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Unread 08-14-2006, 12:11 AM
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Re: Why do we think we are better?

Im glad the heat came out of this debate (or at least so it seems at the moment), and some great reminders and thoughts have turned it into a better conversation

Cody, I can see where you (and presumably some of your friends) get this impression. I do think good points were raised by Wendy & Jaine... that FIRSTers are aspiring to be better people in general... not better than everyone else, but better than who they were.

I have a perfect example for this. There is a student on my team who came to us as a young sophomore. Every other sentence out of his mouth was some sort of lie or stretched truth. No one knew if they could trust him, and his reputation was horrible. Because we kept teaching GP to our team, because the mentors pushed him hard to start acting it, and tried their hardest to be models of it, he has grown immensely, and while he isnt 100% improved (none of us EVER will be), he is now much more dependable, trustworthy, and was even selected to be our team leader in his senior year.

FIRST is not about being perfect. Yes some of us may try to tell other FIRSTers to uphold the rules or act more GP... its because we are all struggling to be better than we are now, not better than the rest of the world, just better than the people we were yesterday.
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Unread 08-14-2006, 12:29 AM
LordTalps LordTalps is offline
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Re: Why do we think we are better?

I've read most of the thread but lost track of the flow, so I'll just give my schpeel and be done... in short... I don't think it's that we think we're better than others.

Well, it is and isn't. Yes, we are better than others. We built a beast of a robot that does an awesome function in a short 6 week time period. Probably 95% of the school couldn't do it, if even 5% of the school DID do it. And thus we are on a pedastal(sp? pedastle?) above the others in our school, for having done something we feel great love for, and succeeded in it. Even more so if you go and win some awards.

But...

How different is this from the football team, the soccer team, or whatever et cetera sport team that goes and succeeds? It isn't. The football players feel better about themselves for doing well, the tennis team feels better about themselves for doing well, just as much as we feel good about doing well. Any group that goes and performs a function better than others could, or that others couldn't, is indeed better than the others in that area. The fact of the matter is that no one's better in all areas, and we each have our separate spotlights that we shine under. We're equal in the general view of our separate shining points, just unequal under those specific shining points. Gracious professionalism is equivalent to sportsmanship as far as I'm concerned, they cover most of the same area.

The inherent difference is that FIRST, VEX, and the LEGO leagues were not available to us all of our lives. For most of us, any way, and those who have had it available for so long are quite the exceptional exception. Quite a few of us probably feel comfortable calling ourselves geeks, nerds, techies, maybe even a few trekkies And for the most part we've been on the outcast side of the social circles. The football players have been able to sit on their spotlights and show them off forever. All the girls wanted the football players, not the geeks hacking through school protections so they could access "net send" and talk to each other in computer class. The jocks have had pedastals(sp? again) the entire time from which they bent down to look us in the eye. And all of a sudden... we have our own. We have our own piece of work that we're able to be proud of, and want to show off. We have our own trophies which we can be happy that we earned, and earned in the name of our schools (or other institution). And we did it all, without 90% of the verbal and physical dislike that you find in many sports. Suddenly, we've achieved as well if not better than they have, and we've done it in a much more professional manner.

You'll find most of this is due to atmosphere. You've got the difference between a field, where you are personally battling with others to prove you are better than them, and the field your bot is on, where most of your battle is a hundred feet away trying to make your bot excellent. How are you making it excellent? Programming, working with electronics, manipulating constructed equipment. Which, in the future, will be predominantly in a business setting. The sports players need to train themselves, battle with themselves to make themselves individually and as a team harder, better, faster, stronger, to beat the other team. They are personally competing with every other opposing player. They NEED to be better than others. The put-downs come in due to human nature. In FIRST, you're on a team. Your team will be placed in rank among the other teams, less about your skill, but by the quality of your ideas and your implementations of those ideas and the surrounding strategies according to these ideas. FIRST is a bigger competition of idea than of ability.

