When I was in sixth grade, the only technologies to distract me were the TV and radio. I received my beloved yellow Sony Walkman years later. But even then, in order to make a mix tape, I had to listen to the radio on my boombox and catch my favorite song, hit “record” and “stop” at just the right time.
Now, the barrage of sounds and images are relentless. You can hear the voices of your peers night and day from your phone. You can catch your favorite TV or film or YouTuber or musician 24/7. Filters and editing programs make everyone look slim, smooth and shiny.
And if you’re one of the very few who does not own a phone, you might be ostracized. You are deemed too poor or your parents are too strict. You’re square (do they say that anymore)! Regardless, laptops are ubiquitous. The temptation to enter fantasy land is everywhere.
I just completed reading Eric Barker’s “Barking Up the Wrong Tree.” The book is a compelling read, replete with interesting anecdotes and scientific data to back up his various assertions regarding personal success. One of the most important tips he offers is the adage “control your environment.” A closely linked axiom: know thyself.
The most successful and productive people practice this. A few examples:
disconnect from the internet while working;
place cell phone in the other room;
never keep junk food in the house;
never hit snooze – get right up (!);
work before pleasure;
and so on.
I remind my students that “success” – whatever they define it to be – is within their reach. But they must make a commitment to it and do the necessary work.
Now, more than ever, knowing oneself and taking actions to ensure meeting one’s potential might be the most challenging – yet important – task at hand.
Apps have become so ubiquitous that we joke, “There’s an app for that.”
And yes, technology can help you achieve your goals and it can entertain you, but when it comes to creating art or work or works of art, there is no substitute for the consistent effort and focus on it.
Sitting under a tree, pondering nature all around you…that is how Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity. So legend has it.
Objective and careful observation of nature, our pets, our loved ones is how we will help society. Sustained effort for the greater good is what will be effective. Apps and other technology alone won’t do it.
Afraid that you’re getting old and haven’t reached the “pinnacle” of your career? Anxious that your lofty goal seems out of reach while your milestone birthdays are being thrown at you? Never fear! Published in Science magazine this month, a study of over 2,800 scientists showed that most wrote their “break through” career paper after 20 years of work.
There is little correlation to age and “success.”
In fact, there are many careers that require a passel of years of experience and learning, such as “law, psychoanalysis, history, or philosophy” and the average age of summit success came at 48.
Einstein once said that if you haven’t made a discovery by the time you’re 30, you never will. But data shows that the age where scientists are making ground breaking work is getting older and older, because there is more for them to learn before they reach the area of discovery. Makes sense!**
The most important factors for success are:
ability to create time to work;
ability to collaborate successfully; and
to make sure your work gets in front of the right people at the right time.
One of the questions on our last 5th grade social studies quiz was, “How can we, as Americans, ensure equal rights for everyone?” This was on the heels of learning about slavery and the Civil Rights Movement (literary study: The Watsons Go to Birmingham).
Most of my students answered, “Treat everyone like we’d like to be treated,” or “remind everyone about the Constitution.”
But one student wrote:
We could start an activity or sports program where EVERYONE was invited. People of all races would play together and while they played and made friends with each other, they would see we are all the same and racism would be gone.
If you’re feeling discouraged, by recent racist rhetoric from a small group of small-minded people, remember there are a lot of good people out there. Our children are wise.
I have been following Deep Space Sparkle by Patty Palmer for years. I’ve watched her grow from an art teacher writing about her passions to a full-fledged entrepreneur with one of the most generous websites I’ve ever landed on.
Yesterday, I told you about Teachers Pay Teachers, a website where you can post your hard-earned work and start getting paid for it. Patty has created her own website and offers curriculum for sale (as well as a lot of FREE valuable resources).
In her latest podcast, she reviews and shares her successes as a teacher and businesswoman. Teachers are some of the most creative, loving people you will ever meet, but it’s hard for them (us) to ask to be paid what we’re worth. Here are some of Patty’s tips for success while leaving your love of teaching intact:
Enjoy – really enjoy – your teaching right now. Use this opportunity to experiment with your students…see what works. Bring your best each and every day.
