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robertogreco : depth   30

Want to Create Things That Matter? Be Lazy. - 99U
"The late Nobel-prize winning physicist Richard Feynman, was one the most brilliant minds of twentieth century science. To his colleagues at Cornell, however, he seemed lazy. As Feynman admitted in a 1981 interview: “I’m actively irresponsible; I tell everybody I don’t do anything; if anyone asks me to be on a committee…’no’ I tell them.”

The acclaimed post-modern science fiction author Neal Stephenson also comes across as lazy. In an essay titled “Why I am a Bad Correspondent,” Stephenson explains that he’s not that interested in spending time interacting with readers. Stephenson has no public e-mail address and asks that you don’t invite him to attend conferences or attempt to engage him in social media conversation. If you insist on trying to book him for an appearance, he warns “I almost never accept these and when I do, I charge a lot of money, I demand expensive travel arrangements, and I perform no prep work—I just show up and wing it.”

I’ve spent the past decade researching and writing about elite performers in creative fields. In this time, I’ve noticed that examples like Feynman and Stephenson are common. That is, many people who excel in producing things that matter have work habits that seem downright lazy by the standards in their field.

At first, this may just seem to be just another quirk of the high-performing set, but I argue that it’s worth diving deeper into this paradox as the underlying explanation provides useful insight for anyone looking to spend less time spinning their wheels and more time producing results the world cares about.

***

The key to explaining this lazy producer paradox is to introduce a more refined understanding of “work.” For many ambitious people, work is defined to be any activity that can potentially benefit you professionally. For most fields, of course, there are an endless number of things that satisfy this definition—from professors joining endless committees to writers maintaining exhausting social media presences. It’s due in large part to this generic notion of work that we spawned the culture of busyness that afflicts us today, where the measure of your success becomes synonymous with the measure of your exhaustion. This understanding of “work,” however, is flawed. It’s more useful to divide this activity into two distinct types of effort, deep and shallow:

1. Deep Work: Cognitively demanding tasks that require you to focus without distraction and apply hard to replicate skills.

2. Shallow Work: Logistical style tasks that do not require intense focus or the application of hard to replicate skills.

For example: solving a hard theorem is deep work, while chiming in on the latest departmental e-mail chain is shallow; writing a chapter of your novel is deep work, while tweeting about a novel you like is shallow. The shallow activities are not intrinsically bad, but they’re not skilled labor, and therefore offer (at best) a small positive contribution to your efforts to produce value.

If we rethink the laziness shown in our above examples through this lens, we realize what Feynman and Stephenson are really doing is eliminating large amounts of shallow work from their schedule to maintain a priority on deep work. By doing so, they’re taking advantage of the following crucial but overlooked reality: deep work is what produces things that matter in the world.

Richard Feynman, for example, could be lazy about many of the standard obligations of academics because he used that time to instead focus deeply on the ground-breaking ideas that made him famous. As he clarified in the interview mentioned above, “to do real good physics work, you do need absolute solid lengths of time…it needs lots of concentration.”

Neal Stephenson justifies his snubbing of his readers for similar reasons. As he explained in his Bad Correspondent essay:

“If I organize my life in such a way that I get lots of long, consecutive, uninterrupted time-chunks, I can write novels. But as those chunks get separated and fragmented, my productivity as a novelist drops spectacularly. What replaces it? Instead of a novel that will be around for a long time there is a bunch of e-mail messages that I have sent out to individual persons, and a few speeches given at various conferences.”

Both Feynman and Stephenson are making a case for prioritizing depth over shallowness. They recognize that deep work is what produces things that “will be around for a long time.” Whereas shallow work is an activity that can impede more important deep efforts and therefore cause more net harm than good. It might slightly help your writing career in the moment to be retweeted, but the long term impact of a distracting Twitter habit could be the difference between a struggling novelist and an award-winning star like Stephenson.

***

What’s the lesson to take away here? If you’re driven to produce things that matter, then you need to put deep work at the center of your professional life. To do so will probably require that you become lazier in the Feynman and Stephenson sense of the term: that is, you must treat with sluggish wariness efforts that keep you away from depth, regardless of how many small benefits they promise. Few people, of course, can completely eliminate shallow work from their professional lives, nor would they want to if they could. But shifting your general mindset toward one that embraces depth and shuns shallowness can make a big difference in the amount of value you produce.

To put it another way: become hard to reach, avoid new tech tools, be slow to answer e-mails, become blissfully ignorant of memes, turn down coffee requests, refuse to “hop on” calls, and spend whole days outside working in a single idea—these are exactly the type of lazy behaviors that can change the world."
creativity  productivity  focus  depth  2016  calnewport  via:austinkleon  richardfeynman  nealstephenson  howwework  work 
september 2016 by robertogreco
Not-yetness | the red pincushion
"I have done several talks lately about the idea of not-yetness. It’s an idea that Jen Ross (University of Edinburgh) and I first wrote about in our chapter, Complexity, mess, and not-yetness: Teaching online with emerging technologies, to be published in the forthcoming second edition of Emerging Technologies in Distance Education. In the first edition of the book, our esteemed editor, George Veletsianos, wrote about defining emerging technologies. He wrote that emerging technologies can be both old and new technologies and they are constantly-evolving organisms that experience hype cycles. George also noted that emerging technologies satisfy two “not yet” conditions: they are not fully understood, and not fully researched.

These not-yet conditions hit home for Jen and me. Writing from a complexity theory lens, we thought of not-yetness as being related to emergence. Noel Gough (2012) defines emergence as a key attribute of most human environments and systems, and what occurs when “a system of richly connected interacting agents produces a new pattern of organization that feeds back into the system.”

In our context, emergence is allowing new ideas, new methodologies, new findings, new ways of learning, new ways of doing, and new synergies to emerge and to have those things continue to feed back into more emergence. Emergence is a good thing. For us, not-yetness is the space that allows for emergence. Not-yetness is not satisfying every condition, not fully understanding something, not check-listing everything, not tidying everything, not trying to solve every problem…but creating space for emergence to take us to new and unpredictable places, to help us better understand the problems we are trying to solve (to use Mike Caulfield’s wisdom).

