Flying Fish: Einstein was wrong

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – Einstein (?)

IMG_8640.jpg
Every time someone uses this quote, I hear the late great Reggie White in my mind. In 1998, the Hall of Famer was asked to speak to the Wisconsin State Legislature.  The following is from the New York Times.

In his effort to promote racial harmony, the Packer player, who is black, said that each racial and ethnic group has its own ”gifts,” that, when taken together, form ”a complete image of God.”

But in describing those gifts, White said that blacks ”like to sing and dance,” while whites ”know how to tap into money.” He said that Hispanic people ”are gifted at family structure. You can see a Hispanic person and he can put 20 or 30 people in one home.”

Asians, he said, know how to ”turn a television into a watch.” American Indians, he said, ”have been very gifted” in ”spirituality.”

Like Mr. White’s comments, the quote seems to imply that one is ‘naturally’ abled.  The talents that one has have been bestowed rather than developed.  You can see the rather troubling place that can lead us from Mr. White’s words.

Stay in Your Box

The quote, while well-meaning, seems to be saying that one is given a rather limiting set of skills that one should stick to.  One should not challenge the status quo.  Climb a tree? Nah, you’re a fish.  Stick to what you’re good at. Do fishy things, but don’t try to see beyond your pond.  That’s dangerous thinking.  Plus, you’ll fail. Absolutely you’ll fail.  Even though you’ve never tried, you’ll fail because fish don’t climb trees.

Change “fish” to black, poor, female, ELL, or IEP and that quote gets very grimy. Very grimy. It’s the stuff that eugenicists dream of.  It’s the ultimate “stay in your box because you don’t have the talents to do that” statement.

The Excuse Matrix

It also gives the “fish” an excuse for not achieving.  I can’t do certain things because I’m just a fish.  I didn’t do my homework because I’m a fish.  I can’t do math because I’m a fish.  Learn computer science? Fish don’t do that.  Make movies? I’m a fish remember.  Write a symphony? Fish don’t do music.

Teachers could also use this philosophy to deny opportunities to students.  I’m not going to teach script writing and movie making to these fish.  It’s not their talent.  I’m not going use certain tools with these fish.  Fish don’t do (insert skill). Fish in this neighborhood don’t do well doing (insert skill) so I’m not going to present it to them.

 

All Talents are Equal?

This quote is pretty Orwellian. Essentially, all talents are equal, but some talents are more equal.  It infers that some talents are more desirable than others and those that have those talents are therefore more valuable.  It creates a hierarchy that is “natural” and eliminates the possibility of dreaming.  It’s pretty literal.  Fish aren’t birds.  Birds aren’t lions. Lions aren’t hippos.  “Tapping into money” and being able to “turn a television into a watch” seem like a lot better talents than fitting 30 people in a house to me. However,  you get what you get and don’t have a fit, right?  There ain’t no changing.  If you’re a cockroach, get used to scurrying when the lights come on because it’s not going to change.

Solutions

We have to teach fish that they might not be able to climb trees, but they can build jetpacks.  According to science, all life started in the seas.  We’re all fish.  Some of us we’re told by others that another reality was possible so we evolved legs and lungs and left the pond.  This is what we need to teach students.  You don’t have to stay a fish.

We need a coherent curriculum that is knowledge based so that students are able to very rapidly eliminate the achievement gap.  We need students to be given the opportunities to not only learn the rudiments of reading and math, but also computer science, multimedia creation, science, arts, and engineering. We need to allow far more exploration and collaboration in schools so that no one sees themselves as a fish that can’t climb trees but as a school of fish that push each other to evolve into whatever they’d like.

 

Pokemon Go: Gamer Types

If you’ve seen us present on any gamification or video game stuff, you’ve heard us talk about Bartle’s taxonomy of player types. Essentially this dude Bartle wrote a paper back in 1996 and, after analyzing game play, broke people down into 4 types: achiever, killer, socializer, and explorer. You’re not usually just one. You’re a blend of all 4, but many people relate to one or two of the types more than the others.

Explorers

Perhaps the most obvious gamer type that PoGo caters to is the explorer. There is so much of the real world that you can go explore with purpose and there are so many pokemon to find. Explorers love easter eggs so hunting for those rare and legendary pokemon speaks to explorers.

Killers

They’re more about acting and interacting. They are gatekeepers who want to regulate and make sure people stick to the rules. They also want to be at the top of the food chain. In Pokemon Go (PoGo) there are gyms and you can take over gyms by challenging the person who currently has control of the gym. The pokemon you leave there rotates in the beacon of that gym declaring it your territory. Killers love this.

Socializers

When you hit level 5 you have a choice of joining one of three teams: Mystic (blue), Valor (yellow), or Instinct (red). Also, in real life, when you realize someone around you is playing the same game you are, there’s this instant bond. Facebook groups for PoGo players in specific cities have popped up and people are sharing their experiences and funny photos all over social media. It is a socializer’s dream.

Achievers

Achievers want to get all the achievement points. They’re the ones who seek out the quests and have to complete every….single……one. There are over 700 pokemon in the pokemon catalog, although not currently in the game. There are also medals you can earn for say capturing 10 poison pokemon or for walking a certain distance. Achievers will want to capture ever pokemon and medal they can.

The wide-spread popularity of this game could definitely be inspiration for engaging professional development and instructional design.

What categories do you relate to? What drives and motivates you?

 

We have to talk about Pokemon Go

I, like much of the world that has access (sorry, UK), am in deep with the Pokemon Go (or PoGo as the cool kids call it). Despite server issues, glitches, and what otherwise would be deemed a poor release, it’s the latest craze and, intended or not, I’ve ruminated on some additional benefits.

