Tag Archive | "School"

Chris Barnes: School Teacher Turned Game Creator Explains How He Launched A Million Dollar Escape Room Board Game Online Subscription Business

 [ Download MP3 | Transcript | iTunes | Soundcloud | Stitcher | Spotify | Raw RSS ] In late 2018 I received an application for a new InboxDone.com client. His name was Chris Barnes and he explained how he had a hugely successful online subscription business. As I listened intently to Chris during his discovery call […]

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An MP3 Website, Activist Community, A Craigslist-Copy Called Yaz.com.au And An English School – These Are My Failures And The Lessons Learned

[ Download MP3 | Transcript | iTunes | Soundcloud | Raw RSS ] Welcome to the EJ Podcast ‘Solo Session 2’, otherwise known as the Failure episode. The episode itself is not a failure, but features business projects that I created during my earlier years as an entrepreneur that did…

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7 Bad Writing Habits You Learned in School

forget these lessons to become a better writer

What is good writing?

Ask an English teacher, and they’ll tell you good writing is grammatically correct. They’ll tell you it makes a point and supports it with evidence.

Maybe, if they’re really honest, they’ll admit it has a scholarly tone — prose that sounds like Jane Austen earns an A, while a paper that could’ve been written by Willie Nelson scores a B (or worse).

Not all English teachers abide by this system, but the vast majority do. Just look at the writing of most graduates, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s proper, polite, and just polished enough not to embarrass anyone. Mission accomplished, as far as our schools are concerned.

But let me ask you something:

Is that really good writing?

I think most good writers listen to the way English teachers want them to write and think, “This isn’t real. It has no feeling, no distinctiveness, no oomph. You’re the only person in the world who would willingly read it. Everyone else would rather chew off their own eyelids than read more than three pages of this boring crap.”

And they’re right.

Create interesting content people want to read

Compare an award-winning essay to a best-selling novel, and you’ll notice that they are written in almost completely different languages.

Some of it has to do with the audience, sure. It’s natural to write differently for academics than you would for everyday people. But my question is: who are you going to spend more time writing for?

My guess: everyday people — your family and friends, your blog audience, your boss at work, maybe even a Letter to the Editor every now and again. None of them are academics. None of them want to read an essay.

Personally, I think good writing doesn’t have to be educated or well-supported or even grammatically correct. It does have to be interesting enough that other people want to read it.

Much of what comes out of high schools and universities fails this test, not because our students are incapable of saying anything interesting, but because a well-meaning but flawed academic system has taught them a lot of bad habits.

Let’s go through seven of them.

1. Trying to sound like dead people

It’s a sad state of affairs when the youngest writer on your reading list has been dead 100 years, but that’s the way it is in school.

I don’t know who exactly decides what’s worth reading and what’s not, but they (whoever “they” are) believe in reading the “classics,” and most of those classics are centuries old. What’s worse is that many teachers hold up the classics as examples of what good writing is, and they expect you to mimic those writers with your essays.

Sure, Chaucer and Thomas More and Shakespeare were the stud muffins of their day, but you don’t see them on the New York Times Bestseller List now.

Not because they aren’t good (they were freaking great), but because people can’t connect with them. By mimicking their style, you might make a few teachers happy, but you’re essentially handicapping your writing in the eyes of the public.

If you want to make a connection, you’re much better off studying hot writers like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and Seth Godin. Watch what they do, and play with using some of their techniques in your own writing.

Yes, you’ll still be mimicking the works other writers, but at least you’ll be mimicking something people want to read.

2. Expecting someone to hand you a writing prompt

Looking through the eyes of an educator, I can see why telling students what to write about would be useful. You have a bunch of students who couldn’t care less about your curriculum, and making them write a paper about the assigned readings is a great way to force them to read the material.

Makes sense … but it doesn’t make it any less damaging.

One of the biggest challenges of writing is figuring out what to write. Whether you’re writing a memo, an article, or a letter to your mother, the process is always the same: you start out with a blank page, and you decide what to put on it.

Sure, that involves considering what your audience will want to read, but no one but you makes the final decision of what to put on the page. That act of deciding is what writing is all about.

3. Writing long paragraphs

Once upon a time, it was acceptable to write paragraphs long enough to fill multiple pages with big blocks of text.

Not surprisingly, that’s the way most of us were taught to write: long paragraphs, topic sentences neatly organized, lots of supporting evidence in between assertions. It was the “correct” way to write.

