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Jackson Gonzalez
Jackson Gonzalez

These Things Are Hard

Reading code involves building up a mental model of what each thing should do, and how these things interact with each other. The best code, however, short-circuits reading everything. Instead of reading the implementation, you use variable and function names, comments, and other clues to figure things out.2

These things are hard

Long functions, like functions doing lots of things, need to encode lots of information into the name. And since the name length is bounded, you lose a lot more information in compressing this long name, which leads to poorer names.

Consider: You see some people around you who test if they can do something once, and drop it if they fail. Some others keep trying until they learn how to do it. The first group prizes its intelligence, while the second group prizes its hard work. Then, when you hear about the Fixed vs Growth mindset, things immediately click.

The inspirational best seller that ignited a movement and asked us to find our why. Discover the book that is captivating millions on TikTok and that served as the basis for one of the most popular TED Talks of all time - with more than 56 million views and counting. Over a decade ago, Simon Sinek started a movement that inspired millions to demand purpose at work, to ask what was the why of their organization. Since then, millions have been touched by the power of his ideas, and these ideas remain as relevant and timely as ever.

Global technology executive, serial entrepreneur, and angel investor Elad Gil has worked with high-growth, tech companies like Airbnb, Twitter, Google, Stripe, and Square as they've grown from small companies to global enterprises. Across all of these breakout companies, a set of common patterns has evolved into a repeatable playbook that Gil has now codified in High Growth Handbook.

I am a free range human who believes that the future already exists, if we know where to look. From the bustling Knowledge Quarter in London, it is my mission in life to hunt down those things and bring them to a wider audience. I am an innovation consultant, writer, futurist for Katerva, and the author of The 8 Step Guide To Building a Social Workplace. I have worked across private and public sectors, helping organizations discover fascinating projects and work from around the world to help trigger the innovation process. With a post graduate degree in computing, my posts will hopefully bring you complex topics in an easy to understand form that will allow you to bring fresh insights to your work, and maybe even your life.

Have you ever worked in a place where there was a lot of gossip? If so, it might have been due to a cover-up policy. A lot of companies try to cover up crises or when things go wrong, in order to solve them quietly while the employees think everything is great.

If the Olympics has shown us anything, it has shown us that this is not a country in terminal decline and lacking in confidence. With the right vision, leadership and stimulus, can still achieve incredible things.

We choose to be sustainable. We choose to be sustainable in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organise and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

But this research hasn't made its way into many elementary school classrooms. The prevailing approaches to reading instruction in American schools are inconsistent with basic things scientists have discovered about how children learn to read. Many educators don't know the science, and in some cases actively resist it. The resistance is the result of beliefs about reading that have been deeply held in the educational establishment for decades, even though those beliefs have been proven wrong by scientists over and over again.

Kim Harper, the district's supervisor of literacy, noticed the same thing. She'd been a high school English teacher in Bethlehem and said that a disturbing number of her students, even students in honors classes, weren't very good readers. "They didn't like to read," she said. "They avoided reading. They would tell me it was too hard."

But, as numerous studies have shown, reading is different. Our brains don't know how to do it. That's because human beings didn't invent written language until relatively recently in human history, just a few thousand years ago. To be able to read, structures in our brain that were designed for things such as object recognition have to get rewired a bit.

"Balanced literacy was a way to defuse the wars over reading," said Mark Seidenberg, a cognitive neuroscientist and author of the book "Language at the Speed of Sight." "It succeeded in keeping the science at bay, and it allowed things to continue as before."

Candy Maldonado, a first-grade teacher at Lincoln, described the district's old approach to reading instruction this way: "We did like a letter a week. So, if the letter was 'A,' we read books about 'A,' we ate things with 'A,' we found things with 'A,'" she said. "All we did was learn 'A' said 'ah.' And then there's apples, and we tasted apples."

A big part of the problem is at the university level, in schools of education, according to the authors of a 2016 article in the Journal of Childhood & Developmental Disorders. "Faculty have ignored the scientific knowledge that informs reading acquisition," the authors wrote. "As a result, the pre-service teachers who are being educated at these institutions fail to receive the necessary training."

Our brains are much more similar than they are different, and all children need to learn basically the same things to change their nonreading brains into reading brains. "Cultural, economic, and educational circumstances obviously affect children's progress," Seidenberg wrote in his book. "But what they need to learn does not change." One of the most consistent findings in all of education research is that children become better readers when they get explicit and systematic phonics instruction.

The students who suffer most when schools don't give their students insight into the code are kids with dyslexia. They have an especially hard time understanding the relationship between sounds and letters.

Mary Ariail, former chair of the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education at the University of Southern Mississippi, remains opposed to explicit phonics instruction. She thinks it can be helpful to do some phonics with kids as they're reading books, maybe prompt a child to sound something out or to notice a letter pattern in a word. But she believes kids will be distracted from understanding the meaning of what they're reading if teachers focus too much on how words are made up of letters. "One of the ideas behind whole language is that when [reading] is meaningful, it's easy," she said. "And when it's broken down into little parts, it makes it harder."

"It's so accepted in the scientific world that if you just write another paper about these fundamental facts and submit it to a journal they won't accept it because it's considered settled science," Moats said.

According to all the research, what you should see in every school is a heavy emphasis on explicit phonics instruction in the early grades. There is no evidence this turns kids off to reading or makes reading harder. In fact, it's the opposite. If you do a good job teaching phonics in the early grades, kids get off to a quicker start. "And they accelerate their progress faster and read more and like it better and so it becomes a self-reinforcing cycle," Moats said. "Whereas the converse is true. When you don't give kids insight into the code and don't arm them with insight into language, both spoken and written, what happens is, 'This is a mystery. I'm not sure I'm getting what these words really say. Therefore, I'm uncomfortable. And therefore, I don't really like it.'"

The students who suffer most when schools don't give their students insight into the code are kids with dyslexia. They have an especially hard time understanding the relationship between sounds and letters. If you're a child with dyslexia from an upper-income family, someone is probably going to notice that you're struggling and pay for you to get the help you need. But kids from poor families often get left behind, and there's evidence that a disproportionate number of them eventually end up in the criminal justice system. American prisons are full of people who grew up in poor families, and according to a study of the Texas prison population, nearly half of all inmates have dyslexia. They struggled to read as kids and probably never got the help they needed.

Listen in today to find out the secret to doing hard things, all the benefits doing hard things will bring, and how to generate motivation to do the hard thing right now. You are already extraordinary, and getting good at doing hard things lets you experience it. Go do some hard things.

So, Rahul and I had a retreat here, our third retreat we had here at the penthouse. And we were coaching people on all the different things. And one woman I was coaching was on weight loss. And she was saying that she wanted to make it easier to lose weight.


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