Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

CNBC: “How Common Core Broke U.S. Schools”

Monday, August 9th, 2021

My YouTube feed today presented a video posted by CNBC titled “How Common Core Broke U.S. Schools.” The description for the video reads “First implemented in 2009, Common Core was an ambitious initiative to revolutionize the American education system. National leaders from Bill Gates to President Obama supported the idea and it cost an estimated $15.8 billion to implement. Years later, research showed the new curriculum had minimal impact on student performance. So why did Common Core fail? Can a common curriculum be successful for all students?”

Around 2010, my kids were in middle and high school. Race to Nowhere was making headlines with special screenings in communities and raised awareness about stress and anxiety in schools. I also recall two other programs with imagery-filled titles, “Race to the Top” and “No Child Left Behind,” that were adding fuel to an already burning problem. They were both huge funding efforts which by-passed Rory Sutherland’s fourth quadrant and the Ministry of Detail. Common Core apparently was also a product of this funding movement and, according to the CNBC report, failed to gain traction…ever.

The video reports on resistance to change (probably resulting from a poor elevator pitch) as well as crosswinds such as adoption of computers, e-textbooks, cultural shifts, and socioeconomic tides. This was the time when educators were discussing teaching framework alternatives that were working, but policymakers were fixated on testing, test scores and accountability. While Common Core didn’t really cause more damage to an already hurting K-12 educational program, it essentially helped the education industry grow at the expense of student learning…quasi-equilibrium so to speak. Entering college students were less well-prepared and colleges started having to offer more remedial catch-up courses (related to tuition increases?). Degree programs of study either got extended because instructors were stretched or terminated early because students couldn’t get past lower division courses. On top of this, government policy was driving increases in college enrollment and the value of an undergraduate degree declined (supply & demand, I guess).

The Common Core isn’t necessarily a bad idea. In fact, it’s a great idea. The issue may have been with the innovation & design thinking process. In YCISL-speak, the Common Core did not seem to possess emotional intelligence or intrinsic motivation. SAT/ACT, Subject tests and AP tests were the de-facto standards of achievement…and not interfaced with actual school learning. The knowledge gaps that Salman Khan had referred to were going to get worse.

Standards-based examination tied to school learning is in place almost everywhere in the world…except in the US. Standards-based education programs even have overseas influence (that is, outside the country where it is the national program). We also have the International Baccalaureate (IB) program which is standards-based and intentionally available by design for adoption internationally.

A greater disappointment lies in the poor outcome of the Common Core despite the sense and awareness that was sparked by Sir Ken Robinson’s TEDTalk “Schools Kill Creativity.” Maybe the next challenge should be Common Core 2.0 for 10% of the cost of the original Common Core. Some thriftiness might get some wiser moves.


Duncan Wardle: The Theory of Creativity (TEDxAUK)

Monday, December 9th, 2019

I’m working on a YCISL White Paper currently on the question “Where is your creativity?” so that we can feel more secure by finding our own creativity and having it at the ready for when we need it. Speaking of which…Duncan Wardle asks in his 2018 TEDxAUK talk the question “When does your creativity flourish?” and describes a variety of “brain states” which explain our creativity behaviors.

One common theme in response to this “When?” question is when we are calm and relaxed. This is consistent with our YCISL approach through positivity and intrinsic motivation. The “door” to creativity is typically shut tight when we are stressed or feeling negative. And just being in a particular place that virtually reminds us of stress or negativity can have that stifling effect making the “when” seem like never.

In the YCISL, we have a variety of training methods to access our creative energy:

  • seek creative flow and avoid pre-mature self-editing
  • learn to frame the problem in different ways
  • set a cyclic rhythm between divergent and convergent thinking

With these skills, we should have more control on the question of “when do find creative ideas?”

Shark Tank’s Best Pitches Explained By the Cast | Vanity Fair

Friday, March 1st, 2019

I came across a YouTube video this morning titled “Shark Tank’s Best Pitches Explained By the Cast | Vanity Fair” which made me think about the YCISL program. I have watched Shark Tank on television and YouTube before (just a few times), and attended a local Dolphin Tank event (similar concept but for youth). Mostly, I don’t connect Shark Tank to the YCISL program because of the weight given towards money (investments from the Sharks as well as the definition of the problem and success); it makes for compelling television viewing, I understand.

