Daedalus had been imprisoned by King Minos of Crete within the walls of his own invention, the Labyrinth. But the great craftsman's genius would not suffer captivity. He made two pairs of wings by adhering feathers to a wooden frame with wax. Giving one pair to his son, he cautioned him that flying too near the sun would cause the wax to melt. But Icarus became ecstatic with the ability to fly and forgot his father's warning. The feathers came loose and Icarus plunged to his death in the sea.
What’s the lesson here? Don’t disobey the leader. Listen to what your parents say. Don’t try to imagine that you’re better than you are. Fall into the box that society puts you in. Don’t dream big.
I think that’s dead wrong.
It’s interesting to note that in the modern version of the story, the part about flying too low has been purposely left out. Seth Godin believes it was a result of the industrialization of education and need for competent workers.
What happens if you fly too high?
You get burned. You fail. You get embarrassed.
When teachers are asked wha the biggest thing wrong with education today, do you know what that almost all of them say?
We’re not teaching students to fail properly. Note the word properly. Is there a proper way to fail? That’s what we’re going to look at right now. The goal of every educator should be to have students walk out of the class each day with the knowledge of what it means to fail. Knowing this allows them to aim high.
Would Icarus would still fly close to the sun if given a second chance? Yes! Why? Because, well, you already know. Who wants to live a boring, play by the rules life?
Just check out your snaps, Instagram and other social media feeds. NOBODY puts anything online about an average day. Here I am, eating lunch or studying. People have the natural desire to showcase themselves flying high. What they don't show is the failure.
That's arguable the most important part.
The walk down the hallway before a job interview is arguably the best moment of the entire job seeking process. Your resume has passed the test. You made it to the top 1% . Now is the moment before you get the chance to shine and show the company you're the best person for the job.
Those small precious moments before the big interview are what you should focus on. Latch on to. Dial in.
In those fleeting moments the world is pure potential. It's the moment before you leap. It's important because you get the chance to experience everything that might be and everything that might not - all at the same time. Once you open the door, the game begins. You can' t cut and run. You have to execute.
We need to learn to seek out opportunities where can experience the moment before the leap. That 's where real growth happens. The difference between a hero and a coward is action in that moment of uncertainty, of pure potential. Seek it out and you won't be disappointed.
Easter Island is the true story that Dr. Suess might have based the book 'The Lorax' on.
It was home to a successful community for many generations. Over time, the limited resources on this isolated island began to disappear until one day, 'chop!' the last tree went down.
Jared Diamond makes the story real in his brilliant article and book (thanks Seth Godin for linking this!).
The question we could ask is: Who were the people that warned everyone about the pending crisis?
Someone must have known about the potential danger, right?
It's possible that the entire community was suffering from co-pilot syndrome. It's the condition where the co-pilot doesn't mention any potential danger to the flight crew because he or she feels that speaking up might disrupt the deeply taught culture of chain of command. Experienced pilots never make mistakes, especially obvious ones. Speaking up against them could get you in big trouble. So the co-pilot says nothing and the result can be disastrous.
Perhaps the community on Easter Island was based on this premise. Of course the leaders have a plan for the disappearing resources. Speaking out against the plan could get you banished and that's not a good place to be on an isolated Island in crisis.
Where in our culture do you see this type of behaviour? Do you feel comfortable speaking up in a meeting if you're on of the junior team members? Do you automatically assume that experienced leaders will always have it right? It sounds silly to think that way, but watch out, you might already be doing it.
With a massive environmental catastrophe on the horizon, we can't wait to act. We need to speak up now.
Dylan Thomas, 1914 - 1953
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Rage is a negative emotion. It can cause physical harm to others. The perpetrator may miss social cues and have temporary memory loss. The raging individual may resort to barbaric decision making. They will put all physical and mental effort into the source of anger until exhausted. Rage is a dynamic moment-to-moment experience.
Taken from Wikipedia:
A person in a state of rage may also lose much of their capacity for rational thought and reasoning, and may act, usually violently, on their impulses to the point that they may attack until they themselves have been incapacitated or the source of their rage has been destroyed. A person in rage may also experience tunnel vision, muffled hearing, increased heart rate, and hyperventilation. Their vision may also become "rose-tinted" (hence "seeing red"). They often focus only on the source of their anger. The large amounts of adrenaline and oxygen in the bloodstream may cause a person's extremities to shake. Psychiatrists consider rage to be at one end of the spectrum of anger, and annoyance to be at the other side.
