Sunday, 29 May 2016

don’t think you’re lucky? think again

How do we measure 'success' and how do we become successful?
Jay Doubleyou: you can't get success and happiness through positive thinking
Jay Doubleyou: "the modern office rewards narcissists and psychopaths"
Jay Doubleyou: positive power and influence

Luck has got a lot to do with it:
Jay Doubleyou: the fall and rise of social democracy?

Don’t think you’re lucky? Think again

You probably think you got where you are today through willpower and elbow grease. But what about chance, asks Oliver Burkeman

 ‘It’s genuinely difficult to perceive the ways you’re privileged.’ Illustration: Thomas Pullin for the Guardian

Do you feel lucky? The answer, well known to psychologists, is that you probably don’t. You probably think you got where you are today through willpower and elbow grease. We chronically underestimate luck’s role, and this seems to get worse the richer we get; surveys show that the wealthiest are least likely to attribute their fortunes to, well, good fortune. They also seem to be meaner: one ingenious study found drivers of luxury cars were more likely to cut others off than those in cheaper vehicles.
It’s hardly surprising many such people oppose taxation and government spending: why should others get a handout if they didn’t need one? The ironic result is that they vote against the very policies that helped them get lucky to begin with. In a recent Atlantic essay, Robert Frank, an economist who has studied attitudes to chance, quoted EB White: “Luck is not something you can mention in the presence of self-made men.”
Yet to see this purely as a problem of the super-rich lets the rest of us off too easily. Anyone living in a highly developed economy in 2016 is already the beneficiary of stupendous luck – for example, not being born during the plague, or living in the modern-day Central African Republic (average life expectancy:about 50). Ponder that, and it’s easier to see why Buddhists speak of the incomparable luck of being born human at all. You might have been a battery hen, or a mayfly with a one-day lifespan.
Our blindness to such truths isn’t only because we’re self-absorbed jerks. As Frank explained, it’s also down to the “availability heuristic”, the bias whereby we attach more significance to things that are easier to call to mind. It’s not hard to recall countless times when you put in the effort to succeed: slogging through university finals, preparing for job interviews, tolerating a soul-killing commute. By contrast, it’s genuinely difficult to perceive the ways you’re privileged – let alone all the “negative preconditions” of your success, like not being born in a war zone, or before antibiotics, and so forth. We rarely realise it, but each of us is a walking testament to all the things that might have stopped us, yet didn’t.
Philosophers (and sometimes normal people) raise another worry: our luck always comes at the price of others’ misfortune. Like many people, I’m only here thanks to Hitler, without whom my grandmother wouldn’t have left Germany or met my grandfather. But if I deem my existence a good thing – and I do – doesn’t this slightly complicate my claim to condemn the Holocaust utterly? “We know that it would have been better if those horrors had not happened and, consequently, we had not been born,” writes the philosopher Todd May – and so “our lives are rooted in tragedies that have no reparation”. If such thoughts depress you, there’s a glimmer of hope: the finding that reminding people how lucky they are makes them kinder and more generous. The trick, then, is not to forget about your own good fortune. Good luck with that.

Don’t think you’re lucky? Think again | Oliver Burkeman | Life and style | The Guardian

See also:
Jay Doubleyou: you can't get success and happiness through positive thinking
Jay Doubleyou: what are you good at?
Jay Doubleyou: what's it costing you to sleep?
Jay Doubleyou: how do you make decisions?
Jay Doubleyou: how useful is your job?
Jay Doubleyou: this column will change your life

can children teach themselves - using technology?

How can technology help learning?
Jay Doubleyou: blended learning and the flipped classroom

Can children teach themselves - using technology?
Jay Doubleyou: teaching the teachers: the future of education
School in the Cloud - Sugata Mitra | Prize-winning wishes | TED Prize | Participate | TED

BBC Radio 4's 'Start the Week' looked at these questions recently:

Technology in Education

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On Start the Week Andrew Marr explores the use of technology in education. 
Professor Sugata Mitra has installed an internet-connected PC in a slum in India and watched how curiosity leads children to learn together. 
Digital technology is increasingly used in schools but the educationalist Neil Selwyn questions whether this is a positive step. 
The writer Lynsey Hanley looks at how class is embedded in the education system 
and the former Headmaster at Eton, Tony Little, on his vision for the future of schooling.

