Sunday, December 16, 2018

Food for Thought: Kindness starts with yourself

A few years ago this quote from Maya Angelou welcomed people to the ISHCMC campus. I thought that as we enter the season of Peace, Harmony and Goodwill that this weeks Food for Thought would focus on Kindness.

"At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”

The Maya Angelou quote started me thinking about how the actions we take are then transformed into feelings both for the doer and the recipient. We talk about and encourage random acts of kindness because of the positive impact these can have on people. Whilst I was thinking about this I wondered what does it really mean to be kind? What is left if you separate kindness from an action? What I discovered is that being kind has a major physical impact on yourself and not only makes you feel better at the time but can improve one's own health in the long run. This short TED is a good example of this process.

For the Dalai Lama his whole spirituality is based around kindness. What I discovered reading some of the Dalai Lama's thinking about kindness, and other mindful leaders, is that if kindness is going to play a major role in our lives, and we are going to truly discover what it means to be kind, then we must first feel love for ourselves before we can feel love for others. This is why many of the ancient meditation routines like Love and Kindness start by encouraging us to think about ourselves and then expand out to others, firstly to those who are close to us and then a bigger population.
Here is a a meditation that builds on the love and kindness meditation we learned on the Positive Psychology course (new course starts 15 December)

"When we take positive action and respond creatively to our anger, we are taking good care of ourselves. Taking care of our hearts, minds, and bodies is taking positive action. Learning to be kind and loving toward ourselves is a challenge. It is also part of the lifelong practice of working with our anger.
There is a meditation called the metta bhavana, Metta means loving-kindness, and bhavana means to develop. This meditation teaches us to be kind and gentle by cultivating a positive relationship with ourselves and the rest of the world. Loving-kindness can be the beginning of compassion for ourselves and the way to end anger in our hearts and minds. It is used to begin releasing the toxins of anger, hatred, and fear from my heart. 
Developing Kindness toward Yourself — A Metta Practice
  • Close your eyes, grounding yourself on your seat. Make sure you are fully supported and your feet are placed firmly on the ground.
  • Become aware of the breath permeating your body. Imagine it to be a spray clearing the toxins from your heart.
  • After a minute try to visualize looking back at yourself, or see yourself in a beautiful place that you enjoy. Or just silently call your name. Remember to breathe.
  • After another minute say to yourself, “May I be happy,” then breathe and acknowledge how this feels. Then say, “May I be well,” then breathe and acknowledge how this feels. Then say, “May I be kind toward my suffering,” then breathe.
  • Allow yourself to sit in stillness with whatever arises. After a few minutes say, “May I cultivate more kindness within my heart. May I cultivate more peace within my heart. May I continue to develop and grow.”
  • Continue to recite these phrases, leaving a minute or two between each, staying connected with yourself all the time.
  • After ten minutes bring the practice to an end.
They say that if you practice this weekly it will begin to transform your heart. If you do it daily it will bring about positive change in your life."
Often what we forget to do in our busy lives is to be kind to ourselves. So here are 17 easy ways to be kind to yourself from Daring to Live Fully. See how many of these 17 acts you can build into your lives...perhaps a 17 part New Year's Resolution.

1. Carve Out Some Time For Yourself. Every day carve out some time for yourself and do something that brings you joy. You can draw, journal, write short stories, play a musical instrument, or do anything else that you love to do. Be kind to yourself by giving yourself some “me time” each day.

2. Give Yourself Recognition. Often, we’re quick to acknowledge the achievements of others, but slow to acknowledge our own. That has to stop. Become aware of your own achievements and give yourself recognition.

When you do something you’re proud of, stop for a minute and dwell on it. Praise yourself and relish the achievement. Complement yourself. Pat yourself on the back and say the following: “Kudos to me!”

3. Cultivate Your Inner Advocate. We’re all familiar with the inner critic. It’s that little voice in our heads that’s quick to judge and is always ready with a put down. Well, it’s time for your inner critic to meet your inner advocate.

And who exactly is this inner advocate? It’s another voice in your head: the one that defends you. When your inner critic comes at you with ridicule and scorn, your inner advocate jumps in and presents arguments on your behalf. While your inner critic is against you, your inner advocate is for you.

Be kind to yourself by cultivating your inner advocate (mine wears Armani suits and carries a black leather Gucci brief case).

