April 21, 2007

Quiet time

April 21, 2007 - Categories: life

I keep telling myself that I can’t just batch all my writing for my
quiet days, but that I have to carve out and protect writing time
every day. Writing books suggest rituals such as morning pages, and
I’m beginning to see why those sacred times are so important. I have
to slow down, still myself, and let questions and thoughts bubble up
to the surface.

I’ve been doing tons of work-related reading and I’m starting to do a
bit of writing for my thesis as well. Not only should I do that and my
recreational reading, I should also make sure that I have time to think.

Random Emacs symbol: upcase-initials-region – Command: Upcase the initial of each word in the region.

The Reading Solution, and thoughts on education

April 21, 2007 - Categories: education

If you’ve read my blog posts from the past few weeks, you know that
I’m entirely in favor of convincing impressionable young children that
reading is fun and worthwhile. Similarly-minded people may want to check out The Reading Solution: Make Your Child a Reader for Life, an excellently-written book by Paul Kropp that shares strategies on how to help kids fall in love with reading – from infancy to adulthood.

The main points are: read with your child every day, reach into your
pocket to buy books, and rule the media (TV time, etc). Kropp shows
the importance of reading with kids every day, even when they seem old
enough to read on their own. Check out Kropp’s must-have lists by age for
ideas, and add your own favorites.

I don’t know how feasible it is to ask people to read together every
day, but I think it’s a great idea even for grown-ups. My mom told me
stories of how she—not a nanny—would read to me over and over and
over again, and I still think my automatic warm and fuzzies come from
that time (yes, even when I’m reading gnarly research papers!). When I
moved on to reading – and not just the Dr. Seuss books I also loved as
a kid, but the communication and business books she also had around
the house – I remember occasionally talking about good books with her.
I wish I had more of those times. There’s something about sharing the
experience of a book with someone, talking about what you’ve learned
from it and what you think about it… It’s a way of fully
experiencing the book and bringing it into yourself. Someday I would
like that to be part of my daily ritual – to quietly read for fifteen
or twenty minutes, and then share what I’ve learned from that and from
my day with whoever’s around (or my blog, although I don’t quite get
the fun immediate social interaction that way).

Kropp says that it’s important to continue that ritual of daily
reading even when kids can read on their own. Reading with other
people makes reading fun, because it’s so much more than reading. It’s
asking questions about words or stories or life. Let kids interrupt
you and go off on tangents. Point out connections. Reading together
also shows kids that you value reading. And let them see you reading,
too! I remember my mom reading all these books and talking about them…

I liked the chapter on how to deal with excellent, average and
ordinary schools. Kropp has good advice for dropping by a school,
evaluating the environment, and suggesting best practices, such as
daily quiet uninterrupted reading time. I remember how my mom was
involved with the Parent-Teacher Association in our grade school,
pushing for gifted education programs and making sure that we were
challenged.

Another thing that struck me about the book was Kropp’s advice to
have children do their homework at the kitchen table or some other
central place in the house. This shows them the value that schoolwork
has to the entire family. One of the comments that J made about her
homework made me think a bit; she once shrugged and said, “Well, my
teacher doesn’t check it anyway.” At some point I want to explain to
her why teachers give homework (so that you test your knowledge and
maybe come up with questions for grown-ups or for the next class) and
how she can make the most of it.

If you’re wondering why some of my recreational reading and reflection
has been about reading lately, it’s not just because of J. I used to
read my mom’s gifted education books when I was a kid. =) I can’t help
it even now. Part of me steps back from conversations and thinks of
phonemics or problem solving or science and what else I can fit into
those teachable moments that happen. Put me in front of someone who
wants to learn, no matter what age they are, and I’m going to rack my
brain for a way to help them learn.

There’s an updated version of Kropp’s book, if you’re curious.

While you’re reading about reading, check out my mom’s blog posts.

(Isn’t it *so* awesome that I can refer you to my mom’s reflections?)

Random Emacs symbol: search-forward-regexp – Command: Search forward from point for regular expression REGEXP.

Knowing people

April 21, 2007 - Categories: connecting

Carlos Perez wrote:

How do you do it? I noticed that you had over 400 linked in contacts. That’s pretty impressive considering that you ‘just got out of the boat’ and are still in grad. school. What’s your secret?

How do I do it? One person at a time. I go to events that I find
interesting, and happen to meet lots of people with whom I want to
keep in touch and whom I want to help. I smile. I’m enthusiastic about
life. This is probably the key thing that draws people to me and which
makes it easier for people to talk to me, as I’m often shy about
starting conversations myself! I’m interested in other people. I make
it easy for people to get to know me, too. Is that a secret? Not
really… Isn’t that something everyone can do?

I’ve met all sorts of wonderful people. I think *that’s* the secret to
having lots of contacts on LinkedIn or elsewhere! Share *stories* with
people, not just business cards, and you’ll see how wonderful they
are. Become part of people’s lives and let them become part of yours.
I wish I had a million lives so that I could get to know all these
people better. If you can figure that out, you’d be set.

I’ve been a little quiet in both the Toronto and Manila tech scenes,
preoccupied with my thesis and with other matters. I’ve started from
scratch before, though, so I know that when I choose to return, I’ll
be able to.

I don’t really have a big network, and I’m not collecting names. I
just want to collect experiences and wonderful people… and that’s
not hard at all!

Random Emacs symbol: define-modify-macro – Macro: Define a `setf’-like modify macro.

More food for thought

April 21, 2007 - Categories: philippines

http://ittybittyjots.blogspot.com/2005/10/to-stay-or-not.html

Random Emacs symbol: gnus-debug – Command: Attempts to go through the Gnus source file and report what variables have been changed.