Sunday, October 24, 2010


Happiness is feeling many seek.  Unfortunately happiness is an ideal we are not able to achieve except for a few moments of laughter, passion or joy.  A realistic goal is to be not unhappy.  Feeling not unhappy is something anyone can do consistently for hours, days and weeks.  There are many feelings we can have about life so that we can maintain ourselves in a state of being not unhappy.

Patience is also a feeling many seek.  Again, patience is an ideal we are not able to achieve consistently.  We experience very few moments when we feel we have time to listen to someone, wait for a response or silently enjoy being in someone else’s presence.  A realistic goal is to be not impatient in the moment.  Feeling not impatient is something anyone can do.  There are many feelings we can have about life so that we can maintain ourselves in a state of being not impatient.

Being impatient can be a symptom of an intuitive personality.  An intuitive person will take a few facts and make a leap to come to a conclusion. This can be very frustrating for someone interested in following procedures and having all the facts before making a decision.  The quintessential intuitive was Albert Einstein whose fanciful thought experiments revolutionized the 20th century. He could see patterns where others saw randomness or chaos.

Being impatient can be a symptom of too much caffeine or stress, frustration building up over time or relationships not working well.  Significant emotional events can lead to impatience with others. Impatience with others can be a way of attempting to control their behavior because they learn to be afraid of how a person might react.  People learn to withhold information if someone is always impatient and reacts in a negative manner when others are speaking.

Stop, look and listen are useful actions for being not impatient.  Stop talking, look at the other person and listen to understand the meaning behind what they are saying.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How to be Practical

If we had never discussed the ridiculous, we would never have discovered the practical.

My daughter Megan recently exchanged emails with me and this was her profound wisdom after discussing tearing out counter-tops and driving with them for six hours to Canada to install them at her place.  Instead, she should just install new laminate over the old.

What a way to get to the practical!  Let's talk about the ridiculous!

Love it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Creativity and School Lunch

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Oregonian Newspaper online
"In the past academic year, for the first time in memory, a majority of kids in Oregon schools (50.2 percent, up from 46.1 percent just the year before) qualified for free or reduced price lunches. The number fit with another recent statistic, that one in five Oregon kids were in food-insecure families -- also an increase.">>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The increase is partly due to the increase in the number of families using food stamps that automatically qualifies the kids for free lunch at school.  Last week was the deadline to apply at schools for free and reduced lunch.

How can teachers get the kids to pay attention if the only good meal they get is lunch?

We are asking schools to be social incubators, food banks and baby sitters; they must have winning sports teams and academic success; they must be free of drugs, hate and bullying; and they have to do it with less money than last year using an aging infrastructure and a failing organizational model.  And now we want them to teach creativity and innovation?

We are expecting too much from schools, giving them too little support for basic services and their parents can't find a job that pays well enough to put food on the table.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Imagine a conversation with a student.

Adult: “How do you know if your answer to a math problem is correct?”

Student: “The teacher checks the ones that are wrong and I have to do them again.”

Alternative answer:

Student:  “After I get the answer to a division problem then I multiply my answer times the divisor to see if I get the same number as the problem.”

Teaching a student at any age how to detect and correct their own errors in any subject has more leverage than when the teacher has all the answers.

Typing Words

In typical 19th Century fashion, I am using typed words to communicate. I’m using a method that was invented in the late 1860’s.  The first typewriter was manufactured in 1873.  Now, instead of carbon paper we use electrons to send copies.
As I type these words, I make assumptions without stating them; I state conclusions without revealing the steps I took; I use words as objects instead of visual tools showing relationships.

In 1970, Jean Piaget published “The Science of Education”. His Learning Cycle model helped to popularize discovery-based teaching approaches, particularly in the sciences. High-stakes testing was first implemented by Massachusetts in 1993. 

Each of us can think of goals for education and methods to achieve them, and people have been doing that for decades.  Those involved in education - students, parents, teachers, unions, administrators, governments, taxpayers, businesses and other constituents – also have their own goals and preferred methods to achieve them.

If we want to promote creativity and innovation as a goal of education, how are we going to get the education system to implement those goals and what method are we going to use?  Why don’t we use dynamic modeling, mind mapping and other visual tools to promote our goals?

Why are we typing words?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Creativity, Innovation and Invention

Program in Australia has three rules:

1.  Any idea is worth exploring but you must define and act within your parameters;
2.  Time is the enemy so get going
3.  You can’t give up.

Here’s the web site that gives a bit more info. Regional Breakthroughs

Creativity and Learning

Creativity, innovation, intuition and discovery might be appropriate for specific topics at different developmental stages.

For example:
1.  What is the appropriate age (brain development) for students to use addition to detect and correct subtraction errors (and the reverse)?
2.  What is the appropriate age (brain development) for students to use multiplication to detect and correct division errors (and the reverse)?

From my limited experience, using addition with subtraction or multiplication with division to detect and correct errors does not appear to be integrated into the elementary school math curriculum.  The student is dependent on the teacher to detect and correct math errors in grades four and five.

When using the appropriate process to build a dynamic model of a system, there are steps to test, verify and validate the model.  As a result, detecting and correcting errors is integrated with the process of building the model.  Thus the student modeler has the responsibility for detecting and correcting errors.  This is what leads to someone developing creativity, innovation, intuition and discovery.

There are many quantitative and qualitative methods of detecting and correcting errors in different subjects.  A teacher-centered classroom is where the teacher is the focal point of detecting and correcting errors.  When students learn a process for detecting and correcting their own errors they begin to take responsibility for their own learning.

The existing education system is primarily teacher-centered and is immune to any change toward a student-centered classroom. Probably only as high school extra-curricular activity or college level will anyone have a chance at introducing processes for students to learn how to detect and correct their own errors. I'm encouraged to learn about websites that are introducing these methods.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Debt and and GDP

As a percentage of GDP, debt by sector:
Non-financial business = 50 percent
Financial sector = 180 percent
Households and non-profit org = 100 percent
Public debt(state, local and federal) = 88 percent
The USA total debt is 3.5 times GDP

The data do not support the conservative focus on the federal annual debt and cumulative deficit. Cash flow is where the problem gets critical.  The USA is spending about 50% more than annual revenues and the costs are only going to increase.  Revenues need to go up and future expenses need to be limited for Social Security and Medicare, Military spending and other programs.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Tea Kettle Movement

Dear Mr. Friedman,

Re: The Tea Kettle Movement, Sept. 28, 2010, NYTimes

One example of the leadership you advocate in your article can be found at universities like Portland State University.  PSU supports entrepreneurs with several programs, as you say “to attract, develop and unleash creative talent.”  The programs include Social Innovation Incubator, Lab2Market and other centers and institutes linking together entrepreneurial PSU students, staff, and faculty with private sector leaders including venture capitalists, attorneys, and economic development officials.

PSU programs attract and educate, as you say “men and women who invent, build and sell…goods and services that make people’s lives more productive, healthy, comfortable” and secure.  Teams of professors, students and entrepreneurs develop the core competencies and strategic advantage that you talk about in your article.

The answer to your article’s challenge: invest in higher education to partner with small businesses that create the jobs we need.  The answer to your leadership challenge: future leaders are learning how to work with entrepreneurs and small businesses at universities throughout the country.