Here Be Dragons: A Parable of Learning


 

Once upon a telling, a score of young adventurers set sail on adventure across the wide seas. They had a wise ol' captain and an ultimate destination, but they would each take turns to steer the good ship Learning by their own stars and towards their own discoveries. Most often, the captain's role was simply to ensure that the ship moved forward and avoided any danger. And to find destinations he knew they would love to explore.

They would stop at many strange and interesting places, whereupon the adventurers would go their own way, in groups or alone, to explore and make their own discoveries. And upon their return, they would regale the captain and their fellow travelers with stories of what they'd found out. Some would fail in their tasks, but they would still learn and they would try again at the next destination.

Yes, there were many challenges at sea, but they had the determination and courage to face them and conquer them.

Even the frightening first Sea Dragon of Failure was conquered once they figured out that to beat it, they simply had to reimagine it. They scooped Failure up and kept it as a pet. And it never bothered them again.

 

But then things changed. A dark squall appeared, the waves grew and the wind howled. The twin storms named Syllabus and Exam were upon them. They hunkered down and watched and readied themselves to weather the storm – armed only with the magic of Superficial Learning and a smelly coat of Rigor.

After the storm had passed, things were different. They skies remained grey and the sun remained hidden. They no longer had the desire to steer the ship, they were less enthusiastic to make their own discoveries, and they left it to the captain to steer the ship the rest of the way. They had only the end port of Grades on their mind.

And when they saw the mysterious beast called The Curiosity, they steered the good ship Learning directly at it, and killed it, never even bothering to look astern to see what it was. They tried to avoid the other sea dragons, but they were not always successful, and they did lose some of their crew to the nasty beasts.

And the 'ol captain was powerless to get them back to their former spirits.

Instead of scouting for new lands and new adventures, the crew, now many years older, sat below deck, infected with the scurvy of homework.

What had started out as such a wonderful journey of adventure ended in sullen silence, boredom and a general feeling of resentment. They disembarked vowing never to take the journey again. And as they watched, a new crew bounced aboard, bright-eyed and energetic, shouting enthusiastically while exploring the ship, all ready for their years long journey. To where? They knew not, nor did they care.

And the 'ol captain, pipe in mouth, bent over his charts, trying for all he was worth to plot a course to steer clear of storms and dragons. And if you listened closely you would hear him mumble something over and over to himself. And here's what he was saying:

“Next time, it will be better. I have to make it better.”

 

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Something Strange Happens to Time When You Teach


(Excerpted from my farewell letter to the staff of Crawford College Lonehill at the end of 2015.)


I love the subject I teach. (Actually, I just love teaching.) But teaching Geography is especially nifty, mostly because of how it teaches kids (and teachers) to think on different scales. When geographers look at a map, or a settlement, or weather patterns, or anything else, we have to zoom in to analyze the details, but we also need to zoom back out to identify trends, connections and patterns.

I think that teachers can become habituated to being zoomed in. We have due dates for marks and for comments, guidelines for getting sections of the syllabus done, deadlines for setting tests and assessments and moderation and so on.

We also do most our work in chunks of less than an hour and keep a very narrow focus to ensure that our students are engaged. We work on short, focused, nose-to-the-task timescales of periods, days and weeks. It gets so bad that when we look up at a child we've taught for a few years, it can be a real shock when it suddenly dawns on us how much they've actually changed in those years. And how quickly those years have gone by.

The problem with being so intensely focused is that sometimes it becomes difficult to uncross our eyes, to zoom back out, and to appreciate the bigger picture. And when things don't happen on our timescale, we become impatient, frustrated and sometimes even pessimistic. And there never seems to be enough time to learn new things, to reinvigorate our professional skills and to experiment with new ways of doing things.

But when we are able to take the time to see things on a wider time scale, and to see the patterns and trends which have emerged over a few years, a very different picture emerges.

I know there are daily irritations. I know there are things that perhaps don't work as well as they should. And the schools of today are not the same places they were a few years ago. They are never going to be. Times have changed. They have a habit of doing that.

