Monday, April 8, 2013

Do You Have the Chief Hand?

"All men who have turned out worth anything 

have had the chief hand in their own education."

Sir Walter Scott

What does it mean to have a "chief hand" in one's education?

Can it mean:

  • Reading?
  • Polishing skills?
  • Joining a support group?
  • Having a heart open to learning? 
  • Or all of the above?

As children, we don't have as much say in how we are educated. But as we get older we slide into the driver's seat. And away we go. Gripping the steering wheel with those chief hands.

This principle struck me recently as I reviewed an assignment from one of my teen students. How many things have I learned or brushed up on since graduation? Some out of necessity, others just because...

From the small (what's the difference between a homophone, a homonym, and a homograph?) to the large (creating memorable characters for the work in progress) there's been much to learn, and more to learn. Always.

What Tools are Available?

With today's technology, the sky's the limit for any topic. Well, almost. Sometimes finances, or lack of, hinder us. Never fear, though, for there are options.

For instance, much can be gained from:

A little effort, ingenuity, and divine intervention, aka the "chief hand", can make a big impact on all we do. :)

Do you agree with Sir Scott? How is this idea reflected in your writing? In your life?

Happy writing,


Image credit: Stock Exchange


  1. I DO agree! And I think that one of best (educational) things we can impart and reward in children is curiosity--an active interest in the world around them. And you are SO right--today, more than ever, information is readily available.

  2. HI Karen...I agree 100%. Everything we desire to learn more about is at our fingertips. A wealth of knowledge is a search engine away and that one search can lead to many things.

  3. I enjoy learning new things. The mind goes stale otherwise.

  4. I really do agree. I think Yeats (?) said, "Education isn't about filling a bucket, but lighting a fire." I truly do believe that.

  5. Who said, "The root of education is bitter but the fruit is sweet"? Well, all I'd need do is Google that quote. SO much to learn, and only a click away.

    Like getting out of bed, heading out the door to take a brisk walk, choosing the organic yogurt over the fat-loaded ice cream, my decisions might require hunger, desire and discipline. MIGHT. And on some days, a swift kick in the backside! Or an appropriately placed swat of the chief hand!

  6. Wow, what a quote! I think it's VERY true. I learned to write and my husband learned to use a computer and editing software to create a television school taught us those things.
    Very interesting, Karen! Thanks for sharing it.

  7. It is so good to be a life long learner, isn't it?


  8. Rebecca,
    Oh yes - curiosity is a wonderful thing to instill and maintain! We do have info at our fingertips, that's for sure. :)

    Who knows where our searches may lead - it is an adventure! :)

    Yes and amen to that! :)

    I think you are right about what Yeats said. Always loved that quote. So true!

    LOL, well, I like the way you put that! Yes, I'm thinking the chief hand needs self discipline too! :) Thanks for coming by and following.

    It's amazing what we learn just by living and doing. You're right, so much must be learned outside of traditional school. :)

    It is! And nice to share it with blogging friends like you! :)


  9. I totally agree.

    You cracked me up - I also had to brush up on a lot of things since graduation. Especially, certain grammar!

    But I think it's important to never stop learning.

    Great post, Karen!

  10. Great post, Karen, applicable in so many aspects of life.

  11. I don't know about the quote. I guess it's true. I'm not sure I know enough about great men to know how they all started.

    I agree that there is a huge amount of information "out there" for anyone who chooses to learn more.

  12. I couldn't agree more on this. nice post.

  13. Loree,
    Glad I made you laugh! Me too - the grammar stuff. Much of it I don't recall ever learning, you know? :)

    Thanks so much! I agree with you! :)

    Me neither, but we can think of our own lives too, I'm thinking. Although I wouldn't go so far as to say great. I'll let my kids say that about me! lol :)

    Glad you enjoyed it. We're always learning, aren't we?

    Happy writing,

  14. For sure I agree! I hope to learn new things all the way through the rest of my life. Lately the challenge has been learning a new computer (not easy)--but beyond that I'd list travel as a great way to learn. Was blessed to be able to go to Europe last November. Can't tell you how that changed my life. Great question, Karen!

  15. Karen:
    When I was a child, my mother used to say, "I learn something new every day."
    As an adult, I don't always learn new things each day but I do have times when I discover something I didn't know.

  16. It's great to find your blog!

    I think one of the things I love most about writing is the research involved. Lately, I've learned about everything from tasers to chemical restraints to Uruk. :)

  17. Kenda,
    You know, I just thought you might! :) What a way to learn - with a trip to Europe!

    My Mom used to say that too! And I still do...:) Discoveries and learning happen all the time, that's for sure!

    So glad you came by! Thanks for following too. Enjoyed my stop at your blog today. :) Wow, you are learning some new things!


