Response to Universities Should be Investors, Students as Startups by Eugene Chung

Thank you for this post Students as Startups. I am vacillating with the ideas in this post, and my own preconceptions of students as capital vis à vis your assertions, which by the way I like much better. I choose to idea bandit and integrate this thought stream into future use.

I can’t help thinking that as startups, students are already in the red the moment they hang their shingles out in business. It seems that “the system” is happy to perpetuate its current self by creating a hamster wheel debtor-learner in its generation of indentured servants.

I wonder if we gave every student a cheques for $100,000 would we reap a greater reward than via the meat grinder that many go through in higher education. Although exciting, a Thiel Fellowship offers too narrow a path for too few students. If  a mindset could be adopted that supported education spending instead of closing schools, the resulting bi-product would naturally foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

I look forward to reading more.

On a different note, non FB users like me would love easier access to the comments tab on your site if possible.

Making nothing out of something and the lesson of “buck fever”.

We played 8 ball for a dollar a game. I was 12 years old and thought I had all of the shots mastered. Several times I was about to put the cue down, and do a victory dance around my greatest foe; only  then to go into the tank and lose instead.

My dad called it “buck fever”.

Usually, he said this to me with a certain sage smugness after he sunk the 8 ball, allowing defeat to be snatched from the jaws of my impending victory. Ouf! I had already  spent the money.

I often wondered if it was some sort of voodoo curse my pops put on me? How could I choke like that when I had him clearly beaten? After the first time I coughed up my dollar to our family pool shark I asked what he meant by ” buck fever”. He laughed and said, “You were more caught up thinking that you’d already won when the game wasn’t done.”  and “Thank you .” Uggh!

quickly realized, that I had put the kibosh on myself.  After several more lost dollars, I started seeing things from a different angle. I was capable, but became incapable each time my focus strayed from what I been taught, learnt, practised and was supposed to do. As life lessons go, “buck fever” was a bargain.

On May 13, 2013 an epic example of my dad’s lesson came to the hockey world between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins. It was a game 7  winner-take-all-of-the-chips-are-down-and-laying-on-the-line kind of night. On a roll, the Leafs scrapped their way to a 4 to 1 lead with 11 minutes to go. Fans danced in the street, finally believing that the light at the end of a nine year long tunnel of playoff futility was not a train.
What happened, as history shows, will go down as one of the biggest collapses in pro sports history.
I just kept hearing my dad’s voice saying, “buck fever”.

This got me thinking about what happens to athletes/teams who forget that a game is played for the duration of time on the clock? I tweeted, is this a teachable moment? Yes! The unmistakable moral for me here is that after a devastating loss, perhaps the greatest is victory is the ability to bounce back from failure? Having an entire summer to think about what might have been will torment the players and fans alike. How did they take their eyes off of the task of winning in order to fail? Were they already thinking about the next round of the playoffs, the accolades to come or about their childhood dreams to hoist the Stanley Cup. Whatever the mental distractions that led to their demise, there are possibilities for a lesson here. Could there be such a thing as a fear of success? Please, no!

So? Could I embed this into everything I teach to my learners?  How do I embody it in my practice? If the fear of failure stops many from trying in their tracks it cannot be the end, but rather the beginning (cue the Phoenix). Bill Cole  offers tips on how to bounce back after a loss. Although geared to the milieu of sport, his advice is clear, practical and achievable. Whether it is in competition or in the classroom, attention must be paid along the entire path to knowledge, not just the trail’s end. Stumbling, falling, taking an early lead, losing an early lead or even being beaten outright is bound to happen. In the end. we must be able to say we tried, and tried again (cue the little engine).

Michael Jordan was quoted saying, “that you miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.” He added,” I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

So get out there and fail one for the Gipper! I’ll be the one failing beside you, but getting back up for myself and for my learners. Thanks to my dad’s lesson I have become aware that forgetting where I’m going, not knowing what I’m doing, and how or why I’m supposed to be doing it, might cost me. Being able to get back into the game after each defeat will always be worth more than the dollar.

Photo Credits

1. Billiard by Darkas Real name Deividas Gailevicius  Location KaunasLithuania Website

2. Leaf by Robert Linder


Guest student blog by Josh M.

Everyday, I’m stuck in this school that usually teaches similar cliché lessons. Sometimes I enjoy it, and sometimes I’d rather eat a poison snake. Anyways my teacher told me to guest blog something, so here it is. My teacher always tells us “6th graders can change the world.” So that got me wondering why we learn all these endless math lessons (even though i like math) and science lessons instead of directly telling us how to change the world? My brain keeps working at that question, and my fingers start to get tired from typing. I keep thinking, and thinking and my brain is basically chained to this question. Now, I think it’s good we learn these lessons this way. We learn the basics we need, so we can change the world. And we learn even more lessons from personal experience, and learn somethings that can’t be taught by someone else. Everything we learn will help us change this corrupt world together. And although i hate cliches, how we change the world is up to us.

The Garden

The #coffeechugPLN chat was brewing up a full bodied discussion earlier this week when a fresh cup of inspiration got poured into my mental mug.

We were discussing growth, and then it hit like the smell of  fresh brewed  java in the morning. Growth makes me think of gardening.

I am not a gardener in the agrarian sense. In fact I don’t like working outdoors at all, except the BBQ.
Yet,a garden provides bountiful analogies of the classroom.

I wondered if we were the roto-tillers, scarecrows, planters or weeders in the classroom?
This left me thinking about the various roles we play as teachers in the garden of learning.

If I am a roto-tiller, I turn the soil of the mind to allow it to aerate, to let air into a compacted space, to prepare the land for planting. I might also be too forceful in the way I up-heave everything whether it is needed or not. As a roto-tiller I also make a lot of noise, sometimes it scares things off.

If I’m a scarecrow, I am on watch, maybe a little un-moving, just always there; I’m vigilant, still able to provide some protection but mostly ineffective, taken for granted and tired. I might now only provide decoration in the garden, but have not been useful for a time.

As a sower/planter I  place seeds in neat rows or scatter them haphazardly, in both cases I do not know if they will take root and produce something? As a planter I might plant the seeds too close together and they can choke each other out, or if I scatter them without regard to the proper soil, they may fall on infertile ground and die.

When I am a weeder, I must get close to the crops to weed out what has not been intentionally planted. The role of weed puller is hard. It requires digging down deep to get rid of things that might choke off my crops, and may have been there a long time. Weeding requires diligence, patience and knowledge of what to keep and discard. As a weeder I might pull out the wrong thing if I am not focused on the job. If I tend to my garden attentively, it will yield abundantly.

No matter where you harvest, the payoff  comes with time and in its due season. It will always be worth the dirt under your nails  and the sweat on your brow because you have invested your time tending to the soil of intellectual development and constant  gardening learning. 

I’ll save the roles of waterer, pruner and harvester for the next crop. Feel free to plant some rows yourself.

If you were curious how this all got here from there? This is what transpired on the #coffeechugPLN

  1. When we have the half and half Ss, we need to use the growth half to better the fixed half. #coffeechugpln

@KellyJoSimon Do we serve as the roto-tillers, scarecrows, planters or weeders in this garden? #coffeechugPLN
9:34 PM – 7 May 13

  1. @WillGourley @KellyJoSimon #coffeechugPLN this statement has a blog post written all over it!

  2. @WillGourley You have to know the S to know your role. Some need the tiller; some just need the sprinkler. #coffeechugPLN

  3. @KellyJoSimon @WillGourley #coffeechugPLN You could plant the seed, but if not watered it will never sprout!