But if we take the time to zoom out a little, to see how far we've come, and to look at the exciting things that are ahead, we can find the inspiration and the time to renew our passion for what we do, we can reinvent ourselves and what we do in the classroom, and focus again on what really matters.

It isn't a matter of time, it's a matter of perspective.

 

 

 

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Things I’ll Never Do Again


This is a personal post. One of those cathartic things. Skip it if you're not into that kind of thing.

 

So everyone's still thinking about how 2016 is going to be different and pondering all the new things that are going to come their way.

And I'm sitting here thinking about all the things I'll never do again.

And now it strikes me how many of the things on this list are a result of being privileged enough to have travelled, to have the latest gadgets and to have Internet access. Of course, I am also relieved that I will not be doing some of these things again, and some of these things just happen when you get older, I guess. But a lot of it still makes me quite sad.

 

Things I'll Never Do Again

  • Visit the Palace of Versailles. (I prefer my crowds slightly less claustrophobic, thank you.)
  • Rent a DVD from a movie rental store. (I'll download what I need.)
  • Phone for a taxi. (Über FTW.)
  • Buy music from a music store. (Thanks iTunes.)
  • Write a letter on paper. Or post it.
  • Write a check.
  • Visit a bank to pay money into someone's account.
  • Open an encyclopedia. (Goodbye Britannica.)
  • Visit an Internet café.
  • Follow written directions to get somewhere.(Hello Waze!)
  • Remember a phone number. (I can still remember the number for the house I grew up in though.)
  • Be bored. (There's just too much to read and to do.)
  • Be impressed by cities like Dubai or Doha. (You can do amazing things with slave labor.)
  • Own a hi-if system. (With my phone, tablet, earphones and Bluetooth speakers, I'm set.)
  • Have a land-line. (Remember those telephones with wires?)
  • Drive drunk. (I confess: I have done this more than once. But I haven't touched alcohol for going on 5 years now.)
  • Use whiteout. (I prefer backspace.)
  • Take a non-stop ferry across the Mediterranean. (One of the worst journeys I've ever been on.)
  • Wear uncomfortable shoes. (Life's just too short.)
  • Go clubbing. (Noise. No.)
  • Ride a camel. (Poor things.)
  • Buy a home which hasn't been built yet off plan. (A very costly mistake.)
  • Eat an entire chocolate cake. (I did actually did this. More than once. But not in one sitting.)
  • Wish I knew the name of that song. (There's an app for that.)
  • Teach History. (I would really rather not.)
  • Have all of my own teeth.
  • Read a new Vonnegut novel.
  • Watch a new Robin Williams movie.
  • Read Cannery Row for the first time.
  • Take out a book from a library.
  • Get another piercing. (Or use the ones I have. Don't ask.)
  • Celebrate New Year's in public. (See 'Go clubbing'.)
  • Pray.
  • Buy a Volkswagen.
  • Buy an incandescent light bulb.
  • Roller skate.
  • Lie in the sun all day. (My skin can't do it any more.)
  • Have a camera film developed.
  • Buy a stamp.
  • Think that education is mainly about filling kids' heads with facts.
  • Pay for a haircut. (I wish I could, but alas there isn't enough hair left to justify the expense.)
  • Go without a beard. (Says the man with the weak chin.)
  • Buy a scanner.
  • Wear anything neon colored. (I did. Once. I think it was the 80s.)
  • Write poetry. (Fortunately, my muse has moved on.)
  • See my mother.
  • Take a corner as fast as I can on a motorbike. (I think being a male between 18 and 25 years of age needs to classified as a mental illness.)
  • Go out too far into the ocean. (Because I have. And I almost got swept away. The waves in Africa are not pacific.)
  • Sleep for more than 8 hours without needing to pee.
  • Watch a 5 day cricket test match. (In fact, I now see this as torture.)
  • Think there might be something to homeopathy. (Or crystal healing, or reiki, or any other kind of 'alternative therapy / healing'.)
  • Be careless with wasps.
  • Play a sports match against my students. (You only need to be permanently injured once.)
  • Trust an estate agent.
  • Be careless with broken glass and / or a Stanley knife.
  • Eat shellfish.
  • Think that exams are good things.
  • Go without learning something new every week.