Not.

Any.

More.

Nowadays, most paragraphs should be a maximum of three sentences. It’s also a good idea to include some shorter paragraphs with only one or two sentences, using them to punctuate powerful ideas.

It’s not so much about having a “correct” length as using paragraphs to give your writing rhythm.

4. Avoiding profanity at all costs

I admit it; this is a controversial one. Many excellent writers still hold that profanity has no place in professional publications, while others feel comfortable using curse words occasionally.

The rest of us sit around wondering whether it’s okay to express ourselves “that way” or not.

So, who’s right? Well, I think Stephen King says it best:

“Make yourself a solemn promise right now that you’ll never use ‘emolument’ when you mean ‘tip’ and you’ll never say John stopped long enough to perform an act of excretion when you mean John stopped long enough to take a shit. If you believe ‘take a shit’ would be considered offensive or inappropriate by your audience, feel free to say John stopped long enough to move his bowels (or perhaps John stopped long enough to ‘push’). I’m not trying to get you to talk dirty, only plain and direct.”

‘Nough said.

5. Leaning on sources

Most kids I knew hated digging up sources and quoting them in their papers, but not me. No, the sneaky little bugger that I was (and still am) realized that sources were an escape route from creativity. With enough quotations from other writers, I could fill up an entire paper without coming up with a single original thought of my own.

And I was rewarded for it. From kindergarten to getting my degree in English Literature, I got an A on all but like five papers.

Here’s why: a lot of teachers care more about solid research than original ideas. They don’t want to see daring and inventive arguments challenging the foundation of everything we hold to be true and arguing boldly for a new worldview.

To them, it’s much more important that you understand the ideas of others and be able to cite them in MLA format.

But real life is the opposite.

Go around citing the sources of all of your ideas and people will start avoiding you, because it’s boring as hell. They don’t care who said what, and they aren’t interested in hearing the chronology of an idea.

What they want to hear is a new perspective on a favorite topic.

If it comes from you, that’s fine. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too.

6. Staying detached

We are taught that good writing puts the focus on the subject, not the writer. It’s unemotional. It gives equal attention to opposing points of view, presenting them all without singling out one as best.

And sometimes, it’s true. If you’re a scientist, engineer, or a doctor, then maintaining your role as a detached observer is a great idea. For everyone else though, it’s a disaster.

Have you ever read the stuff scientists, engineers, and other so-called “detached observers” write? It’s boring! Outside of their exclusive circles, you couldn’t pay people to read it.

If you want people to want to read what you write, then you should do the opposite. Be more like Oprah Winfrey or Gary Vaynerchuk. They are opinionated, have a unique style, and are prone to emotional outbursts.

It’s no coincidence. That’s what makes them interesting.

7. Listening to “experts” more than yourself

Who am I to criticize the writing habits you learned in school?

Well … nobody.

Yes, I’m a professional writer. Yes, I have a literature degree. Yes, other writers have paid me up to $ 200 an hour to edit their work, and they’ve been amazed when all I did was correct the above mistakes.

But that doesn’t mean I’m right. In fact, that’s probably the most important lesson you can learn about writing:

No one but you is an expert on your writing.

Not me. Not your English teachers. Not Strunk and White and their highfalutin Elements of Style.

The longer you write, the more you’ll realize that other writers can’t tell you what to do. You should listen to more experienced writers, sure, but never more than you listen to yourself.

Great writers don’t learn how to write by sitting in writing courses, reading writing blogs, or browsing Barnes & Noble for yet more books on writing.

They learn how to write by coming to a blank page, writing something down, and then asking themselves if it works.

If it does, they keep it. If it doesn’t, they don’t. Then they repeat the process until they finish something they feel is worth publishing.

Sadly, most writers don’t know this

They labor under the mistaken assumption that there is an invisible standard of good and bad. And they worry that the Writing Police are going to show up at their door any minute, handcuff them, and haul them off to jail for failing to measure up.

If that was true, you wouldn’t see a single writer walking the street without one of those blinking bracelets around their ankle.

The truth is that you’re in charge. You. The blank page is sitting there, and you can fill it up with whatever the hell you want.

So stop sitting there, silly.

Go for it.

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on October 28, 2009.

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Ahmed Mohamed, Teen Arrested for Bringing Clock to School, Gets Presidential Support

Ahmed Mohamed, the Texas teen thrust in the national spotlight after he was arrested and suspended for bringing a homemade clock to school, has friends in high places.

