Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Exercise: School Rules

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Briefly, the idea is a PostIt type exercise where participants brainstorm changes to the rules at school. Simple targets may be the timetable (including start and end times, lunch breaks, etc) and dress code. How about rearranging the seating style in a classroom (oftentimes in rows)? I am sure we could also examine one or two sets of school guidelines to come up with more. This exercise hopefully mixes feasibility with fantasy, and reality with possibility.


Book: Understanding Other People

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Just finished reading the book “Understanding Other People: The Five Secrets to Human Behavior” by Beverly D. Flaxington. The byline on the front cover says “How to stop being frustrated by the actions of others and start taking charge of your own life – and reactions.” It seemed like a promising resource with potential lessons for youth, especially those who may be encountering significant adult pressure. Can you imagine a youth trying to communicate with their parents or teachers, but having to deal with the “filters” described in this book? (Note: I think “filter” is not the best term since it implies a consistent loss of information processing whereas I feel it may be more a matter of translation or interpretation fidelity/efficiency at play). The premises from this book are:

1. It’s All About Me. To be able to view things from different perspectives is very important, especially with regards to innovation and leadership. However, there are times when “me” is an essential motivator and the “me” (or “us”) perspective matters the most.
2. Behavioral Styles Come Between Us. Recognition of behavioral styles is essential in any new situation. In a negotiating or mission critical scenario, it may be necessary to put aside prejudice against a certain behavior type; but an appreciation for behavior compatibility is crucial for healthy and productive teams.
3. Values Speak Louder. Values tend to intangible and difficult to identify accurately. Therefore, some latitude or additional data to analyze may be necessary before trying to rationalize a reason for a conflict. A values difference is quite easy to imagine as being an impediment in a youth-adult situation. Even if the youth has role models, it is difficult to list accurately the values that are being adopted.
4. Don’t Assume I Know What You Mean. Youth may be so anxious about being in the presence of adults that they don’t invest much time in setting context. They either want to get the encounter over with as quick as possible because of shyness/fear, or they want to get back to their friends or something they would rather be doing. It may therefore fall on the adult to encourage the youth to provide context.
5. I’m Okay; You Are Most Definitely NOT Okay. This is perfect advice for the adult who is interacting with youth. Critical judgement is definitely not the right message to send to youth when they are making their best effort. Makes me think about the frame of mind judges in a Science Fair should be in (they’ve already invested much of their time into the project before presentation day).

For the YCISL program, I think the above premises can be used to design an exercise (to be described later) to help youth become more confident in asking questions (a skill that should be nurtured as early in life as intelligently possible, but as we know often gets suppressed in school and at home ). Skilled question-asking is a powerful mode of communication and enables highly interactive discussions. Questions allow leeway in interpretation and (in network-speak) error-checking, and promote interaction continuity. It also has utility in innovation and leadership.


Parents: How to raise a creative genius (CNN)

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

This article by Elizabeth Landau actually describes children who already possess the gift of a thirst for knowledge and application thereof. However, it reminds us about not stifling creativity [by imposing a rigid rate and measuring by a universal scale of knowledge growth] as a blanket approach.

These are the essential suggestions of the article:

Sparking curiosity (aka motivation)

Setting up challenges (aka setting goals)

Being open-minded (aka encourage)

Making ‘teaching moments’ (aka mentor)

2010 Synopsys Championship

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Just got back from judging at the 2010 Synopsys Championship in San Jose, California. As in for many years, I was part of a group judging team entries from the East Side Union High School District. I have a couple of new observations from this event. First, I applied my interest in creativity, innovation and leadership in judging this time. Out of 25 team projects, about half were what I would deem creative meaning they were not typical science fair material. About 3 came across as innovative meaning they had chosen a timely topic (which helps quite a bit), thought about the impact, and incorporated a personal interest angle. What occurred to me strongest though was the ease of collaboration (especially with our top team selection) perhaps due to the youthful age category. The social knit of high school teams is probably very different (more friendly) from those of older (college) students and working professionals. The associated bond and trust probably lends itself to greater creativity and, with the proper guidance, distinctive innovation.

My second observation concerns the entries from the Latino College Preparatory Academy (San Jose). It was a meaningful contrast to many science fair projects that had access to ample resources. It demonstrated that the passion for science can be found and fostered even in resource-poor circumstances, and that with encouragement and experienced mentoring, an opportunity to move on to the next level of competition may be well within reach.