Toddlers often to explode into fits of rage when things don’t go their way. They’re still learning to control emotions effectively and their frontal cortex doesn’t have enough experience to convince the brainstem - or lizard part of our brain - to cease rage and negotiate. That comes with a better understanding of the world.
When someone talks about the perfect life, they often exclude rage. Every happy person would expect rage to disappear if given the choice. Nobody really looks forward to rage-induced anger. It’s unlikely anyone looks forward to rage.
Why then is it part of our emotional network? What value, if any, does it offer?
In a world of increasing safety, protection and shelter - especially with children - rage can offer some insight into the emotional connection one has to a situation. We often mistake the people who undertake mass shootings as angry rage-filled individuals. Unfortunately, in almost all of the recent US mass shootings, witnesses suggest that the killers exhibited a cold calculated approach to their evil deed. There was a focus, a purpose an anger associated with their actions, but it was not emotionally-induced rage (and certainly not what Dylan Thomas was talking about).
Instead rage is a result of a negative experience related to caring. People are often thrown into ‘fits of rage’ after something has been taken from them or someone they know or love has been hurt. Steve jobs famously broke into a ‘corporate’ rage when, after the first launch of the iPhone 1, the mail server didn’t work. He was angry because he knew the importance of launching a perfect iPhone. He knew what as stake. He cared.
Danger lurks when people show indifference to failure or misfortune. If you get into an argument with someone and they shrug it off as no big deal, it means they really don’t care (or doing an amazing job hiding it). If you don’t care, you’re not concerned about the outcome. Indifference can lead to stagnation.
When you fail, you should certainly feel something. The stronger that emotional experience, the more that it means to you. Pay attention to this. It can be a beacon that guides you on on your way to greater success.
Among the news of the Humbolt tragedy this weekend, something that didn’t get as much press was the passing of Jonathan Pitre. The butterfly boy. He was born with a rare genetic condition that caused his skin to blister randomly. Most of his body was covered in open wounds. He never spent a day without physical pain.
Can you imagine that?
Bath time was horrific.
Yet, after being adopted by the Ottawa Senators, he got in front of cameras and gave the middle finger to pain to show everyone that it’s possible to live a positive happy life no matter what. There isn’t a single person in this world who would have faulted Jonathan not flying close to the sun. How could you when you're in that much pain? But instead he aimed high and said look if I can survive this anyone can.
What’s your excuse?
Smoke jumpers - the people who fight forest fires - don’t have a universal saying to cut and run when a fire gets too hot. They don’t need one. They’re trained to never put themselves into a position of extreme danger. This, of course, is strange since their job is to fight some of the most ferocious fires around. All without water.
They’ve spent countless hours carefully studying the physics of forest fires so that they will be well equipped to analyze their safety at any point in an operation. If things start to change outside of the plan, they will analyze the potential risk and ‘cut and run’ well before any danger appears. Forest fires rarely get put out in a day and smoke jumpers know this very well so they work to control the fire. Holding their ground against terrible odds is not an effective way to manage a massive fire.
We often use small problem strategies to manage the larger problems in our life. Putting your diet off tomorrow is an ineffective way to manage your weight. Working on your resume later because you have other more pressing things to do is also a poor way to find a new job. Instead we need to take a page out of the smoke jumper strategies for the big problems we face. Work to control the situation. Need a new job? Spend time (more than you think) analyzing your goals - money, lifestyle, work hours - and tailor your resume to represent that. Set aside time each day to apply for positions or practice interviews. Never miss this time or the fire may get out of control. Same with your diet. Spend time each day reviewing your diet and analyzing the food you’re eating.
Even if you spend 30 mins a day, that’s 3.5 hour a week and 14 hours a month! After a while, you’ll gain control of the situation and begin to push back, eventually taking the attack to the problem. Forest fires never really go away. Same goes with your problems. However, good strategy can keep things under control.