Then you get to the FIRST regional, and no one has finished their idea. 6 weeks isn't enough time and every person in FIRST knows it Including that no one is finished, some teams simply lack the resources to finish their ideas. In comes the idea of gracious professionalism, where the larger and more resourceful team can help the smaller and less fortunate team(s). It's all a part of the community, and the mutual respect found in the community. Sports teams have it too, in the hand shakes you see to start and end most sports.

Looking back at my first and last sentences, I seem to have flown off on my own tangent. So I'll try and bring it back into focus. GP is one of the greatest parts of the FIRST community. That everyone's there to work hard, have fun, and help others work had and have fun is amazing. It can also get carried away, as Cody seems to have seen, and has certain people find themselves on a pedastal higher than everyone else. No, it's not right, and I agree with Cody fully in that matter. Everyone is their own person, and should be judged strictly according to each individual. If they happen to shine in a certain spotlight, awesome. But there's not a chance they're shining brighter than every other person in separate spotlights, and they shouldn't think that.

(hopefully someone'll understand my ramblings )
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Unread 08-14-2006, 12:51 AM
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Re: Why do we think we are better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LordTalps
It's all a part of the community, and the mutual respect found in the community.
Hard to believe your rookie year is 2006. Good stuff.
Jane
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Unread 08-14-2006, 02:24 AM
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Re: Why do we think we are better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tristan Lall
I, for one, will continue to correct other peoples' problems, irrespective of whether or not I've got my own problems solved. It's not hypocritical for me to provide assistance, even if I could use some assistance myself—indeed, who hasn't got a few problems hanging over them? (So, everyone take your best shots at my glass house, because I'll be swinging for the fences when I aim for yours!)
From what lofty platform are you able to view what other people's problems may be for you to correct? How do you determine that your solution for the problems you perceive them to have is correct?
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Unread 08-14-2006, 08:59 AM
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Re: Why do we think we are better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane
Hard to believe your rookie year is 2006. Good stuff.
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Porque?
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Unread 08-14-2006, 09:12 AM
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Re: Why do we think we are better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LordTalps
Porque?
To me, there is a lot of thought and wisdom in your post. The understanding of GP, the understanding of community and working with the traditional mindsets like athletics, helping them see that science and technology are valuable and exciting.

For some, myself included, it takes a couple of years for the FIRST concepts to sink in and make a difference. They are different concepts than the norm of our society. Helping your opponent repair their robot so that the competition is the best it can be. Providing resources as you mentioned. Sharing experience and knowledge.
That's what your post made me think about.
Jane
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Unread 08-14-2006, 09:13 AM
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Re: Why do we think we are better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tristan Lall
I, for one, will continue to correct other peoples' problems, irrespective of whether or not I've got my own problems solved. It's not hypocritical for me to provide assistance, even if I could use some assistance myself—indeed, who hasn't got a few problems hanging over them? (So, everyone take your best shots at my glass house, because I'll be swinging for the fences when I aim for yours!)
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimCraig
From what lofty platform are you able to view what other people's problems may be for you to correct? How do you determine that your solution for the problems you perceive them to have is correct?
Let me try to clarify this a bit before things get argumentative - giving assistance generally has the prerequisite of a request to help, to guide, to advise. Remember, suggested solutions are just that...suggestions. None of us can fix anybody else, but I think Tristan is suggesting that it's ok to provide constructive criticism even if you yourself have had problems in the same realm before.

In fact, in some cases, experience with a problem personally makes advice more valuable.
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Unread 08-14-2006, 09:20 AM
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Re: Why do we think we are better?

1. I don't think we're better and never met anyone who has thought that.

2. I do agree that we're equals though. FIRSTers aren't better than anyone just because we're apart of FIRST. Sure we're apart of something big and great but other kids are probably a part of something big and great too. I guess that makes up my $0.02
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Unread 08-14-2006, 10:08 AM
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Re: Why do we think we are better?

For all of my years of being in FIRST, I have never thought that I was better than everyone else...

BUT, that is not to say I never thought of what sort of power I really have with hands and mind within reach of technology that could do some cool and/or really freaky things. Power in short, and though I think of this power constantly on a daily basis, a lot of self control and personal moral conviction keeps me silent and prevents me from doing anything near evil and hypocritical.

It is a fact that people take for granted all of the technological wonders of our society today.

