Eddie, you inspire me.
I was reminded of this little gem I found on the internet in a conversation today with one of my good friends about the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (see video link below). She had been feeling a little conflicted about the "10 000 hour rule" - the mantra that states you need to devote 10 000 hours in order to really be good at something. After all, the only thing most of my peers have devoted 10 000 hours to in our lifetime thus far is school. Imagine how that would go in an interview...
Interviewer: So tell me about your greatest strength.
Me: Ever since I was three I had been enrolled in school. I've invested so much time and energy into this endeavor that I feel I really mastered the skill of passivity in the classroom. I can now successfully memorize isolated facts and information and retain it in my short term memory long enough to regurgitate it on a final exam. So I would definitely say school is my greatest strength. I'm amazing at school.
I can see how this rule can be disheartening for those who feel it might be a little too late to begin a new skill. As much as I loved reading Outliers and learning about how cultural and environmental factors really influence success, I think that readers need to be cautious of extending these ideas too far. Despite the environmental hand you may be dealt, success is also dependent on how you decide to interact with these factors.
There are some interesting tidbits you can take away from the TED talk on "How to Learn Anything" by Josh Kaufman, which dispels the 10 000 myth (though there is some truth to it, admittedly). Watch on to learn about the learning curve; successful strategies and barriers to skill acquisition; and to see his cool ukulele performance at the end!
A question I've considered many years: Why is it that so many of the tasks we perform in our culture - at home, at school, at work, at play - are set up [...] where most of us can succeed only at the price of another's failure. - Alfie Kohn
Alfie Kohn is one of my heros in the field of education. He is an American author and lecturer on topics pertaining to human behaviour, parenting, and education. His website contains a series of links to articles he's written, books published, his personal blog, and a series of "online freebies" (e.g. video/audio).
In the video below, Kohn speaks to a group of educators about the effects of competition in the classroom (my thoughts here). To put it simply, competition kills creativity; it teaches students a "sink or swim" attitude and that one's success comes only at another's failure. He argues that competition is never the optimal arrangement. In contrast, cooperation and collaboration lends itself to better attitudes and results, both in the classroom and in society as a whole.
As an aspiring educator, I couldn't help but also notice the way Kohn engages his audience as well. He skillfully navigates the content of his lecture while drawing his audience into the discussion as well. He starts by surveying the audience to see what their professions are, creating a simple but effective connection. Then, he provides an example of a study having to do with competition that yielded some fascinating result, and prompts the audience to think about why those results may have been produced. He gives the audience a chance to discuss their thoughts with someone near them, and takes some time to talk about other relevant observations he's made on the topic before getting the audience to share their responses. That way, he sets the stage for the depth and type of responses expected of his audience, and they also get some time to refine and further develop their responses before sharing with the larger group.
Watching and listening to Mr. Kohn speak is such a privilege. He's funny, insightful, and thought provoking. Definitely worth the watch!
Who does standardized testing benefit? Why do we need them?
“I teach high school math. I sell a product to a market that doesn't want it but is forced by law to buy it.” — Dan Meyer
Rita Pierson reminds us all of the importance of human connection.
International math educator who writes, occasionally.