The Naming of Things

In my previous post I asked how can we teach ourselves, our kids, or our students the mindset associated with jugaad (aka Fruglavation) or “Knitting” to get the job done. With the hype that seems to build around jugaad I noticed various entities offer courses around it etc. Maybe they are great. But the solution I wanted to offer here is much simpler.

It starts with the naming of things. That’s why I actually don’t like “Fruglavation” which is a mouthful and seems to take away the cultural context instead of celebrating it. Once you become aware of a concept and have a (nice, short) name for it, you can start consciously looking for instances for where it can be applied. This requires sustained deliberation which can eventually become a habit. It does not have to be filled with effort or frustration. I know this all sounds very theoretical so I’ll give two examples.

When we moved to Canada we found many things that we really liked in the Canadian society. One of those was the emphasis Canadians gave on “Team work”. Since early kindergarten the term was drilled into the younglings in every activity they had. It even came with a nice sing a long tune (“What’s gonna work? Team work..”*). So, we started using the term (and the sing-a-long) whenever that was relevant for a situation we encountered with our kids and when operating as a family. I don’t know if that’s a solid proof of concept (n=3) but I think it helped make us/our kids more collaborative and accommodating.

The second example, has to do with a term I learned at the advance driving school lesson I was forced to take** when we moved to Canada. You might be wondering about my sanity at this point, but these classes I had to take emphasized the benefits for society of “courteous driving”. They gave specific examples, including movie clips etc. to illustrate this point. Now this may all sound trivial to some of you but, putting it mildly, I would say anyone coming from Israel will tell you “courteous driving” is not part of the curriculum. I liked it so much I happily incorporated this into my everyday driving practice: accommodating for other drivers changing lanes, joining from side streets etc. I can’t say I’m always patient and accommodating (and maybe I’m just getting old.. 😉 ) but I think it helped me become a better sharer of the road.

More generally, I think there is a lot to be learned by looking at other cultures or disciplines and bringing the lessons back to our own practice/domain. Many of those lessons/insights I find useful for everyday life come from the Martial Arts (as the title of my blog eludes). But it all starts with conscious awareness and the naming of things. I recently found an example for that in our lab’s research, hopefully I’ll get around to write about it in another post soon. In the meantime – Happy new 2016!

*Based on the theme song of “Wonder Pets’, an American Emmy award winning TV series for your kids.

** Well, “forced’ may be a bit of an exaggeration but let’s say the insurance rates highly motivate you to take those when you arrive.