I’m not big into self-help or self-improvement — a little goes a long way in that regard — and I’m certainly not in any position to be a “guru” to anyone, but in this video I share some thoughts on what kind of perspective helps or hinders our efforts. Plus, I get to unpack another of my favorite quotes from samurai warrior Miyamoto Musashi.
In writing, we try to make sure our characters are realistic; rather than “flat” and two-dimensional, we want them to be lifelike. So too in education, we want students to grow and mature in multiple dimensions. But is “well-rounded” the best metaphor?
I’d already posted the video to YouTube when I caught an error in it, so this version includes a correction I inserted.
A critical look at the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution: what it says, what it doesn’t say, and what (in a way) it could imply:
This one runs a bit longer than I generally produce for Between the Black & the White, so if you’re in a hurry you can scroll to about the 5:38 point and watch about 2-1/2 minutes to get what’s probably the most insightful part.
In this “Just for Fun” episode of Between the Black & the White, I tell the story of the Gray Man, the ghost of Pawleys Island, South Carolina:
The book I’m holding up in that still frame that YouTube selected is by a friend of mine. (One of these days I should probably work on a cover image for the whole series, instead of letting YouTube pick a still shot from the video.)
I feel a great kinship with two Bible characters in particular: Thomas, who asked for tangible proof of Jesus’s resurrection, and the man who wanted Jesus to heal his child but who confessed his doubts with the poignant, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”
Here’s a brief (5 minutes and change) video rundown of systems thinking and education, with a little take on why effectiveness is better than efficiency:
Do you think the education system near you is optimized to accomplish its overall goal, or do the internal components sometimes fight against each other to the detriment of the whole? Understanding how the pieces fit together is a good first step to getting the whole thing to work more effectively.
Since I worked as a speechwriter for a number of years — and would write more speeches, if the right clients came along — I thought I’d do at least one public-speaking-related episode of “Between the Black & the White.”
Public speaking can be hard, and some of us are afraid to do it. A lot of factors go into that fear — who the audience is, how well we know the subject matter, whether we’ve had a chance to practice, and so forth — and I’m not sure it ever goes away completely. One looming part of the fear of speaking in public is wondering how our words will be heard.
Most of us have had the experience of listening to someone speaking in monotone. They put no emphasis on any certain words or syllables, and live up to what “monotone” means: one tone, one sound. Their words change, but their delivery doesn’t. From that experience, we know there’s good reason for “monotonous” to be synonymous with “boring.”
If we remember what it’s like to be bored by a speaker, then we never want to be boring when we’re the one speaking! Avoiding a monotone delivery can help in that regard, but it can also do much more.
Back when I was teaching I developed an easy demonstration of how adding just a bit of emphasis can change the meaning of a simple statement. The nice thing is that we do it naturally all the time — it’s not a new skill to master, just a technique to be aware of that can help us make the points we want to make. “The Value of Inflection” lies not only in what it can do to help us avoid being monotonous, but in the fact that it’s something we already use in our day-to-day lives.
You’re probably comfortable enough with using inflection that this video won’t help you much, and it might be hard to find a tactful way to suggest that your monotone friend watch it — but, there it is:
If you’re a teacher, though, and you want to help your students develop their public speaking skills, feel free to use this exercise or one like it. Let me know how it goes!
It’s been a long time since I made a video, and even longer since I attempted a series, but now seemed like as good a time as any!
I put together my last video series back when I was with the Industrial Extension Service at NC State University, and it was called the “Manufacturing Minute.” I made 44 videos in that series, and probably would’ve made more except that I left that job 3 years ago this month. Each of the “Manufacturing Minute” episodes was “about a minute, about manufacturing,” and even though they were targeted at a niche audience folks seemed to appreciate them. (They’re still available if you know where to look.)
My new series is something different — it will cover a variety of things, not just manufacturing, because I have a variety of interests. For instance, this first episode combines guidance from a samurai warrior and a science fiction Grand Master to arrive at what I call “The Musashi-Heinlein School”:
I hope you liked it! I intend to keep all the entries about as short as this one; right now I don’t envision any of them running much longer than about 5 minutes.
If you have any thoughts about this new venture, I’d love to hear them. Let me know if you have comments, questions, suggestions for improvement or suggestions for future episodes — for instance, if you’d like me to expand on “The Musashi-Heinlein School” by delving into the different things Heinlein listed.
A few weeks ago I had the chance to debut a couple of new songs at “Winter Tales,” an Orange County Library event organized by James Maxey. I previously posted the video of the second song, “Tauntauns to Glory,” and here’s the video of the first — and much more serious — song, “Winter Simplifies the World.”
The clip includes James introducing me and a little about the inspiration for the song: my year at Thule Air Base in Greenland. After I sing the song, I lament the fact that it turned out to be pretty emotionally heavy, and that becomes my way of introducing the much lighter, Star Wars-inspired “Tauntauns to Glory”.
Finally, here are links to videos of the other “Winter Tales” presented that night —