing education

This is a quick video of a handful open-minded thought leaders commenting on what things we need to question as we think of how best to teach children and one another is this new digital and information age.
Among this list of things that we need to question, one of the things I was happy to hear mentioned were, grades.  Should we even give them?  If so, how?     I of course think this is a very worthy conversation to take up, especially given the different learning styles and the different disciplines and skills that are needed for each.

Sugata Mitra’s new education model, SOLEs, could be how our children learn in the future

An absolutely enlightening and astonishing piece on Sugata Mitra’s research and, now, pursuit to further a new education model he calls Self Organizing Learning Environments (SOLEs).

Below is the video of Sugata’s Ted Talk, which shows his work and the amazing ability of children (young minds).    Highlights include: the story (starts at minute 7:00), the “grandmother method” (starts at minute 10:00), and the story of the 10 year olds correcting Sugata on the spelling of Pythagoras and telling him who he was in a few minutes.

some wisdom about our society and us as social beings

Use the below link to watch video of a author David Brooks speak about some interesting human behaviors and psychological traits.  You only need to watch the first 30 minutes of the 60 minute long video, because the rest is just him answering not-so-interesting questions from the audience.  For me, some of the highlights from his talk include:

Are you struggling on how to choose between two choices?  …let your unconcious mind play a bigger role in the decision, and leave it to a coin flip.  Get a coin, assign each side of the coin to one choice, flip it, and let the flipping of the coin tell you how you should choose.  Do this by listening to your reaction to the outcome of the coin flip, not the actual result of the coin flip itself.”

Research shows that new born babies who do not receive hands on care (the physical touching from nurses and parents) are more likely to die than those who do.  This reflects our innate need to feel emotional connections to other people.  We are social beings.

Stephen Wiltshire

Stephen Wiltshire is the genius autistic painter, and now somewhat of a celebrity.  His extraordinary ability to look at an entire metropolitan skyline and then make a detailed sketch of it from memory has earned him the nickname of “the human camera”, but he is more than that.  As an advocate for modern teaching processes that address people’s different learning styles and natural gifts, his story and talents move and amaze.   …but don’t take my word for it.  See for yourself.  Watch this video, which was shot in October 2008.  Read all about him on his About Me webpageOr my favorite waywatch more videos about him on his News webpage.

Now I just need to save up enough to buy at least one of his original pieces!