Sunday, March 30, 2008

Earth Hour and Climate Savers

Did you miss yesterday's Earth Hour?
On Saturday, March 29, 2008, Earth Hour invites people around the world to turn off their lights for one hour – from 8:00pm to 9:00pm in their local time zone.


Climate Savers, mentioned in the Google news release, is advocating some painless, attainable ways to save energy.
The fight against global warming starts with you! Did you know that the average PC wastes nearly half the energy it consumes?

Climate Savers Computing - Individuals

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Story crisis

Steve Jobs talks about a "story crisis," which should be refreshing for all writers. Sometimes we come across a really well written story and never think about the roadblocks that the story tellers encountered and what they did to overcome the 'crisis.' It's about being honest with yourself and listening to your heart.
"At Pixar when we were making Toy Story, there came a time when we were forced to admit that the story wasn't great. It just wasn't great. We stopped production for five months.... We paid them all to twiddle their thumbs while the team perfected the story into what became Toy Story. And if they hadn't had the courage to stop, there would have never been a Toy Story the way it is, and there probably would have never been a Pixar. "We called that the 'story crisis,' and we never expected to have another one. But you know what? There's been one on every film ... there always seems to come a moment where it's just not working, and it's so easy to fool yourself - to convince yourself that it is when you know in your heart that it isn't.

Steve Jobs speaks out - On dealing with roadblocks (10) - FORTUNE

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

More Brit kids prefer reading over TV

The Independent reports that fewer British 11-year-olds prefer watching TV over reading. A telling sentence in the story:

The report, published to coincide with World Book Day, concludes there can be "cautious optimism" over the survey's findings and says that government encouragement of more flexibility and creativity in the curriculum could have helped foster more of a love of reading.
Children turn off the TV and open a book instead - Education News, Education -

It would be interesting to see how the attitude of American children toward reading has changed over the same time period. Are we fostering a love of reading as a society?

Photo by Judge photog

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Smart students

I came across this article about how smart Finnish teenagers are, based on a test adminstered by the OECD. Of course the causes are complex, but a couple of ideas struck me.
Finnish teenagers are among the smartest in the world. They earned some of the top scores by 15-year-old students who were tested in 57 countries. American teens finished among the world's C students even as U.S. educators piled on more homework, standards and rules.

What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart? -

The article interested me for a number of reasons, one of which is the fact that the English Department at my school is currently having discussions about what students should read next year. This part of the article speaks volumes about the Finnish students' success:

Finnish teachers pick books and customize lessons as they shape students to national standards. "In most countries, education feels like a car factory. In Finland, the teachers are the entrepreneurs," says Mr. Schleicher, of the Paris-based OECD, which began the international student test in 2000. One explanation for the Finns' success is their love of reading.

What Makes Finnish Kids So Smart? -

Another key idea comes out when a Finn student discusses her foreign exchange experience in an American school: "The rare essay question, she says, allowed very little space in which to write." The article doesn't oversimplify the differences in the two nation's education system, but I still couldn't help but notice that a curriculum that fosters reading and writing produces successful results.