Saturday, January 26, 2008

Left Brain Right Brain Cycle

During Dave Solon's Twenty Minutes for Tech podcast interview with Jim Gates he mentioned two teachers that were interviewed and quoted in The World is Flat 3rd edition. Dave said he would like to see that part but he had a 2nd edition. Well I had a 3rd so I sent him a copy of the two page section with the interview. That got me to reviewing this book again and thus the reason for this post. In skimming thought the first chapter I came across two passages that really struck me having just read and discussed Dan Pink's book The New Mind. Here are the gist of the passages.

In the first passage Friedman discusses the product development cycle. Every new product begins with basic research, then applied research,.....then continuation engineering in order to add improvements. His point was that each of these phases of production is specialized and neither India or China do not have a "critical mass of talent" to handle this production cycle. Well that lead me to Pink, if the US economy is to prosper we better keep churning out those right brain thinker, because there soon will be a large enough mass of talent to take over the production of large scale products.

The second was a quote from a mayor in China. "Today, the US, you are the designers, the architects, and the developing countries are the bricklayers for the buildings. But one day I hope we will be the architects".

Then I started thinking of my experience of becoming obsolete. I came to think of a grad course I was taking in web design. We learned html code and had to create and post a web page. The page had to include a bio (including different size and styles of text), pictures and links to sub page within our page. Boy a whole semester grad class on an operation that anyone can now do in about 5 minutes. Naturally there were steps to the development of these canned pages. Programs like FrontPage that you could, and still can use. Then the development of open source software to use, and so on. But at that time we were really cutting edge, now in order to be called that you need to be creating widgets or java applets for us left brainers to use in their canned point and click web pages.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Homework, are we talking about homework?

Got this from the ASCD daily email. The discussion on the blog is great, check it out

My Back Pages: Questioning Homework
In 1950, a survey of 7th and 8th grade teachers in rural New Jersey found that teachers said homework had long been a discouraged practice, and that two-thirds of the teachers did not assign any. Some teachers admitted to assigning some, but only "if the child does not have too much farmwork, or if homework helps him with a special need." An ASCD blog post looks back at the "Educational Leadership" article which highlights this survey, and examines why these teachers found homework unfavorable. The post also seeks feedback from readers on how these survey results relate to their opinions of current homework practices

Speers on Einstein

While looking at my Bloglines RSS feed, I came across the 10 Golden Lessons from Albert Einstein on the education feed (More about Bloglines and in a later post). The opening and the quotes are copied from the post, but the thoughts about each are my own.


Every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving - Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was an amazing physicist. He figured out so many universal principles and equations that he was way ahead of his fellow scientists at any point of time. But he is also remembered for another thing; a quality which made people call him a genius: his words. Prof. Einstein was a philosopher who clearly understood the laws of success and explained them like the way he did with his equations. Here is a list of 10 things out of the numerously wonderful things he had said; 10 golden lessons that you can put to use in your everyday life.

1. A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.

Boy this is typical of teachers, especially secondary. We always have to be the ones with all the answers and can never “make a mistake”. It is true that more inventions and innovations have comes from failures than ever came from success. Like the song from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang says “from the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success”.

2. Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.

No one remembers what homework assignments they did or did not do in high school. What we truly learn is what we remember and put into practice years after we graduate.

3. I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

Hearing my 6 year old son talk about how something works is amazing; if I only had half the imagination he has I would easily reach my goals.

4. The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.

We have all seen farther because we stand on the shoulders of giants, but it is our passion and commitment that show in our interpretation of our reality.

5. The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive. Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.

I do not think many teachers got into the profession to receive. We are givers by nature and need to keep that fire alive. It does not take much, every time I see a former student my passion for teaching is reenergized.

6. There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.

The old ½ full ½ empty debate. I do not think that you can always think the same way. Reality is that some days the glass is ½ full and others it is ½ empty. Life is all about balance even the way we live it.

7. When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.

On the days the glass is ½ full, dream of ways to fill it to the rim. Thinking and looking outside the box may you lead you down the path less taken.

8. In order to be an immaculate member of a flock of sheep, one must above all be a sheep oneself.

In order to be an educational leader one can never forget that those you lead are teachers, so you must remain a teacher. Walk in their shoes, at least once in a while, it does wonders for your credibility, and focuses your own reality.

9. You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.

The rule in education are changing, and I am not sure they are done changing yet. We all have to work on and help each other in learning the rules. Stop talking about how the game use to be played and play new game to the best of our abilities.

10. The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.

Intelligent people ask. Keep questioning yourself and others to find solutions. This will help you gain knowledge and analyze your growth. Teaching needs to be a reflective practice and one of the best questions to ask is how could it have been better.