Sunday, June 22, 2014

Teachers gotta teach

A Teacher is a person who provides education for students.
The role of teacher is often formal and ongoing, carried out at a school or other place of formal education. In many countries, a person who wishes to become a teacher must first obtain specified professional qualifications or credentials from a university or college. These professional qualifications may include the study of pedagogy, the science of teaching. Teachers, like other professionals, may have to continue their education after they qualify, a process known as continuing professional development. Teachers may use a lesson plan to facilitate student learning, providing a course of study which is called the curriculum.
A teacher's role may vary among cultures. Teachers may provide instruction in literacy and numeracy, craftsmanship or vocational training, the arts, religion, civics, community roles, or life skills.
A teacher who facilitates education for an individual may also be described as a personal tutor, or, largely historically, a governess.
In some countries, formal education can take place through home schooling. Informal learning may be assisted by a teacher occupying a transient or ongoing role, such as a family member, or by anyone with knowledge or skills in the wider community setting.
Religious and spiritual teachers, such as gurus, mullahs, rabbis, pastors/youth pastors and lamas, may teach religious texts such as the Quran, Torah or Bible.  
Some Synonyms for Teacher:
  • master
  • dry nurse
  • don
  • trainer
  • tutor
  • coach
  • governor
  • instructor
  • director
  • grinder
  • bear leader
  • institutor
  • Corypheus
  • crammer
  • governess
A Learner is a person who is learning a subject or skill.
Some Synonyms for Learner:
  • apprentice
  • tyro
  • eleve
  • inceptor
  • fellow-commoner
  • freshman
  • senior
  • questionist
  • remove
  • apostle
  • scholar
  • prentice
  • abecedarian
  • recruit
  • catechumen
  • debutant
  • junior soph
  • sophister
  • undergraduate
  • pupilage (learning)
  • proselyte
  • student
  • articled clerk
  • alphabetarian
  • novice
  • probationer
  • schoolboy
  • junior
  • sophomore
  • class
  • disciple
  • fellow-student
  • pupil
  • beginner
  • alumnus
  • neophyte
  • chela
  • fresh
  • senior soph
  • soph
  • form
  • follower
  • condisciple

Now, throw TECHNOLOGY into the mix. The technology of today has “flipped the script” as far as all of this goes. In today’s world, anyone can research, explore, investigate just about anything

A student with a solar powered laptop in Africa can access information that just a few years ago required Ivy League campus access. If a “teacher” is doing their job (professional or volunteer) is it possible to teach any topic or subject without the teacher becoming the learner?

Instructors can hand someone a textbook (or video series, or eBook, or Podcast) and say “here you go” you should be all set. Anyone can host a webinar, or give a lecture. But the true teacher must flip the script. A true teacher must receive data and information BACK from the learner. The most successful teachers are both senders and receivers of information - constantly getting feedback FROM from the students. Just like flying a plane or steering a ship, constant course corrections are necessary. Get the pun - course corrections? Ahem.

When I went to college (Purdue, Rutgers) the professors gave lectures. Many times these same professors wrote the textbooks that we used in class. Then there were TAs or “Teaching Assistants” who were there to “help us understand” what we just heard in the lecture. Remember playing the game "broken telephone" where the true message gets distorted as the message goes from kid to kid? It was always so funny to hear a simple sentence get mangled. Knowledge flow: Professor > TA > Student. The "best" lecturer in the world is lucky to have 80% of the knowledge transfer. So, 80% of 80% is 64% if my math is right.

You could see the Professor during scheduled office hours, twice a week. But for a class of 300 or more (in a big school) it would be impossible for more than a handful of students to see their professor for one-on-one sessions. Information was “pushed” out to us, and it was up to us to catch it. If we did not fully comprehend the material, if we were getting it wrong, if we were lost, it was up to us (the student) to seek out the additional help necessary to pass the course.

We don't know what we don't know, and that is the problem. By the time you take the exam and get the grade, it's too late to go back and find out. Grades are posted, time to move on. Next!

College textbooks have now become eBooks read on iPads. Live lectures have become talks. Sprawling college campuses with dormitories like Purdue and Rutgers have become entities like the University of Phoenix.

