What do you think of a person . . .

Who only does the bare minimum? (Last 15 seconds or so are PG-13.)

Frederica Mathewes-Green's recent podcast was interesting to me.  In it, she interviews Deacon Thomas Braun of Huntington Beach, California; he's known for dispensing sound financial advice, as he did in a daylong retreat at our church last weekend.  We can talk money later, but I wanted to point out something he said which interested me very much.  (Emphasis added.)

D.TB: . . . Back to the specifics, you were bringing up some critical things, especially that we see impacting the youth of today. There does seem to be, I think, an attitude problem, and I would wrap it up in one word, and that is “closure”. When a boss gives you a task, they want to see a completed task. If you give it back to them half baked, “Well I couldn’t get this answer”—you know, use some creativity and stretch yourself a little bit. You’re trying to learn, and what you’re really doing is you’re training yourself to do your boss’s job.

FMG: And what they have instead is an attitude picked up from school, that the teacher wants you to list ten words, and you list those ten words. It’s like, they look at what the boss tells them to do, and they think of the minimum way to accomplish that and get that task off your board. But you’re saying, think creatively. Think like your boss. What would he do? What would really knock his socks off?

D.TB: Well, you know what, Frederica, I think you’re going to love this comment I’m going to make because I know you’re in academia. What’s happened in academia is that our culture has come to be one of learning how to take tests, and studying for the test. Instead of studying to learn, and doing it for the joy of learning, and the passion of that, which is what education going back to the ancient Greeks. People went to school not to get an A, but they wanted to learn. And help their culture grow. We need to adopt that attitude. I think what happens is in schools we adopt that attitude of, well, teacher wants me to do this this and this for the A, but they don’t think creatively about what’s behind that. Why are they asking this question? I love the word proactive. You need to think ahead, what is it your boss wants, why is it they’re asking this question. Here’s a real practical example. Imagine if an investor came to you and he was going to hand you a million dollars to go buy a building or buy a company or something. You say, if it was my money, if it was my million dollars, what would I want to know before I would feel comfortable handing that million dollars over to sign on the bottom line? So that’s what I really want to encourage. Why does your boss want to know this? And your boss will be blown away by that.

Wow.  If only we could raise a generation that thought this way.  If only!  And as teachers, we have more of the burden than anyone.  We see kids six or seven hours a day, more time than they spend with their families or sports teams or even (usually) sleeping.  And we have to try to help them see the world that way -- to cultivate intellectual curiosity, not just meet requirements -- while simultaneously giving them sets of requirements and grading them on their proper execution of those requirements.  It's a hard line to walk.