What are the things you'll never do again?

 

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10 Reasons Kids’ Minds Are Like Rainforests


 

In a recent post discussing a favorite quote, I wrote that…

[Young] minds are more like a rainforest: teeming with life and growth, filled with verdant mysteries, potential discoveries and unique richness, and we need to take care that we don't kill off more than we allow to flourish.

This in opposition to the view that their minds are like gardens “which need to be carefully planted and trimmed and tended and formed (and ruthlessly weeded)”.

 

In this post, I would like to extend the rainforest metaphor a little more.

 

Why Kids' Minds Are Like Rainforests

  1. Although you might think that they are richly fertile and if you clear out what's endemic and replace it with what you want to grow there instead, your forced transplantations will seldom last more than a few seasons. The fertile layer lies so deep that only the roots of the existing trees can reach it. (See: Constructivism.)
  2. They are quite resilient and can recover from hurtful things. But too much can damage them irreparably. And sometimes, just a little bit of toxicity can cause a great deal of unanticipated harm. If we care for them and protect them, they thrive.
  3. We seem obsessed with harvesting standardized logs from them, where we should be looking more deeply at the wealth of other amazing things they offer. If, instead of taking what we want, we take the time to investigate all the unique things they offer us, we begin to see them in a very different light.
  4. There is a natural balance. Things that have no place, or which don't play an active role, become supplanted by things which grow, adapt and fit better.
  5. The surrounding context and environment always have a far greater effect on them than does any inherent individual trait. (Actually, they do on all of us. See: The Person and the Situation*)
  6. There is as much activity in the dark as there is in the light. We shouldn't force young minds which prefer the shadows into the light.
  7. To the uninitiated, they can be incredibly difficult to understand and to navigate our way through.
  8. They can be immensely beautiful in both their strength and their fragility.
  9. Where there is an opportunity, it is taken.
  10. They can be truly surprising. Even when you think you know them.

 

(With thanks to the vivacious Melani van der Merwe.)

 

* Like Malcolm Gladwell, I have had my thinking entirely shifted by this book. More in a future post.

 

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20 Predictions for 2016 (And How You Too Can Become a Psychic Fortune-Teller Type – But Not Really)


 

This is the link to last year's predictions.

I've cast the bones for 2016, and the ancestors have spoken.

And here's how you too can learn to tell the future. (Spoiler alert: You can't really, all you do is look at what has already happened, what's happening now, and what always seems to happen. And, of course, you need to keep it vague.)

 

  1. There will be a new conflict between nations in the Middle East.
  2. The global climate crisis will reach epidemic proportions.
  3. A major Asian economy will approach near collapse.
  4. A major leader will be deposed.
  5. A large weather system will cause immense damage.
  6. A new disease will threaten the globe.
  7. Scientists will make a major new discovery.
  8. A new earth-like planet will be found.
  9. I see major racial conflict in a Western country.
  10. A new disruptive technology will fundamentally change the way we do things.
  11. There is an unexpected new president.
  12. A major victory for human rights / environmental lobbyists will occur.
  13. A sports scandal looms.
  14. A mass shooting.
  15. (Insert example of ignorance / stupidity).
  16. London.
  17. Africa.
  18. Some things will get a little bit better.
  19. Some things will get a little bit worse.
  20. Millions will experience bad luck after not favoriting that Facebook post.

 

And before you protest that I am being flippant about some potentially serious and tragic events, might I remind you that most of these things are already happening right now? And they've been happening for many years. Perhaps the real tragedy is that we aren't doing anything about them. And that we're still surprised when they happen. And that we have the kind of credulity that allows us to think that people can tell the future.

 

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What Education in South Africa and Our Ailing Electricity Supply Infrastructure Have in Common


 

South Africa has a major problem with supplying its citizens with enough power. It also has a problem in supplying a good education to its young people.