This is becoming increasingly important in education, where the rhetoric surrounding educational technology pushes simplification, ease, efficiency, and measurable-everything. This rhetoric goes hand-in-hand with the accountability movements (many call it “evidence-based practice”) at play in educational contexts. Randy Bass wrote that “these pressures for accountability are making us simultaneously more thoughtful and more limited in what we count as learning.” We hear a lot about “best practices” and “what works,” which Jen and others (Sian Bayne, Hamish Macleod, and Clara O’Shea) have argued is a “totalising notion.” There are lots of ways of understanding what our students experience, lots of ways to do things “right,” lots of definitions of right.

Davis and Sumara (2008) argue that “an education that is understood in complexity terms cannot be conceived in terms of preparation for the future. Rather, it must be construed in terms of participation in the creation of possible futures” (p. 43). And yet the push for simplicity and accountability defines a pretty narrow set of possible outcomes for students. Gardner Campbell cautions us to be careful with learning outcomes statements: “Yet these {learning outcomes} are still behaviors, specified with a set of what I can only describe as jawohl! statements, all rewarding the bon eleves and marching toward compliance and away from more elusive and disruptive concepts like curiosity or wonder.” Simplification and an over-pursuit of accountability run counter to our view that education is complex, messy, creative, unpredictable, multi-faceted, social, and part of larger systems.

We argue that not-yetness helps us to make space for critical discussions and experiments with emerging technologies in a way that recognizes the beautiful complexity of teaching and learning. As Jen said in our ET4Online plenary talk, which focused on messiness and not-yetness in digital learning, “We can use it to tell new stories about what teachers, students, developers, designers and researchers are doing in our digital practices, and why it is hard, and why it matters. We can take better account of issues of power, responsibility, sustainability, reach and contact in digital education. We can be more open about the work of education.”
To that end, Jen and I write in our forthcoming chapter, “We need practices that acknowledge and work with complexity to help us stay open to what may be genuinely surprising about what happens when online learning and teaching meets emerging technologies. In this sense, our focus as educators should be on emergent situations, where complexity gives rise to ‘new properties and behaviours… that are not contained in the essence of the constituent elements, or able to be predicted from a knowledge of initial conditions’ (Mason 2008, p.2).”

So what does all of this mean for educators? Here are some ideas. Embracing not-yetness means making space for learning opportunities that:

• promote creativity, play, exploration, awe

• allow for more, not fewer, connections, more personalization (true personalization, not necessarily what has been offered to us by adaptive learning companies)

• transcend bounds of time, space, location, course, and curriculum

• encourage students to exceed our expectations, beyond our wildest outcomes, pushes back on “data science of learning” focus

• do not hand over essential university functions and important complexities over to private industry

In my talks, I shared examples of projects that I think embody or embrace not-yetness. I’ll share those examples in my follow-on post.

As I was looking at these projects, trying to better understand them, I started thinking about Legos. I love Legos. I was talking to my friend Mike Caulfield, who is at Washington State University-Vancouver about this idea and he said, “do you remember when Legos used to just be free-range Legos? Now, they are these sets that have instructions and tell you how to build exactly what they want you to build. They were trying to eliminate the problem of kids not knowing how to build Legos, but instead they also eliminated the opportunities for creative expression.”

This really hit home for me, because I was really into Legos as a kid and my son is really into Legos. I decided to run a little experiment—mostly for my own curiosity. I decided to see what would happen if I gave him the same Lego set twice and had him build it once with the instructions and once without. First, this is what happened when Vaughn had the Lego instructions (fyi–the videos have no audio):

[video]

I thought that, when I gave him the set without the instructions, he would try to copy what he had done when he had the instructions. But instead, after suspiciously confirming that he could build whatever he wanted, here is what happened…

[video]

Note that throughout the time he was building without the instructions, he was also playing. Note that he is making sounds (though there is no audio, you can clearly see he’s making the requisite “boom” and “fffffsssshhhhh” sounds a six year old makes), talking more, smiling. He’s exploring. He’s enjoying himself.

Building Legos without instructions may have seemed harder or daunting at first, but instead it opened up space for his creativity. Not-yetness—not specifying outcomes, not predicting what he would or should do, not outlining each step—opened up space for play and for the three really cool ships he built.

I know that my highly scientific experiment may not work for everyone, but what you see in these videos is one reason why we argue for not-yetness. Because of the play, the fun, the opportunity in complexity and not-yetness. The ill-defined, the un-prescribed, the messy can lead to the unexpected, the joyful. Noel Gough (2012) writes, “complexity invites us to understand that many of the processes and activities that shape the worlds we inhabit are open, recursive, organic, nonlinear and emergent. It also invites us to be skeptical of mechanistic and reductionist explanations, which assume that these processes and activities are linear, deterministic and/or predictable and, therefore, that they can be controlled (at least in principle).”

Open, recursive, organic, nonlinear…these things say to me that we can have learning that is unpredictable, fun, emergent, organic, freeing, co-developed, co-experienced, complex, deep, meaningful.

So as I looked for projects that embodied not-yetness, I kept these concepts, and my son’s Lego adventure, in mind. In my next blog post, I’ll share those examples. Stay tuned!"

