Friday, October 7, 2011

Paulo Freire Post #1 The Man & His Meaning To Me

Paulo Freire - A Great Soul

Only through communication can life hold meaning.

                                                                   Paulo Freire

In a recent post about Steve Jobs, I mentioned the idea that as long as we are remembered, we will live on. A great thinker, a great soul that has influenced my life through both thought an action.  His is a crucial influence on how I live my life.  I would like to share a few of his ideas and his personal history.  His name is PAULO FREIRE.   Paulo Friere was a citizen of the world whose words and action make him an immortal.  Though his mortal death occurred thirteen years ago, his ideas regarding education, literacy, and human liberation are alive and prospering in 2011.

It is difficult to contain in one sentence everything that Paulo Freire worked for, wrote about, and taught in many nations on Planet Earth.  He developed a pedagogy (teaching AND learning approach) based on the idea that every learner needs to own her/his education; and that authentic education is liberating for both the individual and for society.

I began a life-long commitment to the philosophy of Paulo Freire decades ago.  My commitment continues today.  He wrote many books in the language of his native country, (Brazilian-Portugese).  His words have been translated in many languages throughout the world. He was not only a writer/philosopher; he was a practitioner.  He could speak with authority about his approach because he carried it out – from the fields of Brazil to the savannahs of Africa to the cities of the U.S..

I had the good fortune of meeting Paulo when he spoke at Loyola-Marymount University in Los Angeles, California.  I was a graduate student in the Education Department studying for my master’s degree as a Reading Specialist.  Meeting Paulo Freire, listening to his ideas, feeling the glow of his charismatic personality was a peak experience for me.  Though this was the first time I met him in person, he had been my spiritual and philosophical guide for twenty years through his books and his actions.

Paulo was a special guest lecturer at the University.  He spoke in English regarding his ideas and the practice of his ideas.  He was small in stature and dressed in the guayabera of Latin America.  His eyes truly reflected his soul.  He was a great man with a great heart.  I don’t really believe in the ‘aura theory’, but he DID have an aura radiating his love of humanity and his commitment to liberatory education.

At the close of his talk, we all crowded around him – as if to get his blessing.  He had achieved the ability to be charismatic without ego tripping. – an extremely rare accomplishment in public figures.  When it was my turn to shake his hand, we said a few words and the communication was more eye-to-eye than verbal.  I don’t speak his native language, Portugese.  Instinctively, we both reached out in the Latin American embrazo, and hugged in recognition of shared ideals and actions.

I never saw him again, but he is always with me.  His books are in the top shelf of my personal bookcase.  I have every book he wrote, and I go to them for inspiration and guidance.  I don’t go to his words every day, but when the need is there, I know I can count on him.  I can look at the line of his books and know, that when I need his words – he is waiting with the embrazo of his intellect and his soul.

Very rarely do I personally give one of his books to someone – never to a stranger.  I have to know the recipient well enough to know that she/he will value Paulo.  I recommend the work of Paulo Freire often, but I have seldom given the gift of one of his books  - only three times in as many decades.  Giving a book that expresses Paulo’s ideas to someone is like sharing one friend with another – a delicate human operation. “Will they like each other?  Can they really HEAR with the other is saying?”  I have to be sure she/he is simpatico with the soul and mind of Paulo and his idea that people have the right to OWN their world.

English translations of his early work, particularly, his keystone work, PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED, are difficult to read in English.  Translations of his later works are more easily read in English.  For someone wanting to begin reading the works of Paulo Freire, I suggest his book, WE MAKE THE ROAD BY WALKING.  This is a book composed of a dialogue between Paulo Freire and Myles Horton.  Reading it flows smoothly. These two men worked in liberatory education in different parts of the world with different groups of people.  Yet, they share the same good will for humanity with both similar and distinct approaches.  In this book, the reader is a witness to their conversation.
Here are some words of Paulo Freire. They are perhaps, too much to be read in one setting.  They are thought provoking and best read one at a time; choosing at random.  They are ‘memory gems.

"Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.

"No one is born fully-formed: it is through self-experience in the world that we become what we are.”

"Any situation in which some men prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence;… to alienate humans from their own decision making is to change them into objects."

"language is never neutral"

In the banking concept of education, knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing.