Here are a few things both of these problems have in common:

  • The majority of people know there are deep issues in both electricity supply and education, but things tick along well for a while and everyone forgets. And then we get hit with another problem…
  • Many don't realise how pervasive and deep the problem is.
  • The best that officials have been able to do is to introduce stop-gap measures to see us through the short term. The fundamental problems still remain.
  • People with the money to do so turn to privatized solutions.
  • The root cause of both of these problems is the lack of investment. The root cause of this is the lack of long term vision (by both the Apartheid government and the ANC).
  • There are people who are working hard to fix these issues, but they are hampered by political indecisiveness.
  • These problems are causing immense damage to the country's prospects and future competitiveness.
  • The solution involves a deep systemic shift, not more of the same.

 

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How NOT To Teach Critical Thinking (And What To Do Instead)


I ran head first into this piece of nonsense the other day:

What is critical thinking? It’s the ability to:

    • solve problems
    • make products that are valued in a particular culture
    • be flexible, creative, and original
    • think about thinking
    • locate the appropriate route to a goal
    • capture and transmit knowledge
    • express views and feelings appropriately

    Um. No. That isn't it at all. Critical thinking isn't really any of these things.

    Fortunately, you don't have to look too far to find a much better definition of critical thinking. But it is a struggle to find ideas on how to actually teach it. And although most sites work off a better conception of what the skill of critical thinking involves, the learning activities they suggest are, unfortunately, mostly not about critical thinking at all.

    The ideas below are my thoughts on better ways to teach critical thinking.

     

    Continue reading

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    Lock, Stock & 200 Smoking Barrels: My Favorite Movies


    The are my favorite movies.

    Click on the link below or the picture to be taken to my IMDB list:

    http://www.imdb.com/list/ls031254587/

    Did I miss any of your favorites?

     

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    The Best Way to Teach Empathy (and How it Can Revolutionize Schools)


    I blog because I feel strange compulsion to gather my wild thoughts together and to sort them into relatively neat little arrangements. Mostly, I order my ideas together beforehand and then offer snapshots of them as blog posts. They aren't always pretty, but I always feel better after I've sent them out into the world. Even after all this time, I am still surprised (and humbled) that so many of you seem to enjoy my various little thought-bunches.

    But sometimes, my thoughts surprise me. Somehow, in the gathering and finessing, something totally new blooms to prominence, something I didn't even know was there.

    Most recently this happened in a post I wrote on the things I think need to be added to school curricula. In it, I discussed the value of philosophy and chess and learning about the brain and a few other things. And then I added these thoughts on teaching empathy:


    Empathy, tolerance and understanding difference is sorely lacking in the world. I will not rant too long, but I will say this: we cannot call ourselves civilized, and we cannot consider ourselves moral beings so long as we are in any way racist, homophobic and tolerant of the suffering of others. And we cannot call what we do in classrooms 'education' unless we are prepared to chip away at the bigoted, self-centred and small-minded notions many of our students have had embedded into their young minds.

    But how to teach empathy?

    What if I told you that the answer to this question touches on the very foundations of our education systems? And to better teach it, we need to reimagine schools?

    Here's why:

    For young people to best learn and understand empathy, they need to see it modeled in their teachers and parents. At schools, this means that educators need to be empathetic towards their students. Now take this a step further and you realize that empathy is not just saying “there there” when something bad happens to one of them, it is a heartfelt concern for the wellbeing of our students. And if this is a genuine concern, schools need to begin changing how they function in order to do away with hurtful practices like arbitrary, non-negotiable deadlines, standardized tests, pointless homework and syllabus-centred education.

    In short: The best way to teach empathy by considering things from our students' point of view. And if we do this, we must be prepared to make significant changes to the way we do education.


    The question then: Why aren't more schools taking this approach towards teaching kids to empathize. In my darker moments, I think I know the answer: We don't really want things to change in our schools (or in the world). And the reason for this? Inertia? Apathy? Selfishness? Tradition? Perhaps it's all of these. But at the heart of it, I think it's this: When we were young, we were educated out of a sense of agency. We were educated to be led and to be passive.