[Follow-up post: http://redpincushion.us/blog/professional-development/mess-not-yetness-at-et4online/ ]
amycollier  via:steelemaley  messiness  unschooling  learning  emergent  emergence  emergentcurriculum  2015  lego  not-yetness  gardnercampbell  edtech  noelgough  pedagogy  instructions  directinstruction  mikecaulfield  brentdavis  dennissumara  complexity  curriculum  tcsnmy  howwelearn  howweteach  online  web  georgeveletsianos  emergenttechnologies  technology  simplification  efficiency  quantification  measurement  cv  hamishmacleod  clarao'shea  sianbayne  randybass  open  openness  jenross  criticalpedagogy  recursion  spiraling  rhizomaticlearning  nonlinear  deschooling  meaningmaking  understanding  depth  unpredictability  unfinished  behavior  power  responsibility  sustainability  reach  contact  lcproject  openstudioproject  teaching  education  schools  cocreation  non-linear  alinear  linearity 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Humane Representation of Thought on Vimeo
"Closing keynote at the UIST and SPLASH conferences, October 2014.
Preface: http://worrydream.com/TheHumaneRepresentationOfThought/note.html

References to baby-steps towards some of the concepts mentioned:

Dynamic reality (physical responsiveness):
- The primary work here is Hiroshi Ishii's "Radical Atoms": http://tangible.media.mit.edu/project/inform/
- but also relevant are the "Soft Robotics" projects at Harvard: http://softroboticstoolkit.com
- and at Otherlab: http://youtube.com/watch?v=gyMowPAJwqo
- and some of the more avant-garde corners of material science and 3D printing

Dynamic conversations and presentations:
- Ken Perlin's "Chalktalk" changes daily; here's a recent demo: http://bit.ly/1x5eCOX

Context-sensitive reading material:
- http://worrydream.com/MagicInk/

"Explore-the-model" reading material:
- http://worrydream.com/ExplorableExplanations/
- http://worrydream.com/LadderOfAbstraction/
- http://ncase.me/polygons/
- http://redblobgames.com/pathfinding/a-star/introduction.html
- http://earthprimer.com/

Evidence-backed models:
- http://worrydream.com/TenBrighterIdeas/

Direct-manipulation dynamic authoring:
- http://worrydream.com/StopDrawingDeadFish/
- http://worrydream.com/DrawingDynamicVisualizationsTalk/
- http://tobyschachman.com/Shadershop/

Modes of understanding:
- Jerome Bruner: http://amazon.com/dp/0674897013
- Howard Gardner: http://amazon.com/dp/0465024335
- Kieran Egan: http://amazon.com/dp/0226190390

Embodied thinking:
- Edwin Hutchins: http://amazon.com/dp/0262581469
- Andy Clark: http://amazon.com/dp/0262531569
- George Lakoff: http://amazon.com/dp/0465037712
- JJ Gibson: http://amazon.com/dp/0898599598
- among others: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embodied_cognition

I don't know what this is all about:
- http://worrydream.com/ABriefRantOnTheFutureOfInteractionDesign/
- http://worrydream.com/ABriefRantOnTheFutureOfInteractionDesign/responses.html

---

Abstract:

New representations of thought — written language, mathematical notation, information graphics, etc — have been responsible for some of the most significant leaps in the progress of civilization, by expanding humanity’s collectively-thinkable territory.

But at debilitating cost. These representations, having been invented for static media such as paper, tap into a small subset of human capabilities and neglect the rest. Knowledge work means sitting at a desk, interpreting and manipulating symbols. The human body is reduced to an eye staring at tiny rectangles and fingers on a pen or keyboard.

Like any severely unbalanced way of living, this is crippling to mind and body. But it is also enormously wasteful of the vast human potential. Human beings naturally have many powerful modes of thinking and understanding.

Most are incompatible with static media. In a culture that has contorted itself around the limitations of marks on paper, these modes are undeveloped, unrecognized, or scorned.

We are now seeing the start of a dynamic medium. To a large extent, people today are using this medium merely to emulate and extend static representations from the era of paper, and to further constrain the ways in which the human body can interact with external representations of thought.

But the dynamic medium offers the opportunity to deliberately invent a humane and empowering form of knowledge work. We can design dynamic representations which draw on the entire range of human capabilities — all senses, all forms of movement, all forms of understanding — instead of straining a few and atrophying the rest.

This talk suggests how each of the human activities in which thought is externalized (conversing, presenting, reading, writing, etc) can be redesigned around such representations.

---

Art by David Hellman.
Bret Victor -- http://worrydream.com "

[Some notes from Boris Anthony:

"Those of you who know my "book hack", Bret talks about exactly what motivates my explorations starting at 20:45 in https://vimeo.com/115154289 "
https://twitter.com/Bopuc/status/574339495274876928

"From a different angle, btwn 20:00-29:00 Bret explains how "IoT" is totally changing everything
https://vimeo.com/115154289
@timoreilly @moia"
https://twitter.com/Bopuc/status/574341875836043265 ]
bretvictor  towatch  interactiondesign  davidhellman  hiroshiishii  softrobotics  robots  robotics  kenperlin  jeromebruner  howardgardner  kieranegan  edwinhutchins  andyclark  jjgibson  embodiedcognition  cognition  writing  math  mathematics  infographic  visualization  communication  graphics  graphicdesign  design  representation  humans  understanding  howwelearn  howwethink  media  digital  dynamism  movement  conversation  presentation  reading  howweread  howwewrite  chalktalk  otherlab  3dprinting  3d  materials  physical  tangibility  depth  learning  canon  ui  informationdesign  infographics  maps  mapping  data  thinking  thoughts  numbers  algebra  arithmetic  notation  williamplayfair  cartography  gestures  placevalue  periodictable  michaelfaraday  jamesclerkmaxell  ideas  print  printing  leibniz  humanism  humanerepresentation  icons  visual  aural  kinesthetic  spatial  tactile  symbols  iot  internetofthings  programming  computers  screens  computation  computing  coding  modeling  exploration  via:robertogreco  reasoning  rhetoric  gerrysussman  environments  scale  virtualization 
march 2015 by robertogreco
LEARNING COMMITMENTS
"Learning is Playful – A program infused with creative thinking, is rich with opportunities for artistic expression, imaginative thinking and allows time for experimentation and play. An education that takes advantage of the accidental, forges connections between the disparate, is elastic with opportunity, adapts to circumstances and is sometimes spontaneous and messy.

Learning is Deliberate – A program that is intentional, challenging and  purposeful, that attends to the developmental needs of children and is aligned with student outcomes. A program that draws on the elements of design thinking (empathy, integrative thinking, optimism, experimentation, collaboration) to ensure our students are ready for the world of their future. An education that affords a broad-based foundation of academic pursuit and scholarship and prepares students for success as lifelong learners.

