Friday, December 23, 2016

Flavours of greatness

Was invited to facilitate a session at a holiday camp for about 15 students, about 15 years old (+/- 4 years).
What would we do/talk about? 
Well, the theme was multiple intelligences, and the gig was called "Ignite Genius" so I dug up these excellent videos to watch with the group.

1. The first was shorter and was actually my first interaction with the group, our ice-breaker.   

Kendrick Lamar performs new "Untitled" song on The Colbert Report.
Fantastic stuff! Like I said/say, I'm a rockstar.
Kendrick is a genius, and this clip - from the interview to the performance - is so complete, so genuine, so gripping, and such a pure representation of an artiste, communicator, and leader at the height of his powers, that ... I dunno, I was thrilled to use it as a grooming tool for the fine leaders that we were raising at the camp?  It was my top music+video experience of the year 2015 (look out for my 2016 list in a couple of days)?   I thought it was great for them to see that authentic and book-smart and intelligent and humble and relevant and helpful could all come together in one person just like them.  We love you, Kendrick!

The other three videos were 'electives' so they could choose one to watch with friends based on their interests. 

2. A detailed documentary (by Alan Yentob: BBC UK) on the life and work of Zaha Hadid, one of the greatest architects ever.  She passed away a few months after the camp, as you know.  This was recommended for people with interests in design and such.
I recently watched it again and (aha!) I think I understand now a bit more...the evolution of ZHA.  From her early paintings and her vision (sort of things piercing out of the plane // sort of unruly, refusing-to-conform buildings) through repetition and rejection, and how in the search for implementation the problem was handed over to computers which likely presented curved solutions that normally would have been the more difficult solutions to manage but with software were now just accessible and malleable solutions.  I think.  And that became Zaha 2.0 - the curvy.  Evolved, forged, through blood, sweat and tears, from Zaha 1.0 

You have to watch this at least once.

3. Laura Cha gave a guest lecture to a class of Robert Schiller's at Princeton which was included in his fantastic Coursera class on Financial Markets.  I recommended this guest lecture for the students who hoped to do policy, government, business, banking, and such someday. 
Summary: "This is a guest lecture by Laura Cha, former vice chair of the China Securities Regulatory Commission and a member of the Executive Council of Hong Kong. In her introductory remarks, Ms. Cha emphasizes career opportunities in the private as well as the public sector of financial markets, and elaborates on her own career as a regulator in the Chinese market. In an ensuing discussion with Professor Shiller, she discusses motivations to work in the public sector, emphasizing the marketability of public sector skills in the private sector, but also a sense of mission to influence the creation and proper functioning of markets..."

4. You've seen this one here before:  "Grigori Perelman proved the Poincare conjecture and then refused a million dollar prize (the Millennium Prize). He is the only mathematician who has declined the Fields medal."
Guess what?  The kids found this guy Perelman entertaining.  They (some of them) seemed to understand why he might be inspiring and not just some sort of lunatic.  It's a colourful story, a different style to the Laura Cha discussion for instance, and I enjoyed presenting such unexpected locales - Russia/International, Iraq/UK/International, China/US, and Rap Performance, USA...

While I screwed up on the logistics a bit, the kids forgive easily, I think, and they really did focus for longer than I would have expected on these longish and deepish videos. 

The truth is that I've watched each of these over and over again before (the camp was in 2015) and since...I do like to teach that way...with material that is deep enough to interest the most motivated/advanced learner and that is not limited to what the teacher fully grasps at the time.  I love to learn along.  You?   

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Monday, November 14, 2016

How to teach Donald Trump

'It's not propaganda or bias if it's based on hard facts' says schoolteacher kicked out for comparing Donald Trump to Hitler.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The female teacher // This primary school in Northern Nigeria has only one malama

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

The world needs more teachers now

Almost 69 million teachers need to be recruited around the world by 2030 if international pledges on education are to be kept.  The biggest gaps in staffing are in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia.
At present, the report from the Unesco Institute for Statistic says there are about 263 million children without a primary or secondary school to attend.  This includes about 25 million children who will never set foot inside a school of any kind.
Niger, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Afghanistan, Mali and Chad were among the nations whose children were likely to spend the least time in education.