Learning is a process where knowledge is presented to us, then shaped through understanding, discussion and reflection.

Educators need to know what happens in the world of the children with whom they work. They need to know the universe of their dreams, the language with which they skillfully defend themselves from the aggressiveness of their world, what they know independently of the school, and how they know it.

Finally, it is important to make it clear that imagination is not an exercise for those detached from reality, those who live in the air. On the contrary, when we imagine something, we do it necessarily conditioned by a lack in our concrete reality. When children imagine free and happy schools, it is because their real schools deny them freedom and happiness.

I did not understand anything because of my hunger. I was not dumb. It was not lack of interest. My social condition did not allow me to have an education. Experience showed me once again the relationship between social class and knowledge.

I would like to hear from you.
What do you think as you read his words?
What do you feel as you read his words?

Dr. CW

The Wonderful World of WORDLE - You can use this cyber tool.

There is always something new in the digital world.  What I would like to introduce to you are some products of the WORDLE website.  WORDLE is a digital tool that has many uses.  I am writing about it  because it is a means of creating images of material that you may be tested upon whether in an academic course, preparing to take the firefighter's exam, a nursing test, or your driver's license.  It is a MEMORY tool.

WORDLE is the website; its products are often called "Word Clouds".  In today's e-mail, I received an application of the digital tool of WORDLE to the Inaugural Speeches of some presidents.  The Inaugural speeches of Presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton, Reagan and Abraham Lincoln are compared with regard to the dominant and re-occurring words in their specific speeches.  It is an interesting analysis and a good example of what can be done with WORDLE.  The url for this specific WORDLE is

I have also posted some WORDLES I have created regarding critical thinking and higher order thinking skills.  Check out the WORDLE website.  If you have a set of words that you need to remember, consider creating a "word cloud" to help your recall.

You can also use to to make posters, T-shirts, banners, etc.  Caution, if you want more than one word to be connected with another, don't type them with any spaces between the words.  Otherwise the words will be randomly arranged.

Be sure to do more than just look at this website.  It is incredibly user-friendly.  CREATE your own WORDLE; show it on the web; use it as a study aid, ad, greeting card.  - You create it! You name it.

Hope you share both your WORDLE creations and your reactions to this digital tool.  Dr. CW

Dr. William Perry's Research on How Critical Thinking Develops - Important!!! Read This.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to attend and graduate from college.  But, for those who do attend and for those who graduate, college can be a positive transformative experience.

In the first semester of their college years, students have a way of looking at the world that influences how much they learn, how they think about themselves and the world, and why they make the ethical decisions they do.

Hopefully, students evolve through the four year period of college education and they become not only more educated but also more developed human beings.  Hopefully, learning to think expands college graduates’ world view and empowers them to be contributing members of society.  Hopefully, the world is a better place because of their four years of higher education.

An individual does not have to go to college to expand her/his world and to develop as a human being.  We have all heard about and maybe attended the “college of hard knocks”. The tuition for this “college of hard knocks’ can be quite expensive.  It can cost alumni/ae of this college  emotional pain and  privation in quality of life.

Others who do not have the opportunity to attend a traditional college but are spared from having to attend too many semesters at the CHK are also developing, evolving, and achieving their human potential.

This psychological/cognitive evolution does not happen in any life circumstance without affecting the intellectual and ethical development of the individual.   As a psychologist, as a college professor, as an artist, and as a citizen of Planet Earth, I am interested in how I got to be the way I am, and who I want to become.  I like to believe that all of human life is a process of becoming.

I find this a fascinating area to read about.  We all like to know ourselves better; and we all like to believe that we are developing as positive human beings who know how to think and how to act in a manner that is beneficial for each of us and in our particular sphere of human relationships.

I enjoy reading about human development.  The work of William Perry has had a serious  influence on me.  I have included the fundamental premises of his research in a few paragraphs below.  I got this description of Perry’s Stages of College Student Cognitive and Ethical Development from the national clearing house for educational research ERIC at http:///

You don’t have to have gone to college to apply these stages to yourself. They can be applied to any individual. The experience of attending college formally intensifies the student’s developmental growth – but the College of Hard Knocks does that, also.  Human growth and development occurs in any environment that has intellectual and emotional stimuli.  How would you classify yourself?  Most of us have not reached perfection yet and are unique blends and combinations of the developmental stages that Perry identified.

