Thursday, November 22, 2012

Intelligence Paragraph

The following was written by a grade 8 GOLD student.

          I think that although it is mostly useful, intelligence can sometimes be problematic. For instance, intelligence can prevent you from having fun. You may not find people’s jokes funny anymore, or you may not enjoy their company. People may also not want to be your friend if they feel like you’re smarter than them. They might ignore you, or try to intimidate you so they feel better. Therefore, displays of intelligence should be kept to a minimum unless necessary.

I remember one time I was talking to two kids at recess, Bruce and Campbell. Bruce was my friend, but I didn’t get along too well with Campbell. I remember that I was having an argument with Campbell. During the argument, I realized how I could prove Campbell’s argument wrong. But try as I might, I couldn’t get them to understand it. Campbell made a joke about me, and they started laughing. Bruce was still my friend afterward, and I continued to talk to them that day, but I really wished that I could have just been able to ignore Campbell’s flawed argument and not have to go through that moment.

In the short story Flowers for Algernon; the main character George undergoes a surgery to become smarter. He goes from an I.Q. of 60 to one of 200. As he becomes smarter however, he realizes the people at the plant he works at aren’t his friends as he thought, but rather take advantage of his previously low intelligence to make fun of him. He also sees a busboy in a restaurant that has a mental defect, causing all the other workers to laugh at him. As the story progresses, George becomes depressed due to these incidents and the realization that he will lose his intelligence.

Intelligence is a good thing, but it should be exercised in moderation. Sometimes it’s just better to sit back and not be reasonable in every situation. This can be hard however, and therefore can make conversations between people of high intelligence and low intelligence hard. It can also make people dislike other people, as they realize that said people aren’t as smart as they thought, or vice versa. Intelligence, therefore, is good, but can also make it hard to make friends with people of different intelligences.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Excerpt from Wired 'Grasshopper project'

Born in 1971 in South Africa, Elon Musk is an American entrepreneur who is most notable for founding the company X.Com (which is now known as PayPal). He also founded: SpaceX, which manufactures space launch vehicles which are replacing NASA's space shuttle program; Tesla Motors, which developed the Tesla Roadster, the first electric car to go to production; and Solar City, which is the largest supplier of solar energy systems in the USA. He has a net worth of 2.4 billion dollars. The following is an excerpt from an interview with him in the November 2011 issue of Wired:

Chris Anderson: So how do you do it? What's your process?

Elon Musk: Now I have to tell you something, and I mean this in the best and most inoffensive way possible: I don't believe in process. In fact, when I interview a potential employee and he or she says that "it's all about the process," I see that as a bad sign.

Chris Anderson: Oh no. I'm fired.

Elon Musk: The problem is that at a lot of big companies, process becomes a substitute for thinking. You're encouraged to behave like a little gear in a complex machine. Frankly it allows you to keep people who aren't that smart, who aren't that creative.

I was interested in this interview partly because I feel that we have many students in the program for which process and proper procedure are an anathema   I don't confuse rejecting procedure with intelligence, and I
DO believe that many of my students need to learn strategies for working with systems, but I wonder if we should be careful to recognize that challenging accepted practice is sometimes a necessity.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Discussion on delayed gratification

This TED talk "Don't eat the marshmallow" explores the theory that the ability to delay gratification is one of the most essential ingredients for success in life. How does this concept apply to school?

Some students question de Posada's definition of "success", and wonder if it is the same as theirs, but most of them found this 6 minute TED Talk interesting and provocative.

Adolescent Brain TED talk

We recently watched this TED talk about adolescent brain development.

Some take-away points
  1. Adolescence is an important period in one's brain development
  2. Grey matter is pruned by activities that are typically engaged with, so the greater the variety of engagement the better.
  3. It is very difficult for adolescents to gain perspective.

Some points made by GOLD students
  1. While point #2 may be valid, this should not be used as a reason to limit our time on games/computres, because tasks in games are similar to tasks we will have later in real life.
  2. The speaker argues that her evidence leads to the conclusion that more of the world's adolescents should be in school, but perhaps they should be out of school, and engaged in more active, creative and real-world endeavours.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Review of discussion on Self-Advocacy

Some self-advocacy hints
  • Do your self-advocacy before/after class, it is much easier and less stressful then doing it in front of 29 students.
  • Self advocacy is linked to knowledge about our own learning profile, not personal preferences
    • "because of my written output issues, these problems will take me about 2 hours" NOT "I hate long problem sets"
  • Teachers assign work to help students learn, so try to find a way to learn what the teacher is trying to get you to learn: "would it be possible for you to point out the 5 most challenging questions from the set?"

Farewell to our grads of 2012

Congratulations to GOLD graduates of 2012:
  • Natalie
  • Rama
  • Nick
  • Dagan
  • Wyn
  • Stuart
  • Daniel H
  • Jack
GOLDs who moved to other schools
  • Meaghan
  • Cameron
Also congratulations to Jazz, former GOLD and PW's 2012 Merit Award Scholar.