    Surely it's time that changed?


    Peace

    Sean


    (Photo by author)



     

     

     

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    10 Things All Kids Should Be Taught in School


     

    A typical mix of subjects at a school would include the STEM subjects, the Humanities / Social Sciences and perhaps a spattering of Business related subjects, some IT, and the Arts. It hasn't really changed for decades. Now imagine throwing in logical fallacies, some ontology, endgame studies and basic neuroscience. Yes, I know some schools teach some of these things to some of their students. What I am saying is that I think these and a few other things need to be explicitly and comprehensively taught to all students.

     

    The Scientific Method

    The scientific method is not just for 'doing' science, it's a template for understanding the world and for thinking more clearly. It is a rich methodology which, I think, needs to be explored in much greater depth at schools, and it must form part of every research project in every subject. In fact, I think it should form the backbone of how we teach almost every lesson.

    Continue reading

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    We Need to Take the ‘Grind’ Out of Education (Thoughts on Thomas Gradgrind)


     

    We all hijack quotes for our own purposes. The following are among my favorites. They come from the mouth of Thomas Gradgrind, the utilitarian school board superintendent in Charles Dickens's Hard Times. For me, the quotes below speak to the modern obsession with the so-called STEM subjects and the emphasis on cold, dry facts. Not that I think education can do without a greater emphasis on logic and clear-thinking, or that I am advocating a more fluffy, 'spiritual' approach to education. But I do think there is an ever increasing need to de-Gradgrind education (or to 'de-grind' it, if you'll allow the license). We need to include the emotional, the artistic and the philosophical, not to mention all those lovely 'soft' skills so many people are talking about these days. And it isn't enough to just chuck a token 'A for Arts' into STEM to make it STEAM. These things need equal weight, not token representation – as indeed Mr Gradgrind himself discovers later in the book.

    Another issue which Gradgrind throws to light, and one which is still so prevalent today, is the view that children's minds are like gardens, which need to be carefully planted and trimmed and tended and formed (and ruthlessly weeded). We now know, of course, that their minds are more like a rainforest: teeming with life and growth, filled with verdant mysteries, potential discoveries and unique richness, and we need to take care that we don't kill off more than we allow to flourish.

     

    Here are the quotes:

     

    “Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!”

    “You are to be in all things regulated and governed,” said the gentleman, “by fact. We hope to have, before long, a board of fact, composed of commissioners of fact, who will force the people to be a people of fact, and of nothing but fact. You must discard the word Fancy altogether. You have nothing to do with it. You are not to have, in any object of use or ornament, what would be a contradiction in fact. You don't walk upon flowers in fact; you cannot be allowed to walk upon flowers in carpets. You don't find that foreign birds and butterflies come and perch upon your crockery; you cannot be permitted to paint foreign birds and butterflies upon your crockery. You never meet with quadrupeds going up and down walls; you must not have quadrupeds represented upon walls. You must use,” said the gentleman, “for all these purposes, combinations and modifications (in primary colours) of mathematical figures which are susceptible of proof and demonstration. This is the new discovery. This is fact. This is taste.”

     

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    Mr H’s Edtech Resources


    A collection of resources for integrating technology into teaching and learning.

    Source: Mr H’s Edtech Resources – Edtech resources

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    Giving Teachers Independence from the Interference of Bureaucrats & Bigots


     

    This is one of my favorite quotes. It speaks to the importance of giving teachers more freedom to determine what is best for their own students. (I have added a few extra paragraphs to make the reading slightly easier.)

     

    [Teachers] are not free to teach as they would wish. It is they who know most intimately the needs of the young. It is they who through daily contact have come to care for them. But it is not they who decide what shall be taught or what the methods of instruction are to be.

    There ought to be a great deal more freedom than there is for the scholastic profession. It ought to have more opportunities of self-determination, more independence from the interference of bureaucrats and bigots.