Learning is Social – A program that understands that learning is a social process and that collaboration, partnership, teamwork and sharing confer purpose and meaning. An education that develops community and students as educated stewards, followers, leaders and difference makers in their worlds

Learning is Active – A program that is built around learners constructing their knowledge; that is intellectually and physically active, project based and inquiry driven. An education for the mind and body centered on curiosity, engagement, activity and learning by doing.

Learning is Relevant – A program based in and connected to real world circumstances and needs. An education that is authentic and personally meaningful.

Learning is Empathetic – A program that respects and values every child. An education that develops relationships, caring for others, service, a sense of compassion and social and emotional health and awareness.

Learning is Permeable – A program that is open, interactive, shared and connected. An education that is transdisciplinary, globally-aware, and connected with the ecosystem of a learning world at school and beyond.

Learning is Deep – A program that fosters deep expertise and immersive exploration of subject matter. An education that is strengths-focused, experiential, passion-driven.

Learning is Self-Correcting – A program founded on a growth mind-set where every child sets ambitious horizons for success; that teaches neuroplasticity and the science of the brain and knows that failures today do not dictate or preclude future achievements. An education for change that develops persistence and resilience where intellectual risk-taking, trial and error, mistakes and failure are signs of progress, and that what matters is how we move forward and the ends we pursue."

[See also: http://www.josieholford.com/a-new-tool/
via: http://www.josieholford.com/surprise/ ]
learning  education  poughkeepsiedayschool  play  howwelearn  josieholford  lcproject  social  openstudioproject  unschooling  deschooling  relevance  empathy  depth 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Journey West (East of Borneo)
"Coming from New York we found all this both exhilarating and baffling; Los Angeles seemed to be a city hiding in plain sight. There was plenty to see, interesting people to talk to, all easily accessible by the sporadically flowing freeway. But that veneer of easy connectivity masked a deeper, and more troubling, sense that nothing was easily available, a misleading perception of nothing going on. This was a city of outposts and easily missed landmarks connected by a sprawling, historical disposition not to connect; a deeply unsociable city – not unfriendly, just unsociable, the opposite of places like New York or Paris with their gabby rush to embrace and discard. When we left Los Angeles we had some ideas for future articles, but we didn’t have a satisfying grasp on the place.

REALLIFE Magazine was very much the project of a walk-around city. We had an editorial point of view, which was that we wanted to provide a forum for younger artists who saw themselves operating in a post-conceptual landscape, with an interest in connecting to issues of everyday life. That is to say we were still working in the shadow of a well-known history, a narrative of progress and upset that we tended to accept as more or less given. The wrinkle in that acceptance was an ever-present conviction that the somatic experiments of Surrealism held out a lot more promise than our more academic peers allowed. Our editorial process had a trajectory, but it was one easily, and willingly, sent off track by an interesting chance encounter. We sought openness within a structure framed by opinion, and sought that through the old-fashioned networking of the street. Los Angeles proved fatal to this method, and the magazine came to an end shortly after the two of us moved here in the early ’90s.

In 2002, after a ten-year break from the business side of art magazines, I joined the editorial team of Afterall, a self-described “journal of art, context and enquiry” that had begun as a counterweight to the market-driven art talk prevalent in London in the ’90s, and that maintained a purposefully old-school attitude to the idea of the art journal as something deliberately out of time. The founders, an artist and a curator, designed an editorial process that took the form of a twice-yearly seminar to discover the most interesting artists to discuss. When they invited me to join them, the idea was to expand this method; investigating international art from two separate but simultaneous perspectives, that of London and Los Angeles. For several years this proved to be a rich, intense, and very productive experiment. And then an intellectual exhaustion set in and the project drifted into an ill-defined state of ennui. Paradoxically the root of this exhaustion was our lack of rootedness; in a fundamental way the journal had no point of view, only a premise. Unmoored in the jet stream, our two bases separated, buffeted by argument without end.

In the 21st century the ramifications of this rootlessness and the practical challenges facing publishing began to require ever more radical responses. The small bookstores that had once supported small magazines were closing at an increasing rate. Museums were turning their bookstores into gift shops. Fluctuations in the currency markets made it increasingly difficult to budget production costs in an international context, and then the huge economic crash made everything impossible. But the biggest challenge of all was the Internet, which manages to make everything simultaneously local and international. When Susan and I were publishing REALLIFE Magazine we had a substantial subscriber base, a much larger figure across the United States than Afterall ever achieved, despite significant institutional backing. But of course before the Internet, people had to subscribe to little magazines if they wanted to keep up-to-date, whereas now we inhabit the complex world of websites, blogs, aggregators and Twitter feeds, and can keep informed by the instant.

What this all suggested to me was that what an art publication could be now was something both more participatory and more traditionally edited. I still believe that people may actually like some editorial guidance – the most successful blogs seem to be the most opinionated. But these blogs tend to a linear, one-thing-after-the-other format that runs counter to the open horizontality of communication offered up by the hyperlink. Discussions flare, and can become engrossing, but they tend to be one-dimensional, focused on one issue at a time. I found I was hungering for a more complex participation. As a writer I have become accustomed to working in a way that allows skipping back and forth as a text builds, checking references, finding new evidence as a result of lateral moves across the Internet. A few online publications allow readers a similarly multifaceted experience, although most quarantine reader participation in the shadow zone reserved for comments. Until now no art publication has offered this kind of experience.

As you navigate the site today you will discover that East of Borneo incorporates the benefits of online media not only for timely art-related content, but also for lively dialogues and the sharing and distribution of research and archival material. Our articles incorporate and offer the materials—video, audio, links and texts—that the author drew from. Users can upload their own relevant contributions, creating a growing archive of associated content. Topics will develop depth over time as material accrues, becoming substantial repositories of information and interpretation.

What we imagined was an intricately interwoven site that would allow us to build an archive of Los Angeles, past and present, using the power of a networked collectivity to create depth and complexity. To some Web 2.0 is old news, but established magazines are only slowly awakening to its challenges and possibilities. East of Borneo’s genesis has been long and deliberative: several years of thinking past the delights and constraints of the printed page, and one very intense year of thinking through the actual possibilities of current online publication.