What I did get reminded of though is that the YCISL program is about porting adult frameworks and concepts to a youth context. YCISL is about attenuating “Play” to boost creative energy and the intrinsic motivation to sustain that energy. And from that video, it’s interesting to see the port connection.

  1. Know Your Numbers -> Elevator Pitch. “Know your numbers” is not so much a point about being a vessel for financial information, but more about being prepared (a state of readiness) with an elevator pitch that is emotionally intelligent. Know your target audience and be prepared to make a memorable impression. For an elevator pitch, having an idea of reaction buttons to press help too (not that you should press every button).
  2. Be Creative -> Creative Energy. In YCISL, we show our model where creative energy is at the base of innovation and leadership. For most though, one’s creative energy level is unknown (having been stifled by education) and untrained (not readily accessible or appropriately applied). On Shark Tank, the creativity in the pitches are in the person, product and pitch. In YCISL therefore, we emphasize exercises that expose creative energy levels and aiming that energy.
  3. Have “Chutzpah” -> Positivity. YCISL touches on positivity in several ways using examples from Shawn Achor (better productivity) and Alison Ledgerwood (framing). There is also a needed element of confidence that I draw from Mel Robbins. We ask our workshop project teams to ensure positivity when working together. We look for simple techniques that effect positive alignment.
  4. Problem Solver -> Project Studio. The YCISL innovation premise is based on solving problems. We search through personally-experienced problems as well as problems from one’s worldview and observations to select one to use for the workshop Project Studio. Our Project Studio exercise is done in a team to render normalization to the problem to remind us that a good solution has the potential for wide adoption and multiple applications beyond the original worldview. Picking a problem isn’t as easy as it sounds, and in YCISL we emphasize the basics of formulating a problem statement – for visionary inclusion and team alignment.
  5. Motivate Others -> Intrinsic Motivation (Self+Others). From Dan Pink, we understand that motivation has a sustainability issue. In YCISL, we recommend leveraging intrinsic motivation given limited resources (especially the case for youth). We also examine approaches to imparting intrinsic motivation in one’s self as well as to others (team and users). This is one of the critical leadership skills that we seek to develop through our program.
  6. Listen to Diverse Opinions -> Active Listening and Growth Mindset. To listen, we need to listen well and the skill of active listening is key to Shark Tank as well as innovator and leader roles. Unlike the make-it-or-break-it tone in Shark Tank, we moderate discussion in YCISL so that there is sequential exchange (like in Adora Svitak’s reciprocal learning), checkpoints and learning. From that, we can feed the growth mindset that we expect in a creative and decision-making setting. We also learn to train fast thinking and the cycle of divergent-convergent thinking. Subsequent to this process, we also learn about weighing competitive advantage and thriving through de minimis risk and initially huge uncertainty conditions.

This reflection years after YCISL started has been quite satisfying. I hope it will help further development of our concepts, ideas and products.

YouTube Video: this $90 water bottle has a Hi Def Video Camera

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-05-01 at 10.14.05 AMThis morning (Tuesday May 1, 2018), Casey Neistat (actually I am finding several of his videos quite relevant to YCISL) posted a YouTube video review of a water bottle with a mini video camera built-in. The three main features (there are more, but you have to click on “Show more”) of this product as posted on the B&H web site are:

  • 1920 x 1080 Resolution
  • Motion-Activated Recording
  • Built-in Rechargeable Battery

The product name, although wordy, adds to the draw: BrickHouse Security Water Bottle with 1080p Covert Camera. For interesting contrast, the BrickHouse Security web site calls the product “HD 1080P Water Bottle Hidden Camera” and the three main features are:

  • Motion Detection Recording
  • Supports Up to 64GB Memory
  • Food Grade PET Plastic

We’ve visited the idea of a video camera in a water bottle in our workshop with teams that are assigned a GoPro Hero Session as their convergence inspiration for their water bottle design. While the GoPro is an action camera and less so (although capable) a surveillance/spy camera, it’s cool to see a company realizing such a product.