In a recent blog post, Seth Godin asks us to ‘delight in the journey’ of accomplishment. He suggests that our reserve of grit gets eroded every time we in engage in an action that requires little to no sacrifice. To work towards a goal not only improves our ability to make sacrifices, it allows us a greater level of satisfaction when we achieve it. How many times have you saved up for a purchase and later revealed ’nah, it wasn’t worth it’? Probably hasn’t happened. Compare that to an impulse buy at the mall and I’m certain the opposite is true.
Fishing and hunting are activities that have almost no instant feedback (unless, you’re really, really lucky. Or Jesus himself). Both the hunter and fisherman don’t need to engage in these ancient rituals for survival. The fish market down the street has more exotic seafood than most lakes in North America. Yet, there’s plenty of people who will spend the entire day out on the water hoping for a big catch. The longer they wait, the more they’re determined to continue. They delight in the journey of fishing.
What if you went into a task in the image of a fisherman? Delighting in the opportunity to take on an adventure, hoping for the big catch. Whether it happens or not, you may find yourself enjoying the activity and who knows, maybe a story will be made.
“This one time, after waiting for 8 hours, I dropped my line in and…”
In a recent coding event in Saskatoon, Brad Carter, development executive from Apple Education, suggested that computational thinking needs to be considered the fourth ‘R’ after reading, writing and arithmetic. The reason, he argues, is that the digital landscape has grown so intensely students will need a proper skill set to navigate it effectively. With mobile devices increasingly controlling most of our interactions, we’re putting much of our faith into coders who fall into a fairly specific demographic - namely the traditional white male programmer who has more in common with the Google founders than end users. Brad suggests that diversifying the coding world with more females and minorities will undoubtably improve the technological landscape. This is why we need to start programming at a young age and promote it directly to the underrepresented.
It’s highly unlikely that we’re on the verge of a global technological collapse at the hands of white male programmers. Only a minimum of economic knowledge is required to understand that the marketplace of apps is rich in choice and covers a vast variety of markets. Most demographics are served well and it’s difficult to sense any grand injustice or exploitation at an underrepresented population. Generally speaking, the market is thriving.
Instead of promoting coding to girls with the purpose of increasing the number hard code developers, why not use it as motivation to empower everyone to become literate in a world drowning in technology? Pushing buttons, opening a website and sending Snaps does not make someone technologically literate. A well educated individual who is competent in that fourth ‘R’ understands the motivation for a company to design, code and sell an app. This will undoubtably influence their purchase and/or use of any application. For example, if a competent coder was able to recognize that an app like Facebook was making money off of posted pictures by running a sneaky algorithm on every upload, then the user might make a better decision on what type of photos to share. One might simply declare this as critical thinking, but it’s deeper than that. Only an experienced programmer would be able to recognize the framework where background programs could exploit. Critical thinking can raise the initial questions and concerns. However, only a critical thinking individual exposed to coding could understand the red flags.
Competent, tech savvy, experienced coders in mass numbers across many demographics would most certainly influence the technological landscape in the long run. A diverse set of ideas may not drastically improve the programming marketplace, however, it will push the innovation of technology to new heights by offering different ideas and perspectives. We’ve only started to scratch the surface of technological potential (and will continue to do so regardless of who codes). With effective virtual reality, nanotechnology and AI around the corner, we’re going to need those diverse opinions.
Lets get coding!
Why are we so obsessed with superheroes? What an we learn from heroes that would immediately improve our life? Is making your bed a heroic act? In the talk above, I speak to our entire student body on what it means to enter the chaos and be a hero. Enjoy!
43% of new graduates are holding jobs that are outside of their post-secondary education. Even scarier is that these jobs are often low paying and hold very little opportunity for advancement. Everyone has heard about the Starbuck's barista who has 2 masters degrees in English Literature but can’t find a ‘real job’.
Why is this happening?
We’re stuck in this belief that education will always grant us opportunity. The more we have, the safer more secure we are. It’s dead wrong. Ask an MBA who can’t find a job in marketing and can barely make their rent how education is doing for them. Ask the Lawyer who’s passed the bar but swimming in debt all while working insane hours how that extra education is making feel comfortable.
It’s our job to build a culture of entrepreneurship in schools to help prepare students for a world with infinite opportunity and (paradoxically) zero guarantees.