Read the full article on the BBC website

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Saturday, September 17, 2016

Zuckerberg's Africa visit and his interest in the next generation
Mark Zuckerberg visited Nigeria.  Twice in one week.  We loved him that much.

Aww, cute.
 Details of the Nigeria trip:
Interactive chat in Lagos

All Over the news!  

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hallowed at Harvard

Hallowed (Olu) Olaoluwa earned a PhD in Mathematics (Fixed Point Theory, University of Lagos 2014) , is a Next Einstein Forum Fellow, and a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in Mathematical Physics.  
Profile on LinkedIn
Features on Youtube
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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Little boy studying mathematics - Photo. It's not what you expect.

This child works as a cattle-herder in Northern Nigeria.  This man photographed him as he studied his trigonometry while watching over his cattle.
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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Profiles: Work in the past and work in the future

More on the shortened workday / workweek here and here: UpNaira // The world can afford to shrink the workweek.

It does seem imperative that we adjust to a post-industrial lifestyle, with more play and leisure, more sleep and rest, and less "work" per se. 
In what ways will we adjust education to these realities?  
For example, what skills are important and what are being / have been automated away? 
What school-and-work behaviours are important and what are 20th-century anachronisms? 
Will we have more teachers or fewer?  More professors or fewer? 
Will we always have mathematics and mathematicians and what questions should occupy them? 
Will people work in multiple careers simultaneously (parallel) or single careers consecutively (series)? 
Will everybody have access to basic pay and resources to let them work and play as they will, or will there remain an imperative to find work to earn basic pay for survival?  

Kindly take some time to think about these things and start a discussion with friends. 

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Sweet Jesus! They made it in America.

Their paths took them through advanced mathematics before they discovered applications in bioengineering research out in California.
1. David Van Valen: He went to MIT at the age of 14, and now he’s changing the world.
2. John Dabiri: Sexiest Scientist?  But seriously now, he's changing the world too.

They are black. Their lives matter. It's really not rocket science.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Using the internet (more fully) for scientific communication (finally!)

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Blurb: Preprints are a way in which a manuscript containing scientific results can be rapidly communicated from one scientist, or a a group of scientists, to the entire scientific community. This video by ASAPbio (Accelerating Science and Publication in biology) explains what preprints are and their benefits, how they differ from journal publications, and how scientists can use both mechanisms to communicate their work.

Monday, May 16, 2016

I love you, Coursera! And all the other MOOC platforms too.

To learn math online,
there's Khan Academy with elementary math
and you can follow that up with Calculus and such
before running out of high-quality, sleekly-produced lessons. 

For advanced math(s),
there are some nice recorded lectures - everything from Fields Medalist symposia on youtube to full semesters from the OCW-era;
there were some false-starts at providing sexy math MOOCs but plagued with poor audio and sorta boring speakers;
and there is this site/utility that is in-between levels, this one :) , seeking to be accessible yet interesting to any math enthusiast; 
and there'll be more open math, allowing anybody anywhere get engaged/obsessed/expert 

Learning Mathematics the easy way in the 21st century -

Already, there is quite a lot on mathematics and allied subjects (e.g. engineering, science, data analysis, computing, ...) that is very good and very attractive.  Have you tried a math mooc yet?   I've reported on some of my experiments teaching with Coursera here.  What has your experience been? 
Maths the easy way in the 21st centurty -

I'm just amazed to have such access to world-class education, and that's why I'm addicted to MOOC life. 

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

See the solar system: true-colour images

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Ever wonder what space actually looks like to the human eye?  Michael Benson tries his best to show you in his exhibition Otherworlds: Visions of Our Solar System. The artist took data from NASA and ESA missions to make 77 images of everything from Pluto to Europa that approximate true color as much as humanly possible. The work spans five decades of space exploration, and presents a realistic, flyby tour of the universe.  Source:

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Observing the Universe: Gravitational Waves

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