I love to read fictional stories but there is nothing like a true-life story – developmental psychology tells the unique story of each individual.  Try reading this type of writing for a change – it might be challenging, but reading about human development is both fascinating and manageable.  It is not too technical.

How would you classify your thinking according to Perry’s research?

Here is the ERIC excerpt.

          DUALISTIC STUDENTS are those who see the world as a place of absolutes such as right or wrong, true or false. Knowledge is seen as existing absolutely.  Dualistic students tend to think of their role in terms of “right” answers and the role of the professor as providing those answers.  These students will present judgments and evaluations as if they were self-evident, without the need for substantiation.

MULTIPLICITIC STUDENTS recognize that there are multiple perspectives to problems. However, they are unable to evaluate each perspective adequately.  A typical
multiplicitic response might be “We’re all entitled to our own opinions,” or “We’re all good people.”

RELATIVISTIC STUDENTS see knowledge as relative to particular forms of reference.  They show a capacity for detachment; they look for the “big picure”, think about their own thinking, and evaluate their own ideas as well as those of others.  Frequently, by seeing alternative perspectives, they have difficulty making a decision.  Authorities are seen as people who can and should be questioned.

Perry's model is a significant contribution to developmental psychology.  UCLA has used his work as the basis for annual surveys of college students throughout the USA.  Every year they come up with a current profile of the gradating seniors based on Perry’s model.  The students have been surveyed over a four year period.

Perry believed that college Freshmen begin college as DUALISTIC STUDENTS and by graduation many achieve MULTIPLICITIC and RELATIVISTIC Thinking.

            In his research, 

            Perry found that most entering college freshmen were at theDualistic level. In this stage, students:

            Exhibit black/white thinking which relies on authority figures to provide
            right answers
            Perceive their intellectual job as to memorize and repeat the correct answer 
            which was given by the authority figure (author, professor, etc.)
            Dislike active or cooperative learning. They are looking for facts and figures, 
            and aren't comfortable with abstract concepts.

            He also found that most graduating seniors only progress to the next broad category,
            Multiplicity. In this level, students:

            -  are more able to accept questions with gray answers, although there is still
               a belief that all answers will eventually be known.
           -   are also starting to use supporting evidence (outside that provided by the
               professor) to support their arguments or assertions.
           -   still are very tolerant of their own pre-conceived notionsand are unwilling to
               challenge themselves or be inclined to look at other points of view.
           A few students reach Relativism stages by graduation. In this stage, students:

          -  understand that knowledge and values depend on context and individual
          -  use evidence to reach and support conclusions in habitual and internalized 
         -   begin to see the need for commitment to a course of action even with gray
             areas – based on critical evaluation and not external authority

         Only rarely do graduating students reach the upper level of development:
         Commitment with Relativism, characterized by individuals who can:
         -  make commitments based on personal values
         -  evaluate the consequences and implications of these commitments
         -  attempt to resolve conflicts and acknowledge that these may never fully be
         -  come to terms with struggle (getting comfortable with the questions)

If you wish to do further reading on this topic, here is the URL for another article.

What are your thoughts about your own cognitive development?
Which stage most describes you? 
In your life, are you aware of others who are at specific stages in their development? 
How do you feel about interacting with someone who is at a different developmental stage?
Could she/he be your friends?  Or, would you draw an invisible line between yourself and them? 
Can people at different developmental stages authentically interact  on a personal basis?
What do you think????

Dr. CW

Digital Comics or e-comics. Are you a graphic artist or comic book reader?

What are Digital Comics? 

Digital comics are e-comics.  People are sill collecting hard copy comic books, but e-comics are part of our culture.
My conservative family was not in favor of my reading comic books, but they DID give me the occasional WONDER WOMAN comic book. And, I often read them at my friends’ houses. I sometimes think about the archetypal message this series gave me about the possibility of women having power and intelligence – of a woman as an action hero for justice and equality.  Deep in my sub-conscious, I think it was a positive influence. There is a double entendre in the woman's title: Wonder = Awesome, and the verb, Wonder = reflect upon.  Wonder Woman was created in the mid-twentieth century, i think at that time the "wonder" was an adjective, but I have talked before about the importance of verbs as action words.  For the 21st century, I think the verb is equally correct.  We need to keep wondering about the possibilities of power for women.
Culture is more than going to the symphony or art museum – it is WHAT’S HAPPENING all around us.  I am of the opinion that an informed adult enhances her/his world view by at least being aware of popular culture in society.  Our values ARE reflected in our popular culture.
In previous blogs I have referred to my favorite e-zine Tech & Learning, a free e-zine available to anyone.  Here is a previous article I wrote for another blog.  You might find it interesting. The info in the blog below is all excerpted from Tech  Learning.  You might find it interesting.

