Think Back, Think Forward

So yesterday I attended a colleagues’s leadership program graduation. 


There were about 20 people in the graduating class. 


One thing that I liked was that when they called up each person to shake hands and get their diplomas, each graduate was given the opportunity to say a few words. 


It was amazing to me how 20 people could give a thank you, what I learned, and what I will do with it speech in 20 completely different ways. 


20 people, 20 personalities, 20 ways of thinking and saying something. 


We really are all the similar to and different from one anther at the same time!


I remember one graduate in particular.


He talked about how the leadership program challenged him, and he said:

It made me think back, and it made me think forward. 


I loved that!


This is really what learning is all about. 


Reflecting back and using that to think forward–how to apply it, how to shape it, and how to innovate from it.


Thinking forward starts with thinking back to where we came from and all the lessons learned in our lives. 


It all starts at the beginning and it goes forward from there. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Actual From Abstract

A colleague’s daughter drew this. 


At first glance, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. 


Do you see what it is?


At first, I was thinking something a little alien perhaps. 


But there it is right in front of you.


It’s the head, ears, nose, and tusks of an elephant. 


I really like the abstractness of this art. 


All from simple circles, and voila you have an elephant. 


Look carefully at what you think you see, and let your mind put the whole picture together. 


That’s how you come to the actual from the abstract! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Breaking The Paradigm

So a colleague has this sticker (with a do not image) on their computer that says:


“But we’ve always done it that way.”


They told me a funny story about the lady that made the ham with the head and tail ends always cut off.


One day, her daughter asked, “Why mom do you make the ham with the head and tail ends always cut off?”


The mother answers and says because “My mother always made it that way!”


So they went to her mother and ask the question and they get the same answer again.


Finally, they went to her great grandmother and ask, “Why do you always make the ham with the head and tail ends cut off?”


And the old lady takes a breath, pauses, and says, “Because, we didn’t have a pan big enough to fit the whole ham!”


Just thought this was a great lesson on critical thinking and also on “asking why.”


Change can be brought about by questioning underlying assumptions and historical ways of doing things and bringing an open mind and fresh light to it. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Persuasion x 3

I liked this categorization of three types of tools of persuasion developed by Aristotle: 


– Ethos: Appeals to a sense of ethics, morals, and character. 


– Logos: Appeals to a sense of logic, reason, and rationality.


– Pathos: Appeals to a sense of emotion, empathy, and passion. 


I don’t know about most people, but I don’t get convinced easily. 


You need to show me, prove it to me, or convince me it’s right. 


Some others, and I don’t know why–it’s like you can sell them the Brooklyn Bridge, as they say.  


I think that’s dangerous!


Without critical thinking and evaluation, people can get led astray to do the wrong things…a perfect example is Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler (may his memory be forever cursed).  


Hitler appealed to the Germans people at the time:

– Emotionally to bring them back from the loss, destruction, and destitution that World War I inflicted and of course, to scapegoat the Jews, Gypsies, and political opponents and send them to the death camps. 

– Logically, that they were a strong and powerful people, the “Aryan nation,” and they therefore, deserved to conquer and rule Europe and the World.

– Ethically–let’s just say, this one didn’t really apply to Hitler, probably the most evil and destructive man this world has ever known, except that even Hitler tried to fool his people falsely proclaiming, “G-d is with us!”


It’s a war of good over evil out there, and we need to make our arguments to influence and persuade for the good, but we also have to be careful not to let others, who are not so good, manipulate us for their own selfish and depraved ends. 


Ethos, Logos, and Pathos–potent tools or weapons in the direction of mankind and civilization. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Make The Right Move To Agile Education

So, unfortunately, our education system in this country is highly troubled


Generally, we teach by strict curriculum forcing children to learn what we consider “the fundamentals”.


But they are anything but that and kids come out not knowing how to do the very basics or survive in life. 


Test scores have not been improving–that’s not the student’s fault, but the education system, which cannot force feed what students minds are rejecting as “old school” and out of touch.


Not only don’t we fish for them, but we don’t even teach them to fish. 


We throw at them esoteric subjects to memorize, spit back, and forget. 