I am tremendously proud and excited about all this, and hope you will share my enthusiasm. Visit us often to watch the site grow in both content and interactivity as we roll out further features. Visit us often to upload that telling image, indispensible text, incredible link. Join us on this journey."
eastofborneo  losangeles  thomaslawson  art  history  2010  artjournalism  journalism  1980  publishing  online  linear  onlinemedia  epublishing  bookstores  cities  urbanism  nyc  urban  accretion  interpretation  internet  howwework  archives  networks  networkedcollectivity  collectivity  depth  complexity  howwewrite  howwethink  linearity 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Break Down the Walls, Blow Up the Schedule - Learning Deeply - Education Week
"At High Tech High we aspire to create deeper learning experiences of lasting value for our students, ones where students have the opportunity to contribute in meaningful and authentic ways to problems facing their local and global communities. Walking the halls of our schools, you might see students designing children's toys for an orphanage in Mexico, filming a documentary on gun violence, or interviewing Vietnam vets to capture and portray their stories for a public event. When we are at our best, students are engaged in work that matters, both to them and the world beyond school, and have multiple opportunities to critique and revise their work so that the final products are beautifully crafted and worth sharing.

Like any organization, we have much room for improvement. Still, visitors from all over the world, struck by our diverse students' engagement and ownership of the learning, want to know how we've done "it," and how they might do the same. As a founding director of one of our high schools, I like to focus on two pieces of advice: break down the walls, and blow up the schedule.

Break Down the Walls

When I first started teaching math and physics at High Tech High, I was inspired to hone my craft because I saw students in my colleagues' classrooms building underwater submarines and creating video games that modeled the laws of motion. Faculty met for an hour before school every day to tune project ideas, examine student work and share dilemmas in our practice. We were all trying to figure out what it meant to be project-based teachers and knew that we worked in an environment where it was safe to take risks and learn from our mistakes. I would have never grown in my teaching nor would we have evolved as a school focused on deeper learning, if we were all trying to figure it out alone in our classrooms.

We also knew that for learning to be authentic, we needed to break down the four walls of our classrooms and connect students to the adult world of work. When my students invented and marketed new electronic products, my teaching partner and I had engineers visit our classroom and critique their work along the way. Later, students presented their final business plans to a panel of venture capitalists from the community. These authentic audiences from beyond the walls fostered students' engagement and drive to create beautiful work.

Blow Up the Schedule

Ted Sizer believed you could learn a lot about the values of a school by the way resources and time were allocated. In this vein, we knew from the beginning that the HTH schedule needed to reflect two of our core values: progressive pedagogy and social class integration.

While bringing professionals into the classroom was important, we also knew that we needed to push our students out. Our entire course schedule was designed in the 11th and 12th grades to create opportunities for our students to go out on internship or take college courses. Over time we learned that giving students substantial time to fully immerse themselves in the world of work--learning through apprenticeship alongside a trusted mentor--was, in short, transformative. In particular, internships and college classes brought first generation students from disadvantaged backgrounds closer to a world that opened up possibilities for their future. After working at a local lab on underwater robots, students had not only a better understanding of the interesting career opportunities available when you have a degree in computer science, but how intellectually rewarding it feels to tackle challenging problems alongside inspired colleagues.

We also wanted to avoid the obvious pitfalls of traditional schedules: students shuffling between eight teachers throughout the day at the ring of a bell while teachers tried to build relationships and personalize learning for 200+ students and prep for three or more classes. Instead, small teams of two to three teachers shared the same students, taught more than one subject for longer blocks of time and backwards designed projects together blurring the notion of traditional "disciplines." When one of our students struggled because her father was in jail or his parents were going through a divorce, it was nearly impossible for the small team of teachers in our small school not to notice and intervene.

Finally, we were well aware that the form of the schedule had the power to undo the very purpose of the school--social class integration. Our blind zip-code lottery was designed to integrate students across socioeconomic backgrounds and we knew that offering various tracks, including honors and AP courses, would perpetuate predictable patterns and outcomes for our low-income and first generation students. Each design decision in a school comes with compromises, and we embraced the challenge of differentiating instruction in heterogeneous classrooms over the pernicious effect of in-school segregation. While some parents fear that their child will be less competitive than their neighbor's child taking six AP courses, we have found the opposite to be true. Students have the opportunity to explore fewer topics in depth, develop critical and creative thinking skills, and engage in authentic work, all of which historically has served them well in college admissions and beyond.

Break down the walls and blow up the schedule. Then build your program according to your values--and be ready to change the structure to suit your needs."
cityasclassroom  explodingschool  schools  education  hightechhigh  hightechschools  2014  kellywilson  projectbasedlearning  schedules  scheduling  learning  teaching  howweteach  tcsnmy  purpose  engagement  internships  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  class  integration  depth  unschooling  deschooling  context  progressive  pedagogy  critique  criticism  tedsizer  pbl 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Bobby George — Continued in their present patterns of fragmented...
“Continued in their present patterns of fragmented unrelation, our school curricula will insure a citizenry unable to understand the cybernated world in which they live. Any subject taken in depth at once relates to other subjects.”

— Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media
depth  learning  curriculum  marshallmcluhan  citizenship  cybernetics  interrelatedness  interrelated  interdependence  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  transdisciplinary 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Interrupt the program — Medium
"Spoiler alert: I am about to tell you what to do.

1. Talk to a stranger

It’s simple, and harmless, and generous, a beautiful interruption. You can do it without even slowing down your pace. Catch someone’s eye, smile in passing, say “have a good day,” or “how’re you doing.” These are mundane utterances that are also deeply profound. They say to someone: I see you there, we are both people walking down this street or through this lobby, we are both real and it’s worth a nod to that. If you are still smiling for two seconds after you pass by, you are doing this right. You have created a moment of street intimacy.

2. Fall down a rabbit hole

Ignore the kerfuffle about what the internet is doing to your attention span. There are kinds of distraction that are deeply focused. There are many clicks involved in this. Someone, somewhere on your internet has posted something that intrigues you, that you want to know more about. Read it, watch it, wonder about it. What questions does it leave you with? Dig deeper into it. Or, what does it remind you of? Follow unexpected tangents. You are not scattered, you are on a quest. You are looking for answers. If what you find are more questions, you are doing this right. You have been distracted from what you were doing when you started all this. You have been curious.