Sugata Mitra

Sugata Mitra is Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University.
School in the Cloud

Neil Selwyn

Neil Selwyn is a Professor in the Faculty of Education, Monash University, Australia.
Is Technology Good for Education? is published by Polity Press.

Lynsey Hanley

Lynsey Hanley is an author and journalist.
Respectable: The Experience of Class is published by Allen Lane.

Tony Little

Tony Little is the former Head Master of Eton College and currently Chief Academic Officer at GEMS.
An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Education is published by Bloomsbury.

BBC Radio 4 - Start the Week, Technology in Education

seven ways school has imprisoned your mind ... ... greater personal freedom starts with deschooling

There's a lot of interest in 'deschooling':
Jay Doubleyou: the purpose of education: from china to prussia to the united states
Jay Doubleyou: education: dumbing us dow
Jay Doubleyou: deschooling society

Here is an opinion from the Foundation for Economic Education think tank:


Seven Ways School Has Imprisoned Your Mind

Greater Personal Freedom Starts with Deschooling

Young America is suffering a quarter life crisis. The job market is in the dumps and has been for as long as millennials can remember. Twenty-somethings are anxious about the direction of the country. The more politically aware among their generation are on pins and needles about the looming presidential election.
If you are in that frame of mind, we advise embracing “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,” as an old prayer puts it. The fact of the matter is that there is little you can do to sway the political course of an entire nation. Neither your vote nor your advocacy will determine who will win the presidency.
But that doesn’t mean you are powerless. You can’t hope to liberate a whole country, but you can do a great deal to liberate yourself. Doing so requires the other part of the Serenity Prayer: the “courage to change the things I can.”
The first step toward self-emancipation is certainly not supporting or opposing a presidential candidate. Neither need it be civil disobedience, evasion of government directives, or resistance to the authorities. There is much lower hanging fruit to be had than that.
The impediments to our freedom are not limited to the guns, handcuffs, and prison cells that threaten us with violence if we disobey the powers that be. We are also burdened with spiritual chains. These bonds are the self-limiting habits of mind and false presumptions that weigh us down throughout life. They were fastened on our minds through compulsory schooling: by the state monopolizing most of our waking hours throughout our most formative years. The mindset installed by schooling makes things much easier for the government, which can rely on us to largely police ourselves. We have virtually been deputized as our own spiritual prison wardens.
So the first step to self-emancipation is what Zak Slayback, author of The End of School, calls “deschooling.” But this involves not just unlearning disinformation, but unlearning attitudes. Even if you have already shaken off the indoctrination, you may still be burdened with the conditioning you were subjected to at school. And that may be holding you back in your career and your life in general.
The good news is that these mental shackles can be unlocked, once you are aware of them. And doing so requires no political campaigning or confrontation with the authorities. This liberation is yours for the taking.
Here are seven horizon-limiting mindsets that almost everybody has picked up from their schooling to some extent.
1. The Conveyor Belt Mindset
“The conveyor belt does all the work. You just have to sit still and get moved to the next station. Everyone moves in the same direction. Everyone makes progress at the same pace, based on external factors like age.”
This supplicant mindset is poison.
In school you don’t have to do much of anything to go from grade to grade. It takes a greater act of will to not move to the next stage. This mindset is killing you. It places the locus of control outside of yourself. It lures you into assuming, so long as you obey the rules, you’ll get handed the next piece of paper, promotion, or quality of life enhancement.
Get off the conveyor belt. It’s leading you to soul-dead mediocrity and perpetual frustration and envy when you see belt-jumpers excel fast and free. Don’t get mad. Join them.
2. The Permission Mindset
“Raise your hand and wait to be called upon. Get in single file lines. Even your basic biological needs cannot be met without permission. You get a hall pass to go to the bathroom. You eat only when scheduled.”
This is what James Altucher might call the “Pick me!” mindset. It’s the belief that your own desires and actions - your very freedom - is something conferred upon you by authority. It’s waiting to get the call, hoping to get chosen for the job, anxiously awaiting the results and decisions of processes and actors over which you have no control. “If only I ask in the right way, they’ll say yes!”