Sites for Creating Digital Comics

The information in this post came from:  This is the Tech Learning newsletter that is free to all subscribers.  I would recommend this website to anyone interested in learning through the use of technology.  The author of this article is David Kapuler.  Here are some of his references, most of them are free.  I am only going to post the FREE sites; you can go to the url posted at the beginning of this post to get the entire article.

ToonDoo Spaces - one of the most popular online comic creators that is very similar to Pixton(paid), with the ability to create a private space for education for sharing/collaborating in comics, free..

Comic Master - A very nice-looking site that is user friendly with lots of features to choose from such as: backgrounds, objects, speech bubbles, etc.

Stage D - A great looking site for creating animated comics.

Make Beliefs Comix - A wonderful site with lots of options to choose from - it even lets users create comics in Spanish.

Super Hero Squad Show - A fun site for kids to make comics off of their favorite Marvel super hero.

Chogger - A nice site for creating a comic with the ability to create a drawing from scratch.

Comic Creator - From Read Write & Type, an easy/simple to use comic creator that is nice to use with the younger kids.

Witty Comics - A comic creation site that focuses on creating text more than anything else.

Wordle - Don't forget this textual program - it is easy and free with multiple uses.  I have talked about it before.

I would like to see your creations using at least one of these sites.  Share the wealth!  This is not just a waste of time; doing this utilizes additional senses and therefore, increases cognitive development and the retaining of information and concepts.

What are your thoughts re: cartoons as learning tools as well as entertainment????

Dr, CW

The difference between MANGA & ANIME or Is there a difference to the viewer???

What is the difference between Manga & Anime?

Manga is a comic book or cartoon from Japan.  It was developed in Japan in the late 19th century.  It had a resurgence after World War II (1945), and is now an international media art form. 

The Japanese word, manga, means whimsical pictures.  Traditionally, it is directly linked to the Japanese artist, Hokusai.  Artistically, Manga may be studied in two periods: pre-World War II, and post World War II.  The original manga were printed in black and white; now, manga is often printed in color.  A casual reader looking at a manga publication might characterize manga as a graphic novel.  From my perspective, as an American reader, I would call the manga books graphic novels, though not everyone would agree with me.  These books are compilations of smaller manga creations.

Within manga there are many genres designed for specific audiences, male and female The topics are often dark, and may be sexually explicit within the male genres.  Originally, only males were the heroes of manga, and females were given traditional, subservient roles.  This is no longer true in manga.  Over the years, manga has evolved regarding the dropping of stereotypes for females.

One example of female manga creations in the shojo genre.  This art form was developed by the Magnificent 23, a group of Japanese female artists, and continues to the present time. There are many sub-genres inshojo manga: romance, super heroines and 'Ladies Genre'.

In the U.S. and Canada, anime became widely popular before manga, but now both are an enlarging media market.  The growing manga industry now has a specific market label: Amerimanga meaning manga created in the U.S.  The top English language manga producer is the company, Tokyo Pop.


Anime is an animated cartoon often based upon original manga stories, or a cartoon using the manga art style.  In the U.S., anime has had more appeal than manga, though manga is fast catching up.  The characteristic anime style was created in the 1960's by the Japanese artist, Osamu Tezuku.  Anime has different definitions in Japanese and English.  In English, the U.S. definition of anime is that it is a Japanese style of animated motion picture.  Much discussion is given to the etymology of this word.  Though some people argue that it is taken from the French, it is a word in the Japanese language, which the Japanese MAY have borrowed from France.  Within the U.S., POKEMON is an example of an extremely popular form of anime.  (Internet definition)

Do you have an interest in anime/manga?   Are you a manga artist?  Manga as an art form is an important part of today's culture.  What are your thoughts?  Do you have a favorite character?