3. Do nothing

Sit by yourself somewhere in public for 7 minutes without looking at your phone. It has to be somewhere without a TV. Neither of these are bad, I like them too. Do it anyway. This may make you uncomfortable. Do it anyway. Unless you choose to sleep, you will find that you are forced to look at something. What is it? Are you reading signs or looking at things in store windows? Are you looking at other people? Are you looking at trees? Water? Sand? Cement? If you start talking to yourself in your head, you are doing this right. I should have said at the beginning, take a pen in case you want to write something down. You can write on your hand, it’ll wash off. You have been awake."
kiostark  strangers  2013  intimacy  conversation  idleness  stillness  distraction  internet  attention  focus  depth  messiness  curiosity  advice  solitude  awakeness  slow  time  noticing  mindfulness  observation  engagement  people  life  living  interruption 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Watering the Roots of Knowledge Through Collaborative Learning - Commentary - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"These problematic aspects of the model are symptoms of its first major fault, a violation of the wisdom of Confucius: "Tell me, and I will forget; show me, and I will remember; involve me, and I will understand." I have demonstrated this fault directly. One fall at Columbia University, I had the usual 80-student class of bright, ambitious undergraduates fulfilling their science requirement by taking my lecture course on the solar system. Most attended the lectures, and, mostly, they paid attention (I do not use PowerPoint). They worked through long quantitative problem sets, took biweekly quizzes, and performed well on the midterm and final exams. They then went home for Christmas and on to the spring semester.

The following September, I gathered most of them again and administered a test on some of the material we had covered. I gave the same test to my new class before my first lecture. The results were statistically indistinguishable. So much for pouring knowledge from the full container to the empty ones—it leaks out.

The second major fault of the current educational model is that learning is an isolated activity. Yes, we bring a number of students together to form a "class," but then we do everything possible to isolate students from each other: "No talking in class"; "Please leave two seats between each person for this exam"; "Do all your own work." We desocialize learning, separating it from the periods of normal human interaction we call dorm-room bull sessions.

The third misplaced pillar of educational practice is competition and its accompanying correlate, quantitative measurement. Standardized tests proliferate; grade-point averages are calculated to four significant figures. We pretend that these numbers measure learning and use them to award scholarships, sort professional-school applicants, and, sadly, evaluate self-worth. And we are surprised that cheating—the goal of which is to get a higher score—is widespread. If a group of students works together effectively and efficiently to solve a hard problem, in school this is called cheating. In life, as the British educator Sir Ken Robinson notes, it's called collaboration, a valued asset in most real-world settings."



"General education is often thought of as a means to expose students to a broad range of "essential" knowledge and to provide a historical context for the culture in which they live. These are valid, but insufficient, goals. The purpose of general education should be to produce graduates who are skilled in communication, imbued with quantitative reasoning skills, instinctively collaborative, inherently transdisciplinary in their approach to problems, and engaged in their local and global communities—broadly educated individuals with an informed perspective on the problems of the 21st century and the integrative abilities to solve them."
davidhelfand  questuniversity  2013  via:tealtan  education  design  curriculum  academia  highereducation  highered  tcsnmy  cv  teaching  learning  unschooling  blockprograms  collaboration  deschooling  measurement  standardization  standardizedtesting  standards  social  isolation  comparison  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  coloradocollege  flexibility  depth  depthoverbreadth  generalists  generaleducation  adaptability  shrequest1 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Coalition of Essential Schools - Wikipedia
"The Common Principles

The Coalition was founded on nine "Common Principles" that were intended to codify Sizer's insights from Horace's Compromise and the views and beliefs of others in the organization. These original principles were:

1. Learning to use one's mind well
2. Less is More, depth over coverage
3. Goals apply to all students
4. Personalization
5. Student-as-worker, teacher-as-coach
6. Demonstration of mastery
7. A tone of decency and trust
8. Commitment to the entire school
9. Resources dedicated to teaching and learning
10. Democracy and equity (this principle was added later, in the mid-nineties)"
tedsizer  principles  learning  education  deschooling  unschooling  schooldesign  lcproject  openstudioproject  habitsofmind  coalitionofessentialschools  democracy  equity  tcsnmy  tcsnmy8  teaching  decency  trust  mastery  personalization  coaching  depth  dpthoverbreadth 
june 2013 by robertogreco
I'm Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write.: Learning Advice from a Learning Life
"Be comfortable learning just enough and nothing more…

Be comfortable focusing on one subject to the exclusion of (almost) all else…

Learn alone: Books are great. So is the internet. So are solitary walks in the woods.

Seek out groups, teachers, or mentors to learn: Sometimes learning with other people really feels best (for some people often, others, rarely). Whether it's in a group where big interesting discussions can happen, or finding a teacher who can help you gain the level of skill you want to have, learning with other people can be wonderful. There's nothing that says just because you're a self-directed learner you can't direct yourself towards lots of other people!

Don't force it: If you find yourself reading the same paragraph half a dozen times because you're just not taking it in, stop. Put the book down. Maybe permanently, maybe just until the next day if it seems interesting again then. But I do find, in my experience at least, that anything I've ever had to choke down or really force myself through, I've forgotten. Every single time. That doesn't mean you might not want to force yourself through a boring chapter in an otherwise interesting book on occasion, or get through a not-so-interesting article online because it's the only place you've found to get that specific information you want. Just that if you're really not enjoying something and there's nothing forcing you to do it (as in, you're not studying for a test you really want to pass), then give up. If you're not enjoying it and not taking it in, what's the point?

