Make Glorious, Amazing Mistakes

Some wonderful inspiration for the new year from a 2012 graduation address by author Neil Gaiman:

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.

Although the talk is great, it’s hard to recommend the book since the graphic design distracts from the message. Watch the video instead.

The Dark Side

While searching on a topic totally unrelated to testing, or even education, I ran across this image that is just too good not to share. Ain’t web serendipity great?

Why am I imagining the CEO of Pearson under that helmet? :-)

Why Haven’t You Written?

A few months ago, Time Magazine posted an excerpt from a book by two Google executives explaining “nine insightful rules for emailing… like a professional”. At the top of the list: Respond quickly.

Ok, I’m probably the wrong person to be commenting on someone else’s communication habits,1 especially business types, but has anyone else noticed that many people these days view email more like an instant messaging service than “mail”?

They take that whole “respond quickly” philosophy to heart and expect a reply literally within minutes of their original message. And sometimes send a “did you get my message?” message if the response isn’t what they consider rapid enough.

From several years back, I recall an email etiquette list suggesting a 24-hour turnaround on replies. So is that down to under an hour now?

  1. I’m quickly coming to hate email.

One Hour, And No More

logo.pngThis week, many schools here in the overly-large school district have been participating to some degree in Hour of Code activities. Nationally we’ve seen lots of media stories around the event1 and tons of traffic on coding related websites.

But what happens next week?

For vast majority of schools and students, this particular exercise will be long forgotten and Hour of Code put back on the shelf until this same time next year. Very few schools will incorporate learning computer programming into their curriculum, especially not in those “core” subjects in which the spring tests are already beginning to loom.

I don’t accept the premise that every student needs to learn how to program a computer, just like everyone will not need Calculus, Chemistry, or even college.

However, every student should graduate from high school with an understanding of how the device in their pocket, the one collecting and transmitting all kinds of personal data, works. Along with basic ideas from mathematics, especially statistics, science, and social studies. Plus good communications skills and an awareness of the real choices they have in life, including college.

So much of our traditional K12 school curriculum is focused on mechanical processes students will quickly forget and on collecting points towards a pass to the next level, not on understanding concepts they can actually use for the rest of their lives.

  1. Look! The President wrote a line of code!!