Beyond the convergence part of our exercise, positioning and framing could be factors considered for the presentation (an exercise in storytelling, perhaps). Framing would be the attempt to have prospective users imagine a scene in which the product is present, and positioning is messaging where exactly that product may appear within that frame. Framing and positioning are generally singular in messaging (lest you risk contradiction, confusion and dilution), but combining with the other elements of our elevator pitch exercise (eg, opportunity, ask and promise) should give rise to a compelling story. I feel the compelling story is missing which is why Neistat had both positive and negative recommendations in his review conclusion.


Paul Tasner: How I became an entrepreneur at 66 (TEDTalk)

Monday, October 16th, 2017

What does age have to do with being an entrepreneur? The story in this TED Talk by Paul Tasner suggests that entrepreneurship is not reserved for the young, but can be a pursuit in late-career as well. The introductory paragraph for this talk on the web site reads “It’s never too late to reinvent yourself” and when I think about it (pause…), reinvention is one of those situations that provides an opportunity to gain life lessons in being a creative and persistent entrepreneur. The detail in the talk that I found the most interesting is “40 plus years of continuous employment for a variety of companies large and small…” which means Tasner had to reinvent himself several times over. This means he had past experience in changing/rebounding and even if he had or did not have confidence through each transition, he apparently made it – which shows resilience. Every change, even the latest one into entrepreneurship, is a testament to his mindset.

Youth is often seen as an advantage for entrepreneurs because they can afford to dedicate many hours to getting started, but there is a degree of sacrifice in this. Tasner actually has an advantage over young entrepreneurs in that there is little life sacrifice (it was working on this new endeavor or retirement) and he was driven by tremendous motivation (“most rewarding and meaningful work of my life right now”).

The YCISL program delves into one of the biggest transitions in our lives…from high school to college (which for many is about leaving the nest). If we can get through this particular transition well and learn some life lessons along the way, we can perhaps develop the resilience and mindset, like Tasner’s, to sustain ourselves through each future leap.

Salman Khan: Let’s teach for mastery — not test scores (TEDTalk)

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Back in 2011 at an Education Roundtable at Stanford, Salman Khan (as a roundtable participant) left me with one enlightening understanding and it was about the pursuit of a “productive and happy life” in order to feel a satisfying sense of fulfillment. Education in the US (generalized), demonstrating low EQ, apparently does not understand this and continues to structure itself based on imminent failure and impossible fulfillment. This is what I found to be the premise of Salman Khan’s latest TEDTalk “Let’s Teach for Mastery – Not Test Scores” from November 2015.

Let’s also connect the mastery mentioned here with the mastery mentioned by Daniel Pink in his 2009 Ted Talk “The Puzzle of Motivation” and his book “Drive.” Mastery is one of the keys to intrinsic motivation which in turn is an essential element to building a love of lifelong learning – this ultimately is the purposeful beauty (albeit forgotten) of education.

“…then I start to disengage.” Under the lecture-homework-lecture-homework-quiz-test model (traditional US secondary education model), there is no opportunity to engage. So the problem is that there probably wasn’t any engagement to begin with (student-subject and student-teacher both) and that this lack of engagement is only apparent after an assessment. Even more pitiful is that the knowledge of a lack of engagement does not create any action item. There is ample opportunity to have a more professional approach to engagement, but it’s not done. For example, teachers should allocate time to checking engagement levels of individual students (akin to checking your blood pressure periodically to track health) so that action items can be prescribed and followed. Should we treat teachers as “educational physicians” – the ones on whom we rely on for our educational health?

“…it would reinforce the right mindset muscles.” Yes, ideally positive and growth mindsets along with creative and critical thinking would be nurtured, but the Target (tar-jay) model of US secondary education provides no aisle space to it (the IB model on the other hand does the mindset training well). One usually only starts to see this in graduate school where professors are somewhat focused on their research teams and identifying future prospects from their crop of lecture students. Below graduate school, the existing opportunities are in sports and other extracurricular activities. This is why the YCISL program treats leadership development as a self-driven choice.