Exercise

This is probably obvious, but because the app uses GPS to track movement, you can’t do the FitBit cheat where you shake your hand and get steps. You have to actually move a significant distance.Photo Jul 10, 11 41 07 AM

This is my step count before noon today and you better believe I’ll go out again this evening.

Combating Social Anxiety

Over the last few years I’ve developed major social anxiety. I’ll just straight bail on things I said I’d go to because I start to have a panic attack at the thought of being in a social situation. I have hated trying new places, especially by myself. If I have a purpose, like looking for new pokemon, it gives me something else to focus on, a purpose, a mission, so my anxiety doesn’t have time to ramp up. I don’t have the empty space in my head to worry. Also, if I encounter people who are clearly doing what I’m doing (you can totally tell by the way they wander in weird patterns like bees signaling where the honey is), we have something to talk about so I’m not stuck with, “Uhhh so it’s really hot today.” Maybe it’s endorphins or dopamine or norepinephrine (that’s a thing right?), that come from all the walking…who cares? It’s AWESOME.

Exploring

There are many places I just wouldn’t normally go because 1) the anxiety of trying a new place (see above) and 2) I just didn’t see a reason to check that place out. There’s a park by my house I’ve wanted to check out since before I moved to where I live now and I just never went. It’s home to 2 gyms and like 10 pokestops though so first chance I got I jetted over there and spent like an hour walking around. Added bonus: It’s SO nice to spend time outside and I don’t even mind the aforementioned heat.

 

There’s so much I want to say about this game that it will probably come out in a few posts, but those were the initial things I wanted to get out. What do you think? Do you play? What do you love about it? What are you hoping to see in the future?

No Title.

This. Everything that’s going on. This is a white problem.

Because from very young we’re shown images and told that brown people are dangerous. Our parents shield us from the “menacing thug” as we walk down the street.

Message received: Be suspicious of brown people.

Because we’re told that “they” allow “their” communities to be that way. Because we hear and then use phrases like “nice black family” and “she even talks white,” or he “sounds black.”

Message received: Being brown is bad. Being white is good.

Because it’s so deeply woven into our growth we can’t even see it. Because it’s subtle hate being passed on that we don’t even realize is there so when it’s pointed out we defend it like it’s part of us because it is.

This is racism.

It isn’t lynching or slavery, but make no mistake, it IS racism.

Stop. Stop using words and phrases like “talks white,” or “nice black family,” or “surprisingly polite Mexican man.” I’m not just talking about not saying it because it’s the PC thing to do or because we’re “in mixed company.” That’s the worst because it’s saying we don’t really believe it. Because there are children around us hearing us say these things when it’s “just us” and they learn those lessons. They learn that it’s ok to talk about the brown people when it’s just us white people.

Stop. That.

Concede that we can’t understand. We can’t understand the fear of being stopped by the police and wondering if we’ll survive the interaction regardless of how respectful and compliant we are. Concede that we can’t understand not being able to go to the authorities because there’s a very high likelihood they will turn on us because they have that same deeply woven thread – that subtle fear and assumption. We can’t understand what it’s like to raise our children training them what to do if they get stopped by the police. We can’t understand fearing for their safety when they go…anywhere.

Concede that the deeply woven in part of us that’s always been there needs to be recognized and destroyed. It spreads with our words, our assumptions, and our subconscious stereotypes, with our quiet conversations and whispers when it’s “just us.”

First, however, we must acknowledge that the lens through which we look at the world has been bent and marred without our realizing it and because of that we cannot understand the struggles of others but..

We CAN listen.

We CAN empathize.

We CAN speak up to and with those within our own culture.

Because this is our problem and we need to get our house right.

Pitch…Perfect?

Here at Hoodlum Central, we believe in Design Thinking. We integrate it into most things we do and it’s been pretty fruitful both in our day jobs and in our business practices.

No matter which flavor of Design Thinking one subscribes to, ideation is essential. You can’t prototype anything if you don’t have a smorgasbord of ideas to play with. While Webs and I generally do this with the Googles, I recently came across a tool I hope to use during my 9-5 hustle. Pitchcard seems like a promising tool to use in a classroom looking to encourage designing.

Pitchcard allows you to ideate publicly if you wish. You title your idea, choose a color, and then write a brief (200 word) description, which I think is awesome. Being forced into being concise allows one to hone the “spirit” of the idea more authentically in my opinion.

Once your idea is placed on the card, you can distribute it publicly on social media or privately via email.

The feedback that your idea garners is sent to the email that was entered which hopefully allows one to refine the idea into a better concept.

Classroom Applications

GAFE

If you are at a GAFE school, one could utilize this tool pretty easily. Everyone of your students would have an email address, giving them the ability to send ideas to classmates efficiently and to archive the feedback so that it could be referred to when needed. Generating feedback on ideas for projects and writing assignments just got #mosexy.

Exit Tickets

Looking for thoughts about what students learned during class? Don’t want to create a Google Form or use Exittix? This is a pretty streamlined way to gather information from your students about what they learned or struggled with during the school day.

Lesson Feedback

So you want to know if your lesson was the bomb or just bombed? Send a Pitchcard to your students and allow for feedback.

Lesson Plan ideas

Send a Pitchcard to colleagues about an idea for your have for that quantum physics lesson and see what they say.

A Open Ear to the World

Say you’re a teacher with very little technology at her disposal and you’d like to use the tool. If you had a classroom email or social media setup, you could have students generate ideas that could be posted for feedback and then disseminate that feedback to students. Class project could be #mosexy if you sent a Pitchcard rather than used snail mail or limited contributions to conversations in the room.

In short, Pitchcard is a tool I hope to roll out next week during my day job. Students will be pitching video game ideas and Pitch could be a very slick way of making students feel even more empowered.