Fairy Tales Are Good For You

I backed the Kickstarter campaign for Hello Ruby, in the author’s words, “a children’s book that teaches programming fundamentals through stories and kid-friendly activities.”  Estimated time of delivery: August 2014.

Kickstarter campaigns take months (sometimes years!) to get from idea to delivery, and project creators post regular updates to share progress. I like Kickstarter for these behind-the-scenes vignettes of how ideas turn into reality.

Today’s Hello Ruby update began,

 “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

– Albert Einstein

A great idea from a great mind.

The foremost thinker of his generation, advocating a literary diet of fairy tales for the scientists of tomorrow. Is this too good to be true?

No and yes.

Did Einstein say exactly that? No.

Did Einstein say something with the same intent? Yes.

A few minutes of searching led me to Jan Priddy’s post and story behind the quote:

‘In the [1954] New Mexico Library Bulletin, Elizabeth Margulis tells a story of a woman who was a personal friend of the late dean of scientists, Dr. Albert Einstein. Motivated partly by her admiration for him, she held hopes that her son might become a scientist. One day she asked Dr. Einstein’s advice about the kind of reading that would best prepare the child for this career. To her surprise, the scientist recommended Fairy tales and more fairy tales.” The mother protested that she was really serious about this and she wanted a serious answer; but Dr. Einstein persisted, adding that creative imagination is the essential element in the intellectual equipment of the true scientist, and that fairy tales are the childhood stimulus to this quality.’ (emphasis added)

Faith in humanity restored. Respect for MYP Design increased. Plans to read fairy tales with my girls this weekend validated.


TIL Gun Manufacturers Make Money From Video Game Guns

Hmmm…This presents an interesting facet I hadn’t considered in the world of gaming conversations. Enjoy.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Positive Trumps Prohibition

Recognize this guy?

"Prohibition worked for me."
“Prohibition worked for me.”

Thanks to the Falstead Act, which prohibited the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcohol in the United States from 1920 to 1933, illicit trade in liquor was an attractively lucrative business. Al Capone, at the height of his criminal career, raked in $100 million a year. While Prohibition was well intended, it had unintended consequences and fuelled the behaviours it was intended to eradicate.

Fast forward to me reading over my daughter’s shoulder on the bus to school. In her hand, The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt & Julie Graham-Chang by Amy Ignatow. The page below caught my eye, as it bears strong resemblance to the boundaries my wife and I use at home.

The Popularity Papers
“Maybe we should go to the library”

The best laid plans of mice and men do often go awry. Daddy and Papa Dad’s Rules for the Internet only serve the intended purpose when when one of the adults is in room, and paying attention.

Internet prohibition only works as long as the access to the Internet can be controlled. How many wired devices do I see in use at school, on the bus, MTR, or ferries? There is no limit to the distractions competing for my daughters’ and  students’ time and attention, but there is a limit of me. If I can’t impose my control ubiquitously (And why would I?), then I have to model and instil self-control in my children and students, so that they develop their own internal locus of control.

Block some things, because there is some Internet content that no-one should stumble across. But find something that is enticing and popular, and then try to shut it down? Difficult.

So when I am not shoulder surfing, do my daughters have the tools for self-control?