November 7, 2011

The Future of Education Will Be Personalized

Over the last few months of posts, I have hinted about what I believe to be an upcoming revolution in traditional education. Many of you have asked me about this - what I think the future of education looks like.

More than ever, I'm convinced the future of education will be personalized.

The current classroom environment forces teachers to teach to the middle - teaching at the level that engages the most kids possible. In this model, some kids get left behind, while some kids are bored into apathy.

What if the role of the teacher changed? What is the teacher presented a concept - let's say long division. Then, the class would be instructed to use their tablets (each kid would need one in my world) and the accompanying adaptive learning software that quizzes at the pace of the individual.

The students who "get it" right away would be challenged with more and more difficult problems. For the kids struggling with this new concept, the software would ease up until they start to get it - or alert the teacher that Billy could use some 1-on-1 direction during this personalized learning time.

The best and brightest would be challenged like they should be. The struggling students would get the additional 1-on-1 assistance they need.

Teaching is personal. Technology is getting us to a place where it can be.

November 4, 2011

Don’t Start a Blog. Start Writing Sentences.

Out of all the blogs you read, this one is probably the shortest, right? That's intentional. Because:

1) Most blogs can't keep my interest past a single mouse scroll.
2) This blog is specifically designed to provoke thought (including my own), not to do your thinking for you.
3) This abbreviated format has kept me motivated to write 5 posts a week for more than 5 years.

The reason most people who want to blog, don't do so, is because they think they don't have enough to say.

And I wonder if our 3-page minimum requirements in school killed us for what writing really is. Because not once did this minimum requirement make your essay better. Merely longer.

So, don't blog with minimum requirements. Don't write a post. Write a sentence. The random you have on your mind right now. If after you write it down, you are inspired to explain, do so. But, don't feel you have to. Sometimes, it just makes it worse.

November 3, 2011

We’ve Been Sleeping on Metal the Past 70 Years

Last week I walked into a mattress store.

Our 6-year old innerspring was waking us up with back pain each morning, and the mattress store owner informed me that "memory foam" mattresses now make up 80% of his sales. I used to write for Sealy at my old ad agency, and even I wasn't aware of how giant this shift to memory foam had recently become.

Apparently, after 70 years of making beds out of metal, we decided there might be a more comfortable option. 

1 week into my new memory foam mattress, I'm convinced we were right. What's wrong with us? What else are we currently doing for no other reason than that's the way we've always done it? What's the next big thing we're going to look back at and wonder what we were possibly thinking over the last 30 years?*

*Answer: It's the food we eat.

November 2, 2011

I Am a Music Sexist

Are you a music sexist? Have you ever even thought about it?

I just realized that 95% of the bands I listen to have a male vocalist. Don't get me wrong, I could listen to Regina Spektor and Adele all day long.

But, odds are, if I'm listening to it, a dude's singing it. And I'm not sure how awful that makes me.

November 1, 2011

Famous for Pornography

Yesterday, when the tragic news of Kim Kardashian's divorce hit our office, it didn't take long before the jokes started flying. And then, one individual said, "How did she become famous in the first place?"

I sat back, waiting for someone else to remind the room of the embarrassing fact. One individual said, "I'm not sure." Another, "I think she's a singer."

My jaw dropped.

They didn't know?!? This girl gets famous for a sex tape, and can get the majority of the world to forget that's how she became famous? It's simply incredible! It's baffling!

So, I went home and told my wife the story, and she wasn't familiar with Kim's salacious past, either. In fact, she said, "I just thought she became famous for the same reason Paris Hilton did."

My jaw dropped harder.

These women are PR geniuses. I've never seen anything like it. Maybe I can turn a string of robberies into the starting fame I need to launch my music career? Because apparently, no one will remember the former?

October 31, 2011

Halloween, Dental Floss and Religious Tracts

The adult in me is tempted to ruin Halloween for my neighbor kids.

After all, as my diet has improved over the years, I am torn with providing an ever-increasing obese child population with another two Nestle Crunch bars.

Am I aiding and abetting their poor health - akin to giving liquor to an alcoholic?

But, then I remembered Halloween as a kid. How excited I was all day to start my neighborhood trek. How wealthy I felt the next day with an overflowing punch bowl full of sugar, worth more to me than gold.

...and how much I hated the lady who gave out dental floss and religious tracts simply to make a point.

Halloween is magical. If you want to try to change the system, splurge and get cups of awesome tasting fat-free frozen yogurt for all your trick-or-treaters...yeah, that's right. You don't care that much. So, just be generous with the Nestle.

October 27, 2011

In a World of Perfect Information, Does Your Company Exist?

In a world of perfect information - if people knew absolutely everything about your product, pricing and competition - is your company still in business?

You don't have to be the best. You can be the closest. You can be the cheapest.

But, your reason for existing can't be consumer ignorance. It can't be because your customers haven't discovered the better and cheaper offering you simply can't compete with. Because that ignorance is going away.

October 26, 2011

How to Actually Lower Health Care Costs

Heart bypass surgery currently costs $100,000.

I understand how universal health coverage plans to reign in the gross inefficiencies that take place in health care right now. I understand the theory behind broadening access and actually lowering costs. I really do.

But, if the plan doesn't incentivize people to better health OR financially penalize individuals for preventable healthcare costs caused by lifestyle choices, I have no idea how we expect to lower our total costs of healthcare in a game-changing way?

And isn't that the goal?

October 25, 2011

The Hot Fish in an Ugly Pond

(Disclaimer: looks aren't important, blah, blah, blah...)

You meet someone for the first time. You get to know them as an individual - outside their regular life. You don't know their friends.

And when you meet them for the first time - you're shocked. Because...well, they don't look like each other.

You see, some girls have decided to be the hot fish in an ugly pond. Rather than struggle with evolving and uncertain social roles, they have chosen to align within a group where there is a clear alpha female - themselves. Everyone is more comfortable with this. The hot fish likes the attention. And the ugly fish can delude themselves into thinking they're part of the hot group, while never really fighting for the alpha female role.

This grouping may be subconscious. It may be intentional. But now, you're going to start noticing it everywhere.

October 24, 2011

How to Avoid Foolishly Arguing With a Fool

If you foolishly find yourself in a debate with a fool, ask them this, "What evidence could I present you with that might convince you that you are mistaken?"

If they are unable to come up with an answer, you are unable to continue in the conversation.