Dr. CW 

The Two Hemispheres of the Brain

Metacognition is a term used in the science of reading.  It is an unfamiliar word to people not involved directly in the academic discipline of Reading.  It may be defined as knowing ourselves as thinkers and learners and constantly monitoring how we think and learn.  It is the means by which we take charge of our intellect.  Part of knowing ourselves includes understanding which lobe of our brain is dominant, the
 left or right hemisphere.  Much has been written about brain lobe dominance.

When exploring this topic, it is important to make note of the word dominance. As we reflect on this topic we need to remember that while most of us have a dominant lobe, the other hemisphere is not asleep.  This self-knowledge can inform us of how we solve problems and how we look at the world.  If we know this, we can better direct our activities.  The influence of brain hemisphere dominance affects not only our intellectual activities but also our social personalities.  It is helpful for us to know this aspect of our essential selves.

I first considered brain lobe dominance more than twenty years ago.  I have always been involved in artwork.  In 1980, Betty Edwards, a teacher first at Venice High School, CA then, at community colleges and finally in the UC university system published a book entitled, Drawing On The Right Side of The Brain.  I read the book as an artist who is always trying to improve my drawing skills and to look at new approaches to creating art.  Later, I realized the brain hemisphere/lobe dominance also affects learning in general, not just the making of art.  I have always used this as a component of my teaching.

Lately, there is much in the news about the importance of different areas of the brain.  Recall, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords of Arizona.  She was shot right through the brain, with the bullet going into her forehead and coming out at the other side of her skull.  Dr, Sanjay Gupta  (a practicing brain surgeon) who also works as a health commentator for CNN did an informative program regarding Congresswoman Giffords’
healing progress and the effect of the damage to her brain’s left  hemisphere.  Research on people with early onset of Alzheimer’s disease also studies the brain activity of the two hemispheres.  Returning soldiers from the mid-East have unfortunately, suffered serious brain injuries.  Knowing the tasks of both of the hemispheres helps rehab of these ‘wounded warriors’.

Some researchers believe that there is a link between right or left brain hemisphere dominance and right or left handedness. There maybe, but there are many other factors involved.

I am right handed and I was brought up with a heavy emphasis on left brain intellectual activity.  However, I have also been involved in art since an early age.  I had a double major as an undergraduate of history and mathematics, but I also took art courses at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston since I was in the sixth grade.  When I take hemisphere dominance tests, I often come out almost balanced.  For me, I think it is evidence of nurture over nature.  My family had high expectations for me to perform intellectually, my spirit wanted to paint and dance.  So, I am definitely a hybrid re: brain hemisphere activity.  That could be you, also. I mention this because one or two tests indicate a trend they do not always reveal the total picture.  They are valuable because they tell us more about ourselves.

The right side of the brain controls muscles on the left side of the body and the left side of the brain controls muscles on the right side of the body. Also, in general, sensory information from the left side of the body crosses over to the right side of the brain and information from the right side of the body crosses over to the left side of the brain. Therefore, damage to one side of the brain will affect the opposite side of the body.
In 95% of right-handers, the left side of the brain is dominant for language. Even in 60-70% of left-handers, the left side of brain is used for language. Back in the 1860s and 1870s, two neurologists (Paul Broca and Karl Wernicke) observed that people who had damage to a particular area on the left side of the brain had speech and language problems. People with damage to these areas on the right side usually did not have any language problems. The two language areas of the brain that are important for language now bear their names: Broca's area and Wernicke's area.
From the website Neuroscience for Kids – check this out – TERRIFIC REFERENCES.)

If you are interested in reading more about this I have two recommendations from the internet.  One, I highly recommend; the other is worth reading.  Here are the urls for both.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Differences Between Left and Right Hemispheres at

This website has many components: Difference Between Left and Right Hemisphere; Hemisphere Dominance Inventory; Left vs. Right Which Side are You On?  This site defines the concept and gives a test which is scored immediately.  It gives you a personalized picture of your brain hemisphere dominance.

WORTH READING: An excellent student paper entitled,
Left and Right SIDES OF THE BRAIN: Which is your dominant side?  This is found at the Serendipity site.  The url is:
This paper gives an interesting history and discussion of
the brain dominance theory. 

