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Fall Forward!

I came across this commencement speech given by Denzel Washington at University of Pennsylvania back in 2011.

“Fall forward.” he says, “Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.”

Indeed, Denzel Washington’s words have a message not just for graduating students, but for all of us.  His words can be applied to all walks of life.  You’ve got to take risks!

Take a few minutes to listen to this edited clip of his speech.  The full speech can be viewed here.

Most students today have never lived in a world without Google.”

A pretty amazing fact – no?

In fact, for most of us, Google search is a regular part of our daily life.  But have you ever considered just how Google search works and how in just ⅛th of a second your search result is generated?

How Search Works gives a fascinating insight into the complex system of algorithms involved in generating the simple page of results received in response to a search request.

how-google-sesarch-works

Fascinating!

I’m a convert.

I know that reading is a most powerful tool and is the cornerstone of all education.

So, it comes as no surprise to me when I read that Elon Musk, one of the most innovative and visionary minds of our time, credits his success to just eight books he has read.

8-books

A most inspirational characteristic of Elon Musk is the fact that he is a ‘risk taker’.

Not once, but many times, throughout his life, Musk has taken incredible  gambles, many of which saw him lose position, status and wealth.

Determined to follow through on his ideas, Elon Musk is having an incredible, positive impact on our world and is, without doubt, a most powerful role model for students in our schools.

Infographic Source: fundersandfounders.com

Infographic Source: fundersandfounders.com

 

 

The need to read

Coming across an article by Will Schwalbe “The need to read” published in The Wall Street Journal late last year (November 25, 2016) I knew I’d hit a powerful article.

The start of his article tells the simple story of a grandmother desperately trying to connect with her grandson who lives far away from her home in Florida.  When she asked the usual kinds of questions about school and his day during their phone conversations, his auto reply of ‘fine’ or ‘nothing’ led the conversation nowhere.  So when she asked an alternate question: ‘What are you reading?’ and he replied “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, the grandmother decided to get hold of a copy and read it in the hope of using this as a springboard for conversation during their next phone conversation.

To her delight, it worked!

The book helped this grandmother cut through the superficialities of phone chat and engage her grandson on the most important questions that humans face about survival and destruction and loyalty and betrayal and good and evil, and about politics as well. Now her grandson couldn’t wait to talk to her when she called—to tell her where he was, to find out where she was and to speculate about what would happen next.

While flagging the danger to our well being and our lives by the constant connectivity enabled today by the Internet, Schwalbe discusses the power of reading.  In short he notes that books are able to

  • create connections between people
  • create connections between people and events
  • enable the reader to hear the expression of an individual/group of individuals

While recognizing that reading is a solitary activity, Schwalbe emphasizes that books creates connections with others in a most powerful way.

Books ….. speak to us, thoughtfully, one at a time. They demand our attention. And they demand that we briefly put aside our own beliefs and prejudices and listen to someone else’s. You can rant against a book, scribble in the margin or even chuck it out the window. Still, you won’t change the words on the page.

The technology of a book is genius: The order of the words is fixed, whether on the page or on the screen, but the speed at which you read them is entirely up to you. Sure, this allows you to skip ahead and jump around. But it also allows you to slow down, savor and ponder.

If you have the chance to read Schwalbe’s full article in The Wall Street Journal, do.  It is a powerful treatise for the power of reading.

Working with young adults in school libraries over many years, I repeatedly tell my students how much they will gain from reading.  Apart from the impact reading will have on their own ability to express themselves verbally and in writing, they will get to experience so much that they may never otherwise be able to explore: history, culture, social issues, love, horror, fantasy, art, passion ….. indeed all that life has to offer.

Read a book ….. learn about the world”

I tell them.  This has forever been the mantra I’ve shared with all the kids I’ve worked with in both the classroom and in the world of school libraries.

So ….. is hoodwinking our kids into believing that the tooth fairy is real the right kind of thing to do?  Or should we instead be helping them learn to distinguish fantasy from reality?

Never thought about it?

I hadn’t either – not until I listened to Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about the tooth fairy on the The Late Late Show with James Corden.
 

 
Imagine how easily we could apply this kind of logic to so much of what we teach our students!

It’s a little mind-boggling – no?!

 

I’m not really very good at thinking through tax related issues, but when I listened to this recently released interview by Quartz with Bill Gates, his words made perfect sense to me.

If robots are taking over the jobs of workers why shouldn’t they pay the same kind of tax that would be paid by the people they replace?!

And … as Gates questions with that endearing giggle at the end of the video ….. it’s somewhat unlikely that robot companies are going to be outraged that there might be a tax?!

Gates’ thoughts on the subject have already drawn commentary with Forbes describing his ideas as “bafflingly simple”.  Headlines citing reference to this interview such as this one: Robots that steal human jobs should pay taxes  are bound to proliferate across the web over the coming week as more thought is given to Gates’ not so outrageous thoughts!

Interesting – no?

It’s a while since I last blogged about Google Doodles …..

Google Doodles

I really love Google Doodles!

They never fail to bring a smile to my face and I just love sharing what has become a morning ‘find’ with family, friends and work colleagues when I open Google.com on my laptop in the morning.  I’m in awe of both the creativity and the ingenuity of their creators……

In a nutshell, a Google Doodle, is a temporary graphic variation of the Google logo on its homepage and aims to honour or celebrate holidays, events, achievements and/or people.  Each of these special illustrations embed links with a host of information about the focus topic.  A Google Doodle appears for just one day, but is archived and available for viewing on the Google Doodle website.

Just last week I came across a fabulous entry about a woman by the name of Aletta Jacobs who is, among many other ‘firsts’, noted as a suffragette, a doctor and the inventor of the first effective contraceptive.

Clearly Aletta Jacobs (1854-1929) was a trailblazer for her time.  Just last week on February 9th, she was honoured for what would have been her 163rd birthday with a Google Doodle.

aletta-jacobs-163rd-birthday-5639465472098304-hp2x

Like so many of the links associated with Google Doodles, this one: Aletta Jacobs: 5 fast facts you need to know gives a thumbnail sketch of this amazing woman and her contribution to our world.

Google Doodles really do hold a goldmine of information.  Use them as an inspirational, quick look at information about a host of different topics that have been the feature of one of the many Google Doodles created over the years.  Search the Google Doodle website for previous creations dating back to 1998.  You’ll be surprised at the amount of information that can be gleaned from them in a very short time!