In my humble opinion, teaching without receiving and processing the feedback from the students is not teaching.  It might be presenting, lecturing, pontificating, promoting, or any other word that involves the pushing of data “out” to the world. Unless the teacher becomes the learner, seeking the feedback, looking for the clues, making the observations FROM the students back to the source for analysis and re-engineering, we might as well just Google it or watch a video on Khan Academy. To be a successful teacher in today’s world, you need to flip the script.

Check out to see the future of "teaching" via technology.

Agree with me? Think I’m nuts? Either way, your feedback is welcome.

Email me: or  I reply to all emails.

Ruth Chang: How to make hard choices via

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Father of Anything

Father's Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Many countries celebrate it on the third Sunday of June, though it is also celebrated widely on other days by many other countries. Father's Day was created to complement Mother's Day, a celebration that honors mothers and motherhood.
For some animals, it is the fathers who take care of the young.
  • Darwin's Frog (Rhinoderma darwini) fathers carry eggs in the vocal pouch.
  • Most male waterfowls are very protective in raising their offspring, sharing scout duties with the female. Examples are the geese, swans, gulls, loons, and a few species of ducks. When the families of most of these waterfowls travel, they usually travel in a line and the fathers are usually the ones guarding the offspring at the end of the line while the mothers lead the way.
  • The female seahorse (hippocampus) deposits eggs into the pouch on the male's abdomen. The male releases sperm into the pouch, fertilizing the eggs. The embryos develop within the male's pouch, nourished by their individual yolk sacs.
  • Male Emperor Penguins alone incubate their eggs; females do no incubation. Rather than building a nest, each male protects his egg by balancing it on the tops of his feet, enclosed in a special brood pouch. Once the eggs are hatched however, the females will rejoin the family.
  • Male beavers secure their offspring along with the females during their first few hours of their lives. As the young beavers mature, their fathers will teach them how to search for materials to build and repair their own dams, before they disperse to find their own mates.
  • Wolf fathers help feed, protect, and play with their pups. In some cases, several generations of wolves live in the pack, giving pups the care of grandparents, aunts/uncles, and siblings, in addition to parents. The father wolf is also the one who does most of the hunting when the females are securing their newborn pups.
  • Dolphin fathers help in the care of the young. Newborns are held on the surface of the water by both parents until they are ready to swim on their own.
  • A number of bird species have active, caring fathers who assist the mothers, such as the waterfowls mentioned above.
  • Apart from humans, fathers in few primate species care for their young. Those that do are tamarins and marmosets. Particularly strong care is also shown by siamangs where fathers carry infants after their second year. In titi and owl monkeys fathers carry their infants 90% of the time with "titi monkey infants developing a preference for their fathers over their mothers". Silverback gorillas have less role in the families but most of them serve as an extra protecting the families from harm and sometimes approaching enemies to distract them so that his family can escape unnoticed.

Many species display little or no paternal role in caring for offspring. The male leaves the female soon after mating and long before any offspring are born. It is the females who must do all the work of caring for the young.
  • A male bear leaves the female shortly after mating and will kill and sometimes eat any bear cub he comes across, even if the cub is his. Bear mothers spend much of their cubs' early life protecting them from males. (Many artistic works, such as advertisements and cartoons, depict kindly "papa bears" when this is the exact opposite of reality.)
  • Domesticated dog fathers show little interest in their offspring, and unlike wolves, are not monogamous with their mates and are thus likely to leave them after mating.
  • Male lions will tolerate cubs, but only allow them to eat meat from dead prey after they have had their fill. A few are quite cruel towards their young and may hurt or kill them with little provocation. A male who kills another male to take control of his pride will also usually kill any cubs belonging to that competing male. However, it is also the males who are responsible for guarding the pride while the females hunt. However the male lions are the only felines that actually have a role in fatherhood.
  • Male rabbits generally tolerate kits but unlike the females, they often show little interest in the kits and are known to play rough with their offspring when they are mature, especially towards their sons. This behaviour may also be part of an instinct to drive the young males away to prevent incest matings between the siblings. The females will eventually disperse from the warren as soon as they mature but the father does not drive them off like he normally does to the males.
  • Horse stallions and Pig boars have little to no role in parenting, nor are they monogamous with their mates. They will tolerate young to a certain extent, but due to their aggressive male nature, they are generally annoyed by the energetic exuberance of the young, and may hurt or even kill the young. Thus, stud stallions and boars are not kept in the same pen as their young or other females.
Finally, in some species neither the father nor the mother provides any care whatsoever:
  • This is true for most insects, reptiles, and fish.