Start selling slowly. Use Teachers Pay Teachers, or start your own website. Don’t quit your job to do it, just begin.
Create your curriculum based on your passions, don’t look to children or their parents for direction.
Learn new skills! Have fun as you learn. It’s never too late.
One (of many) things I love about Patty’s site is that she emphasizes the importance of living and loving the present moment. This is what Kismet is all about. The paradox of success: In order to “get there”, you need to “be here.”
She took her daughter out of the store and turned to her. She bent down so they were face to face. “I want you to stop touching everything in the store and when you make something fall down, you need to pick. it. up.”
I smiled. Ah! Order had been restored in the universe!
This was such a refreshing scene to what is becoming more commonplace in restaurants and malls: parents busy on their phones while their children run and scream, hit each other or drum on tables with forks and knives.
My daughters have cell phones. I do regret purchasing iPhones for them. But we had purchased them a “dumb” phone (only good for making calls) and they never had it on them. Or, they wouldn’t turn it on. So much for emergencies! In any case, they love their new phones and we can always reach them. Problem: They’re on Instagram or Snapchat all the time. It’s summer break and they will (literally) be happy to lie on their bed and play on their phones for hours. They become sullen, lethargic and anti-social.
So I took their phones away. They have to hand them to me at 9:30pm and they don’t get them again until 5pm. In the meantime, they must make their beds, practice violin for at least 70 minutes each and do other chores. I’ve actually been called “strict,
“mean” and “bossy” for doing this. Really? 4 or 5 hours of complete freedom on their phones is being strict? I’m trying to teach them ethics – “work before pleasure.” Someone said, “Well, all the teenagers do this now.” This sentence reminds me of a comeback…something about everyone jumping off a bridge?
Balancing “control” and “freedom” is always a delicate issue when raising children. Giving them room to grow, letting them make mistakes and standing back as they learn from their mistakes is imperative! However, we are parents. We must not be afraid to do the right thing, which is limit the “bad stuff”. You don’t allow your kids to eat all the sugar they want, do you? Technology is the same thing. As they mature and demonstrate that they can put the phone down and do other things, I will ease up. But not yet.
My heart is singing for joy this morning! A miracle has happened! The light of understanding has shone upon my little pupil’s mind, and behold, all things are changed!
Anne Sullivan (Helen Keller’s Teacher)
Until I was in third grade, I was invisible. I was only one of two Korean-American kids in our school (my sister was the other one), so I should have “stuck out.” But I was quiet, shy and bookish. My parents dismissed me early on as an underachiever to my more outgoing, dynamic younger sister. As most introverts do, I quietly accepted this reality.
It changed one day.
During a parent/teacher conference, my mother asked haltingly in her strong accent, “Is she OK?” I braced myself for comments about the need for improvement…in focus or math…but Ms. Meretta looked me straight in the eye and said, “Oh yes, better than OK! Caroline is my hardest worker.”
I felt an electric charge throughout my body that caused my eyes to well.
My identity underwent a dramatic transformation: I wasn’t lazy or dumb (as I had overheard). I was a hard worker. I held promise.
I’m a teacher now, and looking back, I realize Ms. Meretta would not be considered a very good teacher today. She sat at her desk the entire day, giving papers to helpers to pass out for her. She was morbidly obese and rarely moved. She allowed me to get up and read books – a LOT. I rushed through math worksheets in order to read about Ramona or even Archie. She would most likely not embrace technology or move about the room to watch progress. Most likely, she would not attend ISTE and come back with cutting edge techniques to use in the classroom.
Still, she saw me. I consider her to be my most important teacher ever. She knew my personality, my friends, my parents, my interests. She invited my mother to come in and teach my peers about Korean customs, dress and food. My mother, a housewife, was positively giddy for weeks after her presentation. She had knowledge to impart! I realized that my culture was something to be proud of, not an aspect of myself to hide.
I’m not saying that using effective teaching strategies in the classroom lack importance, but in our fast-paced, technology-driven world, we need to stop multi-tasking. We need to slow down, ask real questions (How was your gymnastics meet?) and behold the people in front of us.