This supplicant mindset is poison. It’s what opens the way for despots in society at large and desperation in your personal life. It’s time to choose yourself. Don’t wait for permission. Just do it.
3. The Student Mindset
“You are a student. Your task is to memorize what teachers tell you. This phase in life is for absorbing information through books and lectures. You study. You cannot try things in the real world until you theorize about them for a few decades.”
“The student is not a practitioner. The student can’t put ideas into motion until passing a test. Everything is pass/fail, not open exploration and experimentation. Everything has a grade. Students don’t play. They don’t work. They study.”
Nonsense. Freedom comes from the complex creative interplay of doing and thinking in tandem. Play, work, and learning are not separate phases or activities.
You are not a student. You’re a lifelong learner.
4. The Teacher Mindset
“You’ve graduated from studenthood. Your job is to have the answers and provide the structure. You must know everything and be the expert. Everyone’s fate is in your hands. You must train them to do what they couldn’t if left alone. You must grade them. They either pass or fail.”
There’s nothing inherently valuable in dullness, and nothing inherently dull in value-creation.
Real learning and living doesn’t look anything like the teacher-student structure in schools. No one knows the answers. People have varying degrees of knowledge, ability, and skill, but learning is dynamic and respect must be earned by action, not given by title.
The sooner you can drop the teacher mindset the sooner you can collaborate with others, coordinate, persuade and influence. You aren’t there to make people into the “right” shaped widget. You’re one node in a network that has no standardized measures of success.
5. The Worker Mindset
“Work is for survival. It sucks. You must be coaxed into doing it. You studied to be able to work and now you work to be able to live. You do exactly what the boss wants you to do and no more. You get a specific job with a specific title and that defines not only your activities but your personality.”
This approach to work is blind to reality. Work is not pain or dullness by definition. The best things in life require work. They’re hard, but they’re fun. Work isn’t just a means to a dangling carrot, it’s a process of discovery and fulfillment itself. But only when intrinsically motivated. You’ve got to choose your work.
Value creation is what matters, not a job. You may earn money any number of ways from any number of people, but the defining characteristic of the kind of work that earns money is that which creates value for others. There’s nothing inherently valuable in dullness, and nothing inherently dull in value-creation.
6. The Recess Mindset
“Play is an escape. It’s irresponsible in excess. It must be limited. If you study and work hard enough you can earn some tiny shred of play.”
“Recess is vacation, summers off, weekends, retirement. It’s the belief that the majority of your life is drudgery endured for brief glimpses of freedom and indulgence.”
This mindset not only prevents learning or working from being joyful, it ruins leisure. The desperate week-long escape becomes a bender. A mere numbing of the senses to the reality of an unfree life, not a deeply fulfilling experience.
Seth Godin put it well when he said, “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”
7. The Major Mindset
“What do you want to be?”  “What’s your major?”
“Your interests must be career-ified and tracked. Everything must be given a title and every action must be a step in a clear path to that one thing that will define you.”
In reality your major doesn’t matter. What you want to be might not exist by the time you “grow up”. What makes you come alive probably hasn’t been invented yet.
Shed the pressure to find your calling and immediately plot a perfect path toward it. Instead, just don’t do stuff you hate. Everything else is fair game. As long as you’re not doing stuff that makes you dead inside, you’re moving closer to creating a life you love.
One Improved Unit
Maybe none of this applies to you. Perhaps you were unschooled or you were willful enough to pass through an entire childhood of schooling spiritually unscathed. Otherwise, personal freedom requires first facing up to the fact that you have been institutionalized, and then getting to work de-institutionalizing, or deschooling, yourself.
Only a people who first free themselves spiritually and individually can hope to free themselves physically and as a society. It is impossible to liberate people, as Voltaire said, “from the chains they revere.” And the first order of business in improving society is, as Albert Jay Nock said, “to present society with one improved unit.”
Isaac M. Morehouse
Isaac M. Morehouse
Isaac Morehouse is the founder and CEO of Praxis. He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network
Dan Sanchez
Dan Sanchez
Dan Sanchez is the Digital Content Manager at FEE, developing educational and inspiring content, including articles and courses.