4. Forgive Yourself. We all mess up. Look at the following:Maybe you did something in the past that you’re not proud of.Perhaps you failed to stand up for yourself and you let someone else get the better of you.You may have missed a great opportunity because you got scared.Maybe you failed to follow through on an important goal.

If you’re angry at yourself, you need to show yourself kindness: stop blaming yourself, resolve to do better from now on, and forgive yourself.

5. Take Good Care of Yourself. One of the best ways to show yourself kindness is to take good care of yourself. Get enough sleep, eat fruits and vegetables, and get some form of exercise on a regular basis. In addition, choose a way to release stress, be well groomed, and look after your appearance.

6. Respect Yourself. Self-respect is valuing yourself for who you are, and not allowing others to dictate your value. It’s trusting yourself, thinking for yourself, forming your own opinions, and making your own decisions. In addition, it’s refusing to compare yourself to others.

Finally, self-respect is about keeping your promises to yourself and following through on what you tell yourself that you’re going to do. Be kind to yourself by deeply respecting yourself.

7. Treat Yourself. I’m not advocating shopping therapy, or consumerism. However, if you see something that you really want, treat yourself. If it’s expensive, save up for it. You don’t have to wait for someone else to give it to you as a gift. Give it to yourself. (You get bonus points if you get the shop to wrap it in colorful gift wrap.)

8. Soothe Yourself. Did you have a tough day? Did you get into an argument with a co-worker or a friend? Did you bomb your presentation? Was it one of those days in which everything that could wrong, did go wrong? Be kind to yourself by soothing yourself. Do the following:Soak in a hot tub. Add scented bath oil.Give yourself a scalp massage. Rub your feet.Make yourself some hot cocoa with little marshmallows in it and sit back with a mystery novel.Lock your bedroom door, turn on some music, and dance around in your underwear.

After all, nobody knows how to soothe you better than you.

9. Remind Yourself of Your Good Qualities. Maybe you’re a little heavier than “the ideal body type”, but you have long, lustrous hair. Maybe you’re not great at sports, but you’re an ace at math. Maybe you have a tendency to be melodramatic, but you have a great sense of humor.
Always remind yourself of your good qualities.

10. Lift Yourself Up. When you fail, make a mistake, or do something wrong, you have two choices. You can tear yourself down, or you can lift yourself up. People who are kind to themselves choose the latter.

Tell yourself it’s going to be OK. Give yourself a morale boost by reminding yourself of your past successes. Then, come up with a plan for dealing with what happened, and take action.

11. Tell Yourself, “I Am Enough”. We’ve all had times in our lives when we’ve thought, “I’m not good looking enough, or smart enough, or strong enough to get what I want.” Stop it with the “I’m not enough” self-talk and replace it with the following;“I’m enough, just as I am.”“I’m worthy.”“I deserve to be happy.”“I deserve to have everything I want.”

In addition, tell yourself that nothing has to happen to make you worthy. You are already enough.

12. Honor Your Dreams. People who respect themselves–people who are kind to themselves–honor their dreams. That is, they don’t downplay their dreams by labeling them as silly fantasies. Instead, they take their dreams seriously by turning those dreams into goals, and creating a plan for achieving those goals.

13. Find the Sweet Spot Between Acceptance and Striving. Part of being kind to yourself is acknowledging your potential. As was stated in the previous point, you should know what you want and go after it. However, never being satisfied with where you are, or with what you have achieved so far in life, is being unkind to yourself.

Be kind to yourself by finding the sweet spot between being happy with who you are, while taking action to become even better.

14. Stop Trying to Be Perfect. People who set a standard of perfection for themselves are setting themselves up for failure. After all, perfection is unachievable. Can you think of anything more unkind than making success impossible for yourself?

Instead of setting a standard of “perfection” for yourself, aim to improve, one step at a time.

15. Show Yourself Compassion. In the book, How to Be Your Own Best Friend by Mildred Newman and Bernard Berkowitz, the authors recommend that you befriend yourself by showing yourself compassion. The best way to feel compassion for yourself is to imagine that someone you love is feeling hurt. Look at the following:What would you say to them?How would you treat them?How would you reassure them?How would you make them feel cared for and loved?

Now, do that for yourself — show yourself compassion.