Learn to quit: We live in a society that despises "quitters," and we're reminded of this in small ways on a very regular basis. Quitting is usually equated with "failure" (something else we're taught to avoid at all cost), when in fact quitting is sometimes the best and healthiest thing to do. If you thought you wanted to learn ballroom dancing, but then find you hate ballroom dancing class with a passion, stop going. If you loved a subject deeply and spent all your time studying it, but now find yourself no longer feeling it's draw, find something else you want to devote your time to. If everything you've been doing for years has been towards achieving a specific goal, yet you come to the realization that that's no longer a goal that will make you happy, let go of it. This is a lot harder in practice than in theory, but I know I've found much happiness when I realize something's no longer working for me, no longer what I want, and choose to let go.

Ask for help: Even for unschoolers, who usually strive to learn from their community, asking for help can be hard (or at least it can be for this perfectionist unschooler!). But I've had to come to realize that sometimes, you really do need to just ask for help. People are usually very happy to oblige in sharing something they know about and enjoy doing!

Don't fear mistakes…

Don't compare yourself to others…

Don't let others' ideas about the right way to learn get in your way…"
unschoolign  deschooling  learning  education  idziedesmarais  solitude  alone  mistakes  comparisons  quitting  readiness  2013  howwelearn  justenough  justintimelearning  depth  breadth 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Neven Mrgan at re:build 2011 on Vimeo
"Bit Depth, by Neven Mrgan: At my dayjob, I design Mac software UI/UX, websites, T-shirts, and office signage. In my spare time, I’ve designed 8-bit games. I think every creative professional would benefit from fully executing projects of different complexity, history, and purpose."

[All great stuff. Totally agree with him about the gamification bit.]

[See also: http://mrgan.tumblr.com/post/14868098046/focused-dabbling ]
sideprojects  videogames  specialists  generalists  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  dabbling  software  applications  transmit  panic  8-bit  bitdepth  depth  gaming  games  purpose  focus  darwin  work  design  polish  re:build  2011  appification  gamification  nevenmrgan  specialization  charlesdarwin 
december 2011 by robertogreco
Heart of Darkness: A Mild Polemic, by Jon Kolko - Core77
Really too much to quote from this Jon Kolko piece, but here's the conclusion:

"We were broadly untrained in making sense of things, in creating an understanding of how systems work, and we ignored consequences that were diffused, but present. We critiqued the aesthetic of our designs but did not dare to judge our subject matter and content, as we had no spirituality of technology upon which to compare. And so our "progress" has been, as Steve Baty describes, "cold, relentless, asocial, and unapologetic." We are now, collectively, wiser, and in that regard, perhaps the glory day of design—as an integrated discipline of humanizing technology—is finally upon us."
jonkolko  design  humanitariandesign  education  scale  capitalism  systems  systemsthinking  lcproject  depth  unschooling  deschooling  meaning  purpose  technology  progress  massivechange  2011  demise  us  sensemaking  humanity  humanism  dennislittky  emilypilloton  projecth  bertiecounty  kenrobinson  cv  designeducation  agriculture  society  corporatism  growth  audiencesofone  complexity  slow  middleages  scalability  canon  projecthdesign 
november 2011 by robertogreco
A Sit-Down With Joichi Ito, The Drop-Out VC Leading MIT's Media Lab | Co. Design [Worth reading the whole thing.]
"It’s not about being a generalist. I like to go deep in a lot of things…deep enough to contribute. If I like scuba, I become an instructor…music, I become a disc jockey…movies, I want to work on a movie set. I don’t become a world class academic in that field, but I get good enough to understand the nuances. & then, because I have experience in so many fields, it gives me a pattern that other people don’t have. For me, being unique and having friends who are unique is a really important thing…

When I was in Hollywood, I realized that if I wanted to be a Hollywood producer, I’d have to spend 120% of my time talking to only Hollywood people. It’s the same in every industry or with traditional academics. But the Media Lab is a place where you can sit around & talk about everything deeply & that’s the whole point…here I’ve been stitching this thing together & being called this crazy scatterbrained ADD guy when in fact, what I’ve been trying to do already exists at the Media Lab…"
joiito  mitmedialab  generalists  dilettante  depth  dropouts  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  lcproject  education  learning  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  2011  careers  optimism  leadership  administration  enthusiasm  medialab 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Critical pedagogy - Wikipedia
"Critical pedagogy is a philosophy of education described by Henry Giroux as an "educational movement, guided by passion and principle, to help students develop consciousness of freedom, recognize authoritarian tendencies, and connect knowledge to power and the ability to take constructive action."[1]

Based in Marxist theory, critical pedagogy draws on radical democracy, anarchism, feminism, and other movements that strive for what they describe as social justice. Critical pedagogue Ira Shor defines critical pedagogy as:

"Habits of thought, reading, writing, and speaking which go beneath surface meaning, first impressions, dominant myths, official pronouncements, traditional clichés, received wisdom, and mere opinions, to understand the deep meaning, root causes, social context, ideology, and personal consequences of any action, event, object, process, organization, experience, text, subject matter, policy, mass media, or discourse." (Empowering Education, 129)"
criticalpedagogy  education  pedagogy  criticaleducation  democracy  philosophy  henrygiroux  authoritarianism  authority  freedom  knowledge  teaching  learning  schools  power  control  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  activism  marxism  anarchism  anarchy  feminism  socialjustice  justice  iraschor  habitsofmind  habitsofthought  reading  writing  literacy  depth  tcsnmy  wisdom  personalconsequences  socialcontext  empowerment  process  experience  depthoverbreadth  politics  paulofreire  michaelapple  howardzinn  jonathankozol  johnholt  johntaylorgatto  matthern  foucault  michelfoucault 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Rogue Semiotics » Turris Babel
"Athanasius Kircher’s illustration of the Tower of Babel, as posted on the just-found blog of the Proceedings of the Athanasius Kircher Society. You may wish to follow up with Kircher’s sketch demonstrating exactly why the tower couldn’t have reached the moon (it would have been so large that it would have tipped the Earth out of balance.

The Kircherblog, in the spirit of the man, covers everything from Kircher’s own notorious cat piano to feral children (a topic of interest to Kircher because of the chance they might spontaneously speak the original Adamic language) to buildings made out of trees and shaped as elephants.

