Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Good Things I've Read Lately

Originally Published July 24, 2012

I do a lot of binge reading on weekends and when I have time-like on vacation now.  Most days I receive a lot of good articles to read from a variety of sources:  Twitter, ASCD's Smart Brief, Smart Brief on Education Technology, Smart Brief on Leadership, Prof Hacker from The Chronicle of Higher Education, and my Feedly RSS feed.  The amount of information avaialble to feed my head is enormous and overwhelming at times.  When I find these great articles, and don't have time to read-daily-I utilize the Pocket App (and website) to save those links for later reading on my iPad.  Then, when I have time I binge read 20-30 at a sitting, saving the best for later by putting them in my Diigo account and sharing them to either our Admin Diigo Group or the Plymouth School of Inquiry Diigo Group.

This morning I have spent an hour, while my family slept, catching up on this reading.  The most recent article I read was by George Couros of Parkland School Division.  In his post Summer Blogging Challenge he encourages people beginnig a blog, which it always seems I am doing, to write about artilces they have read that have impacted them.  So, I am taking his advice and sharing some of the great things I read today-but I am only going to share 1 today, as I don't want to have a 4000 word post.

Lessons from Caine-In this post George Couros-thanks to Dan Funston for getting me to follow George-showed a video about Caine's Arcade.  The video tells the tale of a young boy in East LA who starts a cardboard arcade in his Dad's autoparts store.  It is an amazing story of one boy following his passion, and in turn inspiring others.  In his post George finds three impactful parts of the video to relate to the Alberta Education Competency Wheel: 

1. Boredom is more of a statement about the person than the situation. “Hey Caine…want to come spend the summer with me in the back of my barely-trafficked auto parts store?” For most kids this would be summer vacation equivalent of the kiss of death. There was no gaming system. No swimming pool. No television. A perfect excuse for “I’m booooooorrrred.”
But NO. Caine looked around and saw opportunity. Everywhere. Cardboard boxes, packing tape, gadgets and doo-dads. He chose not to be bored. It’s totally a state of mind.
2. Keep working while the world ignores you. How long was it before Caine had customer #1? How many entrepreneurs or artists would have given up by then, or stopped working at their craft and improving their skills? Caine approached his arcade with craftsmanship and http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=z61Aa3vjDBQ, and that’s what I aspire to do too.
3. Your craft will cost you something. Did you notice the prizes in the arcade? Caine’s own toys. His vision for his arcade required (demanded!) that he use all of his resources to make it work, and this meant forfeiting his own stuff for the sake of his vision.

As I watched the video, I was moved by three other thoughts:

  1. The Power of Others Words:  This was seen through two lenses.  The first through the videographer Nirvan, who found Caine's Arcade and was blown away by what he had created out of cardboard.  Nirvan, could have stopped in, seen Caine, and walked out.  Much like others in the video did, but instead he took the time to interact with Caine, played the games, and saw how much Caine had invested in his passion.  He then validated that passion by spreading the word of Caine's Arcade to others.  The second lens, was that of Caine's classmates who doubted he had an arcade, and made him not want to discuss it or where his shirt to school.  I am not going to say they were being intentionally cruel to Caine, they were kids being kids in many ways.  My question is, as educators how do we respond to the passions of students.  Do we nurture and grow them, even when they are only made of cardboard?  Or do we doubt them and crumple them with a careless comment or thought?
  2. The Power of Connectivity:  The video ends with Nirvan utilizing social media to stage a flash mob surprise for Caine so that he can have more than 1 customer.  The posts from around the world to this event show the power of connecting our students and how it can impact their lives and make their passions more pursuable.  
  3. Passion Changes Perspective:  One part not in the video, which has over 3 million hits on You Tube, is that there is a later video in which Jack Black Visits Caine's Arcade.  The best part of this video is not that a famous celebrity showed up at Caine's arcade with his children.  It was Caine's response to learning that Kung Fu Panda was in his arcade, he went back to work.  When you find your passion, it can overwhelm what others may find important.
In this coming year, how will we help our students find their passion and pursue it?

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