Just for fun … a thrill ride through Paris

Claude Lelouch told a beautiful little story by maniacally driving through Paris at dawn. No dialogue, no soundtrack (except the engine and squealing tires). Take nine minutes to watch C’etait un rendez-vous (It Was a Date).

PS: Lelouch was arrested after the film’s first public viewing – watch and you’ll see why.

C’├ętait un Rendez-Vous from Thom Graves on Vimeo.

Siftables

“MIT grad student David Merrill demos Siftables — cookie-sized, computerized tiles you can stack and shuffle in your hands. These future-toys can do math, play music, and talk to their friends, too. Is this the next thing in hands-on learning?”

Amazing new user interface … stick with the video until the 2:30 mark, then say, “wow.”

The Wizard of Watchmen on Education

I am a huge Alan Moore fan and have read just about everything he has written. It makes me a little reluctant to see Watchmen because Moore disowns the cinematic versions of his books, especially Watchmen. He finds modern films to be “bullying” and designed to “spoon feed” audiences. (However, I’ll admit to being curious enough to see the movie, but only after reading the book for a third time)

Therefore it’s not such a surprise to read about Moore’s opinion of education in a recent Salon interview.

None of my education really comes from school. The only place where I was finding any information that really intrigued me was through my contact with what we then referred to as the counterculture. That entire hippie psychedelic scene that existed then which was producing incredible music, incredible culture, incredible writings and the whole impetus was to expand your mind, as they said. So I found that once I’d been expelled from school, I was compelled to educate myself and I found this a very entertaining and easy process. In the course of a few decades of living, I found that I’d absorbed far more information than I would’ve done if I’d been in an academic institution.

All too often education actually acts as a form of aversion therapy, that what we’re really teaching our children is to associate learning with work and to associate work with drudgery so that the remainder of their lives they will possibly never go near a book because they associate books with learning, learning with work and work with drudgery. Whereas after a hard day’s toil, instead of relaxing with a book they’ll be much more likely to sit down in front of an undemanding soap opera because this is obviously teaching them nothing, so it is not learning, so it is not work, it is not drudgery, so it must be pleasure. And I think that that is the kind of circuitry that we tend to have imprinted on us because of the education process.

And Moore takes his role seriously in combating the “imprint” of education:

It seems to me to be a responsibility of culture to become as informative as possible and give people a source of information in a form they will be drawn to. Just as the education system can equate learning with work and work with drudgery and program people against the idea of learning, I can … well, everybody knows that comics are entertainment. If you can present something that’s colorful, that’s entertaining, that looks like the kind of thing that people would seek out for enjoyment, then you are much more likely to get people to respond to it. I’m sure there are lots of people out there who although they couldn’t actually give you a clear idea of their country’s history over the past couple of hundred years, but they probably could give you a detailed description of the continuities of whatever comic book or television show they are most obsessed with. We have an enormous capacity for absorbing all of this trivia, so if you can spike the entertainment with genuine information — whether that be moral information or historical information, magical information — then it actually stands a chance of being absorbed by the public.

Any lessons here for educators? Just a few …

Barry Schwartz: The real crisis? We stopped being wise

Brilliant TED talk from Barry Schwartz. It’s only 20 minutes and so worth watching. Great implications for education. What stood out for me?

  • A wise person knows when to make an exception to every rule
  • A wise person knows when to improvise
  • You don’t need to be brilliant to be wise. Without wisdom, brilliance isn’t enough.
  • Rules and procedures may be dumb … but they spare you from thinking
  • As we turn increasingly to rules and incentives, moral skill and will is chipped away and deprives us the opportunity to improvise and be creative
  • Lockstep curricula is an example of the overabundance of rules
  • Excessive reliance on incentives demoralizes professional activity
  • We must celebrate moral exemplars
  • “As teachers we should strive to be the ordinary heroes, the moral exemplars, to the people we mentor”

John Cleese on Creativity

Great 10 minute video of John Cleese discussing creativity, how to foster it and how it may be discouraged in others. What stood out for me:

1) when getting “stuck” – move away from the problem and the solution will become apparent later
2) rewriting, reworking on a project results in a far better product
3) interruptions destroy creativity
4) we don’t really know where ideas come from – but “we don’t get them from our laptops” … they probably come from an unconscious part of our minds
5) racing around and “keeping balls in the air” will not result in creativity (ouch!)
6) to enhance creativity: must create an “oasis” of calm by creating boundaries of space and time for it to happen; give yourself a start and finishing time

Really interesting quote: “To know how good you are at something requires the same skills as it does to be good at that thing. Which means that if you’re absolutely hopeless at something, you lack exactly the skills that you need to know that you’re absolutely hopeless at it … Most people who have absolutely no idea what they’re doing have absolutely no idea that they have no idea what they’re doing. It explains a great deal of life.”

And even more important for educators:
there are teachers who know that they themselves are not very creative and, therefore, they may not value creativity even if they can recognize it.