Trying to light a bulb with only 1 wire. How can we do it? Grade 6 #electricity #scichat https://t.co/ORdE12OixX
Best way to learn about friction? GravityCanadian winter. We also experimented by adding soap to our sleds! #edchat #grade3 #forces https://t.co/fk5DwBOHkJ
Were identifying bones by investigating x-rays of complete incomplete and compound fractures. #grade5 #scichat https://t.co/i1OwGTPvwg
Just earned my #Minecraft Global Mentor badge! Looking forward to being apart of this amazing community! @MeenooRami https://t.co/E2CCSyPVKS via @MicrosoftEDU
The new year is now in full swing and resolutions are being broken everywhere. Somehow it’s easier to slip back into our regular routines than it is to form new ones. Why is this? Obviously, the answer is because it’s hard to change. Exactly how hard is it?
The last post talked about benchmarking yourself. This is an underrated activity. Writing down your goals is good, but actually writing a life plan is even better. In our short-sightedness we often assume that going to the gym for a few weeks will ultimately stick because we’ll feel better and see the benefits. That’s wrong. Often these goals of improved fitness, better diet, improved relationships, feeling happier arrive at the end of a very long marathon. Real lasting change occurs drip by drip and is almost unnoticeable. You’ll looking the mirror after six months and realize that where you came from is much different than where you are today. Lasting change.
So how do you make it happen?
Write down what your idea life would look like. Keep the dream anchored to reality. We all want that billion dollar lifestyle with personal jets and mansions, but unless it can be realistically achieved within 5 years, keep it off the table. A more appropriate vision would be to reduce/eliminate your current debt and have more financial stability.
Add in as much detail as possible. Use as many adjectives as you possibly can. This will help make the your dream the most vivid.
Here’s a small expert from my life plan:
…being financially stable enough to send my kids to private school and have the opportunity to travel with the family at least once a year.
…speaking in front of an audience at least 5 times a year on topics that interest me (motivation, education, fitness).
A life plan should be long enough that it reads like a detailed story, but short enough that you can quickly review it to ensure you’re still on the right path. Since the life plan is your creation, you can add as much or little information as you’d like. Just remember, murky details are the easiest ones to abandon. Make it SMART - or at the least the first two letters - specific and measurable.
Write down the worst case scenario. What if you did nothing? What if a few certainties in your life disappeared (ex your job)? What would your life look like? Don’t hold back - doom and gloom is the name of the game.
This is the bad life plan. This is what you don’t want your life to become. It’s just as important (perhaps more) than the life plan because it shows you where you’re going to end up if you DO NOTHING. Goals don’t fail because people do them incorrectly, they fail because they do nothing. They stop. Thinking of a life that has you in the dumps can help motivate you to do because doing is the name of the game.
More will be written in the coming weeks about life plans. In the meantime, the best thing to do is get started!
New Year’s resolutions. Good or bad? According to a Globe and Mail article, 92% of all New Year’s resolutions fail. Well, lets be nice and put it more positively: 8% of all New Year’s resolutions succeed. Yikes, not a very motivating statistic, is it?
A New Year’s resolution is a Hallmark holiday that failed. It is supposed to be this time of year where you can wipe the misery of holiday’s and the entire away in one swoop by setting a goal and going for it.
I’m going to lose 10 pounds!
I’m going to be nice to people!
Shop less, save more!
Fail. Fail. Fail.
Why is that we’re so terrible at setting and attaining goals?
If you take a naturalistic view, we’re the only animals that actually attempt to set goals. All animals in nature live in the present, spending their time seeking food, mates and not dying. That’s a bit of a cop-out explanation though. We’re clearly more sophisticated than other creatures and are the only animals that can understand the concept of the future. Naturally, we’re going to want to improve ourselves over time. So it’s not too difficult to recognize the connection between setting goals and bettering ourselves.
The challenge is that we have a difficult time constructing a pathway between the present and some future where our goals are realized. You see this all the time at the gyms in January where new people show up in flocks and work themselves to exhaustion. They’ll do it for a week, maybe two and they’re gone.
Real change requires a complete lifestyle overhaul. People want to lose weight quickly but fail to realize that they didn’t gain weight quickly. There’s this illusion that if and when you do reach your goal, you’ll get the green light to live like you want forever.
Instead of setting goals, we need to first imagine the life we’d like to live. What would you look like? How would you act? What would you wear? How would you know you’re happy?
