"If you're not failing, you're not trying hard enough," most effectively sums up Derek Sivers' message in his YouTube video "Why You Need to Fail." In his video, Sivers presents three main reasons why it's important for a person to fail: Learning, Growth and Quality through Experimentation.
In order to learn, a person needs to fail. It is through the mistakes we make that we learn, because mistakes teach us much more than preparation. Mistakes help us find the difficult in every lesson, and experience and learn from them. I agree with all of the points Sivers makes in regards to learning being an important reason to fail. I think learning through failure is part of the natural process of learning. In other words, while I agree that it is important to include learning as one of the benefits of failure, I don't know that it's a great revelation. I'm also not sure that it can be taught. No one actively tries to fail as a means to learn, it just works out that way to the benefit of the learner.
The growth mindset element of failing is, in my mind, the area that can be taught most effectively. Instead of conditioning learners to believe that talent is innate, there is much more room to grow and thrive when coming from the belief that talent comes from hard work. When we praise children on their effort, it inspires the desire to grow. Whereas, if we praise children on the person or presence of "innate" talent, we teach those children who did not receive such praise that they shouldn't bother to try. Not only do I think this is the most important reason to fail that Sivers addresses, I think this is the one we as teachers must focus on supporting the most.
Finally, the element of quality through experiments teaches that "everything we do is just one option." This comes down to the classic mantra "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Nothing is final, there is no "end" to learning, so we should count experimenting as a branch of failing that invites us to get back up each time we're knocked down.
Overall, while there were no life-changing-teaching-epiphanies presented in Sivers' "Why You Need to Fail," it did offer up some excellent points that I'm sure will come in handy for the many "teaching moments" ahead of me!
Sivers, Derek. "Why You Need to Fail - by Derek Sivers." YouTube. Derek Sivers, 15 Feb. 2011. Web. 11 Oct. 2015. <https://youtu.be/HhxcFGuKOys?list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp>.
I turned to the video "Instagram i love you" by Casey Neistat in search of answers. What exactly is Instagram's appeal? Why has this generation of High School students turned away from Facebook in favor of the picture sharing App? And just how does it work?
Surprisingly, I found all the answers I was looking for and more in this short and sweet video.
For starters, "it's not about the pictures, it's about the sharing." So, that answers my appeal question. Kids are using Instagram as a way to document their lives and share those little snapshots of their stories with others. That, and they can peer into the lives of their friends and, perhaps more importantly, the lives of people they view as mentors and heroes, like celebrities.
Where Facebook is concerned, the answer seems to be simple: it's just too much. Kids don't want all the other junk that Facebook users have started clogging up the news feed with like useless status updates, political propaganda, the list goes on. Instagram keeps it simple. A picture is worth a thousand words, and when you're sharing a couple a day, you're telling your story in a way you can control and filter to look just how you want it to.
What I found most interesting about this video was his direction for Instagram users to "find your theme and share it." Yet another demonstration that this isn't just an app to arbitrarily dump off a couple random pictures of your breakfast or of your one millionth selfie, it's an ongoing feed into the story of your life.
There were some other rules Niestat wants us to know about using Instagram: take it easy with the hashtags, don't tag people in their own pictures, don't ask people to follow you, use tilt shift sparingly and don't bleed the feed. From what I've witnessed on my High School's campus thus far, there are a lot of students violating one of these rules in excess; they're asking for followers left and right. I've even seen students who have written in white out on their backpacks "Follow me on Instagram" with their handle put on display for all to see. It seems to be an indicator of status to many students; the more followers they have the more important they become.
So, here's what I learned about Instagram: there are a lot of unspoken rules for how to do it right. Rules I'm going to have to start following if I plan to use this as a tool in my classroom. And, given how important this social media site is to many of the students in my classroom, I'd be a fool not to put it to good use.
Neistat, Casey. "Instagram I Love You." YouTube. Casey Neistat, 2 Oct. 2012. Web. 11 Oct. 2015. <https://youtu.be/GacoqdKjVyE?list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp>.
