Archive for January, 2012

Speakers: A Focus on Eye-Openers

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Advice for Prospective Speakers: Select topics that are eye-openers for the students.

Two possible approaches:
(1) The curtain pulls back on the stage. Describe a setting and storyline that builds from nothing, and makes the viewers eyes dart all over, wanting to take it all in.
(2) Looking at something in a different way. Sometimes, one gets used to how something appears without really looking at new details.

WSJ Article: The Importance of Child’s Play

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

Lenore Skenazy wrote in the January 27, 2012 issue of The Wall Street Journal on “The Importance of Child’s Play.” In this article, Ms. Skenazy describes how pre-school has been influenced by “fears” – a fear of injury (by corollary, a fear of lawsuit), and a fear of “falling behind.” This has limited the types of activity that pre-school children get to engage in. In the end, children are limited. So, we see that the limitations that we see imposed on children starts even in pre-school. It just creates for a more conditioned attitude through one’s entire youth.

“…play time is sacrificed for academics.” Play time is opportune for several skills such as social skills, planning skills and communication skills. Think about how free time is replaced by tutoring or other taught-activities (e.g., piano lessons) – this reduces the opportunity for children to apply their social, planning and communication skills. Where, when and how are children going to learn these skills?

Our observation that children have less and less opportunity for free play time provides further evidence that adult compromises have encroached childhood – all the way to the earliest group learning settings, and are reducing youth readiness and wasting youth creativity.

This connects with the example we found in the Gamestorming book where a single child who has a football can practice alone and repeat with little need for change. When there are two children, creativity enters where they exchange ideas for how to play together with the football – and take into consideration a number factors to produce “fun.”

It would be an interesting discussion to have with the youth groups (a) whether they are being stifled by adults, and (b) if so, when they think it started. This is a good starting point to approach the topic of sustainable leadership – one that does not get formed by adults but are organic to youth.

News: U.S. Drafts Abdul-Jabbar as a Cultural Ambassador

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Interesting news story recently. Here is an excerpt from the NY Times article on it…

“Abdul-Jabbar was named a United States cultural ambassador Wednesday, with a mission of promoting education, racial tolerance and cultural understanding among young people around the world.”

This appears to me to be another interesting avenue in which youth around the world can get engaged in an age-appropriate context. Similar in motive to the YCISL, but a different approach. I hope it doesn’t get over-commercialized or politicized.


Life Lessons from Going Through a Car Purchase Decision-making Experience

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

I am thinking about a car purchase again – it’s one of those life phases that one goes in and out at fairly regular intervals. There’s a life lesson in there – about making decisions, compromising, prioritizing, and moving ahead. For cars, I rate Safety as #1. Comfort and reliability are the next most important criteria for me. There’s utility, convenience and road visibility as well that I would call priorities. Then, cost-to-own, fuel efficiency, looks and power are towards the tail end – something has to be at the bottom of the list!

It’s tough enough to prioritize these factors, but there are complications/tough challenges still:

(1) How do you match these priorities with the car? Just about every auto manufacturer does not make Safety their #1 priority [they have a list too]. It’s probably somewhere around #5 or so. How do you make a decision when priorities are not in-synch?

(2) If the purchase involves two decision-makers, how do you proceed with a purchase where the priority list does not EXACTLY match?

For the YCISL, we could focus on computers or digital cameras – or anything the participants would care to suggest. There are decision-making lessons in this exercise, but there are various other skills and attitudes to be assessed.

Basic Thinking Question: What are _____ going to look like in x years?

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

One of the basic questions one could pose to stimulate brainstorming and critical thinking is…

“What is [name your product/thing] join to look like in x years?” The answer could be in terms of form or function or both.

This question is related to another that I would like workshop participants to ask themselves…

“Where do you see yourself in x years?”

For the purpose of sharing insight in the workshop setting, the “product/thing” question would likely be more fun and participants may be more open to sharing thoughts.

So, for example, one could open conversation by asking “What are the streets in your city going to look like in 10 years?” I thought of this question because of the several instances that I am familiar where dirt roads have become busy thoroughfares. For those who experience “dirt roads” presently, I am wondering whether they can imagine traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, street lights, good drainage, no pot holes, cat eye reflectors, handicap accessible curb ramps (including those bumpy pads) pedestrian walk/don’t walk lights, walk chirping sounds, and so on (there are so many amazing things about cutting edge streets these days). Even the transformation to LED traffic lights has been quite amazing. Even if the participant lives in an area where the streets already have these features, what else could be done?

For the YCISL workshop, the question I would ask would have the students think about it for 24 hours, perhaps make it part of the photo blog exercise and look around the Stanford campus or elsewhere.

Perhaps, it could something simple like “staircases” (and they could look around various buildings on campus) or “windows.” On the personal product side, we could do digital cameras or personal computers.