There are significant differences between high-achieving, gifted, and highly gifted children. When one recognizes unusual, advanced early development, understanding what one is seeing is important. There are different vulnerabilities and burdens for each of these groups: - The Burdens of Gifted Children - The Truth About Gifted Versus High-Achieving Students - Vulnerabilities of highly gifted children
Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs have similar insights when it comes to hiring the best. This is equally relevant when one is building a school. Hire the best teachers possible, if you want a high-performing school.
Three Questions When Making a Hiring Decision
From the 1998 Amazon Shareholder Letter: It would be impossible to produce results in an environment as dynamic as the Internet without extraordinary people. Working to create a little bit of history isn't supposed to be easy, and, well, we're finding that things are as they're supposed to be! We now have a team of 2,100 smart, hard-working, passionate folks who put customers first. Setting the bar high in our approach to hiring has been, and will continue to be, the single most important element of Amazon.com's success. During our hiring meetings, we ask people to consider three questions before making a decision: - Will you admire this person? If you think about the people you've admired in your life, they are probably people you've been able to learn from or take an example from. For myself, I've always tried hard to work only with people I admire, and I encourage folks here to be just as demanding. Life is definitely too short to do otherwise. - Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they're entering? We want to fight entropy. The bar has to continuously go up. I ask people to visualize the company 5 years from now. At that point, each of us should look around and say, The standards are so high now -- boy, I'm glad I got in when I did! - Along what dimension might this person be a superstar? Many people have unique skills, interests, and perspectives that enrich the work environment for all of us. It's often something that’s not even related to their jobs.
Steve Jobs on Hiring Truly Gifted People
> In Software, and it used to be the case in Hardware, the difference between the average and the best is 50 to 1, maybe 100 to one.... > > I've built a lot of my success off finding these truly gifted people, and not settling for B and C players, but really going for the A players. And I found that when you get these A players together, when you go through this incredible work to find these A players, they really like working with each other becuase they've never had a chance to do that before. And they don't want to work with B and C players, and so it becomes self-policing, and they only want to hire more A players. And so you build up these pockets of A players and it propagates.
For various reasons, now is a terrible time (in the world). At the same time, my own time horizons have shifted due to having young children. My eldest may graduate from high school in 15 years, give or take a year or two. Fifteen years from now is 2033, which is a bit mind boggling. Though to be honest, 2018 is a bit crazy as well, having snuck up on us, in some respects. How can our actions remain relevant in the face of the likely dramatic and mostly unknown changes we will face by 2033? This is an actual question that deserves at least a method, an approach. To begin, it seems that we need an understanding the kind of world we hope it might be and the skills and abilities needed to get it there. - Human and humane - The robots have not taken over (everything, yet) - Resiliant, and moreso, able to rebound from severe shock (antifragility) What is most plausible as important and relevant to that time in the future includes: - War for talent and winner-take-all trends continue - Population demographics will shift, but current living populations and at least some continuation of demographic trends will have important effects - China and Thailand will be in population decline; India will have likely added 200m to its population and surpased China as most populous; USA will have increased by 10% to 360m. Indonesia will have increased by nearly 15% with likely 300m. Regarding some of the bad actors, I sure hope that by 2033 we see a vast diminishment of Facebook, at the very least. We need to see it as a very bad actor (profiting from and thereby enabling bad actors), and as something to shun. Gamification in general seems to be a bad idea, since it develops short-term reward-seeking behavior and has implications for personality development and psychological health. The ability to think deeply and reason effectively, and to fundamentally love truth and love wisdom. And with this kind of impetus to also include a strong safety net and services dealing with public health both physical and mental. A bias towards action and foremost action that is directed to realizing a better outcome in the world. Mere consumerism and mere activism are neither not enough. Embodying the mustering of forced directed toward the long term in a bohemian lifestyle rather than a political movement. That is a better lived reality, and one that is harder to attack and overturn. Yet it is fundamentally committed and progressive.
> There is no evidence that fever itself worsens the course of an illness or that it causes long-term neurologic complications. Thus ... improve the child's overall comfort rather than focus on the normalization of body temperature. - Pediatrics research article
Air Purification has a myriad of purifiers. There are roughly two kinds: - Organics (formaldahyde, etc.) - Particles (pm 10, pm 2.5, pm 1.0)
Note: other titles (with different duties) for the household staff include: Au Pair, Governor/Tutor, Nanny, &c. We are looking (again) for someone to perform the duties of Au Pair. Unfortunately there are two aspects we've been getting wrong: - An Au Pair is not usually expected to do general cleaning, and - An Au Pair is usually provided accommodation We've been including the first and disincluding the second, which limits things a bit. That said, getting it wrong is how to learn to get it right.
Character Attributes of an Au Pair
- Kindness, Firmness, Patience, Energy
- Enjoy physical work (lugging around an infant/toddler/child takes strength and effort)
- Flexibility of style in dealing with the children (as they grow, they enter different stages of development and what works with a 1 year old generally doesn't with a 2 year old)
- Good language skills in at least one language
- Good presentation of self in terms of grooming, carriage (I realize this sounds very 19th century, but children pick up every kind of mannerism and habit from adults they are around
- Not addicted to social media, and able to turn off the phone for hours at a time
- Able to communicate questions and information back to the parents
Shichida, Heguru and other so-called "right-brain" learning methods, to put it plainly, have no evidence for their efficacy, and in large part the theoretical statements they make about how the brain and learning works are largely discredited by current learning and brain development research.