I was quite moved by this TedTalk presentation, particularly the implications it has in the realm of education. Here, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warns of "how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children." When there's only one single story, one side of a story, or one element of a culture told in a story, the story is incomplete. From this singularity, stereotypes are born and, even worse, those stereotypes are perpetuated in the retelling of these single stories. The experiences of the reader and of the characters in the stories are flattened, the subjects whose stories have been reduced down to one single story are robbed of their dignity. In this way, there is "no possibility of a connection as human equals."
There are so many parallels between the dangers of a single story she warns us of and the effects this has on our students and our education system. For starters, the point she made of connecting as human equals. Our students represent a diverse population of cultures, identities and beliefs. Day after day, elements of this diversity are reduced to a single story due to lack of validation in the education system. For example, the latino student sitting in an English class reading literature that does not include them. What message are we sending to them about their culture, and to the other students in the class that aren't familiar with their culture? With entire stories being ignored or left out of the conversation, how can we expect our students to connect with each other and recognize the value of every relationship? As Chimamanda tells us, the single story emphasizes our differences rather than our similarities; an unfortunate truth that takes away so much opportunity for learning both inside and outside of school.
When I pause to evaluate how I have been influenced by the telling of single stories, I start to get a clear picture of the source of many biases I've inherited through this system. Thankfully, in today's community of connectivity, we all have the opportunity to research not just one but dozens of stories, broadening our cultural voices and deepening our understanding of cultures all over the world. As a teacher, I can help my students discover their ability to access stories that will open new doors.
If I wasn't determined to make my classroom a community where all students can feel safe to be themselves and grow and connect with their peers via open communication before, I most certainly am now. Not only is it our responsibility to reject the single story, it is part of our legacy to teach those around us to do the same.
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. "The Danger of a Single Story." YouTube. TED Talks, 7 Oct. 2009. Web. 5 Oct. 2015. <https://youtu.be/D9Ihs241zeg?list=PLbRLdW37G3oMquOaC-HeUIt6CWk-FzaGp>.
Listen, Google. I've got a whole lot of love for you. I use all of your stuff, I hear you're a great place to work, you've certainly got a good thing going. But I don't know if I'm loving the message you're sending about getting a job at Google.
In his article "How to Get a Job at Google," Thomas L. Friedman gets some great insight from the hiring guy at Google, Laszlo Bock. According to Bock, the foundation of what they're looking for at Google isn't necessarily about what you can do; it's about how you act while you're doing it. There are five hiring attributes they look for at Google: cognitive ability, humility, ownership, leadership and the least important, expertise. For each of those attributes, there are specific qualities that they want to see potential employees embody.
Of these, humility and ownership are my favorite. Where humility is concerned, it’s intellectual humility that matters. Friedman points out that, to deliver what Google is looking for, “you need a big ego and small ego in the same person at the same time.” I like that idea. Stand up and shine when it’s your time to do so, but understand that when it isn’t your time, or when someone may have more to contribute than you, you’ve got to suck it up and step back. This double ego concept it valuable not only to be successful at Google, it’ll create greater success anywhere.
So, here’s my beef with where Google stands on hiring. It all lies in this paragraph right here:
“Google attracts so much talent it can afford to look beyond traditional metrics, like G.P.A. For most young people, though, going to college and doing well is still the best way to master the tools needed for many careers. But Bock is saying something important to them, too: Beware. Your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job. The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it). And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work.”
Ok, I get it. The perfect employee may not always come from a four-year college. They may not fit the traditional mold. And I’m good with that. But what if they do? I don’t think Bock telling students who have worked hard at college to “beware” is necessary. If what Google cares about most is “leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn,” who’s to say that isn’t someone with a great education? I went to college, worked hard and learned a lot, and I think I could make a strong argument that I would be a valuable employee at Google (aside from the whole technical ability part). It was through college that I learned 90% of my most valuable skills in collaborating, adapting, leading and learning, so I don’t think Google should knock the value of a college education.
If I were a high school student reading this article, or an adult for that matter considering going to college to further my education, I might think that I could get a glamorous job at Google without putting in the work at college, and I think that’s a dangerous message to send. True, college isn’t for everybody, but neither is a job at Google.
Friedman, Thomas L. "How to Get a Job at Google." The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 Feb. 2014. Web. 27 Sept. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/opinion/sunday/friedman-how-to-get-a-job-at-google.html?_r=1>.