    No one would consent in our day to subject the medical men to the control of non-medical authorities as to how they should treat their patients, except of course where they depart criminally from the purpose of medicine, which is to cure the patient. The teacher is a kind of medical man whose purpose is to cure the patient of childishness, but he is not allowed to decide for himself on the basis of experience what methods are most suitable to this end.

    A few great historic universities, by the weight of their prestige, have secured virtual self determination, but the immense majority of educational institutions are hampered and controlled by men who do not understand the work with which they are interfering. The only way to prevent totalitarianism in our highly organized world is to secure a certain degree of independence for bodies performing useful public work, and among such bodies teachers deserve a foremost place.

    The teacher, like the artist, the philosopher, and the man of letters, can only perform his work adequately if he feels himself to be an individual directed by an inner creative impulse, not dominated and fettered by an outside authority.

    (Bertrand Russell)

     

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    Beyond Marks and Standardized Assessments (Part 1: How High-Stakes Assessments Hurt Kids)


     

    Here's the reality: summarizing a student's performance by means of marks and symbols isn't going away any time soon. The reason is simple: they're convenient and easy. The overwhelming majority of universities use them to benchmark students and award places, most parents demand them, education authorities use them to judge the performance of teachers and schools – and (quite possibly as a result of all of this) kids themselves are addicted to them.

    Marks and symbols themselves are not really the core problem. The fact that they are handcuffed to standardized assessments is the real issue. The reasoning is this: you get all students of a particular grade to write the same test so that you can see where they all fall on the spectrum (ideally, a nice neat bell curve). You assign a mark which is mostly based on these batch assessments and report it to the various stakeholders. Sounds logical enough. Except it isn't.

    Standardized assessments are not the best way to assess – and may actually be causing more harm than good. Here's why:

    Continue reading

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    What is Stupidity? (A Quick Guide for Young People.)


     

    What is stupidity?



    Making silly mistakes doesn't make people stupid.

    Absent-mindedness and forgetfulness also don't make people stupid.

    Not knowing things doesn't make them stupid either.

    And doing things the wrong way now and then definitely doesn't make any of us stupid.



    Here's what does make people stupid:


    When they choose to believe a lie, even when they know the truth (because the lie suits them better).

    When they don't learn from their mistakes.

    When they assume they know all there is to know.

    When they believe they don't make mistakes.

    When they stop being curious and stop asking questions.

    When they believe things they see or hear too easily.

    When they make up their minds too quickly.

    When they don't realize that everyone changes and grows, and that our opinions and beliefs can too.


    What do you think?

     

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    20 More Top Educational iPad Apps Teachers Can Actually Use By a Teacher Who Actually Uses Them


    It's been about three years since I posted my original list of iPad apps teachers can actually use.

    Since then I have compiled a few other app lists:

    But I do think it's time I update my original post. Or at least added to it. Most of the apps and tools on the original list are still around, but there are a whole lot more that are useful.

     

    Tap on the name of the app or on the picture to be taken to the App Store.

     

    Continue reading

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    20 More iPad Apps for Teaching and Learning Geography & Earth Science


    This is a follow up post to one I wrote almost two years ago titled 48 iPad Apps For Teaching & Learning Geography and Earth Science.
    All of the apps on the previous list are still around and still working, but what follows are a few I have come across since then.
    Touch on the image or app name for each one you're interested in to be taken to the App Store…
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    20 Not So Nice Life Lessons You Can Learn From Professional Sport


    (From the Tongue-in-Cheek Department)

     

    • True talent is actually incredibly rare. Most often, it is mistaken for above average skill.
    • No matter how ridiculous something might seem, if enough people take it seriously, it isn't ridiculous.
    • No game is ever truly a team game: If you want to do well, and earn good money you have to be selfish.
    • The fact that there is always an umpire or a referee means that, left to their own devices, people are inclined to cheat and lie.

    • Human beings are still fundamentally tribal at their very core.
    • The bottom line: it's always about the bottom line. Nobody really wants your support. They want your money.
    • Better equipment does make a better player.
    • Without careful focus, coaching and reflection, practice does not make perfect.