16. Believe In Yourself. Part of being kind to yourself is wanting the best for yourself. And in order to get the best, you have to believe in yourself. Have faith in your own abilities and in your own judgment. Think highly of yourself: believe in yourself.

17. Accept Yourself. Accept yourself as you are. You have strengths, and you have weaknesses. Sometimes you succeed, and sometimes you fail. Sometimes you’re right, and sometimes you’re wrong. Allow yourself to fully be who you are.Conclusion

There’s only one person in the world you’ll always have a relationship with, and that’s yourself. Therefore, you better start making sure that you’re a good companion to yourself. Live your best life by being kind to yourself. You can get started with the 17 tips explained above.

Finally, this short motivational video build on everything above and hopefully embeds the key message about being kind to ourselves and from that being kind to others will flourish. Again this is very much linked to our Positive Education work that we will do in January because if we are flourishing as individuals we are in a better position to make a difference for others.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Food for Thought: How gaming links to storytelling in the modern gaming world.

This week's Food for Thought is short and fast, linking gaming to human emotion and modern story telling. Here is a TED by David Gage where he talks about story telling and how his work with gaming is leading to a new form of storytelling for our students through gaming. Whilst watching I also wondered whether this was how in the future we will be encouraged to accept AI as part of our lives.

Thought you might also be interested in this background to another of David Gage's characters Kara and how she is made to be so human.

Finally, Fortnite is a game that has captured the imagination of millions around the world of different ages. It was first recommended to me by Will Richardson last April and i introduced it to my son. Since then it has completely taken off and of course each session creates its own story.  However, it is quite addictive and hence sharing this with you. I shared the whole article from Commonsense Media with parents on my Parent Food for Thought. It is a good resource if a parent talks about their child's addiction to you.

"As parents of Fortnite players know, getting kids to stop playing can turn into a battleground of its own. According to a new Common Sense/SurveyMonkey poll, about one in five parents says it's at least moderately difficult to get kids off the game. About a quarter say they're concerned about how much time their kid is playing, and the same number express worry over their kid's exposure to violence in the game. Here are a few other key findings:
  • Fortnite is super popular -- but still not as popular as Instagram. More than six in 10 teenagers (61 percent) say they have played Fortnite, coming close to the percentages of teens who say they use Snapchat (73 percent) and Instagram (74 percent), found in a previous survey.
  • Girls play, too! (But not as much as boys.) Although teen boys are much more likely to say they've played (75 percent), 47 percent of teen girls say they've played. Of teens who play, about 22 percent of boys play at least once a day, compared to 9 percent of girls.
  • It might be more tempting than geometry. More than one in four teens (27 percent) say they've played Fortnite during class at school.
  • Swearing happens. A third of teens (33 percent) say they've been exposed to inappropriate language or harassment while chatting with other players.
  • Fortnite = friends (especially for boys). Half of teens (50 percent) say playing Fornitehelps them keep up with their friends, 50 percent say it has helped them learn teamwork, 44 percent have made a friend online, 40 percent have improved their communication skills, and 39 percent have bonded with a sibling. But boys are more likely than girls to claim positive benefits from playing Fortnite. Notably, teen girls are more likely than boys to say they have bonded with a sibling by playing Fortnite."

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Food for Thought: Disobedience or Compliance?

This is a deliberately provocative Food for Thought. Simply, if we continue with traditional education systems we will produce students who are not creative, inquisitive, curious, inventive or free because they just end up playing the game of school, feeling successful and becoming compliant. This documentary about what is happening in China will be quite likely be similar to their future. Again, as with so much of AI, it has already started and not just in China as this quote suggests, "More than 200 car manufacturers, including Tesla, Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Mitsubishi and US-listed electric vehicle start-up NIO, transmit position information and dozens of other data points to government-backed monitoring centres, The Associated Press has found."

This video focuses on China but don't be mislead.

