Ok, look. I don’t have that many heroes. I try to keep my eyes wide and my ears open and
steal borrow the best bits from wherever I can. But Aaron James Draplin is a pretty impressive man. Get watching, people.
I drive more than the average American- instead of the “industry standard” 12,000 miles a year, I’m pushing closer to 18,000. That’s a lot more. As a result, and because I’m a car dork, I’m always looking for a better solution.
Today, Tesla cars announced they will debut their new “$40,000 ish” Model E. That’s exciting to me, since their Model S is what I’d run out and buy should I win the lottery tomorrow (Yes, over an M5 or E63 or S6…). It’s not that it’s a nice car (though that’s also true), but rather that it costs an amazing 4.5 cents per mile to operate. That’s it. I spend somewhere north of $3000 a year on gasoline, and by Tesla’s math it costs $240 a year in electricity to fuel one of their cars. It’d take a long time to make up the difference between my current price bracket (read: cheap) and the Model S ($70,000 base). But at 40k, over, say, 7 years, I’d make up the difference. Meaning the cost of a gasoline car plus the gas over seven years would equal the price of the Model E plus electricity. That’s nuts.
I likely won’t be in the market when the Model E debuts, but it’s starting to look like by the time I’m ready to buy my next car, it very well might be electric. I always assumed that would happen some day- but I never thought it’d be in time for my next car.
Welcome to the future.
Here’s what I’ve been looking at for the last week:
Sometimes people wonder where I get ideas from. It’s always a difficult question on answer, because the sources are so varied and diverse, but since I just received something I’ve been waiting for, I thought I’d share:
Kevin Kelly, formerly of the Whole Earth Catalog, formerly of Wired Magazine, has just put out a new book: Cool Tools A Catalog of Possibilities. It is, in every way, the spiritual successor to the Whole Earth catalog. Just looking through it inspires idea. It’s exactly the sort of place I go when I need broad-band inspiration.
It’s like this: Rubrics run the danger of encouraging “checklist think,” wherein a student checks off the aspects of the rubric to achieve the grade they want. Done well this doesn’t pose a problem, but it’s often not thought out- and the rubric becomes a mere checklist to be fulfilled. The danger with this is the elimination of opportunities for creativity. When the checklist becomes the gold standard, we risk loosing the ability to reward the divergent thinking student.
Consider that the rubric essentially becomes a contract between the student and the teacher. It allows for points to be awarded based on specific criteria. This is good, in that the students know exactly the sort of tasks they will be rewarded for. The flip of this, of course, is that educators can only reward for the things in that rubric.
I’ll offer an example from my education.
During my undergrad study, I was asked to write a paper in an English class. The topic was specified, as were several other criteria: evidence integration, structure, length, transitions, etc. Among the specifications was a stipulation that the paper be between five and seven double spaced typed pages long.
Let’s say that I’m not known for my long-form writing. It’s not my nature.
The paper I submitted was a scant three pages long- essentially half of what I’d been asked to provide. In all ways, the paper was excellent (if I do say so myself…), and it exhibited the sort of depth of thought and argument that the professor was looking for. When it came time for a grade, I was rewarded for my work with an “A.” There was no rubric for this paper- there were guidelines. As a result, the professor was free to grade my work on it’s merits. Had there been a rubric that specified the length of the paper, the professor would have had no choice but to deduct points for the short length of my work.
It’s not that rubrics are inherently bad. It’s that so many of the rubrics made aren’t thought out and structured to foster the creative and divergent thought we so badly need students to express. They aren’t rubrics- they’re checklists. And not good checklists at that.
Somewhere between 400,000 and 1,500,000 people were directly involved in allowing 12 people to walk on the moon.
This was a project so big that no one person could understand all aspects of it. But each member of that enormous team lived by the same mantra:
Different isn’t scary- it’s different. In the educational world, you’d think that different was something to be feared and loathed. The resistance to change is formidable.
Buy why? We cling to the past like we have something to loose, when in fact we should have no allegiance to it. We ingest new data, and as a result of that data, sometimes things change. This isn’t some sort of sign of weakness. This is acknowledging that new data has impacted us- nothing more.
Stop thinking of different as scary, and start thinking of it as different.