    • If you're mediocre for a really long time, you can become great.
    • Results tend towards the mean. Hence, very few interventions and innovations actually matter. Losers will eventually win, and winners will eventually lose.
    • Cheaters prosper more often than not.
    • If you have enough money, you can buy success.

    • The long term doesn't matter. What's important is this season and this game.
    • Bigger might not always be better, but it usually is.
    • A draw is worse than a loss.
    • When the chips are down, most people revert to the safest option.
    • Spoiling an opponent's game works as well as hitting your own.

    • One moment's sportsmanship can erase a game's worth of unsportsmanlike behavior.
    • If you're caught cheating, the best thing to do is to deny that you have for as long as you can.
    • Self-aggrandizement will get you incredibly far.

     

     

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    Use the Doohickey on the Gizmo: Point & Click Games to Level-Up Your Creativity


     

    SO WHAT IS THIS 'CREATIVITY' THING ANYWAY?

    Here's my definition of creativity:

     

    Creativity is the act of generating unique and useful solutions by combining divergent objects or ideas.

     

    Thus, for me, true creativity always has the following elements:

     

    • Creativity is closely related to solving problems.
    • Creative endeavors must produce a product or an idea which can be used, and / or which has some other kind of value.
    • The way to find a new, creative solution is to combine vastly different ideas. No innovative idea or product is ever entirely new – instead, they take elements from existing thoughts and things and frankenstein them into something new.
    • Creativity is almost always fun, but it is also always hard work.

     

    SO HOW DO POINT AND CLICK ADVENTURES MAKE YOU MORE CREATIVE?

    Point and click adventures are characterized by rich stories, frequent puzzles, linear quests (usually divided into several episodes, days or chapters) and weird and wonderful objects to collect along the way.

    The great fun comes in trying to figure out what to do with what you've collected. The best point and click adventures allow you to combine the objects in strange and interesting ways before using them on either another object or person.

    As such, these point and click adventures require a great deal of creative thought. A recurring theme in these games is getting stuck and trying all sorts of outlandish combinations until you figure out what is required. With most of these games, you do not die (at least not permanently), so you're free to experiment and try different things.

    I've created a little list of recommended point and click adventures on Steam. I chose Steam first because it's where I download my games, but also because most of the games on steam are fairly cheap. If you prefer playing games on your tablet, there are quite a few point and click adventures available – just stay away from the 'hidden object' games as these tend to be dull and not much of a challenge to your creativity.

    Steam doesn't have all the games I wanted to recommend, but it is a great jumping off point.

    Just a word of warning: some of these can be quite graphic and even disturbing (I'm talking to you Edna and Harvey!), so please check out the age restrictions before allowing the younger members of your household to immerse themselves in a particular adventure.

     

    (Click the link below or on the picture to be taken to the list)

    Curated List of Creativity Enhancing Point and Click Games

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Posted in Uncategorized

    This Teacher Wants To Be An Arsonist


     

    Hey there

     

    A thought:

    If this is true:

     

    Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

    —William Butler Yeats


    Then why am I not drenching my students in combustible challenges and flicking matches at them?

     

    Mostly, it's pouring in stagnant syllabi and heavy assessments.

     

    I want fire. I want energy. I want kids to burn with the excitement of learning.

     

    ———————

    And just so you know:

     

    Yeats did not say this. The closest actual quote is from Plutarch:

     

    …the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting – no more – and then it motivates one towards originality and instills the desire for truth.

    For the mind does not require filling like a bottle, but rather, like wood, it only requires kindling to create in it an impulse to think independently and an ardent desire for the truth.

    (With thanks to Quote Investigator.)

     

    Those little bits about truth and originality which are left out of the modern conception are actually quite important. And it is telling that they are missing. The quest for truth takes the student beyond school syllabi and into the realms of evidence, reasoning and meaning. And unlocking the ability to think independently encourages meaningful, innovative problem-solving.

    Igniting the flame of learning must thus be aimed at smelting out something valuable from the raw ore of knowledge. Otherwise it's just a flame with no purpose.

     

     

    Image: Velvety Sparks by Anyzamarah on DeviantArt

     

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment