As most 10 years old boys, Brandon has a great love for animals, but not in the way you would expect. He is passionate about saving his favorites — our closest cousins among the Great Apes — from captivity!
Back in 2009, Brandon decided he wanted a chimp as a pet. Being curios if that is possible, he decided to research and learn more about these amazing animals, but what he found out caused a change of heart — instead of getting one as a pet, he decided he wanted to help save those held in captivity!
Since then, Brandon has been successfully raising awareness about the bad conditions in which chimps held in captivity for biomedical and other research live. He continually raises money to organize adoptions and transfer for such chimps to the Save the Chimps Sanctuary using his Make a Chimp Smile blog.
Brandon recently spoke at the TEDxYouth@TampaBay conference organized on Universal Children’s Day on November 20, 2010 (see video below) and is actively engaged with people and organizations that are interested in helping these endangered species!
“Had I the heavens embroidered cloths, Enwrought with gold and silver light, The blue and the dim and the dark cloths of night and light and the half-light, I would spread the cloths under your feet; But I, being poor, have only my dreams; I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” ~ W.B. Yeats
“And every day, everywhere, our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly.” ~ Sir Ken Robinson
Recently, I ran into a blog post from a middle school teacher who asked his students to explain how would they reform school. A noble idea to be commended! — you might say. That’s what I thought too, but then I saw the answers, including:
- Better cafeteria food with real ingredients
- A monthly educational field trip
- iPads, netbooks or laptops in classes
- More freedom in terms of leaving to use the restroom, eating a snack or getting a drink of water, etc.
Something feels wrong! Of course, there were some great ideas in the complete list — like more electives, feedback instead of marks, and community service once a week — but somehow the list suggested that all of the problems with the current education system can be resolved if we buy few iPads, stop making kids suffer with a full bladder till the end of the lesson and throw in a field trip or two?!
Looking at the list made me remember a lesson I learned in my career in software development – and somehow always forget and need to re-learn: Users (don’t!) always know what is best for them! Sometimes it takes someone from outside to notice what they’re doing wrong and show them alternative ways.
Learning to unlearn is the highest form of learning. ~ Buddhist proverb
At its very core, education is an innate expression of curiosity; a longing to understand and be part of the world; a manifestation of purpose and passion that every person carries within them. ~ Carey Elizabeth Smith, Co-Director of the Body Therapy Institute*
I’ve been troubled lately with the question “How do we learn?” I don’t mean specifically how kids learn in school, or how adults learn at a new job position… I’m rather curious how do we learn anything in general!
I know self-organization is possible! After all we know that life emerged from the chemical soup that was Earth ~ 4 billions of years ago — through nothing else but self-organization at molecular level. I guess something must make this Universe inherently capable of self-organization at many levels.
But to see self-organization including people with completely different backgrounds — at any level you can imagine: from education, to skills, to profession, to culture! — come together to organize an event like TEDxUBC was a mind-boggling experience for me!
TEDxUBC is few things! It is a quest to figure out how should secondary, post-secondary and lifelong learners be prepared for a world moving fast forward at breakneck speed? It is a conference that brings educators, business people and enthusiasts to share their ideas about transforming education. It is a movement to stir the public and various institutions into action to implement those ideas. It is a bunch of passionate people coming together to change the world in their own little way!
The premise of my previous article was that today’s world values participation above consumption and the new economy of attention selects those who engage with others and not those who focus on earning and spending money.
As I mentioned at the end of the article, though, there’s one more aspect about this view of the world that I didn’t cover. It is an aspect that I am most excited about and would like to lay it out here!
In a peculiar twist of random events converging to an unexpected outcome — which will become obvious below — after writing the article last night, today I got to watch Carne Ross, the first ever “freelance diplomat”, speaking at one of TED’s partner conferences, the Business Innovation Factory summit last year.
I am not writing this article to discuss Ben’s talk — it is one of the most passionate TED talks I’ve seen in a while and makes very compelling arguments about the future of the performing arts as guiding forces for fostering empathy and providing a platform for social and emotional intelligence in the society!
Instead, I am writing this to try to distill some thoughts I’ve had in my mind ever since I started with the TEDChildren initiative and Ben’s words resonate clearly with me — for reasons I hope to explain by the end of this article.
You’ve probably heard it many times — our biology teacher in grade school was wrong to teach us we only have five senses: sight, sound, touch, taste, and scent. We have many more — though there’s disagreement how many exactly, the number is probably higher than 10 — from some which sit on firmer scientific ground, like the sense of balance or gravity in our inner ear, to some which are murkier and may fall into the myths and legends rubric, like your parents “feeling” when you’ve got yourself in trouble
How about emotions? Many researches have tried to answer this and everyone seems to be in agreement that one can’t enumerate all possible emotions as they’re virtually limitless, but could still distill what is believed to be the set of basic emotions leading to all of the others. However, even the number of basic emotions is disputed and ranges from as low as only 2 (pain and pleasure) to 11 or more (anger, aversion, courage, dejection, desire, despair, fear, hate, hope, love, sadness).
Being interested in human personality and what shapes it, I can’t stop but wonder if we’ve truly explored the effect of the emotions on what most people (including myself) call group identity — the main driver that seems to be shaping individual humans that belong to a given group to behave more alike, thus increasing the group coherence.
During the past week, TED Global 2010 was happening at Oxford and I was “following” the event through the TED Blog, Twitter, etc. Yes, I went a long way in the past 6 months from someone who thought of himself as “traditional” and against some of the fashionable trends on the Internet (read Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, …) to someone who’s embracing some of the services out there and thinks of them as useful platforms — I am now even an avid Youtube fan as it let’s me get access to stuff like superb BBC channel 4 documentaries (see my channel), but I digress from my original digression
As I was following some of the talks through my Twitter glimpses, I built a list of my favorites I’d like to watch as soon as their videos are posted at TED.com and I was really happy to see that Elif Shafak‘s (a Turkish fiction writer) talk was posted yesterday — I eagerly watched her tonight!
Elif delivered a remarkable and inspiring talk — “Beware of the power of circles … If you want to destroy something in this life all you need to do is to surround it with thick walls: it will dry up inside,” just one quote to wet your interest. But she also made me think a bit deeper about culture so I felt compelled to put my thoughts in my blog.