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I blogged about animated gifs a couple of years ago when I came across the inspirational work of George Redhawk.

Just now though, I’ve come across another master of animated gifs: James Eads in whose work we can simply get lost!

 

Born in Los Angeles, Eads lives and works at the Brewery Arts in Los Angeles, I came across his work on a September 2016 blogpost by Moss & Fog.  Check out his tumblr and instagram profiles for more inspirational art.

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I’m super good at procrastinating!

Putting things off for tomorrow has become an ingrained habit for me.  After all ….. I’ve perfected it over very many years!!!

But finally, I bit the bullet and set aside some time over the last six weeks to complete an online course run by Future Learn of Monash University: Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance.

With the usual offering from an online course of putting in as little or as much effort as desired, I’ve probably gone down the middle road.  The course, made up of videos, meditations and an opportunity to participate in chat groups with other attendees really has been a worthwhile and satisfying way for me to explore this program.   Although, I’ve read and heard much about mindfulness over the years, I’ve concluded that it’s not until you actually try it for yourself and tie it to your own lifestyle that the benefits of being mindful are fully appreciated.

I found the videos easy to listen to.  Session three in particular really ‘spoke’ to me.  With a focus on multitasking, distraction and procrastination, I really related to the many examples being given.  The next day at work, as I did my usual of reading and replying to an email with a phone tucked under my ear and then responding to a person who walked into the office with a query, I realized how inadequate my response was to most everything I was trying to do in that stretch of time.  It’s amazing how much more aware I am of the impact of the many distractions as well as how I’ve been kidding myself that I can competently multitask!.  I’m now in the process of training myself to focus on one task at a time.

So, if like me, you have been contemplating to take time out for yourself and explore how to develop better life habits, I highly recommend this program.

And if mindfulness isn’t your thing, explore the many other course offerings from Future Learn – there are a wealth of offerings.

 

I came across this really great animated video just recently.

James Nottingham’s Learning Challenge which he refers to as the “Learning Pit” offers some really great ideas that can be easily implemented into any lesson.    Encouraging our students to ‘think’ helps them to develop a deeper understanding of concepts.

At stage one they develop surface level knowledge where they know the basics and have a reasonable understanding

At stage two they are getting into deeper thinking where they are questioning their own and others assumptions, looking at exceptions to general rules and exploring concepts in greater detail.

Take the time to watch this short video:

I first heard about Sharism a few years ago.  After reading about it and taking some time to ponder a little more about it’s benefits, I did what often happens with good ideas – I forgot about it!   At the time, I put off taking decisive action to either share my thoughts here or to more actively implement its philosophy!

Then I listened to Mark Zuckerberg’s 2017 Harvard Commencement Speech a couple of weeks ago, and I remembered the notion of Sharism and could see that what Zuckerberg suggests be done on a grand scale is somewhat similar to Sharism.

So what is Sharism?

Sharism is a term for the motivation and philosophy behind the collaborative building of value that results from sharing content and ideas

or ….. in other words

The more you give, the more you get. The more you share, the more you are shared.

And what struck me was the notion of ‘building community’ which Zuckerberg noted in his speech to this year’s Harvard graduates.  Identifying the divisive nature of society segregated by race, religion and country of birth, Zuckerberg paused to question his audience to confirm the fact that millennials, connected to each other as they are by social media, are ‘citizens of the world’ who relate to each other in a deep and meaningful manner, a process which did not exist prior to the advent of social media.

Social media is a tool by which Sharism can so easily be implemented:

  • just a click shares news, thoughts and emotions around the world within seconds
  • networks of like minded people can be created
  • individuals can locate and tap into existing networks
  • individuals can be empowered enabling just one person to truly make a difference
  • sharing enables continued sharing in a speedy and powerful way

Indeed – social media is a gift that has altered our world in profound and significant ways.

UN agency ranks Australia 39 out of 41 countries for quality education

Newspaper headlines like this Sydney Morning Herald headline just two days ago, is both demoralizing and disturbing.

The League Table of country performance of nine child-related goals is a serious concern, one which many a school, its administration, principals and teachers along with parents will no doubt be questioning.

Is it just lack of money being put into education?

Is it teaching standards?

Is it ill planned curriculum?

Is the curriculum too cluttered?