President Obama tweeted his support Wednesday afternoon, asking if Ahmed wants to visit the White House with his clock.

“Cool clock, Ahmed,” tweeted Obama. “Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science. It's what makes America great”

He’s also found support from Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton:

Ahmed brought what he says was an engineering project to his Irving, Texas school on Monday. According to the Dallas Morning News, Ahmed’s English teacher heard the device going off in class and took it away from him. By sixth period, Ahmed was in the process of being arrested.

He claims he was interrogated by multiple police officers, threatened, and accused a trying to build a bomb.

By Wednesday morning, Irving Police have conceded it’s not a dangerous device, but officers had determined it was a “hoax bomb” despite Ahmed’s protestations of it simply being a clock.

From the Dallas News:

At a press conference this morning, Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd said Ahmed Mohamed was arrested for bringing “a hoax bomb” to school — and not a clock, as Mohamed said he repeatedly told his teachers.

 

But, Boyd said, “we are confident it’s not an explosive device” intended to cause “alarm.” Rather, he said, officers determined it was “a hoax bomb” and a “naive accident.”

 

As a result, he said, no charges will be filed against Ahmed, and “the case is considered closed.” He also said “the reaction would have been the same regardless” of the student’s skin color.

His family and many on Twitter feel otherwise.

The hashtag #IStandWithAhmed has been trending all day.

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Kris Jenner Excludes Caitlyn from Kendall and Kylie Jenner’s High School Graduation Celebration

Kris Jenner and Caitlyn Jenner are reportedly having some co-parenting issues, and Caitlyn doesn’t like the fact that Kris has left her out of a very important family event for their daughters Kendall and Kylie Jenner.

Back in July, Kris Jenner threw a graduation bash for both girls after Kylie fulfilled her requirements for homeschooling. Kendall had finished hers up several months before. The bash was a graduation celebration for both Kylie and Kendall Jenner, but Caitlyn wasn’t invited.

The former couple argued about the omission in a recent I Am Cait clip.

“It wasn’t me making that decision. It was you making that decision,” Caitlyn Jenner said. “For 15 years of my life, I carpooled kids every day. Some days, I spent three or four hours a day in the car. [It’s] a slap in the face when you don’t even get invited to their graduation.”

“Listen, usually people who get a divorce don’t do everything together. It wasn’t malicious,” Kris Jenner said, right after bringing up Caitlyn’s Vanity Fair cover.

Caitlyn Jenner makes a very valid point. It’s not like Kris Jenner didn’t issue an invitation to Sunday dinner. It was a graduation celebration for the daughters that Caitlyn–as Bruce–played a huge role in raising.

Do you think Kris Jenner was being malicious in omitting Caitlyn from the list of invitees?

Is the Keeping Up With the Kardashians matriarch still struggling with the fact that Caitlyn Jenner was once Bruce Jenner–the man to whom she was married for more than 20 years?

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The first fully solar-powered school district should happen this summer




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Students in a small region of southern Iowa again see the great technological changes in the fall. The more workers were to transform school buildings in the first district of Iowa completely powered by the sun.

In January, the district WACO farm installed a large solar collector behind the building of the primary school in Crawfordsville. In July, work should begin in another solar farm next to the main building of the school in Wayland. When all is done, solar energy should provide more than 90 percent of the electricity needs of the district.

From the street, WACO elementary as little primary school building in the city. But Superintendent Darrell Smith said that when he heard the buzz of the orders of the collector panel behind the school, it’s the sound of money in the bank.

“The first conversation we had was, ‘How can we reduce General Fund spending and save money for the district wanted to help the general fund and has evolved”? We were the first to go full sun in Iowa, “Smith said.

The director said that the initial configuration of the solar panel has already had an impact, saving about $ 20,000 in energy costs, while from the beginning of the year. After that, Smith began looking for ways to expand the use of solar energy throughout the district.

Another large solar park is expected to land next to the main building of the school in Wayland. Smith believes will bring the percentage of the area supplied by the sun to more than 90 percent. Given cloudy days in Iowa, he said here that almost 100 percent of solar energy as expected.

On sunny days, the solar panels should provide the district as much as 110 percent of the energy used. With net metering, the surplus is returned to the system of Alliant Energy and brought credit to the district.

WACO solar Conversation became a teaching moment this spring as 5 and 6 students took daily measurements ahead and calculates the output power. Professor Chad McClanahan said students began rooting for sunny days for the system to produce more energy.