It is also a fact that we as engineers, technicians, programmers, scientists, etc. etc. have a stake and will drive technological progress one way or another in the future. Inevitably what we do just might end up in the hands of millions of people.

And it is inevitable that once new technology falls into the hands of millions, the hard work and possible politics that helped get to that point will be forgotten and once again the technology is taken for granted.

Its a continuous cycle.

But is it really their fault?

To answer the question, we are no better than anyone else. People just grow up with different purposes. We serve them, they serve us, its all mutual. And if anyone has watched the "Red Green Show," one quote from there that is said every show rings very true: "We're all in this together." Whether your world is your small town, city, county, state, country, or the entire planet itself, each unit has people to do every needed task, and just like teams, they work together towards relative peace and well-being.

2 cents of some sense

-Joe

PS: and though previous postings of mine may lean on the side that we are morally superior, I do not believe I have ever said that nor maintained such a position. If I did, I hope this changes everything for the moment, because somedays I just get sick of the ignorance of some people (who doesn't?), and it gets to my head a bit some nights... (thanks to working at a department store...)
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Unread 08-14-2006, 11:02 AM
KenWittlief KenWittlief is offline
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Re: Why do we think we are better?

One of the realities of life that some people never accept is this: you cannot change people, you can only change yourself.

FIRST is not a program designed to change anyone into a better person, therefore whether people involved in FIRST are better or worse than some other group is irrelavant.

FIRST is designed to show people a path that will lead them to a successfull and rewarding career. Gracious professionalism is a part of that - its a way of interacting with other people that keeps things on a positive and productive level.

GP is not a blanket term that means "all things good and moral". The two words have a very specific meaning, and its not about morality or being good in an overall sense.

GP isnt something that you are, or are not - its something you do, that you chose to do, because the results of your actions are better than doing things another way (ranting or screaming at someone when they make a mistake for example).

If you are gracious and professional in your dealings with others, then a lot of work and progress can be accomplished. Things will run smoothly. If you are ungracious and unprofessional, things quickly come to a grinding halt, and insults and finger pointing ensues.

It has nothing to do with how good of a person you are. Its a learned behavior. The most rotten person on the face of the earth can use GP when interacting with other people, to get the results he is after.

Last edited by KenWittlief : 08-14-2006 at 12:30 PM.
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Unread 08-15-2006, 12:35 AM
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Re: Why do we think we are better?

No one individual is better than any other individual. I am not perfect and neither is anyone else on this planet. Everyone is created equal and that is the way I look at it. I have the same oppurtunities as everyone else on the planet and they do to. There is a decision in everyone's life on whether to be a clown or not and that is thier decision, but it in no way shape or form affects me and my choices. I have never let someone tell me that they are better than me nor do I tell people that. GP is a step closer to being a better person and FIRST is not the only way to become a better person like alot of us think. I am not perfect at the GP theory but I plan to try harder just like all of us should to make FIRST an even better place to be around. Never did I say FIRST is perfect because it never will be but it is a good atmosphere to be involved with and I am proud to say I am a FIRSTer.
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Unread 08-15-2006, 12:42 AM
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Re: Why do we think we are better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Murphy
No one individual is better than any other individual. I am not perfect and neither is anyone else on this planet. Everyone is created equal and that is the way I look at it. I have the same oppurtunities as everyone else on the planet and they do to. There is a decision in everyone's life on whether to be a clown or not and that is thier decision, but it in no way shape or form affects me and my choices. I have never let someone tell me that they are better than me nor do I tell people that. GP is a step closer to being a better person and FIRST is not the only way to become a better person like alot of us think. I am not perfect at the GP theory but I plan to try harder just like all of us should to make FIRST an even better place to be around. Never did I say FIRST is perfect because it never will be but it is a good atmosphere to be involved with and I am proud to say I am a FIRSTer.
Gold plate it and hang it on the wall. You rock, Josh.

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Unread 08-15-2006, 01:04 AM
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Re: Why do we think we are better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KenWittlief
One of the realities of life that some people never accept is this: you cannot change people, you can only change yourself.