Just what is behind the continual slide of Australian standards, achievements and quality of education?

While answers to these questions will continue to be hotly debated, a new theory was thrown my way just yesterday:

Australians as a whole don’t value education!

Could there be any truth to this? Could attitude or lack of positive attitude to the value of education be the stumbling block to attaining quality education?

Let’s be honest here.  Despite hours of preparation, attention to detail, provision of challenging resources and superbly equipped classrooms, we’ve all had those lessons that just fall flat.  The students don’t engage with us, each other or the subject matter.  Leaving the classroom at the end of the lesson, we feel frustrated and miserable.  The most in depth analysis just can’t identify anything we, as the teacher, could have done differently.

Could it be that student lack of interest is real and is pervading not just our classroom, but the entire school and society?

Is it time perhaps, for us to be having conversations about our collective attitude to education? To be talking up achievement, the value of education and the big picture of how Australia’s future economic and business success is dependent on a well educated population?

This is a hot potato.  A very hot potato!

Even the most remote thought that our schools are populated with children who don’t give a hoot about what they are being taught or what they are learning is a very scary prospect!

 

Just two weeks ago, Mark Zuckerberg gave the 2017 Harvard Commencement Speech.

In short, his words are sensational!

Addressing his fellow millennials, Zukerberg words are both moving and powerful as he implores the graduating class of 2017 to take up the challenge to not just create meaning and purpose in their own lives, but to create meaning and purpose in the lives of their fellow human beings and in this way to create a better and more just world.

Purpose” Zuckerberg says, “is that feeling that you are a part of something bigger than yourself, that you are needed and that you have soemthing better ahead to work for.  Purpose is what creates true happiness.”

Zuckerberg outlines three ways to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose:

  1. by taking on big meaningful projects together
  2. by redefining equality so that everyone has the freedom to pursue their purpose
  3. by building community all across the world

Take the time to listen to his words.

Almost single-handedly, Amazon, the online giant store, has redefined how we shop.

Amazon’s dominance in the book industry has been profound.  Large retail bookstore chains and small independent bookstores have been impacted greatly by the seemingly unstoppable growth of this online monolith forcing the closure of bookstores and changing the way we search for and purchase books.

And ….. it seems ….. there’s no end insight.  Amazon Books has launched into retail sales.  And, as they have in the past, Amazon have once again set out to redefine how we shop by using data driven stats to create book displays that tempt and guide the purchaser.

A not too happy account of how Amazon is reshaping bookstores appeared recently on the KOTTKE.ORG blog: Amazon’s data driven bookstores.  For the most part, this post laments the fact that online sales data rather than informed bookstore staff recommendations are being used to promote good reads to the public.

But, as in the past, little will stop the growth of this incredible market driven company.   As I blog, 7 Amazon Bookstores are already open in the US, with 6 more slated to be opening soon.  Without a doubt the current list will be updated regularly as the rollout across the US continues.

A recent post on Recode (a fabulous website I’ve just discovered!) gives an up close look inside the recently opened New York Amazon Bookstore.  In between the telling photos are some interesting observations by Dan Frommer – so take a few minutes and have a read of the post: Photos: Inside Amazon’s first New York City bookstore.

My day to day life is immersed in books.  Not only do I love reading, but my day time job revolves around igniting the magical spark of a ‘love of reading’ in young adults.  To nurture this love of reading, I  constantly make recommendations and, like the staff in book shops, I talk to my library patrons about the kinds of books they enjoy and ask what they have read previously to inform me about their tastes and interests.  The kind of philosophy that has dominated libraries and book shops for millennia – putting the right book into the right hands – cannot be achieved by relying solely on circulation or sales stats, the approach reportedly being adopted by Amazon Books.

Anything that encourages reading though is undoubtedly good!

So instead of looking at the flaws and mistakes of Amazon Bookstores, perhaps those of us encouraging and promoting books in schools can look at some of the great ideas being introduced by Amazon Bookstores and adopt them:

  • lots and lots of face out books for starters certainly makes for an appealing look
  • increased displays of ‘if you like this, how about this’ would also be welcome
  • and how about if we start using circulation stats in a big way to drive the creation of displays

Hmmmmm ….. it seems like I’ve just hit a new spark of inspiration!