Thursday, April 24, 2014

Once Upon a School

Dave Eggers is a remarkable man, he found a way to provide many children with a great environment in which students can be tutored for free. These tutoring locations are all located in a store that sells novelty items such as pirate or superhero supplies. The best part about these study centers besides being free is that they offer one on one attention. Dave explained how 30-40 hours of one on one attention could improve a students grade level by a letter grade. This is all being done by volunteers even if they can only give a couple hours of their time they are still helping these students to develop their writing. They have even branched out into schools and helping students at their own school. The tutors have even helped get these student's writing published. When Dave was speaking he used his hands and moved side to side pretty frequently. He also used a lot of jokes when he was speaking. When he was presenting he showed many pictures from the stores so you could visualize what they looked like on the inside. He also provided examples of kids who had gone to these tutoring places and had great success like one boy who had written several stories while at the study locations. These kids aren't being forced to go to the one on one sessions they are choosing to go there because they enjoy it. If we had more of these places throughout the nation then many students would do better in school and enjoy it more. It's amazing how one thing like a one on one experience can help students and make them better not just in school but in life as well.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Your genes are not your fate

Many people blame their flaws on their genes but that may not be an accurate excuse anymore. Dean Ornish talks about how genes may not exactly be set in stone. He explains that living a more active life style can increase blood flow and reduce aging. It can also reverse the effects of heart disease.  Not only can it help prevent these diseases but it can help against certain forms of cancer. Scientists have recently been able to help prevent prostate cancer by turning off the bad genes that produce the cancer. Not only can the bad genes be turned off but the good genes that can help prevent the cancer can be turned on. When he was speaking Dean used some jokes and his hands to help get across his point. Dean also had presentation slides that had key points on it that he used to help present his topic.If people make these changes then it can change how genes are expressed and could help many people. These findings can help many people and even save lives. Dean shows that there are endless possibilities in the world of science and how it can improve the world.

Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

Daniel Pink discusses how people are motivated. He explained that as long as a task required only mechanical work then higher pay worked as a good incentive to do better. However when the task involve any cognitive skill it led to a worse performance. This was tested again in rural India and the two that were offered the low and medium reward both did the same but the one who was promised the big reward did worst of all. This is interesting because when a task requires creative thinking then higher pay can no longer be used as a motivator. Daniel pink spoke very clearly and used stories and experiments to direct his thinking. During the presentation there was the use of the white board to back up what he is saying but also to provide doodles to help peoples thinking. What we need to do is find a way to provide motivation for those things where money works. Dan gave three ideas on the topic, which were, autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Autonomy was basically working on your own and he talked about a software company in Australia that once every quarter lets the workers do what ever they want for twenty four hours. Many fixes for software and new ideas have been com out of these days. Mastery is the urge to get better and there is often a more artistic side to this. One example is music, people often play instruments on the weekend and they don't do it because they get paid, they do it because they enjoy it. Finally purpose people want to do something that matters and when money gets in the way of purpose then it often results in bad service or poor products. We need to find a way to use these abilities to help motivate people not just at work but in their daily lives and it will make the world a better place.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Underwater Astonishments

David Gallo's TED talk on underwater astonishments was fascinating. Watching how the animals can adapt and change themselves to help them survive was breath taking. David showed footage of how the animals could light themselves up to defend or camouflage themselves . Not only can these creatures use their abilities to change the color of their skin to disguise themselves but they can also use it to attract prey. The animals could just blend into the environment and they couldn't be spotted unless you knew they were there. Since many of these animals were hard to see David used videos to show the animals blending in in their natural environment. In one of the clips it showed how a squid could change colors to warn off opposing males. When facing another male the squid would turn white. However when with a female the male would split it's colors so the female would never see the white aggressive color but instead the more friendly color. He used many of his own experiences and knowledge to talk about the animals. He also had a sense of humor as well and made a few jokes. It's truly amazing what the creatures of the ocean can do and there is so little we that we  know about them. Only three percent of the ocean has been explored which shows how little we know about our own planet.

Why School is Killing Creativity

In Sir Ken Robinson's TED Talk he explains how schools are killing creativity. Ken explains how everyone has creation but people just grow out of it. Often people lose their creativity when they are in school because they are mainly focused on getting good grades. He also talked about how people shouldn't put down others creativity, instead it should be embraced so people aren't afraid to express themselves. Many students have been trained to be afraid of making mistakes through school. People begin to think that mistakes are bad because they get punished for them. I remember in elementary school I did a problem on the board and I made a mistake and I was so afraid of making another mistake in front of the class that I didn't do another problem on the board until the end of the year. For Ken's speaking style he made a lot of jokes and was constantly making the audience laugh. Ken also explained his ideas through story telling from what he has observed. When Ken was presenting he used his hands a little but for the most part stood in one spot throughout the presentation. We need to recreate the education system so it's not solely based upon intelligence but also on creativity as well. Being creative can help students learn how to express themselves through art or music. Also we need to learn that making mistakes isn't bad but it can often help us learn. If we learn to do these things everyone will be better off in the future.