Or perhaps it is time to encourage more and more disobedient thinking ie creativity by changing the systems and hidden curriculum that still dominates education today. This passionate and emotional TED talk again emphasizes how we so often shut creative thinkers down because they are different and reward and support those who don't ask difficult questions. This talk ends with a very powerful Oscar Wilde quote:

"For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” 

Shortly after returning from the Barcelona Heads Conference I woke up one morning feeling the way the dreamer feels in this quote. I felt for us as a school, feeling isolated following a path which to others appears unnatural. There are others who want to hold us back, punish us for being on a different track, this is because it is easier for them to reject those who refuse to follow the norm and keep doing what they have always done. Although I know we are seeing the  dawn, ie truth, earlier than others, it suddenly felt tiring to keep trying to justify our vision. My feelings of discouragement came from looking around and realizing how few people are really seeing the truth in the world of education, and for a moment I felt like a voice crying in the wilderness, and started to question our vision. But having stopped, reflected and researched more I have moved beyond this frustration and come to terms with others not seeing, and being glad that we are able to dream together on our moonlight path.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Food for Thought: Wiring our brains to be positive

The last few Food for Thoughts have asked big questions about our future and relationship with AI. I will certainly return to that topic again. However, this blog is going to focus on positive thinking as we prepare for our PD sessions on 6th January. Many people think that being positive is something that you are either born with or not, you are either an optimist or a pessimist and this can't be changed. Well, neuroscience and psychology today says this is incorrect thinking. You can train your brain because of its plasticity to become more positive. In the past it was natural for our brains to focus on negative events because if we survived it was important that we learned from them. This is why we tend to have more negative thoughts than positive. But as we learned from studying positive emotions, with Barbara Fredrickson, we need to work towards a ratio of at least 4 positive thoughts to every one negative if we are to have a positive outlook on life. It is clear from her work that developing positive emotions transforms us as this short video explains.

This article from Mindshift  How to Get Past Negativity Bias in Order to Hardwire Positive Experiences introduces us to the work of Rick Hanson. His simple TED talk that follows lays down a very simple technique that will enable us to transform our mind to be more positive. It is a technique that is accessible for all of us and one that you can talk to your students about to empower them to be positive in their lives. This transformation will not only develop positive thinking but also help grow resilience in ourselves and our students.

Hanson encourages us to focus on good things that have happened to us for at least 12 seconds this embedding them in our minds. By doing this it can lead a transformation of how your mind thinks. It is based around the way the brain works and as Hanson says, " neurons that fire together wire together and a passing mental state becomes a lasting neural trait." He has developed a simple way of remembering the steps.

Have a positive experience
Enrich it
Absorb it
Link positive and negative material (optional) 
"Hanson calls this process “self-directed neuroplasticity.” To grow inner strength, people have to turn experiences (short-term memories) into activated states that are installed traits (long-term and implicit memories). The idea is to turn fleeting moments of happiness into implicit knowledge of well-being and strength.
Helping children develop self-directed neuroplasticity could be extremely helpful for students with trouble sitting still or who have learning challenges, but it could also be explicitly tied to academic outcomes. Hanson’s strategies could help students develop motivation and a sense of themselves as active learners. It’s a way of helping students to see life as an opportunity and for noting the positive in themselves and others. And, at a fundamental level, it’s a way of taking the time to hardwire and register curricular learning.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Food for Thought: Are our Children AI Slaves?

Image result for russell brand and yuval noah harari

This is a very short Food for Thought narrative because the voice thread is an hour long but certainly worth listening to as it poses excellent thinking about the future and links perfectly with last week's Food for Thought. This is from Russell Brand's blog, Under the Skin where he interviews Yuval Noah Harari to discuss his new book 21 Lessons For The 21st Century. They tackle the idea of the rise useless class, the power of new A.I. technology and what can be done to combat this potential assault on our identity and role as human beings in world.

This conversation again raises the sort of questions that we are ask at ISHCMC.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Food For Thought: Are we teaching our students enough about big data and the internet?

Last week, Sir Ken Robinson, who I follow on Twitter, posted a BBC article  'Children are being datafied from birth.' It opens by saying that; "Today's children are the first to be datafied from birth and little thought has been given to the consequences." This made me think about our recent CIS visit where we were questioned about what we are doing as a school to protect our students from the world of big data, data profiling and teaching an understanding of digital foot prints and the issues they can create. We didn't really have a robust answer. Hence, Sir Ken's post jolted me into writing this post to you based on my thinking that if you understand the challenges better then perhaps we can start to educate our students about this better.