“That gives you a sense when you can see what is happening and it makes a difference when it comes to science and green energy, and then say” Come look, “he said.

Superintendent Smith said WACO struggled trying to reach the final push spring sun. The original solar park was financed by a tax of one cent local option. But this money might not cover an additional system. The district wanted to take advantage of solar tax credits and private investment needed to buy the system with a lease-back and eventual sale of the district. Iowa law has no rules to cover this type of financial agreement.

Smith said the Iowa Department of Education has worked with the neighborhood and eventually found a way to make the project a reality. So when the sun shines at the end of August, this means more savings for the district of about 500 students.

It is expected that members of the Board of Directors of the WACO school for open tenders and approve the solar expansion in mid-June At least a dozen school districts in Iowa contact the responsible WACO ask how they did it.

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50 Cent’s Baby Mama Did Not Invite Him To His Son’s High School Graduation

There have been rumors floating around that rapper 50 Cent abandoned his son during his high school graduation. In a statement released by his PR people, however, 50 Cent said that the mother of his son did not let him know when the graduation would take place.

Sources close to the rapper told TMZ that 50 Cent was disappointed and hurt when he saw pictures of his son, Marquise Jackson, on Facebook wearing his graduation robes and hugging his mother.

His son also wrote “Yea I broke down. I was really excited to see my pops at my graduation but he never showed up. smh. My sister and mama is always there for me just know that you wasn’t. I did it without you.”

Marquise graduated from a private school located in Atlanta. Reports say that at the time of his son’s graduation, 50 Cent was in Budapest.

The rapper recently appeared on BET’s 106 & Park to promote his fifth album entitled “Animal Ambition.” During his appearance, he took time to answer questions about missing his son’s graduation. “I haven’t received an invitation. When he graduated I was in Budapest on a movie with Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, and Jason Statham.”

50 Cent talks about missing son’s graduation on BET’s 106 & Park

He continued to say that the reason why his personal life is out in the open is because Marquise’s mother went to TMZ. “I wish she’d find someone so she could leave me alone,” he said.

50 Cent, born Curtis James Jackson III, is a father of two. He has a younger son from a different relationship. The 38-year-old rapper blames the mother of Marquis, Shaniqua Tompkins, for his strained relationship with his eldest son.

In an interview with MTV last year, the rapper said that his son has a fear for him. “Cause it’s like, his mother will traditionally say, ‘You wait ‘til your father finds out’,” he said. He also talked about being a strict father, as he always reminds Marquise to take care of his mother and not give her headaches.

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Students Stabbed; Houston High School in Mourning

This morning at a Houston High School, a 17 year old girl was stabbed to death. Spring High School is in mourning due to her death. One child was extremely hurt and was sent to the emergency room for a surgery. Another two students suffered minor injuries.

Three students caused the accident and police think that it was gang related and due to racial tensions, according to The Inquisitr.

No names have been released at this time. There are no weapons that have yet to be found, relating to the incident.

The Inquisitr also released a statement from the superintendent of Spring High School; “Every parent sends their child to school believing that school should be one of the safe-haven places.… It’s what we spend our night and days working for, and what I lose sleep over. We go into this business to make life better for children, and they need to be able to trust the adults who are responsible for their security and their care.”

Student crime is becoming more frequent in this day and age. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, from July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010, there were 33 school-associated violent deaths in elementary and secondary schools in the United States. Of the 33 student, staff, and nonstudent school-associated violent deaths occurring between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010, 25 were homicides, 5 were suicides, and 3 were legal interventions.

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Which Is Better: New Media Marketing Or Old School Internet Marketing?

I received an email recently from one my newsletter subscribers named Zsolt, who is from Hungary.

He had a really great question regarding what business models still work online. Specifically he was referring to the more social web 2.0 world of blogging, podcasting and social media, versus traditional internet marketing formats.

This is the part of the … Read the rest of this entry »

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Game of Thrones Gets a High School Makeover

Not unlike the world created by George R.R. Martin in his series of books now being turned into the HBO series Game of Thrones, high school is a rough place full of evil people trying to get ahead at the expense of their fellow man (and even their closest friends). That’s why a Game of Thrones-set-in-high school short makes so much sense.

If you liked this episode, you’re in luck. The creators say that the next one will drop on March 17th.

Oh, and I’m sure you know this date like the back of your hand, but Game of Thrones Season 3 premieres on HBO March 31st.

[schoolofthrones]


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