This article is an interview with Harvard Developmental Psychologist, David Harris, about his book called Trusting What You’re Told (2012). The main message of his book is that children learn best from testimony of those around them whom they deem are reliable sources of information.
This book and Harris’ work intrigued me because it speaks I agree that whether we are conscious of it or not, what we know and how we engage with the world is largely shaped by the ideas (people) we are exposed to.
Part of what fuels this idea for the Living Proof Project is to gain access to stories and people who are sharing what they do just to give you a glimpse into how they think (and how their thinking has gotten them to where they are). The hope is that by having access to a library of different ways of thinking and engaging with the world, your world view will reflect such exposure.
However, this book only speaks to a piece of the value behind the LP Project. Tied into this project is my personal interest in systems and groups.
So much of our life is defined by the people we meet, the ideas we are exposed to, the community we grew up in, etc. Yet what connects us all below those differences are common underpinnings of human nature and the emotions we experience. While not everyone can relate to the details of a story, often, you’ll find that others will identify with parallel experiences in their own life and how it made them feel. The hope is to find stories that speak to you. And although you may never meet the people on this site in person, the hope is you will see a part of yourself in them. Let them be the teacher you never got to meet in school, the social system you may not have had exposure to growing up, and the fellow citizen who cares enough to let you into their stories to show you that you too can do the same.
Need a Job? Invent It
The above New York Times articles speaks to one of the many drivers behind the Living Proof Project.
This site intends to become an educational resource to challenge the norms of education. Knowledge is merely potential power. It’s the first step. So then what does it take to be able to put that knowledge into action? What are the conditions needed for someone to be able to take their knowledge and have the courage to invent their own career path?
In this article, Thomas Friedman interviews Education specialist/author, Tony Wagner. His main message, we need to focus on teaching skills and instilling intrinsic motivation to learn. Here’s an excerpt:
“Every young person will continue to need basic knowledge, of course,” he said. “But they will need skills and motivation even more. Of these three education goals, motivation is the most critical. Young people who are intrinsically motivated — curious, persistent, and willing to take risks — will learn new knowledge and skills continuously. They will be able to find new opportunities or create their own — a disposition that will be increasingly important as many traditional careers disappear.”
So what should be the focus of education reform today?
“We teach and test things most students have no interest in and will never need, and facts that they can Google and will forget as soon as the test is over,” said Wagner. “Because of this, the longer kids are in school, the less motivated they become. Gallup’s recent survey showed student engagement going from 80 percent in fifth grade to 40 percent in high school. More than a century ago, we ‘reinvented’ the one-room schoolhouse and created factory schools for the industrial economy. Reimagining schools for the 21st-century must be our highest priority. We need to focus more on teaching the skill and will to learn and to make a difference and bring the three most powerful ingredients of intrinsic motivation into the classroom: play, passion and purpose.”
It is my hope to introduce you to stories of people who have invented their paths.