Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Today's Reads, Views, and Links

One of my favorite new series is called United Shades of America on CNN.

The comedian Kamau Bell travels the country visiting places with opposing view points to learn from them and to grow.  It reminds me of the old series, 30 Days.



In the latest episode Bell travels to "redneck" or "hillbilly" central: the Appalachian wilderness in Kentucky.  But he finds that people are still people with the same fears and worries and hopes.


I saw this via Facebook this week.  Apparently, there is a young boy with an IQ hire than Einstein's.  Now this may seem like a big deal.  And had I not just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, I might have thought so.

But - as Gladwell illustrates in his book - a high IQ is no guarantee of success.  At all.

A high IQ is an advantage.  No doubt about it.

But it does not guarantee success.

Gladwell illustrates this by focusing on the smartest man, Christopher Langan, in the world today.  He has a far higher IQ than Einstein.  Yet he has not changed the world.  Yet.  Or maybe even at all.

After all, he has spent the majority of his life working as a bouncer.

Yes.  You read that.  The smartest man in the world (that we know of anyway) does not have a college degree.  Nor has he published anything.

Gladwell notes how Langan is supremely gifted intellectually.  Unfortunately, he came from a miserable home life.  A mom who had different children from several different men.  His father figure was abusive and tyrannical before he ultimately left.

Langan first had to leave college because his mother didn't know how to renew his financial aid.  Then at his second college, his brother wrecked his vehicle, so he was left without a ride.  While meeting with the dean, Langan wasn't able to convince the dean to allow him to take afternoon and evening classes . . . even if he was willing to walk all the way to campus since he didn't have a vehicle anymore.

Gladwell contrasts that with J. Robert Oppenheimer.  He was the unlikely choice to lead the US in developing the atomic bomb.  In other words, Oppenheimer was the head of The Manhattan Project.  There was one problem though: while in college Oppenheimer tried to poison one of his professors!

Yet, Oppenheimer wasn't kicked out of college.  He was lightly reprimanded and then would go on to change the course of the 21st century!

Yet, Langan couldn't stay in college for innocuous reasons!


IQ had nothing to do with it.

People skills - or the ability to persuade others to agree with you - were the key factor.

Oppenheimer is gifted with it . . . mostly because of how he was raised by his Jewish family.  Langan was not gifted with people skills . . . mostly because of how he was raised by a single mother and abusive father figure.

This reminds me of Patrick Lencioni's wonderful book - The Ideal Team Player.  Lencioni observes that you must be hungry, humble, and smart to succeed.

Hunger is a desire to learn and grow.  Langan is gifted with this in spades.

Humble is the ability to put aside your own wants and needs to work in groups.  Langan is very weak in this, but it can be learned.

Smart - is not just intelligence.  Smart is people smarts - how to work with others.  Langan clearly lacks this as he couldn't convince his dean to shift his classes to the evening to let him walk to school, yet Oppenheimer was able to convince his dean to not throw him out of college (or, you know, have him arrested) for trying to poison his advisor!!!!!

So it's great that this young man has such a high IQ, but it is no guarantee of success at all.


Focus on the basics?

Great.  But what are the basics.  Exactly?  How have they changed over time?

Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic are vital.  Yes.  But what else do kids need to thrive in the world today?

This reminds me of an old debate.

One of my colleagues once sent me this, a link to an old 8th grade exit exam, knowing how much it would piss me off.  You see - supposedly - 8th graders in Kansas had to pass this in order to move on.  So the tag line is that when you heard about Great, Great Grandma having just an 8th grade education, she really was quite smart.

Now, I'm not saying your great, great grandma is not smart.  I'm just saying that test illustrates nothing.

The basics in 1865 are not relevant today.

And there is no way to have your great, great grandma take an 8th grade test today.

In fact, if you think your 8th grader has it too easy, just try sitting down with them and help them with their close reading homework or their math homework.

The basics should change in order to reflect the job market and the time in which the students are expected to work.


I so wish I could use this with my College Comp class.  

Punctuation and usage are SO important.


Haircuts and shaving.  You're nuts not to come in!!!

Or, at least, that is what I think they meant by their sign.


Politics aside.  This saddens me.


I'm not talking about the homeowners association that would try to suggest that a homeowner remove their flag.  That is sad.

But what I'm talking about that is sad is that this was shared on Facebook and had several hundred comments without anyone asking if this was even true!!

Even if you don't want to believe Snopes.  Think about this: Where is the evidence?  Could the picture be taken out of context?  Does a Homeowners Association have the right to dictate what flags you can fly?  Would they object to an American flag?  Why?  Where is the evidence?

It's not there because it doesn't exist.

But we live in a world today where it's more important to click 'share' rather than to do research and find the truth . . . or at least a grain of truth.

And I've fallen for this before too.

A few years ago, a former students shared a Facebook post about how teachers in Finland were paid like lawyers and were among the most respected people in the country.

The problem?

It wasn't true.

Had I bothered to question - instead of blindly sharing something I just agree with and not caring whether it was true or not - I would have found out that it is completely false.

Again, anyone anywhere can make up their own meme and post it on Facebook.  It doesn't make it true.  Even if you believe it OR want to believe it . . . it doesn't make it factual.


This teacher, one of my favorite teacher bloggers, is interested in teachers' daily schedules and how we all juggle our lives.  She shares her daily routine here.

That got me thinking about how much I could learn from my colleagues.  How does H handle teaching science at the level he does yet find a way to work out every single morning before school?  How does Kelly run the library yet juggle all of the the committees she is on?  I'd also love to see all that she does to help teachers and students behind the scenes.  How does Bryce juggle Western Civ I and II and being a head coach in the fall and an assistant in the winer?

Just for fun - here is my schedule for today

4:30-5:15 : wake up and head to Sanford to work out.

5:30-6:15 : work out (either cardio low or cycling).

6:30-8:00 : return home, shower, wake the kiddos up, make breakfast, get the kids ready for their day, feed the dog and puppy as well as our cat.

8:25-12:30: teach Science Fiction, MN Authors, and Creative Writing at the ALC.

12:30-1:00: grab lunch

1:00-3:00: time with the kids - this usually means running to the pool but it also means shopping, building forts, watching movies, naps, and playing in parks.

3:00-4:30: clean the house, read some, blog some, shop for groceries

5:00-6:00: make supper and have supper

6:30-8:00: maybe return to the pool, go to t-ball, read, blog, go to a park, watch some TV.

8:30-9:30: baths for the kids, wind down time.

10:00: time for bed, which for me means reading or watching Youtube until I'm tired.



Speaking of Youtube in the evenings, this is one series, A Football Life, that I've become addicted to lately.

This episode focuses on the amazing Bill Belichick.  No wonder the Pats are five time world champs (and could easily be - if not for the NY Giants - a whopping seven time world champ!)

And if you really want, here is the second part of the series.


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