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2017

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Aerial Project “33K” on Vimeo
"This is a very special project to me that I conceived of and directed for one of my favorite clients who shall remain nameless for now. Over several months of prep and R&D we modified a LearJet and flew above the earth looking straight down at the shear beauty of what Mother Nature has to offer us that we all too often miss from the ground. Shot on RED in 8K."
video  classideas  flight  aerialphotography  2017  vincentlaforet  earth 
1 hour ago by robertogreco
Gifted and Talented and Complicated - The New York Times
"Child prodigies are exotic creatures, each unique and inexplicable. But they have a couple of things in common, as Ann Hulbert’s meticulous new book, “Off the Charts,” makes clear: First, most wunderkinds eventually experience some kind of schism with a devoted and sometimes domineering parent. “After all, no matter how richly collaborative a bond children forge with grown-up guides, some version of divorce is inevitable,” Hulbert writes. “It’s what modern experts would call developmentally appropriate.” Second, most prodigies grow up to be thoroughly unremarkable on paper. They do not, by and large, sustain their genius into adulthood.

What happens to alter the trajectory of shooting stars like Follett? In “Off the Charts,” Hulbert attempts to capture the complicated lives of child prodigies without descending into voyeurism or caricature. She has tried to “listen hard for the prodigies’ side of the story,” to her great credit.

This is an arduous task, and it sometimes shows in the writing, which can be stilted in its reliance on quotes and documentation. But Hulbert’s diligence results in a surprising payoff: The best advice for managing a child prodigy may be a wise strategy for parenting any child, including the many, many nonbrilliant ones.

Hulbert, The Atlantic’s literary editor, wrote her last book, “Raising America,” about the tortured history of parenting advice. So she is appropriately wary of preachy morality tales. “My goal isn’t to pile on the stark cautionary fare. Nor am I aiming to crack some ‘talent code,’” she writes in the prologue for “Off the Charts,” to our great relief.

Instead, she tries to place each of the boys and girls featured in the book in a specific time and place; their celebrity reveals much about their particular moment in American history. For example, Bobby Fischer’s chess prowess might not have been impressive enough for adults to overlook his breathtaking egotism — but for the launching of Sputnik and America’s anxiety about creeping Soviet domination in education and science. One era’s prodigy is another’s anonymous misfit.

The book begins with the story of two gifted boys who attended Harvard at the same time, in the early 1900s. Norbert Wiener, a budding philosopher and mathematician, was 14, and William Sidis, a star in linguistics and mathematics, was only 11. They were not friends, which was a shame. Both suffered under the weight of their elders’ intellectual expectations, combined with the impossibility of fitting in as boys among men. They were told they were superior, but then punished if they acted like it. Their identities depended on superhuman smarts, which made any academic failure feel like a knife to the heart.

Wiener would struggle with depression for the rest of his life, but he did manage to eventually find professional fulfillment at M.I.T., where he helped invent the field of cybernetics. Sidis was not so successful; after fleeing a criminal charge related to a political protest, he did low-level accounting work in New York. He continued to alienate others with his stubborn arrogance before dying at 46 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

What would have helped these boys and the other struggling prodigies in this book? Maybe nothing. But after poring over their words and stories, Hulbert has concluded that they might all offer parents similar advice: Accept who they are.

That doesn’t mean protecting them from failure or stress; quite the opposite. “What they want, and need, is the chance to obsess on their own idiosyncratic terms — to sweat and swerve, lose their balance, get their bearings, battle loneliness, discover resilience,” Hulbert writes. Interestingly, this is the same advice contemporary psychologists tend to give to all parents, not just the parents of prodigies. Parents must hold children accountable and help them thrive, which is easier said than done; but if they try to re-engineer the fundamentals of their offspring, they will fail spectacularly, sooner or later. And this lesson is particularly obvious in the extremes.

“Extraordinary achievement, though adults have rarely cared to admit it, takes a toll,” Hulbert writes. “It demands an intensity that rarely makes kids conventionally popular or socially comfortable. But if they get to claim that struggle for mastery as theirs, in all its unwieldiness, they just might sustain the energy and curiosity that ideally fuels such a quest.”

The special challenge for prodigies is that they are exceptional in more ways than one. “Genius is an abnormality, and abnormalities do not come one at a time,” explains Veda Kaplinsky, a longtime teacher of gifted students, in Andrew Solomon’s “Far From the Tree,” a book that is cited by Hulbert. “Many gifted kids have A.D.D. or O.C.D. or Asperger’s. When the parents are confronted with two sides of a kid, they’re so quick to acknowledge the positive, the talented, the exceptional; they are often in denial over everything else.”

The very traits that make prodigies so successful in one arena — their obsessiveness, a stubborn refusal to conform, a blistering drive to win — can make them pariahs in the rest of life. Whatever else they may say, most teachers do not in fact appreciate creativity and critical thinking in their own students. “Off the Charts” is jammed with stories of small geniuses being kicked out of places of learning. Matt Savage spent two days in a Boston-area Montessori preschool before being expelled. Thanks to parents who had the financial and emotional resources to help him find his way, he is now, at age 25, a renowned jazz musician.

Interestingly, some prodigies may actually do better when their eccentricities are seen by loving adults as disabilities first — and talents second. Hulbert tells the story of Jacob Barnett, born in 1998, who withdrew into autism as a toddler in Indiana. His parents tried every form of therapy they could find, before finally discovering that he could be drawn out through his captivation with astronomy. His mother, Kristine, took him to astronomy classes at the local university — not to jump-start his genius but to help coax him back to life. “If I had stopped and let myself bask in the awe of Jake’s amazing abilities — if I had stopped to ponder how unusual he really is — I don’t think I could have been a good mother to him,” she explained.

