What is writing anyway?

I think I was in 6th grade when I bought an awesome Casio calculator watch. It took a very long time saving every dime from my three paper routes to afford such a high tech tool, I was in love.

One day another student turned me in, the teacher exploded. His attempt to humiliate me rolled off, I was immune by that point in my life.

His main argument was I needed to memorize all these math facts and know them by heart because I would not always have a calculator to do the work for me. I knew that could not be true, if I could buy a watch that did math, it was impossible to think I would not have access to such things in my adult life.

Fast forward to today, my son has an expensive calculator he is required to have for school. This thing has a big colorful screen and it is programmable. He set it up to compute formulas with one click of a button. Next to that he has a phone which has apps and google. If these two can’t solve the problem, the chromebook probably can. We have more mathematical tools than we know what to do with.

Math today, versus then, is so different. I have to think the access to these tools helped us go deeper into numbers unlike any other time in history.

Think about this, the phone you have in your hand is the worst phone you will ever own. Your next one will be 10x more powerful, the one after will be 100x more powerful than what you are now using.

We are now at the same crossroads as my 6th grade math teacher, will we grow and change with the technology or push back and hold on to what we have always done?

The other day I came across an article about a high school student using an AI, artificial intelligence, to write all his papers for class. Using an AI he was earning As and Bs, a computer was doing most of the work. Instead of spending hours upon hours writing, it is now down to a handful. A few clicks.

So many questions.

What is writing anyway? If the assignment can be completed by an AI and earn high marks, was the assignment worth completing in the first place?

My biggest worry is we will find a way, which will be nearly impossible, to ban such tools. Once they leave our care and enter into the world they will be expected to use these tools. Are we writing to prepare them for the world they are going to live in or the world we grew up in?

Will these tools push education further away from what is actually happening in the real world?

I know… the same phrase will pop out… well research says…

Research is looking backwards in time and trying to make a prediction. Most of the world just keeps moving on, it does not wait. Why are we waiting?

How might we change our teaching based upon what is in the video below? Think what you could do if your first draft only took two minutes to write over 1,000 words?

It paid off.

I cold contacted two people, two BIG people. I asked if they could be my thought partner for just five minutes while at SXSWEDU this week.

The chance was slim at best. I assumed they would never respond, that is the easiest way to deal with unsolicited requests.

They both said yes. I met both and they helped me think through a big idea.

Because of it this idea has grown and will be more impactful.

I was nervous as hell but had some notes so my stumbling would be less obvious.

One even told me to slow down a bit, I was talking too fast

What struck me most was there are so many who are willing to help, we just need to ask. Good ideas should be shared and worked on together. We need to stop eating our own dog food much.

Now I am searching for my next thought partner!

All in.

I’m out of town and saw this guy.

I am all in on this tech, a car that will drive itself and I can just passenger around? How awesome will that be!

No need to worry about getting lost, other drivers or being distracted, the car will handle it all.

Will Driver Ed be a thing of the past? Will we need insurance?

I wonder if car ownership will also be a thing of the past. You just order up a car when you need it. More passengers, just order a bigger car. Bought a ton of stuff at IKEA, no worries, just order a pickup!

I can’t help but wonder if this is how my grandparents felt when they got their first car, radio, tv and on. I’m sure some of their generation fought all the changes and some accepted it.

I am all in on technology that will enable more people and increase the safety for everyone.

There was this time I set off the metal detector…

I used to love the airport as a kid. We would arrive early to pick up a relative, usually my grandparents, for the holidays. I loved the adventure of it. The parking lot, the long walk into the building and then the security line.

During long walk down the hallway to the security line the excitement would build. I loved every minute of it. No need for a ticket, they just let you roam the whole place.

One holiday, it must have been Christmas, we had two trips to the airport. The first trip was pretty uneventful except I was pretty curious about the metal detector. How much metal would it take to set off? My winter coat had a long row of metal snaps, maybe a dozen in all. I was pretty sure today would be the day I would set of the detector. As I approached I wondered what they would say, how closely they would search me and how loud the beeps would be, it was exciting!

Sadly, no such luck.

I planned my strategy in the car ride home from my next trip in a few hours, I would load my pockets with change.

I was only about five which meant all the money I had was mostly nickels and pennies, it was the metal I needed.