“If you were allowed to be operating in a mastery framework…” I would have liked to have seen more visualization about the “mastery framework” being proposed. What is the “process” in mind and what are the specific changes (action item deltas) from the current process? Is the mastery for students as well as educators? What is the “ask” and what is the “promise”? I believe the greater ideal is to build intrinsic motivation, not only mastery, through education.

Following the YCISL leadership model, the mastery objective in high school (“Proof”) is different than in undergraduate college (“Integration”) which is different as you move higher. If you think of a Gamestorming framework, we need rules for “mastery” in education then be allowed to play and ultimately have a conclusion. What’s most absent now is the “play” sector where students can explore, experiment and change. But just as critical is to re-write the opening rules and re-define how the game ends. And we certainly should not be expected to close all the gaps.

Mel Robbins: How to stop screwing yourself over (TEDxSF Talk)

Saturday, August 13th, 2016

This is a two-part entry for two lessons I learned from  the Mel Robbins TEDxSF talk “How to stop screwing yourself over” (you can find it on YouTube).

In the Summer 2016 YCISL workshops, I added the message “Simple, but not easy” [SBNE, for short] which I derived from this talk. Robbins’ full message is that “Getting what you want… is SIMPLE (but not easy)” meaning the process to reach a goal usually consists of a few steps but there is a caveat that getting there takes energy, focus, persistence, etc.

In the YCISL workshop, I talk about my desire to lose weight and body fat – to do it, there are only two main steps: eat less and exercise more. But is it easy? Nooooooo!

The same thinking can be applied to the YCISL skills such as creativity, fast-thinking, emotional intelligence, intrinsic motivation, etc. Building up these skills is simple…practice, practice, practice…and you will become more creative, more innovative and a better leader. But I cannot promise that it’s easy.

And it can also be applied to our academic, work and social lives. For example: (i) to be a successful student, study hard and get good grades, (ii) to be successful at work, do good work and be rewarded, and (iii) to be socially active, get out more and make lots of friends.

This is a perfect example of how leadership usually works: here is point A and there is point B. Call me when you get there. [Think of Rory Sutherland’s strategic myth of management and tactical advantage in his TED Talk “Sweat the small stuff”]. However, if I place this in a positive frame, you can think of SBNE as the competitive advantage that we coach in the YCISL elevator pitch, PostIt Brainstorming and Rapid Prototyping exercises. Ideas, solutions and products that are simple may be worth pursuing because many others will find it too difficult to realize.

In the YCISL workshops, we coach fast-thinking as an essential self-trained skill. The YCISL Photo Essay assignment is an example of a “5-second rule” method…take a photo and capture the emotional thoughts as soon as possible. Most of our YCISL exercises that build fast-thinking involve decisions and actions that take on the order of seconds or even milliseconds.

James Veitch: This is what happens when you reply to spam email (TEDTalk)

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

Watch the video for the humor. Commiserate in the vengeance exacted on an email spammer. But hear what was discovered when someone opted for the “crazy” option. It’s the extraordinary tale that connects yet another dot.

In the PostIt brainstorming exercise we have in YCISL workshops, we position our ideas along a normal to crazy axis. We view the crazy end as the area with the greatest opportunity for creative challenge and outcome.

In his December 2015 TED Talk, James Veitch spins his story about toying with email scammers. It’s a great story but I especially was struck by how this got started – with him almost by instinct tapping the delete button which is conditioned behavior for many of us, but instead deciding to see what would happen if he responded. What seemed to have ensued was highly creative thinking.

“I thought, I could just delete this. Or I could do what I think we’ve all always wanted to do.”

How often has this sort of choice come across our minds? How fast have we been to self-check ourselves and do the thing that we have short-circuited our thinking for the sake of convenience and saving time?

What about when we are shopping in a supermarket? With all the product choices on a shelf (at an instant) and the change in choices (over longer time periods) which we sometimes register – not to mention reshuffling (over medium time periods), have we conditioned ourselves to have “tunnel vision” when selecting products? And when we do notice a new competing product, we ask the “what if?” question to check whether we might be making a mistake.