So, what does it really mean to be “The Father of…….” anything?

The following is a list of significant men known for being the father, or considered the founders mostly in Western societies in a field, listed by category. In most non-science fields, the title of being the "father" is debatable.

Jacques Cousteau…..The Father of Scuba Diving. (Developed the aqua-lung jointly with Émile Gagnan; popularized scuba diving as a research diver, writer, and film and television producer and personality.)

Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn…...The Co-Fathers? of The Internet. (Co-invented Internet protocol (IP) and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) in 1973, the two original protocols of the Internet protocol suite.)

More from “The Father of” list:
Igor Sikorsky...The Father of the Helicopter. Martin Cooper...The Father of the Mobile Phone. Philo T. Farnsworth...The Father of Television. Willis Carrier...The Father of Air Conditioning. Alexander Graham Bell...The Father of the Telephone. Charles Hard Townes...The Father of the Laser.

In business (as in nature) anyone can be “a father”. It is way too easy to start a business, just as it is way too easy to start a family. Ah, it’s not the starting that makes one be “the father of” anything. 

It’s the finishing. To be known as “The Father of…...Anything” means that no matter what, no matter how difficult, no matter how hard the journey, you stuck it out. You hung in there, you overcame the odds, you did and will continue to do whatever it takes to get the job done and done right. You finish.  

And so, in business as it is found in nature…....

Happy Father’s Day to all the (business fathers) Male Emperor Penguins, Dolphins, Beavers, Wolves, and Ducks. Way to go Dads! Way to go.

And to all of the (business fathers) Male Bears, Pig Boars, Lions and Rabbits out there…….shame on you. You did not finish what you started.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics"

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics"is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments. It is also sometimes colloquially used to doubt statistics used to prove an opponent's point.
The term was popularised in the United States by Mark Twain (among others), who attributed it to the 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881): "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." However, the phrase is not found in any of Disraeli's works and the earliest known appearances were years after his death. Other coiners have therefore been proposed, and the phrase is often attributed to Twain himself. Now, please turn your Bullshit Detectors all the way up to “stun” and read the following blurb sponsored by AT&T and others:
For businesses of all sizes, saving time means saving money, but perhaps for none does that ring more true than for small businesses. In fact, millions of them are tapping into technology to save time and, ultimately, money as well – to the tune of a staggering $67.5 billion a year – by using mobile apps, tablets, and smartphones in their day-to-day business activities.
The savings were calculated based on results of a just-released survey commissioned by AT&T and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.
Smartphones are saving business owners the most time (1.24 billion hours) and money ($32.3 billion) annually. Tablets (saving 754.2 million hours and $19.6 billion a year) and mobile apps (saving 599.5 million hours and $15.6 billion a year) are also providing small businesses with more time.
With the increased time savings resulting from using mobile apps and devices, business owners indicate that they’re not getting any more rest or relaxation. Instead, they’re re-investing the extra time back into their businesses to grow sales, increase engagement with customers, and research their respective industries to learn about new trends or competitors.
Smartphones have become almost ubiquitous among small businesses with 94 percent using them to conduct business, up from 85 percent last year. More than half of small businesses say they use mobile applications, with the vast majority of those (91 percent) saying it helps them save time and two-thirds saying it saves them money. The majority of those businesses estimate they are saving up to $500 a month – or $6,000 per year – by using mobile apps.
The average number of days small business employees are using smartphones to conduct business exceeds the average number of days they are open for business. While small businesses are open an average of 5.7 days per a week, nearly half (49 percent) of small business owners with smartphones are using them to conduct some business activities 7 days a week.
Additional findings from the 2014 AT&T-SBE Council Small Business Technology Poll include:
Device Usage
  • Exactly 31 percent of small businesses report they save at least five hours per week as a result of using laptops or notebooks.
  • As businesses become more mobile, owners report an increase in use and device dependency over the last two years.
  • Approximately three-fourths of small businesses report their use of mobile devices has increased because it allows them to operate remotely.
  • Small businesses also attribute the rise in device use to an improvement in operational efficiencies, time savings and an increase in employee productivity.
  • Nearly one-third of small businesses have seen their use of mobile data at least double over the past two years due to such common activities as downloading and uploading files on their mobile devices.
Mobile Apps Usage
Over the last two years, the use of mobile apps by small businesses has increased by 65 percent. Of the small businesses that use mobile applications, the majority (92 percent) are using smartphones to tap into apps.
  • Also, more than three-fourths (77 percent) are consistently relying on three or more mobile apps. The most commonly used app types were remote document access, travel planning, and banking/finance management.
  • Topping the list of most-used apps for the fourth consecutive year of the survey were GPS/navigation and mapping apps.
  • More than nine out of 10 respondents (92 percent) who use mobile apps have them on their smartphone, while slightly more than half use them on their tablet.
  • Of the small businesses using mobile apps, more than three in four (77 percent) are using three or more apps, with 5 percent using 20 or more apps … GPS/navigation and mapping apps as the most prominent.
"Lies, damned lies, and statistics"
How did they come up with these crazy numbers?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 5,104,014 employer firms with less than 20 workers in 2011 (latest data). Based on the Fall 2013 American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor, small business owners work an average of 10.5 hours per day, and earn an average annual salary $68,300. Assuming 50 workweeks, the per hour pay for small business owners was $26.02.
OK, so I get it: they are using $26.02 as the magic number to say what an hour of “our” time is worth. So:
Regarding mobile apps:  

