Welcome to spring in Colorado.
Our word of the day yesterday was dynamics. When we write, sing, or perform we speed up and slow down, get louder and get softer, keep our audience awake and engaged, and, in general, get our point across with our own unique sense of style and grace.
Colorado definitely has its own sense of style.
It will warm up this weekend and you should have a nice and balmy spring break, but my hope for you is that you use the gift of time to do something that’s really important to you: play games with your family, play outside with your friends, voraciously read books, and write about something that’s really important to you.
Dear Number Mavens,
This year we’ve learned lots of ways to multiply whole numbers–partial-products, double and halve, over and under, lattice, or ratio tables. And there are many other methods that we haven’t talked about–Egyptian, Russian Peasant, Japanese. There’s really only one way to multiply, but these methods show us different ways to count up the pieces.
While I really want you to quickly and accurately find the correct answer, life (and math) is about more than right answers. It’s about understanding. We learn a variety of ways to multiply because we’re learning how multiplication (and numbers themselves) work.
Memorizing a process for multiplication won’t help you understand higher math or how to apply math to the real world. Knowing how multiplication works will.
You’ve probably heard your parents or teachers say, “School is your job.” And it’s true. You are responsible for putting in the effort for getting the results. You are responsible for showing up, prepared, everyday.
But school is also a lot more than just a job. At school you build a foundation for the rest of your life. At school you learn how to multiply and about important events in Colorado history, but you also learn how to learn. And that’s something you’ll take with you to every job you ever have.
You know someone’s a real artist when you can immediately recognize their style in whatever they create. There’s just something about the songs they write, sentences they compose, or art they create that reflects their own personal style.
And funny enough, they developed that personal style by studying and emulating many artists who came before them.
Today we will continue to study Chris Van Allsburg’s craft. What patterns do we see across many or most of his books? What themes, character types, and settings keep popping up in his books? And how can our own study of his style influence our own unique styles as writers and creators?
Every morning I wake up and look at my iPad screen. And every morning it’s exactly the same. If I were to take few steps over to my window and look out at the early morning sky, I’d be amazed by the little changes it makes each day, and the patterns that show up over time. I’m trying to make myself do that more often.
I want you to be the kind of people who know when and where the sun rises and sets, what phase the moon is in, what birds and weeds tell you about the seasons, where your water comes from, and where your trash ends up. You do that by being outside. And, most importantly, by paying attention.
I want you to know these things so you can make wise decisions about them. These are the important things in life.
Dear Carriers of Culture,
My hope for you is that at some point in your life you find the perfect opportunity to recite a few lines of Frost or Yeats or Dickinson to and amaze people with your insight.
Or that a story you read in fourth grade helps you make sense of a problem you face in your adult life. Or that a painting you saw in school keeps you up at night thinking about the differences between art and nature.
These things–poems, songs, stories, artworks–are things worth knowing. When you experience them, you put a copy inside yourself and carry it around for the rest of your life. And it makes your life better and your better life makes the world better.
So find a place to keep the art that we experience in class. The future wellbeing of humanity depends on it.
There’s a lot in life that we can’t control. Where we’re born, who we’re born to, who is in our class. Even the big life choices you’ll make–who you fall in love with, how you earn your living, and where you live–are largely determined by circumstances out of your control.
Small events build on each other in ways we never can foresee and we end up in places we never could have imagined.
But you make a life by responding to those circumstances with wisdom and grace. And if you get really good at that, you’ll know you’re always in exactly the right place.
Mathematicians spend a lot of type thinking about how things are related. The diameter and circumference of a circle, for instance. Nature seems to be really interested in how things are related as well, because we see these patterns and relationships over and over.
There’s just something about math. It seems to be almost the language that nature speaks. If not that, math is probably the best tool for understanding the universe. That might be a bold claim, but I think it’s true.
So next time you complain about the utility of learning math skills, just remember that you’re learning to speak nature’s language.
Did you turn your clocks ahead yesterday morning? It was a bit darker on your way to school this morning, but you’ll get an extra hour of playtime this evening.
What I find amazing is how all Americans (except Arizonans and Hawaiians) remembered to do something as silly as turning their clocks ahead one hour. That all humans across the globe have agreed to a standard time and follow it to the second seems even more incredible. We take that for granted now, but just a few hundred years ago the idea of a worldwide time would have been inconceivable. Now we can instaneously communicate across the world. It’s really incredible.
I can’t wait to see what new and inconceivable ideas you’ll come up with in the future.
What’s true now won’t always be true. It used to be “true” that Earth was the center of the Universe. It used to be “true” that Earth was flat. But time changes minds and changed minds change the world.
Many of the jobs you’ll have don’t even exist yet. So don’t worry too much about preparing yourselves with practical skills. And don’t worry too much about having the right answers. The future tends to leave behind yesterday’s right answers.
But the future will never forget today’s big ideas and meaningful explanations. Worry yourself with those.