Montessori & Drag Racing

Years ago, I had a revelation of sorts.

You can’t stop someone learning about something they want to learn about.

The biggest problem I ever had in school was being bored. There was this pervasive lack of context, of relevancy, that just turned me off. Don’t give me another bullshit word problem about two trains and what time will they pass. Who cares?

Left-handed desk FTW!

Why did I take introductory statistics—which I’ve long since forgot entirely—but didn’t leave high school with a mastery of balancing my checkbook? Why did I know all the counties in Kansas—but not how to calculate compound interest? Why have I spent the last decade turning a blind eye to people paid double or more what I made—seemingly unable to read or write at an eighth grade level?

We’ve started P in a Montessori school. It’s less than $100 a month more than we were paying for daycare these past three years. While we loved the daycare center she attended, the Montessori school is smaller, cleaner, brighter, quieter, and more dynamic.

And, my favorite part? The learning is constantly being re-framed into the context of the child’s interests. Even with years of experience in both higher ed, knowledge management, and publishing at my disposal, I cannot tell you how powerful that is.

I’ll give you an example. This past weekend at the Shootout, when we were discussing Glenn’s 7-second prospects, I mentioned the car trapping (ie; the speed through the lights at the end of the track, for those who don’t know drag racing) upwards of 180mph.

All the drag racers in the group agreed that was good enough for 7-second passes. All he needed to do was get the 60-foot time down and it should just happen. Glenn pointed out they’re pulling 1.3-second 60s. And the group went wild! “188mph? 1.3-second 60-foot times? You should be in the sevens by now!”

Of course, you’ve got to get all of the above in a single pass down the track, as Glenn so elegantly pointed out, but what I’m trying to show here, is that these guys heard a couple numbers, did the math in their heads, and were able to professionally discuss the performance potential of one of the fastest race cars of its kind. Casually. Bullshitting in a hotel parking lot.

They did not learn this in any school. I guarantee it.

No. They learned this because they WANTED to learn it.

Because it was RELEVANT to their interests.

It’s why I’m doing what I’m doing today. Where I went to school has little impact on anything beyond my ability to read and write. All the car stuff, the education, the knowledge management, publishing, etc.—it’s all stuff I’ve learned through the process of exploring my interests over the years, discovering gaps in my skillset, and then learning how to fill those gaps on my own.

And that’s the kind of education my daughter’s getting. #stoked

Shootout III: 250 Jets

Neat work life parallel story developing alongside my own. A couple years back, one of my long time gearhead brothers’ sons decided to skip college to build race cars.

He recently made about 500 wheel horsepower with a car he bought from another one of my gearhead brothers. Then he showed up in Norwalk with it and ran 11s.

20 years I’ve been a 2GNT DSMer. They make a little over 100whp stock. Few of us ever made more than 400. And only one of us ever ran a faster ET in the quarter-mile.

Saturday night, said “kid” was coordinating with the teammate tuning the engine he built in the company race car.

They’d been in the hunt for the 7-second Evo bounty. With almost $20,000 and a tropical vacation on the line, they were hell-bent on being the first into the sevens.

After running consistently low, low eights all day–assploding all sorts of really expensive race car parts (nitrous backfires are a helluva bang)–the engine was back together. They were tuning for a 250hp shot of nitrous oxide. A slight bump from the 50-shot they’d been running.

They made a couple good, hell-bent-for-leather runs the next morning. Sadly, though perhaps expectedly, things played out more bent-to-hell. That’s what happens when you run the back end of the track on pure, straight, nitrous.

It wasn’t their time. It wasn’t anyone else’s time either, though. Here’s hoping they stay All In.