Refocusing the cellphone – we want a not so smart phone with *long battery life*.

Smart phone, dumb battery.

That is the current pain point many of us will be familiar with. We all have very powerful and capable phones, but have short battery lives which frequently mean we have to use these many capabilities sparring in order not to end up with a dead phone when you most need it.

The introduction of fast charging helps in part.

But why can’t designers design phones that lasts longer? This is pretty much the appeal of so-called dumb phones which typically lasts days or weeks.

So I would like to propose a few ideas to address this. So here goes.

  1. Bigger battery. D’uh. We don’t need ever slimmer phones. It is ok for phones to be a little thick to allow for longer battery life.
  2. Monochrome screens – no fancy stuff, just light colour text on black backgrounds a’la the Punkt MP01 phone. This should reduce a lot of the energy requirement by the screen. We can keep the touch screen ability too. 
  3. Lock down services. We still like the google services like contacts, calendars etc, so we would like to keep this – but lock down other apps, notifications and stuff from the google play store. Perhaps it is worth dumbing-down the phone a bit, and leave only the essential google apps to allow you to get through the week without charging. All apps will need to conform to the monochrome requirement.
  4. A flip phone with both an OLED and EPD (electronic paper display) screens. The YotaPhone does this quite well, but shame it didn’t catch on.
  5. If you must have a browser – strip it down to only test / readability / instapaper mode. i.e. disable the rich graphics and animations – just deliver a browser that presents you with just the text that you want to read. Better if it is also presented on the EPD screen.
  6. Have a nice robust design, but don’t make it too expensive. The Punkt MP01 phone is a very nice phone, but I think the price point is more than what many will be willing to pay for. 

Holistic assessment of children’s progress

 

Are exams the best way to help children develop?

This is a big question. I find that exams based assessment of a child’s development results in a narrow focus and thus, inadequately prepares the child for the challenges they will face many years later in life.

Exams based assessment – whilst are objective – only emphasises (i) academic knowledge; (ii) enforces rote learning; (iii) creates behaviours of studying (self learning) only for the exams.

The above 3 emphasis are becoming increasingly inadequate these days.

For one, academic knowledge is no longer sufficient. What is important is that children start to explore learning outside of what is covered in text books. The world today is moving so quickly that knowledge nowadays is everywhere.

Secondly, rote learning does not help children develop the skills to learn on their own, or to learn through discovery and experimentation. Rote learning emphasises that the answer is pre-determined.

Thirdly, learning should be a constant habit – and not something only needed for the purpose of passing exams. This constant learning habit is highly prized when the individual progresses through life when things are constantly changing requiring a constant unlearning and relearning.

So what is the alternative to measuring a child’s development?

In the first place, we need to ask why we are measuring a child’s knowledge etc? The goal of measuring a child’s progress is to identify areas the child is strong at and areas the child can be further developed.

Assessment of children’s progress should not be seen as a means to “rate” or “grade” them. It is more important to develop children than to grade them.

Once we have properly adopted this mindset, then we can move forward with the alternative assessment. But before we go into that, we need to also understand what are the qualities on which we wish to develop our children?

Some initial thoughts on the qualities we seek in children, and later as adults:

  • academic (of course)
  • attitudes & behaviours
  • values & goals
  • leadership
  • communication, collaboration, interaction
  • physical health – sports, outdoor activities
  • empathy – emotional & spiritual quotient
  • intellectual capacity – thinking, critique
  • action & discipline
  • creativity, innovation & art

Of course, the above list may not be entirely appropriate and may even miss out other qualities. But what is important, it needs to encapsulate the many qualities we seek as people as they grow older and attempt to make the world better.

The even bigger question now is how do we measure the child’s progress in the above qualities.

Remember, the measures are meant to identify strengths and development areas. Not to rate or grade.

There are already many psychometric & other tools to measure these qualities. We only need to use them on a more regular basis through the child’s progress through school to understand more about their development.

These tools can be utilised by both teacher and parents alike in order to gain a more balanced view of the child’s development.

Avoid gaming the system

Since, this assessment is not for purpose of rating or grading the child – it will mitigate the effects of “gaming the system”. In order to enhance the credibility of the assessment tools, we can build in self-regulating mechanisms to prevent a deliberate high or low score.

What is most important is that the child makes as much progress in their development: a high score on an assessment may mean that the child need not undergo specific tasks to develop further. A constant high score means that the child has a low record number of development / improvement exercises – which could look less impressive as compared to a child who is consistently improving.

Conversely, a deliberately low scoring may mean that the child will have to undergo a rigourous number of development / improvement exercises. Which could be both taxing on the child and the tutor.

I know this system is not perfect, but it is a starting point in building a self-regulating mechanism to prevent the child, the tutor and the parents from gaming the system.

To add further mitigation – external parties may be called into assess the child further using these tools (or a variation of the tools). The tools need not require a constant intimacy with the child, but can be assessed on the spot like many psychometric tests.