So I started to do some research and I have to admit that what I discovered is most definitely Food for Thought. Again it all comes back to the role of AI. We have always collected data but in the past we did not have the means to be able to collate all this data and use it to analyse human behavior so precisely. In this article, Will big data algorithms soon control our lives? it references the work of Yuval Harari, who wrote Sapiens and his new book Homo Deus in which he argues that the combination of big data and self-improving algorithms will soon outsmart humans entirely and make human decision-making obsolete. 

"Even today, it just takes 150 Facebook likes for psychometrics software such as Cambridge Analytica to know your needs, fears and hopes better than your parents do, and just over 300 likes for such software to know you better than you know yourself.  All based on analyzing your likes against Millions of other likes and profiles. No wonder the Trump campaign made effective use of that software last year to better target their voters. But this is just the beginning: Recently, researchers from Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa, were able for the first time to directly link a human brain to the Internet – creating the first ever ‘Brainternet’. Based on increased connectivity, smart algorithms may soon be able to monitor and analyze all our biological functions, thoughts, interactions, and purchases, and know much better what we want and what makes us happy than we do. Harari argues that in the end humans may delegate all important decisions – choices of careers, partners and places to live – to algorithms that exceed our brain capacity manifold. So will big data algorithms eventually control our lives?"

What became increasingly obvious from my reading is that the time when we were in control of the data on our own computers has been replaced with devices containing sensors we cannot control, storing data we cannot access, in operating systems we cannot monitor, in environments where our rights are rendered meaningless. Soon the default will shift from us interacting directly with our devices to interacting with devices we have no control over and no knowledge that we are generating data. This reminded me of a documentary that I shared with you last year or before, Do you Trust this Computer?

Now we have the means, through algorithms to collate and analyse all the data that we are producing consciously or unconsciously. The sinister thing is that this is now being used to manipulate our lives by corporations and governments. The data that they are collecting is very extensive as this article illustrates, I asked an online tracking company for all of my data and here's what I found. Data profiling itself is a widespread practice. Data brokers and online marketers all collect or obtain data about individuals, your browsing history, your location data, who your friends are, or how frequently you charge your battery etc., and then use this data to infer additional, unknown information about you, what you’re going to buy next, your likelihood to be female, the chances of you being conservative, your current emotional state, how reliable you are, or whether you are heterosexual etc.

Whilst exploring this topic I discovered an organization that is trying to protect us all, Privacy International, and I suggest that you spend 30 minutes looking through their website. One resource that links back to Sir Ken's post is this short 3 minute video on Data Exploitation.

You will all have heard of the company Cambridge Analytica and their involvement in political campaigns and use of Facebook information.  Essentially, companies like Cambridge Analytica do two things: profile individuals, and use these profiles to personalize political messaging.

By the looks of things companies like Cambridge Analytica  are really the tip of a huge iceberg that is taking everything we do, recording it and then using this data to predict/ profile our behaviors. So the key question remains are we doing enough to inform our students while they are still young enough to understand what is happening and be able to take some control over their future. Providing the knowledge and skills necessary to remain in control of their lives falls under our mission to EMPOWER our students. Now you know more you can start to protect yourselves and inform your students.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Food for Thought: Stressed Out.

This week's Food for Thought is deliberately short because it includes a short ebook that I think it would be good if we all read. Tim Elmore writes a great deal about working with Generation z and is a leading thinker in this field.

Thought that I should share with all of you as I have suggested that all ISHCMC parents should read regardless of the age of their children. It is a very easy read and makes one think about what is happening as out students grow older.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Food for Thought: Are we preparing our students to be chefs or cooks?

It is great to be back and having time to think and write again. in Barcelona I gave a presentation to the Cognita Heads about how I see the future of Education. not sure how many of the audience related to what I was saying. One person who did was Anton Musgrove , a commentator about the future and the need for sustainable strategic planning, he had proceeded me on the stage and our thinking aligned almost perfectly. He too is concerned that dramatic change to society is coming much sooner than many are predicting and that the majority of the world population and governments are totally unprepared for the future.

