Archive for April, 2013

Horary for the Lefties!

I’m left-handed, so whenever I see an article about being left-handed, I can’t help but read it.  Because these articles usually say nice things like “lefties tend to be geniuses,” I tend to believe every word (I skip over the downsides of being left-handed, like shorter life span).  According to this article, I should be left-handed: I’m smart, dyslexic, visual-spatial and I have been doing “architecture” for years (IC layout).  All I can say is “Horary for the Lefties!”

Left-Handedness Stumps Science

(Exerpt from Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer)

Stable minority

No one knows why lefties became a stable minority. Whereas many animals favor one or another paw, the number of righties and lefties is roughly equally distributed in most animals.  But between 5 percent and 20 percent of people are lefties in different populations.  “In every population of the world studied so far, we always find a minority of left-handed people.”

Genes or environment?

While several researchers have found a few genes implicated in handedness, many genes are probably at play.  And the environment clearly plays a big role: Identical twins often have different dominant hands.

About half of left-handedness may be a byproduct of damage during fetal development or birth. Studies have found southpaws have higher rates dyslexia, schizophrenia and immune problems, such as allergies and lupus.  Because males are overrepresented among lefties, some scientists propose exposure to testosterone in the womb may affect handedness.

Subtle differences

Lefties may have a higher propensity to certain health problems, but they are also overrepresented amongst geniuses.  Four of the last seven presidents have been lefties, and Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin were southpaws as well.  Lefties tend to excel in fields that require excellent visual-spatial abilities, such as architecture and graphic design, he said. Southpaws are also overrepresented among chess masters, but tend to be underrepresented in science.

I spent the day today going through TED videos, mostly on education.  I am now very energized about teaching!  But more so: I see where education could be headed, if traditional education doesn’t get in the way (which it might – it’s very powerful).  Now, I’m not against traditional education – I’m a product of traditional education – but I also know from my background as a Silicon Valley tech guy that the most successful and useful “innovators” and entrepreneurs are the ones who do not think traditionally (or rather, have unlearned how to think traditionally).  I am also one of those people – I think outside the box.   This is also why I might spend a day watching TED videos for fun – I love to learn, but on my own terms.  And you know what?  Kids feel the same way.

I’m now training to become a teacher so I can help the next generation.  I figure I’ve been in tech long enough.  I do not want to teach in a traditional manner however.  Traditional education is quickly becoming obsolete.  I want to use my knowledge, skills, creativity and non-traditional thinking to guide the next generation.  Even if I land a job in a traditional setting, I would still try my best to teach in a non-traditional manner.  For me, the overriding question is: “how do we teach our children to think about possibilities and solve complex problems (in other words: innovate)?”  Fortunately, U.S. educational system is asking the same question.  Common Core is coming online which will create an environment of deeper thinking and collaboration: two vital components for innovation.  As for the teachers however, what they will need to do is: 1. encourage, not discipline; 2. understand and use technology; 3. get out of the way and let creativity happen.  This will not be easy for many traditional teachers.  It will be easy for me though because this is how I’ve taught people for the last 30 years.  It’s how the tech industry works… so why wouldn’t schools look and act the same?  I’m ready to lead the charge!

Oh ya, here's a small list of my favorite TED talks as of April 2013:

On education

Re-imagining school (12 talks)
1.  Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity
2.  Salman Khan: Let's use video to reinvent education
3.  Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud
4.  Daphne Koller: What we're learning from online education
5.  Geoff Mulgan: A short intro to the Studio School
6.  Sugata Mitra shows how kids teach themselves
7.  Peter Norvig: The 100,000-student classroom
8.  Dave Eggers' wish: Once Upon a School
9.  Liz Coleman's call to reinvent liberal arts education 
10. Arthur Benjamin: Teach statistics before calculus!
11. Kiran Bir Sethi teaches kids to take charge
12. Patrick Awuah on educating leaders

Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution!

Dan Meyer: Math class needs a makeover

Other interesting stuff

Richard St. John's 8 secrets of Success

Hans Rosling: Stats that reshape your worldview

Seth Godin: This is broken

Seth Godin: The tribes we lead

Ken Jennings: Watson, Jeopardy and me, the obsolete know-it-all

Kaki King rocks out to "Pink Noise"

Where do ideas come from? (5 talks)
1. Steven Johnson: Where good ideas come from
2. Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius
3. Derek Sivers: How to start a movement
4. Matt Ridley: When ideas have sex
5. Seth Godin: How to get your ideas to spread

TED: Best of the Web