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ScotlandJS 2015 Keynote - Learning & Vulnerability; Teaching & Empathy

ScotlandJS 2015 Keynote - Learning & Vulnerability; Teaching & Empathy


Philip Roberts

May 07, 2015

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  1. This is jackie chan. You’ve probably heard of him.

  2. Though you may recognise him more for poses like this.

    Now, I find Jackie chan pretty funny, but I must admit, I’ve never thought too hard about his work, until I came across this…
  3. Every frame a painting Tony Zhou Every frame a painting

    is an awesome set of video essays about filmography, by Tony Zhou. Now, I don’t know anything about film-making, but these videos are seriously great. In this one, Tony analyses Jackie’s work as an actor and as a director of action-comedy (I didn’t even know Jackie was a director, but it turns out he’s a really great one). But one little section of this essay really stuck with me. - This slide is intro from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1PCtIaM_GQ Next slide was this section: https://youtu.be/Z1PCtIaM_GQ?t=3m34s
  4. “Wow, Jackie good. It’s not good, you can do it.

    Except, do you have the patience, or not?” This section https://youtu.be/Z1PCtIaM_GQ?t=3m34s was shown on this slide
  5. “Wow, Jackie good. It’s not good, you can do it.

    Except, do you have the patience, or not?”
  6. 10,000 - It would seem that jackie is something of

    a perfectionist, putting hours and hours into the perfect shot. - If you haven’t snoozed through the last few years of pop-science, Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule probably comes to mind at this point. - This is his conclusion from looking at a bunch of studies that show you need 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert in something.
  7. “Wow, Jackie good. It’s not good, you can do it.

    Except, do you have the patience, or not?” 10,000 hours Initially, both of these ideas resonate with me they discard the idea that people are innately, and significantly talented at things by birth, and in theory they say that anyone can be as awesome as jackie chan but then, they start to grate on me. Is perfectionism a good thing? probably not. and ultimately
  8. I ain’t got time for that

  9. 1 I want to learn a lot of things I’m

    kind of greedy when it comes to learning
  10. 2 I can get joy out of something without mastering

    it I know this…
  11. You don’t have to become a pro to get value

    from learning something - Now I know, you know this, at least, some of the time - We all learn all the time, right? But I think we can be quick to discard some things as things we could never do. - How many of you have told yourself you could never be a speaker at a conference?
  12. A learning story

  13. - This is Collin Burns, who just last month broke

    the world record for a single solve of a rubiks cube, at 5.25 seconds - watch the clock in the bottom right of the video. - My zero-th reaction to this video is, holy crap - I’ve got to sort out my priorities, I don’t get that excited about, well, anything.
  14. Hmm How close could I get to 5.25s? And my

    first reaction is, hmm how do you even solve a rubik’s cube, and how close could I even get to that kind of time?
  15. Ain’t nobody got time for that And then, the grown

    up part of me kicks in… And yet, here’s a (real) rubiks cube
  16. Rubik’s Noob A while ago I got it into my

    head that I should figure out how to solve one of these, so I threw 5 of my hard earned pounds at amazon, and the next thing you know I have a rubiks cube. The first time around, I decided to see how far I could get, without looking up any solutions. - Knowing what I need to achieve, but having no idea how to do it. - Fumbling around long enough with the cube, and finally happening upon the solution I was looking for, but being unsure how I got there. - Trying to repeat the move, again without really knowing "how". - Over time starting to get a hunch as to how it's working, but still not being able to understand what's going on fully, or be able to repeat it perfectly. - Finally having an ah-ha moment, where I can see how the move works, and why, and being able to repeat it easily. - To ultimately being able to reproduce the move without even looking at the cube (even if it's multiple moves long).
  17. Here’s me solving the cube for the second time ever.

    I still had to follow the instructions, and it took me ten minutes, but eventually I solved it. For reference, this is sped up 60x or six-thousand percent, and it’s still slower than the world record.
  18. By the end of monday, with a lot of practice

    (I think about 40 to 50 full solves in total) I’d gone from over ten minutes, to two and a half (this is running at about 15x normal speed). I still need a crib-sheet for some of that later moves,
  19. ∞ slower only 23 times slower - Now, I am

    a loooong way off a record, but already it’s been interesting. For so long I have not been able to solve a rubik’s cube, and before I started there’s no way I thought I could get under two minutes as quickly as I did
  20. But, it’s just a Rubik’s cube, Phil - Now, a

    rubiks cube is arguably, not a very useful skill. It’s also not a particularly creative skill. But I think this sentiment still holds. Over the last year or two I have learned a number of new things: how to draw, how to dive, … - None of them to an amazing standard - but certainly to a lot higher ability than I thought was possible.
  21. Why can’t we learn all the things? Reflecting on my

    experiences learning things, I’ve been thinking a lot about what stops us learning new things.
  22. Cognitive Resources Some thoughts from kathy sierra’s talk - move

    cube stuff here: learning phases, food, etc
  23. Making Badass Developers - Kathy Sierra Can’t do (but need

    to) Can do with effort Mastered (reliable & automatic) Kathy Sierra gave an awesome talk recently at Fluent, called “Making Badass Developers”. I really can’t recommend it enough, but she talks about these three stages of learning. Hopefully, as we learn things, they move through these three phases, right? The trouble is, that middle phase can obviously take a lot of time, and energy. So if we take on too much at once, or don’t break our learning up into manageable pieces, it can be really exhausting. It was interesting to me, to see how I went through these phases with the rubik’s cube. Sub-tasks would go…
  24. 0 150 300 450 600 1 2 3 4 5

    6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Attempt # Time (s) Can Haz Lunch Now? Something else that was interesting was this. These were my first 15 solves. You can see that first one up around the ten minute mark, then quickly coming down to a point where I could only more gradually reduce my time. But what on earth happened here? Over two solves my time more than doubled again. Well - lunchtime happened. My stomach kicked in and was like - dude, what the hell are we doing, it’s food time, and yeah, cognitive resources I guess.
  25. Vulnerability But the real killer for learning, is not even

    getting started. And I see this over and over again, people are scared to even try. I think that’s because learning, especially as an adult, is inherently vulnerable. It challenges our sense of self to admit we don’t know. So we tell ourselves stories about why we just aren’t an “arty” person, or we’re not a “sports” person, or whatever. Some things are obviously vulnerable - anything physical probably has people watching us; public speaking is, well, terrifying; even with drawing we tend to show it to someone else. But even when it’s not obviously public, I think this failure can all too often hold us back.
  26. - In the run up to the 2012 olympics, I

    saw some of the high diving, and thought - hey, that looks kinda fun, how does someone learn to do that? - Actually, I think the honest reason was - that as a kid I always wanted to be able to do a somersault into a swimming pool, but was always too scared. And 27 year old me figured it was time to put that 15 year old fear to bed. - But, it was pretty hard. Even plucking up the courage to sign up for the class took some work. And I know it sounds easy, but I think all too often we find excuses not to. - And then being there, is super vulnerable: you’re at a pool, surrounded by other people you’ve never met in your swimming costume, planning to throw yourself head first into the water. Oh, and there’s probably some kids nearby doing double somersaults as if it’s no big deal. - But you know what, learning to dive is one of the best things I’ve done in a long time. I don’t even do it anymore, but pushing myself, conquering a bunch of fears, and realising how much wanting to do something can overcome; has really helped build my confidence. - Oh, and I finally got to do that somersault too.
  27. - To sum it up, this is I think my

    favourite quote ever on learning - and it’s from adventure time.
  28. Learning to teach Lets get meta for a moment. If

    we can learn, can we learn, to teach?
  29. Dog Training In case you somehow weren’t aware by now,

    last year this little guy joined our family.
  30. Raising this little doofus, into a reasonably nice dog, has

    been one of the most heartwarming, and enjoyable things I’ve done in a long time. But before I tell you more about that, I want to do a little experiment.
  31. Class Experiment [Put glasses on.]

  32. Please stand up (if you’re comfortable doing that) Is everyone

    up for playing a little game, to learn about dog training? Okay, I need you all (if you can comfortably) to stand up. Okay, great.
  33. Clap your hands once

  34. Wave your hands in the air Like you just don’t

  35. 座ってください Suwa-a-tay kudasai-e

  36. 座ってください Suwa-a-tay kudasai-e

  37. 座ってください! Suwa-a-tay kudasai-e!

  38. 座ってください! This means, “Please sit down” by the way This

    is how, intuitively, a lot of people try to teach a dog commands. They just say a word at them louder and louder, somehow expecting the dog to understand.
  39. If they’ve never been taught how to train a dog,

    I think this is how a lot of people will naturally approach it. They look at other people telling their dogs to sit and it working, and assume they just need to tell their dog to sit. Maybe they give their dog a shove in the butt to show them what to do. The trouble is, it just doesn’t work. And when you think about it from a dogs perspective, it seems kind of obvious. Dogs don’t understand english. They don’t know what you’re trying to tell them, and really, they don’t actually care. All they want is treats, and to sleep, and to poop; as far as I can tell anyway. You can’t just tell a dog to sit. You have to get them to sit on their own, and then get them to associate the word with the action. It’s actually pretty easy. You take a treat, hold it over their nose and move it back wards, and as they reach up to get it, they’ll plonk their butt on the ground. As soon as they do, you give them a treat. Then as they get better at that, you can start to add your command word in, saying it as they put their bum on the ground - not before.
  40. Telling !== Teaching I believe we are all capable of

    teaching. You don’t have to be an expert. We all have more experience than others in something. And teaching, them about it, is such a valuable gift that you can give. And it’s awesome for your own understanding. But for me, the important thing to remember is that telling does not necessarily mean you are teaching. Think about how you are conveying that information, are you just dumping a bunch of facts on someone, or are you really thinking about it from their perspective?
  41. a i u e o アイウエオ k カキクケコ s サシスセソ

    t タチツテト n ナニヌネノ h ハヒフヘホ m マミムメモ So, it’s your turn to learn :) My wife and I have been learning a little japanese recently. This is Katakana, the “sort-of-alphabet” they use for translating foreign words and names into japanese characters and sounds. Each symbol has a sound a-ee-oo-eh-oh, ka-kee-kuu-keh-koh, sa-see-suu-seh-soh…
  42. スキー So, this is how you write ski in japanese.

    There’s no word for ski in japanese, so they just kind of sound it out. So this is su- ki, ski (the dash just extends the last vowel)
  43. a i u e o アイウエオ k カキクケコ s サシスセソ

    t タチツテト n ナニヌネノ h ハヒフヘホ m マミムメモ I’m sure you can all now trivially find su, and ki, in the table right? Heh, yeah, japanese is _hard_. Fortunately, one thing that is used for teaching these characters, is visual mnemonics.
  44. Like a hanger, with which you hang up your fancy

    suits. http://www.tofugu.com/ So here’s a mnemonic for su. See how it looks kinda like a hanger for hanging up your fancy suits. Wait, you’re programmers. Okay, see how it looks like a hanger for hanging up your fancy “suits”
  45. http://www.tofugu.com/ This kana looks like part of a weird key

    (ki). And this is the mnemonic for ki, it looks kind of like the most useless key ever made, right? But you can see what they’re going for. These are super useful, because they are _so much easier_ to remember when you have something for your brain to hook into. You don’t need them eventually, but to start with, they’re so useful. If you wanted to, you could totally learn the rest of the basic katakana characters in like an hour or two. At this point I should probably point you to tofugu.com as that’s where these are from - it’s great.
  46. ジャバスクリプト ja ba su ku ri pu to javascript! Then

    you can translate foreign words into japanese, like this! ja-ba-su-ku-ri-pu-to javascript!
  47. Every interaction with someone in our industry is an opportunity

    to teach, learn or both
  48. Have a great conference @philip_roberts And with that, have a

    great conference! My name is philip roberts, and I work at &yet. Thanks for having me!