  18. I am pretty much self taught in most areas. It is the will to learn, and my interests that make me pursue new topics. You are right, where there is a will, there is a way.

  19. Yes. Agree. I know that the reason for my vocabulary is largely a lifetime of voracious reading. I've always devoured books, newspapers, etc., which keeps you learning all the time.

    Then, of course, I have to use those "chief hands" to do the laundry and get dinner on the table so, a) there's no mutiny and b) I can get back to my books. :D

  20. So true - with books and media of all kinds and the web we are limited only by our own curiosity and ambition. Chief Hands, though? That sounds like a good name for a police chief in a small town mystery series!

  21. When I first started writing in 1984, it was so difficult trying to balance raising a family, job, motherhood, and visits to the library. I love the internet because information is so easy to obtain. Honestly, I learned more from online writer's group than I did at SFU.

    Yay, learning!

  22. I agree, Karen! A mind which is not curious is like still water which stagnates. Great post!


  23. Great quote, and I do agree! I actually think I push myself harder to learn now than when I was younger. Maybe because the older I get the more I realize how much I have to learn.

  24. curiosity is very important when you're a writer. I do love learning new things:)

  25. Linda,
    What do they say, the older you get, the more you realize what you don't know? lol I'm with you! :)

    Yes, the vocabulary thing, me too. Always something to learn, isn't there? And yes, those chief hands are always doing something! :)

    I like that name, Chief Hands! Yes, it should go in a book. :)

    I'm with you, learning so much out of school! A good thing, I'm thinking! :)

    I like that analogy! Glad you shared it! :)

    Me too - and there's so much I want to know too. :)

    I think overall we are a curious bunch! :)


  26. A mind that continues to learn is forever young :) I truly believe that.

  27. Indeed today the lack of finances need not be an obstacle to learning, given the resources available via technology. That's something we didn't have in our time.

    I also agree with the "chief hand" as playing a major role in my education and learning process, followed by my father's guidance and lastly my constant, laborious efforts!

  28. Nice, thought provoking post. I agree with the quote and wish it were embraced by more writers. There's a great wealth of knowledge to be gained all around us and the Internet has been such a boon. I'd be no writer without it.

  29. Keith,
    That's right! So glad you brought that up! :)

    What a blessing, to have help from your father! Chief hands, I think we all have them, it's just a matter of how we use them. :)

    Thanks so much! :)

    I wonder if everyone from all walks of life, writer or not, would benefit from this way of thinking, you know? :)

    Happy weekend,

  30. I definitely agree! My oldest daughter (14) has been actively pursuing her dreams this year, with only permission and not much help from me. She landed a volunteer zoo job that she couldn't keep because it conflicted with training at a modeling and talent school she got accepted at (which was the result of her hard work and interview skills that she's been working on herself). She's chasing her dreams and pursuing her interests and education, and I feel like I'm just in the support position these days as coach and only sometimes as teacher.
    I think anyone who wants to chase a dream and make it a reality has to make the time to educate themselves and make it happen.

  31. Karen:

    We're so blessed to have so much information (the internet, local libraries, etc.) at our fingertips. With some drive and discernment, the sky is the limit in terms of how much we can learn.

    Nice post. :-) Enjoy your Sunday.

  32. Hope you're having a good weekend Karen!!

  33. Tyrean,
    Sounds like you've been a dream encourager! :) Learning like this and educating ourselves is such a good thing! :)

    It is a blessing! :) I agree, the sky is the limit!

    Hope your weekend is going well too! Thanks!


  34. Oh, yes, I totally agree! And with so many resources and groups available now, it's easier than ever to "help yourself."

    I find more help from blogs and groups of friends than I do books. There is something about being face to face that helps it sink in better for me!

  35. Yes... and yes again. Finding information and encouragement in learning as an adult is like treasure hunting. I love it, and I've found some of the best places to learn and grow. My favourite would have to be online courses, workshops and conferences.

    Dotti :)

  36. I'm slipping to that age when I reflect on all the tools students have at their disposal now that would have been SO terrific to have when I was in college. There was an electric typewriter with a self-corrector available in the library that had us dancing in the street. What I could have done with a word processing program! I love technology even if all the continual learning is sometimes irritating :)

  37. Jen,
    I think you are right; a personal connection from people plays a big role. What would we do without our writer friends? :)

    It is like treasure hunting! :) So many goodies to explore, that's for sure!

    I know what you mean. Once upon a time there were these things called typewriters - lol! I actually taught myself more typing skills through my laptop than I learned in typing in high school. :)


  38. Sandi,
    It does, doesn't it? Something to consider in light of goals for the new year. :)
    Happy writing,


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!