Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Zeus on ADHD

Let me say a huge thank you to everyone who was kind enough to read and/or respond to my widely expansive thoughts about "What Comes Next".

First a clarification about "jeff" and "happiness". Then comes a few teaching thoughts.

My mom wondered why I was writing about "happiness" and not something more lasting like "joy". Mom, guess that's the part of the book I didn't summarize...great eye for detail in picking that out!

Basically, Gilbert sidesteps all of the semantics and uses the word "happiness" in a completely subjective sense: happiness is whatever an individual defines as bringing them pleasure. Ironically, by defining happiness as subjective to the individual, that's the only way that psychologists can conduct experiments on it. (Okay I'll stop going down this rabbit hole...sorry...) To me: happiness = what will bring me the most lasting fulfillment. Which is why I've started to exercise more & eat less rubbish food. And think seriously about my future.

The current thoughts on "what's next":

This weekend I started to feel the flip side of the enjoyment that comes from toying around with all these ideas...something like the ants-in-your-pants, about to get on a long plane flight sort of restlessness. Except in this case, the anticipation is going to rise and rise for the next few months, because I really think the smartest thing to do is to keep as many options open for as long as possible.

Well. On the teaching front, my brain is exploding. Yesterday, I made this website. Okay for a first draft of a course website. But I just can't stomach it as a main page...perhaps that's partially thanks to Dan for always harping on about design being a part of a good teacher's toolkit. Wikispace may have a great function...but it's design is blech, like it's aimed at the Blues Clues audience.

But on top of general gut reaction, today I found this, and this, and this, all amazing course websites. So as soon as I get a chance, I want to scrap that first draft.

And then I kept on clicking links I found at the Learning2.0 website. Infowhelm? Man, 48 hours up there was such a rush. 8 sessions, almost 200 total presentations!!! Check out what Kim Cofino wrote - why try to summarize it when she did such a fab job?

I found tons of great links, like this, and this, and this. And I put the links and notes I think about each of them into one or both of these two software programs: Microsoft's OneNote, the Zeus of Post-it's, and Personal Brain, the poster boy for ADHD mind-mapping.


...then it was time for class. Crap, forgot to make photocopies!!!

PS. J-dawg: wai, write your comments onto my blogger page, not on facebook la! it makes me feel better if more people can read what you say...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Option Three: What's Next

First, let me preface with some bullet points from "Stumbling on Happiness", by Daniel Gilbert.

+People make their decisions about the future trying to maximize their future happiness. This is why you don't eat McDonald's every meal, even though it tastes so damn good.

+People are horrible predictors of what their future selves will enjoy. And Gilbert is not talking about those mornings you wake up groggy & hungover, look at who's next to you in bed, and say wtf, but the times you buy a heavy metal poster at the store thinking it is the best thing since sliced bread only to take it home and realize it doesn't fit in with your Ikea decoration scheme.

+Even after being made aware of WHY you are going to make bad predictions about the future, even after hearing in detail all of your imagination's blind spots, and the fascinating experiments that reveal said blind spots, you are still going to make bad predictions.

+There is no magic cure, no 12 step program, to coach / train your brain into NOT making these mistakes.

My consolation: I figure that I would be pretty happy with 90% of the "future selves" I have conjured up over the past few months.


Now I'm going to get visual with this post. And of course, with my male left brain, this means I am going to bust out some charts. Later there will be bulleted lists: yessssss!

A rather confusing mind map, created via Personal Brain*, centered on the thought, "What's Next":

Organized by geography, my future self seems to have a few simple options, spanning the whole freaking globe:

I. Stay in HK
II. Back to USA
III. Go Someplace New

Then throw in all the different professional options...

A. Teach Middle School
B. Teach High School Somewhere
C. Get a Master's in Education
D. Learn Cantonese
E. Write!

...add in all the mixing and matching, leaves you with...like...way more than 20 choices! (better or worse than this?)

I + A = stay where I am now, at a very young school, a great place for challenges & opportunities & growth
I + D + E = attractive life on easy street that I don't think my protestant work ethic gene will allow...(plus the devil would take my idle hands and bring about a holocaust ala Heroes)
I/II/III + A = a return to a style of teaching I miss, with students who are capable of (for the most part) controlling their hormones / impulses and able to concentrate (to some degree) on the task at hand
II + C = the next rung on the career ladder? don't have a master's in education...have toyed with the thought of going for administration / doctoral work...but just not feeling ready for that much commitment to school, not now...
I + A + C = figure out a way to get some release time from my job while maintaining a visa and take online courses / enroll at Hong Kong U
III + D = move away from the largest city that speaks a language = not the most sensible way to go about it
III + E = the next Bruce Chatwin? (minus the whole AIDS thing I hope)
III + anything = another cool place to learn about and explore


As I type this, I think that part of my "wrestling" with these future choices is simply a form of mental masturbation. Because damn it sounds so cool to do lots of these things.

This very moment? I am leaning towards I + A for next year, then the two years after that doing I + A during the school year and II + C over the summers at Columbia's Teacher College.

Thoughts from my four (more?) readers? How is a young man to deal with all the cool ideas he can cook up? How to choose?!?!?!

*Personal Brain = very useful tool, great for mind-mapping and for all those random links that you don't want to forget about but will get lost if you just pop them into your bookmarks or delicious...big downside: it costs 175 USD. pissed i got hooked on it before i knew about the pricetag...so you've been warned if you click here to find out more.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

time flies like a banana

So...what to put into this post that has been sitting around for a long time...

Option One: a short summary of all the work I've been doing lately, both the rewarding & frustrating, as well as the very pleasant Real Life activities I've diverted myself with, ending with, "well it's a school night & i'm an old soul so time for bed!"

Option Two: explain in detail my goals related to Technology and The Intertubes this year, how I want to use it in my class, and my hopes for the upcoming Learning2.0 conference in Shanghai. (still have to finish those sub plans for Friday...eeek!)

Option Three: the road less traveled? ramble about the different career / life options i have facing me, with a contract to be signed or not by end of january. This post would be interrupted by at least one tangent towards "Stumbling on Happiness" by Daniel Gilbert, a fabulous fabulous book if there ever was one.


First to reply with a choice, one two or three, within a week I'll have a post up for ya. (If anybody's still listening, that is. I have no idea how Dan pulls it off...are there 25 hours in the day on the west coast?? HK doesn't sleep, but I sure need to.)