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Thursday
May282009

And I quote...

One of my favorite RSS feeds is "Quote of the Day" <http://www.quotationspage.com/data/qotd.rss> from The Quotations Page. Here are a few pithy statements that I don't want to lose track of:

People find life entirely too time-consuming. Stanislaw J. Lec, "Unkempt Thoughts" Polish writer (1909 - 1966)

I find that a great part of the information I have was acquired by looking up something and finding something else on the way. Franklin P. Adams US journalist (1881 - 1960)

We are generally the better persuaded by the reasons we discover ourselves than by those given to us by others. Blaise Pascal French mathematician, physicist (1623 - 1662)

Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted. Martin Luther King Jr. US black civil rights leader & clergyman (1929 - 1968)

To punish me for my contempt for authority, fate made me an authority myself. Albert Einstein US (German-born) physicist (1879 - 1955)

I always posted a "Quote of the Day" near the entrance to my school library - the pithier the better. Those quotes and many since added are still on my favorite quotations page. Enjoy.

Oh, the fellow pictured with his quote is Graham Greene.
Wednesday
May272009

When groups are necessary

I've long held a fairly jaundiced view of that holy-of-holies in our profession - collaboration. (See: A Few Words About Collaboration) Short version: collaboration should be considered a means of achieving a desired result, not the result itself.

I'm glad to see someone else has grumped about having to work with others. Scott (Dilbert) Adams, lists 11 "reasons that teamwork will make any normal individual perform below his highest potential." These include:

3. In any group of three people, there's generally at least one disruptive moron.
5. To mediocre minds, a brilliant idea and a dumb idea sound identical. A team will vote out the best ideas along with the worst.
9. Everyone wants to do the fun stuff and not the boring-but-necessary parts.

That's my kind of thinking!

Yet even I admit that teams, groups and collaboration are essential under some circumstances. These include:

  1. When good decisions require the opinion/knowledge of variety of experts. (Tech and curriculum, for example.)
  2. When decisions involve highly conflicting values. (Security vs. convenience and access)
  3. Ownership by a range of stakeholders is essential. (1:1 laptop program buy-in by teachers and administrators as well as techs and librarians.)
  4. When the only way to overcome a negative power by a situational leader is by creating a strong group to counter. (A group of teachers forms a policy committee to make recommendations on less restrictive filtering by a tech director.)
  5. There is a better chance of donuts appearing when there is a group.

Groups, meetings and collaboration have their place. When there is a reason for them.

Tuesday
May262009

Why Spandex is dangerous

Wags comment that Minnesota has two good seasons: spring and autumn. And that on good years, they both fall on weekends. If so, this Memorial Day weekend was our spring and on Sunday the LWW and I and friends took advantage of the perfect weather to do a 25 mile bike loop through Minneapolis.

Note in the picture above that these riders LOOK like they know what they are doing. They're wearing helmets, bike shorts and jerseys, and exude an air of confidence.

 

Your humble narrator, however, took a different approach - street clothes including argyle socks and a Toad Suck, Arkansas baseball cap for head gear.

It's long been my theory that the better your sports gear, the higher the expectation of your sports performance. Somebody in Spandex just ought to perform better than somebody wearing a t-shirt and cotton shorts. Somebody with a $3000 bicycle should go faster and further than somebody with a $300 bicycle. Personally, I would prefer to look like a duffer and then surprise others with my ability than to look like a pro and then disappoint.

My experience has also been that the amount of money one invests in equipment for a new hobby or sport is in direct inverse proportion to length of interest one has in that hobby or sport. The more money that goes for equipment, the shorter one's love affair with the activity.

But maybe that's just me.