The most vivid section of the book comes at the end, when Hulbert reunites with the musical prodigy Marc Yu, a decade after first interviewing him at age 6. With his mother’s support, Yu had tried to ease up on his musical career and live a more normal life, an approach that had worked for other prodigies, including the child actress Shirley Temple. But Yu found that the strategies that worked at the keyboard were useless in high school, where no amount of discipline and focus could make him cool. The adorable, joke-cracking boy she’d remembered had grown into a lonely teenager. “I always expected things to go my way,” Yu told Hulbert. “If I wanted it, I worked hard enough, I got it, and people loved me. That’s no longer true, and I feel I exist in the shadow of popular kids.”

Yu’s story reinforces one of Hulbert’s central, if unsatisfying, findings: Children’s needs change. If you think you’ve got a child figured out, you will be proved wrong momentarily. As Hulbert writes: “Prodigies offer reminders writ large that children, in the end, flout our best and worst intentions.” And adults always overestimate their own influence."
children  prodigies  2017  annhulbert  success  parenting  2018  sfsh  acceptance  psychology  resilience  loneliness  depression 
yesterday by robertogreco
Mathematician Federico Ardila Dances to the Joys and Sorrows of Discovery | Quanta Magazine
"When you came to the United States, as an undergraduate at MIT, it was your turn to feel like the “other.”

It’s not that anybody did anything to mistreat me or to doubt me or to explicitly make me feel unwelcome, but I definitely felt very different. I mean, my mathematical education was outstanding and I had fantastic access to professors and really interesting material, but I only realized in retrospect that I was extremely isolated.

There’s a system in place that makes certain people comfortable and others uncomfortable, I think just by the nature of who’s in the space. And I say that without wanting to point fingers, because I think you can be critical about the spaces that “other” you, but you also have to be critical about the ways in which you “other” other people.

I think because mathematics sees itself as very objective, we think we can just say, “Well, logically, this seems to make sense that we’re doing everything correctly.” I think sometimes we’re a little bit oblivious as to what is the culture of a place, or who feels welcome, or what are we doing to make them feel welcome?

So when I try to create mathematical spaces, I try to be very mindful of letting people be their full human selves. And I hope that will give people more access to tools and opportunities.

What are some of the ways you do that in your teaching?

In a classroom I’m the professor, and so in some sense I’m the culture keeper. And one thing that I try to do — and it’s a little bit scary and it’s not easy — is to really try to shift the power dynamic and make sure that students feel like equally powerful contributors to the place. I try to create spaces where we’re kind of together constructing a mathematical reality.

So, for example, I taught a combinatorics class, and in every single class every single student did something active and communicated their mathematical ideas to somebody else. The structure of the class was such that they couldn’t just sit there and be passive.

I believe in the power of music, and so I got each one of them to play a song for the rest for us at the beginning of each class. At the beginning it felt like this wild experiment where I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I was really moved by their responses.

Some of them would dedicate the song to their mom and talk about how whenever they’re studying math, they’re very aware that their mom worked incredibly hard to give them the opportunity to be the first ones in their family to go to college. Another student played this song in Arabic called “Freedom.” And she was talking about how in this day and age it’s very difficult for her to feel at home and welcome and free in this country, and how mathematics for her is a place where nobody can take her freedom away.

That classroom felt like no other classroom that I’ve ever taught in. It was a very human experience, and it was one of the richest math classrooms that I’ve had. I think one worries when you do that, “Are you covering enough mathematics?” But when students are engaged so actively and when you really listen to their ideas, then magic happens that you couldn’t have done by preparing a class and just delivering it.

Mathematics has this stereotype of being an emotionless subject, but you describe it in very emotional terms — for instance, in course curricula you promise your students a “joyful” experience.

I think doing mathematics is tremendously emotional, and I think that anybody who does mathematics knows this. I just don’t think that we have the emotional awareness or vocabulary to talk about this as a community. But you walk around this building and people are making these discoveries, and there are so many emotions going on — a lot of frustration and a lot of joy.

I think one thing that happens is we don’t acknowledge this as a culture — because mathematics is emotional in sometimes very difficult ways. It can really make you feel very bad about yourself sometimes. You can be pushing on something for six months and then have it collapse, and that hurts. I don’t think we talk about that hurt enough. And the joy of discovering something after six months of working on it is really deep."
federicoardila  math  mathematics  music  combinatorics  teaching  2017  education  inclusivity  inclusion  culture  accessibility  howwweteach  community 
yesterday by robertogreco
‘If you walk in someone else’s shoes, then you’ve taken their shoes’: empathy machines as appropriation machines
If we want to empathise, we must always question who really ‘benefits’ from our ‘empathy’. But VR empathy machines, especially slick UN-sponsored empathy productions built to milk donations from millionaires at Davos, definitely do not foster any type of critical reflection.

To quote Wendy H. K. Chun’s excellent talk at Weird Reality: if you ‘walk in someone else’s shoes then you’ve taken their shoes’.8 If you won’t believe someone’s pain unless they wrap an expensive 360 video around you, then perhaps you don’t actually care about their pain.

I think empathy machine apologists are lying to themselves. The ‘embodied’ ‘transparent immediacy’ of virtual reality (or much less, 360 video) does not obliterate political divisions. Even a culturally advanced medium like books can barely chip away at the problem, so VR definitely can not. In this political sense, VR can’t actually offer any embodiment, transparency or immediacy to anyone. At best, VR can only offer the illusion of empathy.
NGV  empathy  VR  technology  reflection  illusion-of-empathy  Robert-Yang  2017 
yesterday by zzkt

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