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Archive for February, 2008

I’ve written a lot about the downsides of sink or swim learning.  However, I came across this video and I found it mesmerizing.  Enjoy!

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spell.jpg

Uploaded by foreversouls

When I watch the national spelling bee, I know they can spell the words but the don’t seem to know the meaning of very many.  So is it better to misspell a word you know or spell a word you don’t know correctly.

The concept of a spelling bee was first in print in 1876.  Two of the big differences between then and now are “Spellcheck” and a massively larger pool of words.  In 1876, there was probably a much smaller gap between spelling and understanding…about 7 or 8 hundred thousand words.

The moderators always seem so smart about all the words but I’m sure they have to look most of them up.  I thought is going to a definitions bee and including words someone might actually use some day.

Just a thought…not earth shaking.  I hope I spelled everything right.

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canon.jpg

Uploaded by Tambour_Unit

 I don’t know if you’d heard the expression, it’s like polishing canon balls.  It goes back to the old quality improvement and reengineering days.  In other words, you’re making improvements that really have no benefits.  Nice shiny canon balls are still obsolete.

So the question is, are the improvements to the education system really meaningful or are we just polishing cannon balls.  Is it a matter of making incremental improvements or trying something completely different? 

At your next meeting where this is discussed try asking the group, are we just polishing canon balls?

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government.jpg 

Uploaded by Dean-Melbourne

The reason for this post is to see if we can get a little discussion going about the best approaches for a economic slowdown.  For our discussion, let’s just assume the economy is slowing.  Whether it is or isn’t, is irrelevant for this discussion.  We can also stipulate that both government and business have a range of reactions that will vary from time to time. 

My experience is that there is not only a different reaction but also a different belief system.  Businesses first reaction is usually to tighten the belt and look for ways to be more productive.  Businesses also tend to streamline and focus more on their core business.  Some businesses will see this as an opportunity to grab marketshare or expand into new markets.

This  year we’ve seen the U.S. governments reaction is to borrow money and give it to tax payers so they will spend and stimulate the economy.  I haven’t yet seen a list of programs or agencies that they can cut back or cut all together. 

I think both government and business will try a lot of accounting tricks to move money around and make things look better. 

So this is just a very broad brush on the difference.  I hope what I’ve done is set the stage for a discussion.  As they say, there are no rules in a knife fight (Butch Cassidy).  I will however, edit anything out where one person calls another an idiot. 

 Ready..set..go.

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Uploaded by Heroes 4 Hire

I’ve sat in dozens of discussions with different companies over a basic question about new hires.  Should we look for experience or hire someone out of college?  This is actually not an easy question to answer because both choices have strong pluses and minuses.

Let’s start by looking at hiring someone with a lot of experience.  What you get is someone who can start being productive early and may need very little new training.  For companies that don’t have the time and patients to develop someone new this looks like a good option.  However, since they are ready to go, you will end up paying more for them.  You just have to determine if they are worth the extra money.  In addition to all the good traits, they will also bring in all the bad habits they’ve learned in past jobs.  You have to determine if this is okay and/or can you retrain these people.

New college graduates are more of a blank sheet.  They don’t have some of the bad habits because they haven’t done anything yet.  However, they may come with the biases of their teachers.  It does cost less to get an unexperienced person but you will have to invest in a lot of training.  In addition, it may take a very long time before they are productive. 

In the end result, this is a partly a financial decision.  Where do you want to spend your money?  Where will you get the fastest return? 

It’s also a cultural and team issue.  Who is going to fit in with the team?  Who can work in the existing culture?

I’ve seen both methods work very well and I’ve seen both methods work miserably.  I think it’s a matter of knowing what you’re really buying and being prepared for getting these new hires up-to-speed.

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Uploaded by Joseph Dath

 On a gut level, you might say that kids today just don’t read and write like we used to…or most adults just don’t read books. 

However, when you dig into it a little what’s really evident is that reading and writing have changed so much that comparing the past to today is comparing apples to oranges.

Here’s what I mean.  It used to be that you wrote long letters to friends and family and dropped them in the mail box.  In fact, a lot of history is recorded letters.  The civil war is a great example because it is one of the most documented wars because of all the letters.  The big change is not a decline in writing but a decline in using a paper and pen.  If you added up all the emails, text messages and posts on social networking sites, the amount of writing is massively greater.  Think about when congress wants another departments emails and the get several million emails to look at.

Well what about newspapers.  No one reads newspapers like they used to.  This is an absolutely true statement.  The reality is that people are probably more engaged and interested in their world, but news print just doesn’t cut it.  I could wait for old news to appear on my door step or I could just go to Yahoo news and see what’s happening right now.  A newspaper might offer you two or three columnists on a subject while you can go on line and get a hundred different points of view.  Newspapers also have to compete with 24/7 cable news and sports.  I remember rushing to the paper to get the sports scores in the morning.  Now I can watch the ticker on ESPN or call them up on my cell phone.

I know you’ll say, what about books.  No one reads books any more.  I’d say some one has the be reading books because the number of books in print each year has exploded.  Today about a 100,000 books are published each year.  If you read a book a week, you’d be reading .005% of the new books.  Hard to keep up on your reading that way.  Think about all the people who used to own a really good set of encyclopedias.  Their basically worthless today because if you want the knowledge of the world a quick Google search will work and you can get everything in multi-media.

So here’s a good question, have we change the way we teach reading and writing to fit a new world or are we still in line with the 1950s?

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Uploaded by markren

When teaching, it’s always interesting when you teach something that people know a lot about versus when it’s something relatively new.  Using some basic facts quickly reveals what you’re up against.

So if I asked the question, what has more ice the north or the south pole or which would create a largest sea level rise if it melt? 

Before I give you the answer, most people know a little more about the arctic and its polar bears because it’s closer and it gets more press.  The Antarctic is the fringe at the bottom of the globe.  Other than the recent penguin movies, it’s like another planet.  People might know more about Mars than the South Pole.  Besides we know where Santa lives.

Well the real answer is that if the Northern Ice melts sea levels rise just more than 25 feet.  If the Southern ice-melts sea levels rise 210 feet.  Why the difference?  Take a look at these basic facts.

  • Antarctica has almost 9% of the land area in the world

  • Antarctica is the 4th largest continent in the winter and the 5th largest in the summer

  • The Antarctic ice cap has 29 million cubic kilometers of ice. This is 90% of all the ice on the planet and between 60 and 70 % of all of the world’s fresh water.

  • Antarctica is considered a desert because it so cold the air can’t hold much moisture

  • The cold and dry conditions in the “Dry Valleys” region of Antarctica are so close to those on Mars that NASA did testing there for the Viking mission. It has not rained in the dry valleys for at least 2 million years.

  • At the thickest point, the ice is almost 2-1/2 miles deep

  • Antarctica has the lowest recorded temperature; -90°C at Vostock in 1983. Inland, temperatures range from -70°C in winter to -35°C in summer. Corresponding figures for coastal regions are -30°C and 0°C.

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