51.5 percent of small businesses use mobile apps. Using the U.S. Census Bureau data, there would be 2,628,567 small businesses using mobile apps. Of the small firms using mobile apps, the average hours saved per week for the owner of the business was 5.007 hours. 91.1 percent of owners using mobile apps report  that the use of those apps saves them  time, which equates to an estimated 2,394,625 small businesses with owners saving time with mobile apps. Over the course of one year, small business owners save an estimated 599.5 million hours of their time, with the dollar value of those savings estimated at $15.6 billion annually.
Regarding tablets

61.7 percent of small businesses use tablets. Using the U.S. Census Bureau data, there would be an estimated universe of 3,149,177 small businesses using tablets. Of the small firms using tablets, the average hours saved per week for the owner of the business was 4.79 hours. Over the course of one year, small business owners save an estimated 754.2 million hours of their time due to tablet use, with the dollar value of those savings estimated at $19.6 billion annually.
Regarding smartphones:  

94.3 percent of small businesses use smartphones. Using the U.S. Census Bureau data, there would be an estimated universe of 4,813,085 small businesses using smartphones. Of the small firms using smartphones, the average hours saved per week for the owner of the business was 5.16 hours. Over the course of one year, small business owners save an estimated 1.24 billion hours of their time, with the dollar value of those savings estimated at $32.3 billion annually.
America: Time is NOT money. Money is a tool. How we spend our time on the planet is what produces value. If all of this “time” that we are saving allowed us to have more hours with our families, more hours reading good books, more hours giving back in our communities, then this "technology based time machine logic" would be truly amazing and indeed life changing.

But we don't do that. So the 2014 AT&T-SBE Council Small Business Technology theory is Bullshit.

If the GPS in our cars allow us to get to work an hour earlier, we don’t produce an extra hour of work. It used to take days to travel from Boston to Philadelphia. Today, it takes hours for that same trip.  It used to take longer to type a document with a typewriter vs. using a word processor. We used to have to “sign up” for time to use a computer. Time on the mainframe was booked like getting a tee time on a golf course. Today, we access the world’s largest computers “for free” FROM the golf course.

Life expectancy in the United States ranks 26th out of the 36 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), according to a new report from the organization. U.S. expectancy in 2011 was 78.7 years, which is slightly below the OECD average of 80.1. For U.S. men, the average life expectancy is 76, while it's 81 for U.S. women. 

78.7 x 365 x 24 = 689412 hours. In total. That’s all we have on the planet, give or take a few thousand hours. If the AT&T’s of the world want us to think that smartphones and iPad have become some form of time machine that puts more time back into our lives, then my Bullshit meter will never stop ringing. If the GPS in your car or smartphone in your hand really did “save you” any time at all this week, then I would say get your ass to the beach, take your kid fishing, or work a few hours in the local food pantry.

Because if you go down the path of “saving time” to make more money, you are on the path of wasting much more than money, you are wasting your life.
Best Dog Park in the World: Tourne Park - Mountain Lakes, NJ