Archive for March, 2012

YCISL Informational Video + 6 Take-Home Messages

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Today, I produced a short 2-minute video, mostly based on PowerPoint slides, that provides a high-level overview of the YCISL program’s rationale and themes.

I also revived a previous PowerPoint slide set that was also intended as a short video describing the six take-home messages of the YCISL workshop. This has been posted as a slideshow…

Messages: For Parents, Students and Educators

Monday, March 26th, 2012

I composed a few brief statements to highlight the appeal of the YCISL program to the students, their parents and their educators. I was partially inspired by an article in IBD which recommends addressing the more important “customer needs” and matching them to the list of product attributes (Article is titled “Mull Customer Needs to Set Right Price”, online version

For parents, few things are more nervously uncertain than the time a child undertakes their preparation to leap to college. The intention of our workshop experience is to complement – using Stanford’s emphasis on critical and creative thinking – the college preparation that parents as well as schools and counselors provide, and ensure that the student reflects on their passions and strengths.

Schools are excellent foundations for building knowledge and developing your logical and deductive reasoning skills. However, we also know that your growth and success also depends on you emerging as innovative thinkers and leaders. We believe that by harnessing your creative energy, and showing you how to get from ideas to realization, that we can impart clarity to your choices and confidence in your decisions.

With your experience in youth education, you have undoubtedly witnessed the amazing growth of youth as they progress upward through your school. We have come to appreciate that providing an education to youth is one of the most precious responsibilities we have in life, and you are probably always striving to improve their chances of success.  Our program aims to task students with unleashing their creativity – we call this “Exploring Your Creative Universe” – where ideas appear and exist within the mind. By bringing all these aspects together, we hope to have empowered students with the insight and technique to innovate into the future.

Take-Home Lessons: Questions & Answers

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Key to the success of a YCISL workshop is to sustain conversation and thought exchange so that there is dynamic learning. Our workshops are designed to be interactive with the goal of participants deriving useful take-home lessons. Fundamentally, we can set rhythm using questions and provide tonal variety with answers. We also know that students are already quite good at providing answers (after all that is what schools teach), so our main task will be to get them as skilled at providing questions. We can thus teach by setting good examples, and prompting questions. We can also examine how one interprets questions and synthesize an answer – through both convergent and divergent thinking.

The title to this take-home lesson may be: Lead with Questions. Give your best answer.

So why develop questioning skills? The obvious answer is that the most efficient ways to fill in knowledge gaps is to ask questions, collect the answers, and apply to the gaps as needed. One would also use questions to set scopes and frameworks when brainstorming and problem-solving. Questions are critical for problems for which are not fully defined – where data is needed or can never be properly known. Questions are needed for due diligence as well as definition and clarity.

Extra dimensions we can summon – that students would be not well acquainted with – include (a) encouraging a series of questions (perhaps well-sequenced) that coherently pursue a point [maybe 20 questions?], and (b) questioning the ideas of others (especially authority).

Perhaps we can create a Question game?

Book: Out of Our Minds by Ken Robinson

Monday, March 5th, 2012

It was slower going through this book (Out of Our Minds, 2011 edition, by Ken Robinson) compared to the time I read The Element. It might have been that there was less for me to “grab on to” or “reach out for” in terms of relatable situations, or perhaps there wasn’t much I was making notes of that would pertain to the youth program. In this entry (at least in the initial draft), I note some notable parts:

– “Creative schools are creative with the schedule”, p. 260. This reminds me of the curriculum at Bowman International School in Palo Alto where there is no strict subject schedule – except for a regular language class where it is essential for students to be feeling immersed in the language and speaking to each other and the teacher in that language. But even so, there is a thought-provoking argument as to whether having schools’ daily schedules suit the traffic schedule, the parents’ work schedule or the teachers’ workload schedule (as opposed to an optimum schedule for student learning) – are detrimental to the desired outcome of learning in depth and to a command level. What do the students in the YCISL workshops think?

– “Digital natives and digital immigrants”, p. 75 and 253. These terms are attributed to Mark Presnky, and are used to denote a phenomenon that moves in the opposite direction of [traditional] cultural transmission. With new technologies and platforms flying out of the idea factories, youth are far quicker to adopt, adapt and embrace these new ways of life, and often end up teaching the older generation (the digital immigrants – those moving out from the non-digital world). In normal cultural transmission, the older generation is typically engaged in trying to pass down traditions and processes that they grew up with in order to preserve them. So, for those youth who feel that they have something to teach adults, how would they do it?

– “The task of  a creative leader is to facilitate a resilient relationship between the internal and external cultures”, p. 224. We could think of this in terms of a cell which has several internal components that are somewhat protected as a group by a semipermeable (selective) membrane but nonetheless must interact with the external environment to survive as well as thrive. This makes me think about the layers of a web site where there is an external interface but several layers of  hidden internal function, form, design and architecture. The creative leader has to deal with all these layers.

– ” A culture of innovation depends on cultivating three processes”, p. 219. These processes are imagination, creativity and innovation. I don’t exactly agree with how this concept has been structured (including the exact definitions of the three processes in the book). If we are to follow the argument in The Element, imagination and creativity, don’t necessarily need to be “cultivated”, they need to be uncovered – by social or organizational pressures.  On the other hand, I think it is fair to say that “innovation” is cultivated. However, I would further the book’s definition of “innovation” to say that this process is a selective one. With regards to the definition of “creativity”, I would not exclude ideas because they are not “original” – the same creative idea could come about by different routes – and it all requires energy and expression. I guess you could think of this as a multi-path chemical reaction with similar reactants but the exact same product (albeit perhaps with different yields, energy of reaction and activation energies).

– “The intellect cannot work at its best without emotional intelligence”, p. 186. Perhaps something Stephen Murphy-Shigemtasu can address? More on Emotional Intelligence on p. 175.

– “Academic ability is based on the two capacities for logico-deductive reasoning and for propositional knowledge”, p. 83.