Seven Ways School Has Imprisoned Your Mind | Foundation for Economic Education

Saturday, 21 May 2016

english country gardens: capability brown and the chelsea flower show

We have now started the gardening season - and what better to celebrate than to remember one of Britain's foremost gardeners:

Find out more about Lancelot 'Capability' Brown, a man whose name is associated with around 250 landscapes across England (with a handful in Wales). This year is the 300th anniversary of his birth, and we're celebrating with a nation-wide Festival. For more see, and follow us on Twitter @BrownCapability

They call me Capability Brown - YouTube

There are a lot of ESL resources out there:
ESL Discussions: Conversation Questions: Speaking Lesson: Gardening
Gardening Show: Growing Flowers and Fruit Trees
House - Home - Garden - ESL Resources
Simplifed speech #02 - Gardening | Culips ESL Podcast

And the famous Chelsea Flower Show starts tomorrow:

rhs chelsea flower show - videos - Google Search
RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2016 / RHS Gardening
Chelsea Flower Show
RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2013 - preview | Radio Times

tom's language files

This blog has looked at 'ambiguity':
Jay Doubleyou: ambiguity
Jay Doubleyou: ambiguity is everywhere in englsh
Jay Doubleyou: ambiguous newspaper headlines

Here is a nice video which looks at the same subject:

Crash Blossoms and Being Drunk: Ambiguity - YouTube

There are a lot more interesting videos on Tom Scott's YouTube channel:
Tom's Language Files - YouTube
Tom Scott - YouTube

Thursday, 12 May 2016

english irregular verbs

Word of Mouth on BBC Radio 4 is always interesting:

Snuck and Sung: Irregular Verbs

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Michael Rosen and Dr Laura Wright explore irregular verbs with Dr Marcelle Cole, and a contribution from Steven Pinker.

What are they, where did they come from, and why do they exist in English? 
Are there any new ones being produced, and how are they used in real life?

BBC Radio 4 - Word of Mouth, Snuck and Sung: Irregular Verbs

With some more information:

The English language has a large number of irregular verbs, approaching 200 in normal use—and significantly more if prefixed forms are counted. In most cases, the irregularity concerns the past tense (also calledpreterite) or the past participle.
The other inflected parts of the verb—the third person singular present indicative in -[e]s, and the present participle and gerund form in -ing—are formed regularly in most cases. There are a few exceptions: the verb behas irregular forms throughout the present tense; the verbs havedo and say have irregular -[e]s forms; and certain defective verbs (such as the modal auxiliaries) lack most inflection.
The irregular verbs include many of the most common verbs: the dozen most frequently used English verbs are all irregular. New verbs (including loans from other languages, and nouns employed as verbs, such as tofacebook) usually follow the regular inflection, unless they are compound formations from an existing irregular verb (such as housesit, from sit).
Irregular verbs in Modern English typically derive from verbs that followed more regular patterns at a previous stage in the history of the language. In particular, many such verbs derive from Germanic strong verbs, which make many of their inflected forms through vowel gradation, as can be observed in Modern English patterns such as sing–sang–sung. The regular verbs, on the other hand, with their preterites and past participles ending in -ed, follow the weak conjugation, which originally involved adding a dental consonant (-tor -d). Nonetheless, there are also many irregular verbs that follow or partially follow the weak conjugation.[1]
For information on the conjugation of regular verbs in English, as well as other points concerning verb usage, see English verbs.