These kinds of so-called "schools" should be considered scams for the middle-class and wealthy parents who are largely themselves ignorant about how learning works, and are unable to critically appraise the claims of these schools. At base there is the anxiety of parents for their children to do well, and a willingness to latch onto fantastical claims and pony up from hundreds to thousands of dollars for these kinds of classes. In some cases, there is actual damage done to children as the focus is so much on performance and achievement rather than exploration and engagement in general. In actual fact, these systems are largely the complete opposite of Montessori, which has strong evidence and is the only type of early childhood development program that is research-based:
Right-Brain vs. Montessori
- Teacher-directed vs. Child-directed
- Learning material without any research base, vs. research-based learning material
- Drill and rote learning vs. material manipulation and exploration
- Predominantly single pace-classrooms vs. predominantly individual pace-classrooms
- Fantastical claims about every child being a potential genius vs. credible claims about every child being able to achieve self-development and above-average test scores
- Focus on performance vs. focus on contentment
Critical Reception of Shichida and Heguru
There is very little critical reception of Shichida and Heguru, critical in terms of looking for evidence of claims, both positively and negatively. Essentially these methods and schools thrive in the gullible markets of Asian education hopes and aspirations of credulous, first generation middle-class parents who themselves have deficient education, and live in societies where magical thinking is still very much the norm.
Articles which show some Skepticism about Shichida
- Mind-reading Baby Geniuses: The Shichida Method
- Evaluation of Three Articles in Shichida's Superachievers Magazine
- Meet Australian Five month old learning maths, experts warn of trouble coming later
Gullible Parents, Wishful Thinking, and Websites that Make Money off of Them
- The Shichida Method in Singapore
- Shichida Right Brain Training - Discussion
- Difference between Shichida vs Heguru vs Glenn Domain - This site sells flash cards to the parents, and therefore the differences mentioned are nowhere critical in comparison
How to Spot Fraud regarding Education Claims
The biggest clues to fraudulent education and learning claims are what is missing, and of course what is highlighted in place of the missing. Like with Sherlock Holmes it is the dog who doesn't bark that should be noted. What you don't see in fraudulent claims - No reference to any scholarly or research articles or books - No association with research groups or organizations (other than one's own self-appointed research groups or non-research academic groups) - Lack of use of scientific or scholarly terms Where the focus is for fraudulent claims - Media coverage (of any kind) - Photos or video of conferences or meetings - Single case examples of success taken as the norm - Non-scientific, non-experimental performances of individuals - Awards of various kinds from various (non-scientific) organizations These are part and parcel the accoutrements of status in the ream of education and professional development, and practiced to the extreme in Asian countries and cultures. Some organizations and self-promoters go to the extent of inventing their own awards, and then having a group award it to their members. A sure-fire piece of Asian-style public relations.
Media Coverage of Shichida Method Classes
Below is partially skeptical media coverage of Shichida classes in Australia, though I still think this is not nearly critical enough, no investigation of claims, just airtime to air them, sad.
A site called Living Montessori is a prime example of the kind of nonsense that goes by the name of Montessori Inspired. This site is particularly pernicious because the author claims legitimacy by having been a Montessori teacher and school director. The fact that the Montessori training was in the UK, which only recently has achieved any kind of parity with AMS and AMI quality standards, is not widely known. An example of the kind of nonsense being peddled as Montessori and Montessori Inspired is a post entitled Learning to read can be just a fun game. In it, the main lesson is apparently to trust yourself... trust your child... Learning to read can be just a fun game. This kind of generalization from a child's early use of sandpaper letters (which is far from learning to read) is overblown and ridiculous. The result is justified by a quote from Maria Montessori as follows: > The teacher must derive not only the capacity, but the desire, to observe natural phenomena. In our system, she must become a passive, much more than an active, influence, and her passivity shall be composed of anxious scientific curiosity and of absolute respect for the phenomenon which she wishes to observe. The teacher must understand and feel her position of observer: the activity must lie in the phenomenon. > > There was no method to be seen, what was seen was a child ... acting according to its own nature. The essential thing is to arouse such an interest that it engages the child’s whole personality. > > One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child. There is a tangential point here, which is that a teacher needs to observe, and that their role is to facilitate an environment that fully engages the child. Nevertheless, the idea that materials should not be introduced properly, and that learning to read is nothing more than a fun game. Montessori materials are not toys and Montessori learning is not playing. It is more than a simple irony that the website is chockablock with activities, the sum of which is nothing more than the usurpation of the inner guide for taking actions that engage developing the will and concentration of the child. Just as with modern life that is packed full of activities, this kind of Modern so-called Montessori-Inspired curriculum for the parent and for the child is a distraction from actual Montessori.
DeepSpeech Speech Recognition Machine Learning
These are notes to the project, which seem to me worth pursuing. Having recently seen a number of AWS re:invent videos on Vision and Language Machine Learning tools at Amazon, I have ML-envy. Time to start a project, but while I wait for the Amazon Transcribe and Amazon Translate to become available, the recently released Mozilla DeepSpeech project looks interesting. More resources as follows: - Mozilla DeepSpeech - Github - OSX 10.11 issues - Taking DeepSpeech for a spin - Machine Learning at Mozilla - Kaggle resources on ML (also specifically DeepSpeech)