When I talk about AI I often refer to the Oxford University research on AI and its timeline for impacting our employment and way of life. In this research they talk about the game of Go and that it would take a machine learning computer over 10 years to defeat a human because of the intuitive complexity and unpredictability of the infinite number of moves available each turn. As you know Google's Deep Mind computer achieved this goal in  just over a year. This could lead us to believe that the predicted timelines are being shortened by the exponential development of machine learning.  As if to bring this home I was sent this article from the BBC this week about an artwork created by an artificially intelligent program that was sold at auction for $432,000 (£337,000). Even at its original listed price of 7-10k, this is still a substantial amount of money for a non human piece of art to attract. I would say that the challenge to society, and us educators is here, and hence it is ever more important to be reflecting upon how we are educating the next generation. Although this alone is Food for Thought, I would like to share A.J. Juliani's questioning about are we preparing Chefs or Cooks in our classrooms? 

I believe this is a fundamental question for the future. Unfortunately, I sense the majority of the education systems world-wide, including most international schools, are producing cooks. Why? Because the majority of governments and evaluation and accreditation organizations are not looking forward and asking the question what should schools look like in the future. They are using old data and metrics to measure schools that do not fit with what the future holds. They are hanging on to old assessment strategies and educational values that were born in the 1890's. Reflecting upon our recent CIS and IB visits, I pose the question to you all, if you were designing a school for the 2020's based on the predicted needs and skills for the future would it fit within the standards of these accrediting institutions? I suspect the answer for the majority of us would be a resounding NO!  But  as A.J.Juliani says in his recent post, "Fear is a funny thing. It often keeps us from doing exactly what we want to do." Hence, if this is the case and it is fear that is holding us back then surely the time is fast approaching when forward facing schools join together and break away from the systems that are holding them back from doing what is right for their students.

You will enjoy the challenge that A.J. Juliani's poses in this video. It would be worth at your next Grade level/ Department meeting to spend a few minutes reflecting upon how far your teaching pedagogy and learning environment is creating Chef's of the future and to what extent the school is encouraging this development throughout our school from EE to Grade 12?

Have a good weekend,


Monday, October 15, 2018

Food For Thought: These Are The Skills That Your Kids Will Need For The Future (Hint: It's Not Coding)

CREDIT: Getty Images

The jobs of the future will involve humans collaborating with other humans to design work for machines and value will shift from cognitive to social skills

An education is supposed to prepare you for the future. Traditionally, that meant learning certain facts and skills, like when Columbus discovered America or how to do multiplication and long division. Today, curriculums have shifted to focus on a more global and digital world, like cultural history, basic computer skills and writing code.

Yet the challenges that our kids will face will be much different than we did growing up and many of the things a typical student learns in school today will no longer be relevant by the time he or she graduates college. In fact, a study at the University of Oxford found that 47% of today's jobs will be eliminated over the next 20 years.

In 10 or 20 years, much of what we "know" about the world will no longer be true. The computers of the future will not be digital. Software code itself is disappearing, or at least becoming far less relevant. Many of what are considered good jobs today will be either completely automated or greatly devalued. We need to rethink how we prepare our kids for the world to come.

Understanding Systems

The subjects we learned in school were mostly static. 2+2 always equaled 4 and Columbus always discovered America in 1492. Interpretations may have differed from place to place and evolved over time, but we were taught that the world was based on certain facts and we were evaluated on the basis on knowing them.

Yet as the complexity theorist Sam Arbesman has pointed out, facts have a half life and, as the accumulation of knowledge accelerates, those half lives are shrinking. For example, when we learned computer programming in school, it was usually in BASIC, a now mostly defunct language. Today, Python is the most popular language, but will likely not be a decade from now.

Computers themselves will be very different as well, based less on the digital code of ones and zeros and more on quantum laws and the human brain. We will likely store less information on silicon and more in DNA. There's no way to teach kids how these things will work because nobody, not even experts, is quite sure yet.

So kids today need to learn less about how things are today and more about the systems future technologies will be based on, such as quantum dynamics, genetics and the logic of code. One thing economists have consistently found is that it is routine jobs that are most likely to be automated. The best way to prepare for the future is to develop the ability to learn and adapt.

Applying Empathy and Design Skills

While machines are taking over many high level tasks, such as medical analysis and legal research, there are some things they will never do. For example, a computer will never strike out in a Little League game, have its heart broken or see its child born. So it is terribly unlikely, if not impossible, that a machine will be able to relate to a human like other humans can.

That absence of empathy makes it hard for machines to design products and processes that will maximize enjoyment and utility for humans. So design skills are likely to be in high demand for decades to come as basic production and analytical processes are increasingly automated.

