Realizations During Running: Satisficing and Standards

Posted on September 13, 2012 by


I realized that I’d been running not to “win” and “legitimately beat people” in races, I realize that I’ve been running to “survive” and “fit in.”  “Survival” is often in the narratives, the scripts of an entity on the margins, a state of beginning, an inexperienced novice trying to make it through something.  Like a first year student in grad school.  Like a convict first entering prison.

The former, I adapt the mentality of going out there, doing everything with care and focus on quality ritual practice, making sure everything is “right” or “firm” or “crisp” or “clean”.  I do this when I write. The latter, I adapt the mentality of simply “making it”, without regard to how well its done, its about simply getting through.

I guess I adapted that mentality when I chose the path for grad school:  wanting to do it right, firm, crisp, and clean, as opposed to simply passing through.

Other thoughts:

  • Being underemployed with my sister at my folks’ house.  Spending a lot of time thinking about the use of time, getting a job, and what the heck I was doing my time running when I could be focusing all my time doing more ‘productive things.’  I do think of the Olympic 1500 Meter running and the training that they do; I’m thinking at how conflicted our messages in society seem to be: we tell kids to aim big and do what they love;  I just want to run like the wind, so I want to practice qualitatively.  In college that means, “study what you love, and you’ll never have to work.”  I am doing that, but I’m also having to do all this other stuff just to pay rent and do other things.
  • Tangentially, telling kids to do what they love means a lot of people becoming singers, athletes, actor some kind of popular figure.    No one really champions becoming some kind of repair man, I think being a repairman is one of the more nobler positions;  you’re restoring a piece of technology, nowadays, an extension of a person’s human body to its wholeness and functionality.
  • Per my thesis and keeping with this topic of time, I’m thinking about how time factors into how students do homework and read the book.  Remembering my own math experience reading the textbook, I think remember “satisficing”.  Couldn’t do all the problems, so do the important ones reading what I thought was necessary.  When I was more successful in Math from Algebra I to Geometry, I don’t think I satisficed that much.  I could tackle any problem.
  • On the Chicago Public School Teachers’ Strike, one of the more controversial points is about evaluating teachers based on standardized tests.  If students don’t perform, this can give a school admin a reason to fire the teacher.  This got me thinking about standards.  Standards, according to Leigh Starr and Geoffrey Bowker, are agreed-upon rules set forth by various entities.  It goes back to who exactly is sitting at the table, proposing the rules, and then agreeing upon the standards set forth in the test?  By “who” I mean what is the ethnic and social background of the people “developing” and then “agreeing” on the standards?
  • Repetition and efficiency.  There seems to be a tension between the two.  If you want to achieve a goal, say run a 5K, repetition is necessary in the form of ritual activities like say, running.  “Efficiency” describes the way, people want a process to be executed.  “Efficiency” also means effectively using resources — ‘doing a lot with a little.’  Efficiency is usually achieved by lots of repetition of an action. The administrator, manager, supervisor, wants efficiency in activities and time spent, that means no real room for practice or repetition or mistakes — minimize redundancy!