Other forms of assessment can be done in a similar manner of how role-playing games (“RPG”) players acquire experience points (“XP”) to upgrade their RPG characters. These can be related to the child completing certain academic and non-academic tasks. Points, badges and recognition can be given to demonstration of certain activities, behaviours etc – such as teamwork, leadership etc.

To achieve the above, technology can be used to document, record, and provide an updated scoring system as the child progresses. Now with mobile technology, these form of scoring can be done on the move and at the right moment the tasks have been completed by the child.

Training the tutors & developing the infrastructure

There will naturally be major changes to the tutors and infrastructure for this to happen. Therefore this will not happen overnight. Investment will be needed, incentives can be provided to the private sector to participate in driving the change by providing some of their resources – financial as well as human capital.

The tools are perhaps the items of least concern as many of these are already available.

Training can be quite minimal, as many of the tools come with its own diagnosis. However, should training be required – there are a large number of organisations that have employees trained in these tools. They can be roped in.

Implementation and moving forward

This post was not meant to be an answer, nor would it be correct. The goal is to initiate a discussion around this important topic. After all, education is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) economic multiplier.

The key thing for all of us is to start looking at our education systems and ask ourselves the question whether it is helping us develop more leaders, thinkers, doers and creators for the fast changing 21st century connected and borderless world?

Start with the qualities of people we want in our economy now and many years ahead – and then work backwards to design an education system that meets those needs.

Albert Einstein quotes

 

Something found on the net:

[Note: This list of Einstein quotes was being forwarded around the Internet in e-mail, so I decided to put it on my web page. I’m afraid I can’t vouch for its authenticity, tell you where it came from, who compiled the list, who Kevin Harris is, or anything like that. Still, the quotes are interesting and enlightening.]

Collected Quotes from Albert Einstein

  • “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”
  • “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
  • “Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.”
  • “I want to know God’s thoughts; the rest are details.”
  • “The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”
  • “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
  • “The only real valuable thing is intuition.”
  • “A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.”
  • “I am convinced that He (God) does not play dice.”
  • “God is subtle but he is not malicious.”
  • “Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.”
  • “I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.”
  • “The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility.”
  • “Sometimes one pays most for the things one gets for nothing.”
  • “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.”
  • “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
  • “Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds.”
  • “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
  • “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.”
  • “Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one’s living at it.”
  • “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”
  • “The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.”
  • “God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically.”
  • “The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.”
  • “Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.”
  • “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”
  • “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.”
  • “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
  • “Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”
  • “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
  • “Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater.”
  • “Equations are more important to me, because politics is for the present, but an equation is something for eternity.”
  • “If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.”
  • “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the the universe.”
  • “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”
  • “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”
  • “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
  • “In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep.”
  • “The fear of death is the most unjustified of all fears, for there’s no risk of accident for someone who’s dead.”
  • “Too many of us look upon Americans as dollar chasers. This is a cruel libel, even if it is reiterated thoughtlessly by the Americans themselves.”
  • “Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how passionately I hate them!”
  • “No, this trick won’t work…How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?”
  • “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”
  • “Yes, we have to divide up our time like that, between our politics and our equations. But to me our equations are far more important, for politics are only a matter of present concern. A mathematical equation stands forever.”
  • “The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking…the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.”
  • “Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.”
  • “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”
  • “A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeeded be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”
  • “The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.”
  • “Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
  • “You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.”
  • “One had to cram all this stuff into one’s mind for the examinations, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect on me that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year.”
  • “…one of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one’s own ever-shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life into the world of objective perception and thought.”
  • “He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”
  • “A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
  • “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” (Sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton)

Copyright: Kevin Harris 1995 (may be freely distributed with this acknowledgement)

Other collected quotes:

  • “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”
  • “I, at any rate, am convinced that He (God) does not throw dice.”
  • “The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
  • “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
  • “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”
  • “Falling in love is not at all the most stupid thing that people do — but gravitation cannot be held responsible for it.”
  • “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
  • “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
  • “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value”
  • “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.”
  • “The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.”
  • “Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.”
  • “Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.”
  • “Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But I do not doubt that the lion belongs to it even though he cannot at once reveal himself because of his enormous size.”
  • “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”
  • “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.”
  • “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
  • “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.”
  • “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”
  • “I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.”
  • “Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics, I can assure you that mine are all greater”
  • “In order to form an immaculate member of a flock of sheep one must, above all, be a sheep.”
  • “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.”
  • “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
  • “Truth is what stands the test of experience.”
  • “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”
  • “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
  • “Human knowledge and skills alone cannot lead humanity to a happy and dignified life. Humanity has every reason to place the proclaimers of high moral standards and values above the discoverers of objective truth.”
  • “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.”
  • “Common sense is nothing more than a deposit of prejudices laid down by the mind before you reach eighteen.”