We've already seen this process take place with regard to the Internet. In the early days, it was a very technical field. You had to be a highly skilled engineer to make a website work. Today, however, building a website is something any fairly intelligent high schooler can do and much of the value has shifted to front-end tasks, like designing the user experience.

With the rise of artificial intelligence and virtual reality our experiences with technology will become far more immersive and that will increase the need for good design. For example, conversational analysts (yes, that's a real job) are working with designers to create conversational intelligence for voice interfaces and, clearly, virtual reality will be much more design intensive than video ever was.

The Ability to Communicate Complex Ideas

Much of the recent emphasis in education has been around STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) and proficiency in those areas is certainly important for today's students to understand the world around them. However, many STEM graduates are finding it difficult to find good jobs.

On the other hand, the ability to communicate ideas effectively is becoming a highly prized skill. Consider Amazon, one of the most innovative and technically proficient organizations on the planet. However, a key factor to its success its writing culture. The company is so fanatical about the ability to communicate that developing good writing skills are a key factor to building a successful career there.

Think about Amazon's business and it becomes clear why, Sure, the it employs highly adept engineers, but to create a truly superior product, those people need to collaborate closely with designers, marketers, business development executives and so on. To coordinate all that activity and keep everybody focused on delivering a specific experience to the customer, communication needs to be clear and coherent.

So while learning technical subjects like math and science is always a good idea, studying things like literature, history and philosophy is just as important.

Collaborating and Working in Teams

Traditionally, school work has been based on individual accomplishment. You were supposed to study at home, come in prepared and take your test without help. If you looked at your friend's paper, it was called cheating and you got in a lot of trouble for it. We were taught to be accountable for achievements on our own merits.

Yet consider how the nature of work has changed, even in highly technical fields. In 1920, most scientific papers were written by sole authors, but by 1950 that had changed and co-authorship became the norm. Today, the average paper has four times as many authors as it did then and the work being done is far more interdisciplinary and done at greater distances than in the past.

Make no mistake. The high value work today is being done in teams and that will only increase as more jobs become automated. The jobs of the future will not depend as much on knowing facts or crunching numbers, but will involve humans collaborating with other humans to design work for machines. Collaboration will increasingly be a competitive advantage.

That's why we need to pay attention not just to how our kids work and achieve academically, but how they play, resolve conflicts and make others feel supported and empowered. The truth is that value has shifted from cognitive skills to social skills. As kids will increasingly be able to learn complex subjects through technology, the most important class may well be recess.

Perhaps most of all, we need to be honest with ourselves and make peace with the fact that our kids' educational experience will not--and should not--mirror our own. The world which they will need to face will be far more complex and more difficult to navigate than anything we could imagine back in the days when Fast Times at Ridgemont High was still popular.


Saturday, October 6, 2018

Food for Thought: Technology in the Classroom: Creating a Cyber-Safe Space

Dear all,

I hope that the week with IB and CIS visitors in school was not too stressful for you all. We did very well and should be pleased with the outcome. It is an interesting process and one that I think raised questions about using outdated standards / educational thinking to make judgments on a progressive school that is challenging the educational status quo. This was to be expected, and further emphasizes the issues with being different and yet having to have accreditation from traditionally conservative organizations. Working with our visitors this week reminded me again of the quote from Russell Ackoff

Image result for russell ackoff better to be doing the right

However, the process of self study and evaluation is about what we learn and recognize as areas for development. One area that has emerged, that concerns me, is our lack of a Cyber Safety curriculum and consistent signs of Cyber Safety being taught the school. Hence, this Food for Thought and its focus. As the Victorian State declares in their document on Cyber Safety, 

" Cybersafety is every teacher's responsibility. Cybersafety is not the sole responsibility of the ICT teacher. Schools and their teachers have a responsibility to educate children and young people and address the underlying values (ethics) and responsible behaviours expected of them regardless of their physical location."

I believe this to be true, just as we are all language teachers and teachers of learning skills, we should also,every time we ask our students to use their technology, be reminding them of Cyber safety procedures and regulations. It is suggested that as a minimum we should be constantly reminding students about posting or participating in bullying or harassment; accessing inappropriate content; unwanted contact with strangers; posting or sharing personal information and passwords;using (or stealing) content owned by others eg images, music or videos; plagiarising: taking ideas or information created/ owned by others without referencing their origin; using critical thinking skills when using the internet; accessing offensive or illegal content; and always seeking support from a trusted adult when there is an issue.