Wash, rinse, repeat. 


We waste years of their life and the productivity and creativity of society. 


Ever really wonder why GDP growth is only around 2% despite all the rapid technology that we are rolling out. 


It is just not drones that we are rolling off the assembly line, but human automatons as well. 


This is where agile education comes into aspect. 


Like with software development, we can gather requirements and build, and then show the customer, and then refine again and again. 


We let the development grow and mature naturally as the code takes shape. 


No more years of development and voila here’s something for you, and with the customer exclaiming loudly, “What the F*** is that!”


So too with education, we need to follow the spirit and train of thought naturally. 


Where we let the students guide the teacher to what their questions are, what they are interested in learning about, where their creative juices take them, and what is relevant. 


Rigidity in the education system leaves our students as dead ends, and not as critical thinkers and innovators.


We have a dearth of leaders we can look up to and a plethora of people that couldn’t survive the Spring without their Visa/Mastercard.  


Ever wonder why so many of our great innovators are college dropouts who built their companies in their garages instead of occupying a seat in a classroom and filling their heads with teacher rhetoric. 


Most people learn by seeing, internalizing, and doing useful things for themselves, not by listening and violently rejecting the irrelevant in their lives. 


Let us release the choking reigns of our education system. 


Teachers should be able to follow the questions and interests and natural evolution of thought and creativity and wonderment with their students. 


The mark of learning is not the answers on a standardized test, but the light bulb of critical thinking and innovation from our progeny. 


Exploration and discovery and skills to be self-sufficient and survive are far more beneficial than what we are giving our children today.


We owe them a better education, but we are not delivering because we are the automatons of yesteryear. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Sleepy Education USA

Education.jpeg

Education is fundamental to learning, development and preparation for career and life. 

We’ve always believed that if you invest in anything, invest in education!

However, despite initiatives like No Child Left Behind and Every Child Succeeds Act, scores in the fundamentals like reading, math, and science all lag behind other advanced industrialized nations.

As of 2015, the U.S. ranked a stinking 38 out of 71 nations in K-12 education

Yet, it is seemingly the complete opposite, with college education, the U.S. has about 75% of the top 25 schools. 

However, the comparison is flawed because university rankings are based not on student academic performance, but rather on research performance, including things like journal articles published and Noble Prize winners. 

When academic proficiency is tested for American adults, the rankings again lag and are at best mediocre. 

While there are many dedicated and good teachers, still too many teachers and unions continue to fight testing and reform so that progress of our education system continues to fail our children and our nation.

We need to end education by memorization, and focus instead on hands-on learning (by doing), critical thinking and problem-solving.

Sleeping through a lecture may not mean a student is missing squat in the current failed education system. 

(Source Photo: The Blumenthals)

The Kool-Aid Overfloweth

Drinking The Kool-Aid

So I am a little concerned with this election.


As the promises are made…


As glass ceilings are broken for gender and outsiders…


As the endorsements are coming in…


As legacies are made and lost…


Everybody seems to be drinking a lot of Kool-Aid.


Somehow, the (social) media doesn’t seem as discerning as it should or could be. 


Maybe it’s more about brands, what outrageous, who’s insulted, ratings and advertising dollars.


Many (or almost all unless they have personal skin in the game) seem resigned to just vote for the candidate they deem least worst.


Accountability for actions and words–scripted and blurted out–don’t seem to be taken with the seriousness they deserve. 


Just say or do whatever it takes…shake hands, kiss babies, promise more of everything for everybody.


Wash it all away with the insincerity of the moment for the prize of the ultimate power grab awaits. 


The new leader of the free world will be sitting in the Oval Office in just a little more than half a year.


Kool-Aid is filling our screens, our newspapers, our conversations, and our minds.


What’s real and what’s bullsh*t about what we’re being fed?


Transparency, ha…feeding time is almost over. 


But where’s the real vetting, critical thinking, and values informing the process?


It’s not about what to think, but how to think!


Bellies are almost full…the herd is almost ready to vote.


The new King of the Jungle is almost ready to take their place at the head of it all.


Four years, maybe eight years…


How will the wild world be then? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)