For YCISL, we should consider our behavior when our our path gives us choices. Are we being “mindful” at these paths or do we become engrossed by the past or future?

What exercise can we conduct to illuminate our tendencies and train our behavior to be more mindful?

Jennifer Senior: For parents, happiness is a very high bar (TED Talk)

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

This talk shares Jennifer Senior’s thoughts on emotional ups and downs of being a parent. This touches on our YCISL framework where part of our objective is to deliver messages via proxy that are often filtered in direct parent-child communication.

Jennifer Senior introduces herself as the mother of a 6 year old. She advances thoughts specifically about feelings of anxiety that overcome parents. It is unfortunate that she positions this situation as a crisis – signs of a fixed mindset as opposed to a growth mindset. With a growth mindset, she might perceive the situation from a more positive standpoint. Consequently, she might understand that this is a learning experience and with a love for life-long learning, she will find intrinsic motivation (remember Daniel Pink’s mastery, autonomy and purpose?) which might make this responsibility less inconvenient.

There is no single correct interpretation of this situation. I am confident approximately half of ALL parents (regardless of class, culture and means) feel that they are in varying degrees of a crisis or close to it – the cohort that this speaker has identified. But that is to say that there is another half that is finding sensibility, fulfillment and unparalleled joy, and want more! Having and raising children is the ultimate life experience, and one should not expect a categorically unified experience for all parents. There is no comparison to the “stress” level of non-parents – an apple and oranges comparison.

To borrow a thought from another TED Talk title “Should you live for your résumé … or your eulogy?” by David Brooks: parenting should not be judged by day-to-day results but the outcome with which the parent will be remembered. It is the long-term effect of communication and active listening that makes parenting so vital and distinctive. We emphasize this through our YCISL program. Parenting is a leadership role where KI + EI = LI is as relevant as anywhere else.

Angela Lee Duckworth: The key to success? Grit (TEDTalk)

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Like most of the TEDTalk videos that I feel worth saving remarks on in this wiki, the one presented by Angela Lee Duckworth (currently Associate Professor at UPenn) titled “The key to success? Grit” is very thought provoking and warranted being viewed several times – mainly because the causation-correlation relationship was quite fuzzy, albeit interesting. How synonymous are “grit” and “growth mindset”? To put it in terms I have used in other circumstances, “grit” describes the way someone achieves (ie, process) while “growth mindset” describes the condition or state in a particular node. Thus “grit” is a great observation highlighted by Prof Duckworth but it certainly is not the only way. With this in mind, I wonder whether “grit” is the best way – that is, should educators make focused and extraordinary effort to promote “grit”? Or are there better processes to highlight to students given the limited opportunity to have such concepts be embraced and embodied. Duckworth also mentions IQ (several times), social intelligence, good looks, and physical health – some which can be encouraged and others not.

Duckworth describes grit as “passion and perseverance for very long-term goals…having stamina…living life like it’s a marathon.” She also mentions her grit questionnaires (I just tried her online questionnaire) which leads me to think that “grit” is intended to be a catchy catchphrase and what she really is studying is determination and focus (yeah, sounds plain). If so, we need to recognize the headwinds of limited long-term outlook (see for the current US score) and shortening-attention spans which are already short. Perhaps there are lessons in sports that can be transferred to classroom learning because we often hear about “grit” in the former.

Is grit the most likely solution to education’s aim to be perfect? Most likely not. It is perhaps a band-aid that provides hope while we search and experiment for more structural progress. The question remains whether the content-teaching-assessment framework will evolve (so far, it has been broadly digressing under the weight of greater competitiveness) and standards become more “human.”

Another “problem” (in quotes as I think this is not a deal breaker but actually a challenge to address) is how to make “grit” an actionable item for parents. Focus and determination are largely played out and influenced outside of school. We also recognize that parent negativity plays a significant role in diluting this positive grit trait.

Would I mention “grit” in a YCISL workshop? I think it would be too challenging to get it understood on a personal level – especially with an Asian group of students. It may be interesting to have the students try the grit questionnaire and see if a group discussion on personal enlightenment can ensue.