Image result for Common sense media Cyber safety images

Several years ago we did commit to using Common Sense Media as the backbone to our Cyber Safety curriculum because it gives us everything we need, at all Grades in the school. Hence, I would suggest that you all spend a few minutes surfing the common sense media site so you can make yourself more familiar with the resources it provides for you to embed cyber safety in lessons and advisory. This will help cover us as we create actions plans and move towards creating a comprehensive cyber safety curriculum for ISHCMC.

Common Sense K–12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum Scope & Sequence. "The Common Sense Curriculum is designed to empower students to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly in our digital world. From lesson plans, videos, student interactives, and assessments, to professional learning and family outreach materials, our turnkey Curriculum provides schools with everything they need to take a whole-community approach to digital citizenship. "

Finally here is another resource from TeachHub that might provide you with a few ideas to start embedding in our classrooms that will ensure our students are thinking about cyber safety when they use their technology at home and school.

Now that we can say most of our schools are filled with pieces of technology in the classroom, it’s time to start thinking about cyber safety a little bit more. Digital citizenship is meant to help keep our students safe and secure while using technology in the classroomtools. Like it or not, there are people (and things) out there that can disrupt the safety of our students when they are utilizing technology in the classroom tools. If you are looking for a few tips on how to teach your students how to be responsible when it comes to technology and their online presence, then you must follow these suggestions.

Teach Students Responsible Technology in the Classroom Behavior

First and foremost, teach students responsible and respectful online behavior. They should interact online as they would if the person was right in front of them. All too often, young (and old) people have hidden behind their computers to interact with others in an irresponsible, unkind manner. Encourage students to think before they act, and to always remember that when they are online, they leave a digital footprint that is archived and can be brought back at any time. Teach your students to be kind, courteous, and respectful online as well as offline.

Have Students Become Cyber Detectives

A fun way to teach your students the importance of Internet safety is to have them become cyber detectives. The Cybersmart Challenge is an online resource aimed at teaching upper elementary students about online safety. The site uses real-world examples to help students make predications and responsible conclusions.

Get Parents Involved

Make sure that you keep parents in the loop about what online tools their children are using in the classroom. Back-to-School night or open house is the perfect time to discuss with parents the dangers of inappropriate uses online. Encourage parents to talk with their children at home, as well as to monitor their child’s online use. You can even go as far as suggesting to parents that their child sign an online safety contract (there is one for parents as well). The more that parents are involved in their child’s online education, the safer their child will be.

Explain Digital Footprints

Make sure your students are in the know about how they leave a digital footprint when they are online. Online information is pretty much impossible to get rid of, and children need to understand and fully grasp that concept. For example, if you are teaching impressionable middle school students that love to share every aspect of their lives on social media, they need to understand that what they post now can potentially harm them in their future.

Use Tangible Objects to Prove Your Point

One of the best ways that you can show your students about the importance of online safety is to make it tangible for them. Create a digital toolkit by gathering items (essentially props) so that they can visually see and feel the concepts of security, privacy, and cyber safety. This would include real-world items, such as a magnifying glass (to remind them to look carefully) and a permanent marker (to show them that what they post online cannot be removed). You can also add other items like a padlock to represent that their personal information needs to be secure, and a red flag to represent that they are in a place that is not appropriate for them.

Create Real-World Scenarios

Create real-world scenarios about dangerous Internet usage. An example could look something like this: “Emily is a 12-year-old girl who has an Instagram account. She has her account set to private, but still allows kids she does not know to “Friend” her. One day she gets a private message from a boy that she has never met, but is friends with on here Instagram asking to meet up with her.” After sharing this example, ask students the following questions.
  • Are there any issues with Emily’s situation?
  • What would you do if you were Emily?
  • Is it OK to allow strangers to be your friend online?
The goal is for the students to come up with a conclusion to this dangerous real-world scenario. Encourage students to remove themselves from any situation where they feel uncomfortable, bullied, or threatened.
The Internet can be a dangerous place, so it is essential that you educate and empower your students so that they have the wherewithal and knowledge to be safe. Talk to them, and most importantly be open and honest with them, especially about their digital footprint.