I was ecstatic when I set off the alarm that day, not so much for security and my parents.

Flash forward to today, I am at the airport waiting for a flight. The security lines, masks, and ongoing alerts for safety.

I miss the days of the joys of the airport.

(Years ago I used to take a ton of redeye flights. Transportation to the airport was difficult so I had to show up sometimes as much as six hours early. I loved walking through the empty walkways in the deep night. The quiet of a super busy place is fun to experience.)


The days are long and the weeks are short.

The older I get the faster time seems to go.

This is Sammi at the end of her kindergarten year.

She learned to love reading and never spoke in art class. She was so quiet that the teacher thought something was wrong. Besides fearing the art teacher, Sam loved all things school.

One thing that still puts a smile on my face is her breakfast routine. She ate a normal breakfast at our house each morning. Then she would be dropped off at the grandparents to wait for the bus. Grandma seemed to always have mini donuts, so Sammi had breakfast number two. Then school offered a free breakfast which she never turned down. We had no idea this was happening until she started having some massive stomach pains. Turns out school breakfast was not a wise choice for her.

Flash to today. Sammi is off to her to the spring dance, close to wrapping up her K-12 school career.

As this chapter closes another is starting to open.

Even with two elementary teachers as parents, she has picked that as her major next year.

Eighteen years of listening to our stories, not all where full of sunshine, didn’t drive her away from teaching I am not sure anything will.

Cold Call

I read this book a while ago about a guy who asked David Goggins to come live with his family for 30 days. The author, Jesse Itzelr, talked about cold calling people he found interesting. The most impressive part is the people on the other end were usually receptive.

A while ago I was getting frustrated with a few things and needed fresh ideas.

I knew there were ideas out there so I sent a few cold emails and was shocked when 90% of the people responded.

So far I have talked with two big tech companies, two universities and a distant school district. I was most impressed at how open they were with sharing ideas and their own struggles with how to grow their organizations.

Three big themes have emerged. Culture, people and focus. In future posts I will go in these in more detail.

I did start looking at the book Culture Code to learn a bit more about what culture might look like and how change up my own approaches.

I also started using Blinkist, it boils down a book in like fifteen minutes.

I love the idea of Blinkist, it helped me focus on some of the main points of a recent book. That started me down a path, wouldn’t this be great for our kids? It is like an appetizer at dinner, it gets you ready to eat and opens you up to new flavors.

One last thought. Much of what I heard was if you don’t have a solid culture, nothing will work. Culture seems to be the foundational piece of everything. My challenge to you, step back and watch how your people move through their day. What happens when they walk the halls, how does the bathrooms look at the end of the day? The cafe floors after all the kids leave? How does staff treat all the people in the building. Who is included and who isn’t? I have started to notice a few interesting trends these past few weeks.

He was driving me crazy.

I assume it was the weather. Today was in the low 80s, not normal at all. The warm weather and the sun must have had some impact on what I was seeing, it was like some internal engine was running and we had no way to slow it down.

Then the sister came home and that ratcheted it up a lot. There is something about siblings, they either get along or drive each other crazy.

I am so thankful for a short walk around the neighborhood seemed to have calmed things down.

That is until homework… I hate homework.

I know how dogs smell.

Years ago I had this dog, Jingles, and she had this way of drinking in the air.

We would go for a walk and she would stop, point her snout towards the sky and sniff.

I really never understood what she was doing, sometimes it even annoyed me . We were out for a walk and that meant walking not smelling the invisible air.

These past few weeks there have been multiple ice storms followed by multiple AMI/snow days. Cold is the worst season.

Today it topped out at 75. Today I had to travel between few buildings which meant tiny bit of outside weather.

I stepped out of the car, titled my snout back, closed my eyes and smelled deeply. It smelled of summer and hope. I feel we are finally emerging from the deep cold of winter and covid.

The First Since 1989

That morning I took a quick pic to show how long my hair had grown over the past year.

Now I have a whole new issue, how the heck to style my hair. This is something totally new to me. I even bought some type of hair paste, I’m sure it isn’t paste but it sure seems like it.

Not perfect but it is kinda close. Not sure about the weird curl that keeps twisting out of control, maybe more paste will solve that!