The cross-section of what I find amazing, interesting, absurdly funny or just plain discussion-worthy this week.
1.) Popular Science combines academic techniques with the most important of behavioral sciences to determine that guitars make guys more attractive to women. If you didn’t already know this sometime around your 13th birthday, I’m not sure that a pair of peer-reviewed studies are going to convince you. Also, these results are strictly related to the guitar, learning to play the recorder won’t help you.
These next few links will probably show that I was on a bit of an education kick this week. Probably because I’m waiting to hear back about my application to return to university, but also at least partly because continued education (especially self-discovery) is something I feel pretty strongly about. Of course, it helps that the field I’m in relies a lot on shared testing, discovery and shared knowledge.
2.) Every American school should teach code
Learn about a new “superpower” that isn’t being taught in in 90% of US schools.
Starring Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, will.i.am, Chris Bosh, Jack Dorsey, Tony Hsieh, Drew Houston, Gabe Newell, Ruchi Sanghvi, Elena Silenok, Vanessa Hurst, and Hadi Partovi.
3.) Every American school should actually TEACH
The first video inspired me, both in terms of how I should keep pushing myself to learn more, but also about how I should not hesitate to introduce my nephews to advanced knowledge they aren’t receiving in school.
Personally, I first learned how to write in BASIC when I came home from a summer spent at my Grandma’s house to find out that my family had gotten a Commodore 64. If I wanted to play any games on the computer, I had to practice my coding until my parents were satisfied. It wasn’t too long until I realized that if I spent my practice time actually working on code for simple games, I would enjoy the time a lot more, and sort of felt like I was pulling one over on my folks. Also, ASCII art FTW.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t think everyone needs to know how to code by today’s standards, but I clearly see the value behind the type of thinking, process-coordination and methodologies which are natural by-products of coding well. Once upon a time nobody thought Algebra needed to be included in education, and we’ve clearly crossed this bridge. Now we can bridge the gap between math and language through a process we’ve founded so much of our economy on, so why not?
The second video reminds me of how disappointed I was once I got to High School & College, where even the “advanced” or “gifted” programs were a sham, and how disenfranchised some educators are. From my perspective, the issue isn’t entirely the emphasis on standardized testing, but rather the system that has done the same thing to teachers that it does to accountants and clerks and office-workers everywhere; when the expectations are so strictly communicated, where is the incentive to innovate? Of course, I had some great teachers who proved that the required curriculum could be covered quickly and we could move onto the stuff we really wanted to learn, the topics the teacher was happy to engage us on. Surely there are ways we can encourage that sort of behavior if we ever want to do more than hand out packets and expect our students to learn from a checklist.
4.) Along the same lines, this was a big week for the discussion of immigration reform, especially when it comes to visa for tech workers. Instead of devolving to an argument about America versus the rest of the world, I think Jeff Bussgang’s testimony before Congress does a great job of keeping a human face on the issue. For us to remain “the land of opportunity”, we need to fight the urge to turn insular and do what’s put us at the fore-front of innovation for over a century, embrace the great wide-open future and go for it.
5.) Rand’s blog on choosing how we experience the world, another great and honest read. This piece resonated with me all day and helped me reconcile some thoughts. I’ve been having an internal struggle regarding how I perceive some of my colleagues, the impact each of us has on the work we do, and planning for the future (both my own and the team I work on). In the end, it’s far less fruitful for me to focus on the inter-personal things that may be challenging me when I could put that same energy to use coming up with new and better projects and leaving behind those who would drag me down.
Perhaps our perceptions about the monotonous, frustrating, angering parts of our days aren’t always the ones we want to have, and perhaps, with a little effort, we can change them.
6.) and nothing proves that point more than this: http://youtu.be/9NjKgV65fpo
- SILICON VALLEY: Americans Aren’t Skilled Enough To Do The Jobs We Need (businessinsider.com)
- President Obama’s Visit to New Tech Network High School Will Showcase STEM and Workforce Development (prweb.com)
- Zuckerberg And 30 Tech All-Stars Launch Political Advocacy Group FWD.us (techcrunch.com)