I am always trying to follow Socrates’ admonition, “Know thyself.”  Finding out your brain hemisphere inclinations increases your personal knowledge bank.  I hope you will take the Hemisphere Dominance Survey and get your score.  It only takes a few minutes.

How do you consider yourself: right or left hemisphere dominant? 
Or a hybrid?  
Humans are always fascinating subjects to learn about.
  What are your thoughts?
  Please share them.
Dr. CW

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"A person stays alive as long as someone remembers the person."

Yesterday, Steve Jobs left the Blue Planet, but his creativity remains; his work insures that his name will live on for some time to come.  You may or may not have watched him deliver the 2005 Commencement Address at Stanford University.  It is being played on You Tube and other media right now.  I recommend your watching it.  There is nothing like seeing and hearing a person share his/her thoughts about life.  I have copied and pasted the entire address.  I hope that you print it out and read it once in awhile.  He has many worth while things to say and to pass on.  Read this carefully; it is studded with 'memory gems'.  If you don't want to read it, watch it on You Tube.

Stanford Report, June 14, 2005
'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says
This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.

Video of the Commencement address.
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.
The first story is about connecting the dots.
I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?
It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.
And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
My second story is about love and loss.
I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.
I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.
I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.
My third story is about death.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.
This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Thank you all very much

I echo Steve Jobs words:  "Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition."

Dr. CW

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

VOCABULARY - Expanding your base

Vocabulary Development as an Integral Component of Reading and Writing

Language is first developed by hearing others speak, by observing what the people are speaking about; by making associations between sounds and concrete objects.

Reading is first developed by decoding written or printed marks on paper and making meaning of those marks and by assigning experiential sounds to those marks.  Chimpanzees can be taught to recognize and associate simple words with concrete objects.  Dolphins communicate through sonar.

Humankind learns language best in a group, through shared experiences, and by using as many of the five senses as possible.  Hearing a word is critical to knowing and understanding the word.  Therefore, the optimal approach to developing vocabulary is to have the learning experience occur in a climate where voices are heard, and opinions exchanged and respected.

Project Based Learning is one approach to providing a climate for students to hear as well as see new words, new concepts to educate, inform and entertain themselves.  Whether or not a teacher chooses to use a project based teaching approach is up to the individual teacher.  Any group learning environment where students have the opportunity to hear a word, to research together the meanings of a word, to create sentences, and stories and poems, and song lyrics using the word will have the outcome of individual student Ownership of a word.

Paulo Freire emphasized the importance of OWNING a word. It is a foundation principle in Freirean literacy programs in Brazil, Africa, Latin America, and in the U.S.  Memorizing a word simply ‘rents out’ the word to the student for one objective test; without use, the word is forgotten a week later. Students must “use it or lose it”. Authentic vocabulary development only occurs when learners OWN a word. The ownership is evidenced by correct usage of the word in conversation, written work, and critical reading of material.

Learning and/or memorizing vocabulary out of context for a short range goal – passing a quiz or test – is not the way to vocabulary ownership.

Students need to READ words in context; students need to WRITE words they want to own: first in sentences, then, in paragraphs, then in both expository and creative writing.  But, first, students need to HEAR, to tune in, to actively listen to the word and words they need to own to achieve academic success.

Consider an ideal vocabulary learning environment that utilizes all five senses:

Hearing:  Teacher modeling, student conversation, excepts from recorded books, poetry readings, popular song lyrics,  iTunes, You Tube, recorded ‘white noise’ while doing an assignment.

Seeing:    Hard copy written material, books, handouts, brochures, pamphlets, e-books, browser pages, texting, advertising.

Touching:  Opportunities to create words through games, eg. Scrabble, Hangman, word manipulatives, puzzles.

Tasting:            Teaching students the necessity of hydration for brain activity.  Drinking water before any intellectual task.  In addition, supplying fruit or hard candy during group work.

Smelling:     A little hard to insert into a learning environment, but at least try not to have negative disconcerting odors present

What are some words that you like to hear?
What are some words that you like to see on the printed page?
What is a word that is your endearment for your favorite person?
What is the emotional connotation of the word, WHATEVER.?
What is the correct grammatical usage of the word, WHATEVER?
What is the influence of TEXTING on your spelling, your vocabulary, your written communication???