The most important thing is insight

Another one less than enamoured with talent. William Faulkner in a Press conference, University of Virginia, May 20, 1957. (The audio is here)

“At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that — the young man or the young woman must possess or teach himself, train himself, in infinite patience, which is to try and to try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in ruthless intolerance. That is, to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph. The most important thing is insight, that is … curiosity to wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he does. And if you have that, then I don’t think the talent makes much difference, whether you’ve got that or not.”

Beware of Artists & Things You Want to be True

Just came across a nice quote via Euan on Facebook. It was attributed to the McCarthy era.

“Beware of artists. They mix with all classes of society and are therefore the most dangerous”

Alongside taking exercise and eating healthily, one of the things I keep trying to do more of, not always successfully, is check the sources of things like this. I instinctively like it, and, probably too often, take it as a given that it is true. Partly thanks to the wise advice of Euan and others, I’m getting better at catching myself before I swallow these sorts of tasty quotes whole.

Thanks to all Julian’s hard work , I found out the full quote was actually from a letter from Leopold 1 of Belgium to his niece, Queen Victoria.

“To hop to escape censure and calumny is next to impossible, but whatever is considered by the enemy as a fit subject for attack is better modified or avoided. The dealings with artists, for instance, require great prudence; they are acquainted with all classes of society, and for that very reason dangerous; they are hardly ever satisfied, and when you have too much to do with them, you are sure to have des ennuis.
…Your devoted Uncle, Leopold R. “

So yes, it’s a similar quote, but I like the add-on of the ennui at the end. I’m somehow happier buying in to the idea of artist as classless dangerous hero with the health-warning of “may become self-congratulatory self-publicist”.

Clash of Clans Maths Lesson

Almost all the children in my classes play Clash of Clans, so I thought it would a good basis to try my first 3-Act lesson, as per Dan Meyer.

There’s some arithmetic and geometric progression that’s ripe for more advanced students, but I teach KS2 and KS3 so wanted something a little simpler. This thread on Reddit gave the starter

Anyway, looking forward to trying it with my Year 7s tomorrow.

Slides here: Clan Maths – Build Walls

Info Sheet here: Clash of Clans – Wall build – info sheet

Rough notes below

Act 1: The set-up

  • Introduce Clash of Clans / make sure everyone understands it
  • Show pictures of time-lapse growth and ask for questions
  • Discuss everyone’s questions – which interesting, which mathematical etc
  • Make list of these so can come back to them and try to answer
  • Ask for estimates of real cost of walls in gems.
  • Act 2: The Wrestle

  • Ask what sort of information we’d need to work out the answer
  • Discuss approach:
  • keep it precise
  • help with proportion / rate problems if need be but try to ensure students do heavy lifting
  • Handout info sheets
  • ask children to team up to find useful bits of information
  • can use calculators
  • Act 3: The Reveal

  • Show the answer
  • Explain steps and discuss how tie in to discussions in Act 2
  • Look at left-over questions – room for answers, what next
  • TLAB Notes

    Took a while to get there, what with train cancellations, but it was worth it.

    Lots to think about, though various themes/books seemed to be being hammered home. Nuthall’s Hidden Lives of Learners and Berger’s Ethic of Excellence were heavily plugged.

    Notes from what I saw:

    Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

    • Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL
    • focused on development of social cognition and the factors affecting decision-making.
    • late arriving but conclusion seemed to be that a lot of research shows teens are greatly affected by peers whereas adults typically are not, or are influenced far less.
    • Peer-learning presumably needs to take account of this. She mentioned the paradox of adolescence, i.e. that you are most prone to take risks at your healthiest time of your life. A pack mentality is a great indicator of increased risk-taking so question is how peer attitudes affect risk-analysis.

    There’s a talk of hers below which covers some similar things

    Ken Brechin, Cramlington & CPD

  • Bible seems to be Daniel Muijs’s book Effective Teaching.
  • Big questions were: “Is your CPD having an impact?” and “How do you know?”
  • Various ways of measuring impact – analysis of student data through to anecdotal evidence – but context affecting currency. Main thing is to make sure you know what you want CPD to achieve.
  • Spoke to various punters – all agreed that CPD often not great in schools. Seemed usually to be an expensive, hard to argue for OSIRIS course and then no sharing of what learnt
  • Ray Healey on Creating and Extension Culture in Maths

    • Emphasised value of a whole department thinking it’s worth it, rather than being one member of staff’s bolt-on
    • Good extension questions are: simple, attractive, accessible, have maths merit, are open-middled and manageable
    • Need to create culture of engagement: e.g. maths is learned not innate, encourage strategic thinking, avoid sounding like the expert
    • Some useful resources are:

    Cristina Milos

    • Took us through a typical “IB/Inquiry learning” Primary lesson, from planning to delivery to assessment
    • Powerful stuff – big thing for me was seeing the various Hidden Lives/Daniel Willingham books being made real
    • Ironically harder to write notes during but felt learned more
    • More here
    • Barbara Oakley on Learning how to Learn

      • Professor of Engineering
      • Very non-maths background, went into military, so question students ask is how did she manage to become an engineer.
      • Lots of familiar stuff on Dweck’s Growth Mindset and Spaced Learning from a different angle.
      • Focused and Diffuse modes of the brain important – Edison, for example, used to try to come up with ideas by sitting in an armchair with a handful of ballbearings. Awake he was “focused”; as he nodded off he slipped into diffuse mode (and the ballbearings hit the floor to wake him up)
      • Importance of Pomodoro technique to stay focussed.
      • Repetition useful – If you don’t repeat learning frequently, vampires suck away the knowledge before it has stuck.
      • Procrastination is addictive and a response to literal brain-pain when faced by the unknown.
      • Sleep is vital – it basically seems to flush toxins out of the neural pathways to allow more growth (learning) to happen.
      • More on all this can be found in her book
        A Mind for Numbers or in her TED talk.

        Jonathan Peel has helpfully scanned in her tips here

      Other notes online/slides from talks

    Adjective Game for English Lessons

    I’ve had a very quick stab at hacking together a simple version of a game I used to play as a child.

    Whoever is playing chooses their adjectives and then these are dropped randomly into a famous story.

    I’ve grabbed the opening to Alice in Wonderland from Project Gutenberg as a first effort. Would love to hear some other possible suggestions.

    You can download the game here.