Once you imagine this vision, write it down in as much detail as possible. This is your benchmark. Set your goals based on this benchmark.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t end here. Look for more in part 2 of New Year’s Resolutions coming soon!
Now that winter has arrived in southern Ontario, we can expect to spend the next 3 or 4 months covered in a pasty layer of white salty mess. The first usage of salt on roads was by Detroit in 1940. Salt was used because a large deposit was discovered in the Detroit area in 1914. Salt was found to be more effective than sand for improving traction on roads. A 1992 study conducted by Marquette University in Wisconsin found that road salt reduced crashes by 88 percent, injuries by 85 percent, and accident costs by 85 percent.
Today salt isn’t just used on roads. It’s found on sidewalks, driveways, wheelchair ramps, parking lots and playgrounds. It’s become the de facto safety measure when winter strikes.
The problem is that in almost all cases, too much salt is used. Salt is most effective on cold dry winter surfaces that are covered in ice. If conditions are too wet, the salt dissolves and becomes useless. Too much snow and the salt melts to the surface rendering it useless. Yet, you see the salt truck out spreading it’s load on wet road. The maintenance company spreads so much salt in the mall parking lot that it crunches as you walk by.
Salt is an oxidant speeding up the rusting of metal on your car. It stains fabric, turning those Uggs from beige to cream coloured.
Salt gives us grip. It helps us because we don’t slip, fall and possibly hurt ourselves.
What happens if a spot gets missed and a thin layer of black ice forms on the sidewalk? It’s likely that we’ll slip. We’re not used to walking on ice.
What if one day the world runs out of salt? Will cold climates descend into chaos? Unlikely. We’ll probably learn how to walk on ice. We’ll take our time, maybe even help each other. We may fall, but over time we’ll learn how to fall properly. We’ll become good at walking on ice.
How much salt are you laying down in your classrooms or even as a parent?
The interesting thing about predicting the future is that it’s ALWAYS a gamble. You may guess correctly, but it’s far more likely that you’ll guess the opposite and be completely wrong. In the late 90s during the first dot com boom, business students were told that unless they understood how to code a website using html, they’ll be left behind.
That, of course, never happened. Neither did the idea the internet was a fad or Amazon would never make money.
In education it becomes even more of a gamble when you try to guess the future, especially in the context of technology. If you guess incorrectly, you may send a student into the world with an incorrect or inappropriate skill set. The predicting is the most dangerous when you judge the usefulness of new technology.
The paper never ran out.
Tablet and smart phone technology has become increasingly important in education.
Access to the web has become a fundamental human right.
Rather, technology seems to shape us quickly, intensely and permanently. Think of Facebook. Nobody really resisted Facebook, they just didn’t understand how to use it. Once it’s critical mass hit, it went gangbusters. Now there’s so much noise on a person’s Facebook feed, it’s essentially impossible to read it all.
If, as an educator, you dismiss technology as useless you run the danger of being over run by students who are more capable then you because they embraced it.
The person who thought that slate was never going away became outdated and expendable very quickly. The teacher who saw the potential of paper and began to use in their classes saw the realized potential very quickly.
Which teacher do you want to be?
What value is there hard work? Why sacrifice and commit to something beyond yourself? Why do anything where the reward might not equal the effort?
Watch the video above.
Think of how much effort the rabbit puts into creating the girl rabbit only to have but a fleeting moment of satisfaction.
Was it all worth it?
Would you do it?
It’s easy to reflect back and say that you wouldn’t given that you know the result. All that work for a momentary reward.
Here’s the thing: you should do the work anyway.
We’re often head-faked by this idea that effort should always be rewarded. Children are taught from a very young age that if they help they will get a prize. Work should be done because putting the in the time and effort make it right, good and just. Even though each of the rabbits tasks didn’t lead to a reward, in the end, the entire effort resulted in the creation of something new. And, that tiny moment made it all worth it.
How do I feel?
Am I interested?
Can I do this?
The answers to these 3 questions determine our effort, motivation and commitment when facing new challenges. People often let their subconscious answer the questions which can lead to excuses avoidance and, in a worse case scenario, lies.
The next time you’re faced with a new challenge or experience, consciously make the effort to ask yourself these important questions. You may be shocked by how much your answer differs from your subconscious!