English irregular verbs - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tuesday, 3 May 2016


There's a lot of stuff on Brexit for the ESL classroom.

A nice little video:
Video: Brexit for Dummies - The English Blog

Some great slides:
Brexit: should Britain leave the EU, or stay? worksheet - Free ESL projectable worksheets made by teachers

Plus some other bits:
NFE - 200216 - Should Britain remain in the EU 2016 (B2)
EU&NEWS - Brexit will shock world economy, warns G20 - EU English

Brexit would not be good for the ESL industry in the UK:
Brexit could discourage European students from studying in UK - ICEF Monitor - Market intelligence for international student recruitment

the english and the germans

This weekend saw England and Germany play football to mark a 50-year anniversary:
England "legends" are thrashed by Germany as 15,000 fans watch former stars and celebs at Upton Park - Mirror Online
The Legends: Germany beat England 7-2 at Boleyn Ground in game marking 50 years since World Cup win | Football | Sport | London Evening Standard
England–Germany football rivalry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Where do the English come from?
Jay Doubleyou: identity

What are the differences in humour?
Jay Doubleyou: british vs german humour

What language do they speak?
Jay Doubleyou: “you felt uncomfortable about people speaking foreign languages..."

What is 'typical'?
Jay Doubleyou: what is typically english... german... nigerian... brazilian?
Jay Doubleyou: how others see us...

And what about 'culture'?
Jay Doubleyou: english traditions which aren't english...

How do different countries see their history?
Jay Doubleyou: how is world war one seen in different countries
Jay Doubleyou: the first world war: triumph and pride ... or ... tragedy and sorrow?

What about how the British Museum sees German history?
Jay Doubleyou: telling stories about the germans on the bbc

Would you like a holiday?
Jay Doubleyou: "drunk stupid brits"

social realism and the kitchen sink drama

The 'Angry Young Man' erupted on British audiences in the late 1950s:
Angry young men - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The play that started it all is sixty years old:
BBC Radio 4 - Radio 4 in Four, David Tennant in Look Back in Anger
BBC Radio 4 - Archive on 4, Tennant Looks Back at Osborne

This was part of a wave of 'social realism' films:

British New Wave
50s-60s films which reinvigorated cinema
Main image of British New Wave
Britain today is still a society in many ways defined by class, but in the 1950s divisions were far more rigid. The 'new wave' films and the sources that inspired them gave a voice to a working-class that was for the first time gaining some economic power.
Previously, working-class characters in British cinema had largely been used for comic effect or as 'salt of the earth' cannon fodder. Here we see their lives at the centre of the action. That action, such as it is, details everyday dramas - hence 'the kitchen sink' tag. We see events through the emotional journeys of the characters.
Interestingly, only Room at the Top (d. Jack Clayton, 1958) and Look Back in Anger (d. Tony Richardson, 1959) look directly at conflict between working-class and middle-class characters.
The later films concentrate on conflicts within the working-class contrasting 'rough' (the very poor, unskilled, criminal and hedonistic - represented by characters like Arthur Seaton in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (d. Karel Reisz, 1960) and Colin Smith and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, d. Richardson, 1962) with 'respectable' (skilled, aspirational, educated and 'moral' - such as the heroes of John Schlesinger's films: Vic Brown in A Kind of Loving (1962) and the life that Billy Fisher in Billy Liar (1963) appears to lead).
The debates around class are complex. There is recognition that social change and affluence will make the system more fluid. There is also an understanding that the essentials of power will not change - the mindset that reinforces divisions is still very much there.
Phil Wickham

BFI Screenonline: British New Wave

Also known as 'kitchen sink' dramas:
Oh Do Shut Up! 10 Classic British Kitchen Sink Dramas
Kitchen sink realism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Which is similar to 'social realism':
BFI Screenonline: Social Realism
Social realism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Here's a very useful set of lesson plans for using this theme in the EFL classroom:
Look Back in Anger: As a Dark Comedy | Learn English, IELTS, EFL,ESL Public Speaking, Grammar, Literature, Linguistics by NEO