Website owner:  James Miller

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One of my pronounced personality traits

   Some people have very distinct, pronounced personality traits.  
   I have one.  It is conscientiousness.  I am conscientious.  And 
   I have always been conscientious.  It has always been important 
   to me to do things right, to do them in the way they ought to 
   be done.  If I have some new kind of job to do I find out how 
   to do the job right and then I do it right.  If I am working on 
   some home repair job or home improvement project I will take my 
   time and read all the instructions on any new equipment or 
   materials I am using, read any instruction manuals, talk to 
   people if I need to, make sure I understand just how to do it.  
   And then I do it.  If I am fixing some new dish for dinner I 
   will use the recipe book and follow the recipe (perhaps making 
   some modifications here and there).  If I buy a new VCR, 
   camera, lawn mower or some other item you can be sure I will 
   read the owner's manual before using it.  Not all people will 
   take the time needed to do a thing right.  I do.  And the same 
   was true when I was a boy.  I did all the school assignments 
   that were given to me, did them conscientiously, making sure I 
   understood each idea as I went along.  I took whatever time was 
   needed to do it right.  If I didn't understand something I 
   stayed with it until I understood it, however long it took.  I 
   have always been a person who cared.  That is just the way I 
   am.  I don't want to half do anything.  I am methodical, 
   thorough and careful in all I do.  I take my time and do it 
   right.  It is almost unheard of for me to break anything.  I 
   take good care of anything I own and it is likely to last for 
   decades.  I believe in conscientiousness.  I feel it is one of 
   the best of the character traits.  Having said all this now, 
   there is another character trait that tends to go hand in hand 
   with conscientiousness and that trait has a social stigma 
   attached to it.  That trait is slowness.  The conscientious 
   person tends to be the slow, deliberate person.  And the slow 
   person is looked down on.  He is viewed as inferior.  The slow 
   person tends to be slow in everything he does and in modern 
   psychological theory slowness is equated with low intelligence.  
   And I feel this idea that slow people lack in intelligence 
   represents a terrible wrong, a terrible injustice, perpetrated 
   against the conscientious person.  The forerunners of Modern 
   Psychology started this idea and our educational system, which 
   trains and indoctrinates all its teachers in the ideas and 
   assumptions of modern psychology, utilizes the idea and has 
   indoctrinated the entire country into it.  In doing it they 
   have caused inferiority complexes, emotional problems and great 
   suffering for huge numbers of children.  They have stigmatized 
   an entire personality group.  I think this is a crime of great 
   proportions.  I would argue that the slow, deliberate person is 
   slow because of the care with which he thinks, because he 
   considers things much more carefully and at greater length, 
   because he questions more, examines more, doubts more, ponders 
   more, thinks more, than most people.  I am and have always been 
   a slow and deliberate person.  I run on a different internal 
   clock than most people and always have.  It is peculiar quirk 
   of mine that I have no control over.  Whether I am eating, 
   writing, doing dishes, or whatever, I am slow.  My wife does 
   the dishes in half the time that I do.  But after she does them 
   you see the dishes thrown in a helter-skelter, haphazard, 
   thoughtless way into the drying rack.  When I do them I wash 
   each item with far more care and place them in the rack in a 
   thoughtful, organized way.  When I was a boy my teacher in the 
   country school that I went to once told me I was as slow as 
   molasses in January.  I was always the slowest in everything I 
   did.  Whether I was picking red raspberries, picking cucumbers, 
   hand-milking cows, spreading bedding for the cows, I was always 
   the slowest.  I could not help but be aware of my slowness and 
   developed an inferiority complex because of it that was a 
   monkey on my back for many, many years.  In spite of my 
   slowness, however, I was a good student in school.  And in high 
   school I was an A student and at the top of my classes.  But I 
   always felt that the system was biased against me (and people 
   like me); that it was rigged against me.  Why?  Because all the 
   tests were time tests and I had a very difficult time in 
   finishing a test.  I was just too slow.  I felt I was being 
   penalized because of my natural slowness.  I felt I should have 
   been allowed as much time as I needed to finish the tests.  And 
   I still feel the same way.  It was terribly frustrating and 
   demoralizing.  I felt great pressure and stress.  I felt the 
   system was completely unfair, unjust, and wrong and I was angry 
   about it.  It was an emotionally traumatic experience for me.  
   I got A's in spite of the system because the test questions I 
   did do, I almost invariably got right.  If I had been allowed 
   to complete the tests I would have gotten perfect 100's.  It 
   made me angry.  It also made me feel very insecure because my 
   problem with taking time tests could easily have hurt me mark-
   wise a lot more than it did -- there was always the possibility 
   of flunking a test because of an inability to finish it -- I 
   always took a test with great fear and trepidation.  I was 
   a loner, in my own world, with a lot of problems, feeling 
   depressed and low much of the time.  There is one good thing I 
   can say about my high school: the teachers were good.  They had 
   high standards.  And there was one I especially liked and 
   worked hard for.

   Then I went to college.  There all marks were based on time 
   tests causing me the same kinds of problems.  And in college I 
   was forced to cover so much material so rapidly that I had 
   difficulty going over the ideas in the slow, careful, 
   conscientious way that is so much a part of my nature.  If high 
   school was traumatic for me, college was ten times as bad.  It 
   was a terrible struggle, an ugly nightmare.  My curriculum was 
   difficult anyway (mathematics and physics), the textbooks were 
   mostly atrocious, and the teachers mostly poor.  And even more 
   than in high school, you were just another number.  In 
   addition, languages come hard for me and I had to take two 
   years of German.  You can put an infinite amount of time into 
   studying a language and I put a huge amount of time into German 
   at the expense of my other subjects.  I had to decide where to 
   put my limited time and I was good in mathematics and technical 
   subjects and so I spent my time on German (I have never used it 
   since and it was just a big waste of time).  College was an 
   ugly, unending ordeal for me.  I endured, held on.  I stuck 
   with it, finished it, got my degree.  It was a very bad 
   experience.  I felt terrible pressure and stress throughout the 
   whole thing; was depressed, unhappy, mentally agitated most of 
   the time; had absolutely no faith in the fairness or justness 
   of the system.

   I believe that conscientousness and a thinking, questioning, 
   examining, probing mind are very important assets to a person 
   in life.  I believe in them.  But I also think they are great 
   liabilities, great handicaps, to a person in school, especially 
   in college.  In college you are forced to cover a great deal of 
   material very rapidly.  You simply do not have time to dig too 
   deep, ask too many questions, examine too carefully.  There you 
   must plow shallowly, memorize the facts, formulas and 
   techniques, learn how to use them, and be happy with that.  For 
   me that was hard to do and I learned late.  People have 
   different kinds of minds, different personalities, different 
   motivations and objectives.  I have always been a person 
   inclined towards reflective thought, a thinker.  Great and 
   profound ideas impress me.  In school I was interested in the 
   concepts and ideas that I encountered in mathematics, physics, 
   chemistry, etc. -- too interested.  That was a liability.  I 
   tended to get bogged down in details, questions, derivations 
   and proofs. 

   Why am I saying all this?  I am saying it for the sake of that 
   reader of mine who may be a slow, deliberate, conscientious 
   person such as myself.  The school system discriminates against 
   him.  So does much of the work world.  Our society 
   discriminates against him.  He is looked down on as inferior.  
   He is fired from jobs because of his slowness.  He is wronged 
   over and over.  My struggle has been a hard one.  I have been 
   unusually successful in life.  I want him to know my 

   Feb 2004

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