Sometimes I still love the internet as a child loves its favourite bear. This is why."
anthanasiuskircher  roguesemiotics  internet  love  cv  depth  trivia  towerofbabel  turrisbabel  web  online  likewanderingthroughthelibrary  libraries  wonder  beauty 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Caterina.net» Blog Archive » FOMO and Social Media
"It’s an age-old problem, exacerbated by technology. To be always filled with craving and desire (also called defilement, affliction) is one of the Three Poisons of Buddhism, called kilesa, and it makes you a slave. There is true meaning in social media—real connections, real friendships, devotion, humor, sacrifice, joy, depth, love. And this is what we are looking for when we log on. Most of the world is profane, not sacred, in the Mircea Eliade sense. So it is. But within it is the Emmy award speech of Mister Rogers, a Japanese man being rescued at sea, Abraham Lincoln, moms who comfort sick children, the earnest love that dogs have for people…

FOMO can be fought. Stay alert! En garde!"
psychology  culture  technology  socialmedia  social  twitter  ditto  fomo  fearofmissingout  cv  internet  web  online  craving  desire  buddhism  kilesa  sxsw  behavior  human  tcsnmy  toshare  classideas  caterinafake  sacrifice  joy  relationships  friendship  devotion  love  depth 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Want smarter kids? Make them study something - one thing - for a long time.
"His idea goes like this: Assign each student a single, specific topic, which he or she will study over and over again, from every possible angle, from early elementary school through high school. Egan, a professor of education at Canada's Simon Fraser University, hopes that by the time such students finish high school, they will be world-class experts on their topics - as well as more effective citizens and better people.

"People who know nothing in depth commonly assume that their opinions are the same kind of thing as knowledge," Egan writes in his forthcoming book "Learning In Depth: A Simple Innovation That Can Transform Schooling," which will be available in January. He also contends that "a central feature of becoming a moral person is to learn to become engaged with something outside the self.""
kieranegan  learning  education  schools  teaching  specialization  expertise  depthoverbreadth  depth  specialists 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Gamasutra - Features - Persuasive Games: Plumbing the Depths
"Imagine if tennis worked like video games. Every 5 years, latest gizmos dreamed up by engineers would be revealed...To be sure, results might be awesome. But that new awesomeness would likely never produce a result like Isner-Mahut match, which required a century...to reveal itself...
design  games  2010  tennis  play  videogames  gamedesign  ianbogost  art  depth  creativity  innovation  invention 
july 2010 by robertogreco
a homeschooler's bleg | Culture | The American Scene
"As some of you know, my wife and I teach our son Wes at home, mostly, which means that each summer we have to spend a good deal of time planning what we’re going to do in the coming year. He’s headed into the eleventh grade, and while his education so far has given him a sound overview of Western cultural history, we’re concerned that he hasn’t had enough experience digging deeply into particular issues, doing wide-ranging research and coming up with sophisticated theses based on what he has learned. So we’ve decided to organize the coming school year around particular topics with interdisciplinary facets to them, starting in each case with one or two books that will in different ways orient him to the issues. Our focus will be on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the West, though any non-Western topics could reach back farther."
education  history  homeschool  ideas  schools  teaching  tcsnmy  learning  depth  via:lukeneff  alanjacobs 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Saul Griffith: The 21st Century's Benjamin Franklin | The Stimulist
"Griffith undoubtedly could have gone to work for a think tank, but as he stated in an interview with CNN, he’d rather work for Squid, which he calls a “do-tank.” ... But above all, Franklin and Griffith share a sense that they do not have to focus in a single area to make a big difference. As Jessie Scanlon wrote in Business Week, "While most scientists go deep but narrow, focusing on one subject or problem, Griffith is ecumenical, following his curiosity and his conscience wherever they take him, and then digging deep into the issues that grab him.""
saulgriffith  tinkering  do  science  problemsolving  breadth  depth  benjaminfranklin  history  makingadifference  making  doing  tcsnmy  lcproject  glvo  via:preoccupations 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Will Depth Replace Breadth in Schools? - Class Struggle - Jay Mathews on Education
"[A] surprising study — certain to be a hot topic in teacher lounges and education schools — is providing new data that suggest educators should spend much more time on a few issues and let some topics slide. Based on a sample of 8,310 undergraduates, the national study says that students who spend at least a month on just one topic in a high school science course get better grades in a freshman college course in that subject than students whose high school courses were more balanced.
education  depthoverbreadth  depth  breadth  learning  testing  assessment  schools  curriculum  science  research  teaching  tcsnmy 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Will Depth Replace Breadth in Schools? - Class Struggle - Jay Mathews on Education
"Sadler and Tai have previously hinted at where this was going. In 2001 they reported that students who did not use a textbook in high school physics—an indication that their teachers disdained hitting every topic — achieved higher college grades than those who used a textbook.
teaching  learning  textbooks  science  curriculum  jaymatthews  education  policy  tcsnmy  depth  breadth 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Daring Fireball Linked List: Sitzfleisch
"Tying together yesterday’s link to Brent Simmons’s advice for would-be indie developers (“You need to wear out that chair and then buy a new one and then wear out that one”) and the previous link to Malcolm Gladwell’s conclusion that it is perseverance and above all else extraordinary amounts of practice that separates the great from the not-great, is the wonderful German word sitzfleisch: The ability to endure or carry on with an activity."
perseverance  johngruber  coding  malcolmgladwell  greatness  success  tcsnmy  depth  endurance  german  words  language  depthoverbreadth 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Ministry of Education Singapore: BlueSky [via: http://learningalternatives.net/weblog/post/433/]
"Teach Less, Learn More is about teaching better, to engage our learners and prepare them for life, rather than teaching more, for tests and examinations."
singapore  teaching  learning  schools  curriculum  policy  depth 
july 2008 by robertogreco
How to Save the World: PODCAST #1: An Interview with Chris Corrigan
"the more you let go of inappropriate control the easier things get...We [society] feel the need to be in control of our children's education...having a much more interrelated experience of the world is our [unschoolers] approach"
education  unschooling  learning  entrepreneurship  children  life  interdisciplinary  depth  time  parenting  relationships 
october 2007 by robertogreco

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