FIRST is not a program designed to change anyone into a better person, therefore whether people involved in FIRST are better or worse than some other group is irrelavant.
However, according to the FIRST website:

"FIRST ... aspires to transform culture, making science, math, engineering, and technology as cool for kids as sports are today."

Since people create culture, the only way to transform culture is to transform (change) people. Most societies recognize that the easiest people to change are the youth. This is why Dean Kamen invented a youth organization, not a professional society. He wants to change people.

In fact, as he has publicly stated, he has no children of his own. Instead, he regards FIRST as his children. That is, he regards himself as our father. What is one of the main jobs of a father? It is to mold (change) his children into the kind of adults he thinks they should be.

I think it is also abundantly evident that Dean regards science and technology as being more beneficial--that is, BETTER for society--than sports. Since this attitude is being actively promoted from the top down in FIRST, what are some ways we can avoid thinking--and projecting the attitude--that we are BETTER than others?
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Unread 08-15-2006, 01:32 AM
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Re: Why do we think we are better?

Supposition 1: People are not all equal.
If people were equal, I'd be able to run a 4 minute mile. People would all be identical. Capitalism wouldn't work and communism actually would. There simply wouldn't be any competition because there wouldn't be any need for it.

Supposition 2: "Best" is relative.
Sally thinks peanut butter and jelly is the best sandwich in existance. Billy is allergic to peanuts. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches aren't the best for Billy. In Sally's point of view, Billy is inferior because he doesn't eat the best sandwiches.

Supposition 3: People want what is best for themselves.
If I gave you a choice between a free house or a free cardboard box, you'd take the house wouldn't you? The house is more benificial to you. Even if you don't want a house, you could sell it, give it to someone who does, use it for storage, or do any number of other things with it. Whenever you have a choice, you're going to pick the option that gives you the best life.

I leave you with one question: If FIRST isn't the best, what are you doing here?
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Unread 08-15-2006, 01:50 AM
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Re: Why do we think we are better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by KarenH
However, according to the FIRST website:

"FIRST ... aspires to transform culture, making science, math, engineering, and technology as cool for kids as sports are today."

Since people create culture, the only way to transform culture is to transform (change) people. Most societies recognize that the easiest people to change are the youth. This is why Dean Kamen invented a youth organization, not a professional society. He wants to change people.

In fact, as he has publicly stated, he has no children of his own. Instead, he regards FIRST as his children. That is, he regards himself as our father. What is one of the main jobs of a father? It is to mold (change) his children into the kind of adults he thinks they should be.

I think it is also abundantly evident that Dean regards science and technology as being more beneficial--that is, BETTER for society--than sports. Since this attitude is being actively promoted from the top down in FIRST, what are some ways we can avoid thinking--and projecting the attitude--that we are BETTER than others?
Dean Kamen certainly does want to change society, change people, and change youth, but I don't look at it as a Hitler Youth type of thing (could be an extreme analogy and I know it isn't what you said, but it's the best example I could think of). He doesn't want to replace sports, but he wants to fix an imbalance in the popularity of sports and the popularity of science and engineering. He wants to help fix shortcomings of education in this country. What would really be better for society would be if these things were fixed, not if scientists and engineers are enthroned as the world's elite.

We can avoid projecting that attitude by simply trying to. I'd say we shoud look at everyone as equals and talk to people on the same level. We want students to join FIRST because it's one of many great programs and it's fun, but it isn't superior. As sciguy points out, there are different reasons for different people to join a certain program.

An idea I have to answer the question "how can we avoid thinking that..." is that if we focus on our goals, on being a part of FIRST, on having fun, and on making our teams better experiences, we can avoid focusing on comparing ourselves to others and on thinking that we're stronger and more successful.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sciguy125
If FIRST isn't the best, what are you doing here?
Something can be the best for other reasons than how beneficial it is. FIRST is great for me because I love it. Granted, there might be other programs in the school that would be better for me and I would love more, but I don't know about them. Within my knowledge, the activities I participate in are the best because they're beneficial to me, I love them, I have friends in the activities...so on.

Enough of me talking; somehow my posts are always longer than everyone else's
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