Some potential summer, must-read books for any educator!
It’s hard to remember that famous people from history were….well, people. But they were. They struggled to age, they dealt with acne, they liked some foods and disliked others. They even needed to find work at times. Great, amazing, heralded people from the past had to find jobs.
I know the following has made its way around the web for several years, but it just resurfaced in my inbox and in talking with some colleagues, they had not seen it. Perhaps you have not either. The following was from Leonardo Da Vinci. It seemed that in 1482, at the age of 30, he wrote a letter containing a list of his capabilities to be delivered to Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan to procure a job. Here is the translated text:
"Most Illustrious Lord, Having now sufficiently considered the specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said instruments are nothing different from those in common use: I shall endeavor, without prejudice to any one else, to explain myself to your Excellency, showing your Lordship my secret, and then offering them to your best pleasure and approbation to work with effect at opportune moments on all those things which, in part, shall be briefly noted below.
1. I have a sort of extremely light and strong bridges, adapted to be most easily carried, and with them you may pursue, and at any time flee from the enemy; and others, secure and indestructible by fire and battle, easy and convenient to lift and place. Also methods of burning and destroying those of the enemy.
2. I know how, when a place is besieged, to take the water out of the trenches, and make endless variety of bridges, and covered ways and ladders, and other machines pertaining to such expeditions.
3. If, by reason of the height of the banks, or the strength of the place and its position, it is impossible, when besieging a place, to avail oneself of the plan of bombardment, I have methods for destroying every rock or other fortress, even if it were founded on a rock, etc.
4. Again, I have kinds of mortars; most convenient and easy to carry; and with these I can fling small stones almost resembling a storm; and with the smoke of these cause great terror to the enemy, to his great detriment and confusion.
5. And if the fight should be at sea I have kinds of many machines most efficient for offense and defense; and vessels which will resist the attack of the largest guns and powder and fumes.
6. I have means by secret and tortuous mines and ways, made without noise, to reach a designated spot, even if it were needed to pass under a trench or a river.
7. I will make covered chariots, safe and unattackable, which, entering among the enemy with their artillery, there is no body of men so great but they would break them. And behind these, infantry could follow quite unhurt and without any hindrance.
8. In case of need I will make big guns, mortars, and light ordnance of fine and useful forms, out of the common type.
9. Where the operation of bombardment might fail, I would contrive catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other machines of marvellous efficacy and not in common use. And in short, according to the variety of cases, I can contrive various and endless means of offense and defense.
10. In times of peace I believe I can give perfect satisfaction and to the equal of any other in architecture and the composition of buildings public and private; and in guiding water from one place to another.
11. I can carry out sculpture in marble, bronze, or clay, and also I can do in painting whatever may be done, as well as any other, be he who he may. Again, the bronze horse may be taken in hand, which is to be to the immortal glory and eternal honor of the prince your father of happy memory, and of the illustrious house of Sforza.
And if any of the above-named things seem to anyone to be impossible or not feasible, I am most ready to make the experiment in your park, or in whatever place may please your Excellency - to whom I comment myself with the utmost humility, etc."
Notice how future facing the document is. He doesn’t mention the paintings that have brought him fame, but instead speaks to what he will do for the Duke. He does not speak of past work, nor of things that brought him fame or glory, but focuses on the job he would do and how it would benefit externally. The piece is not about how great Leonardo da Vinci was but about how great he would make the Duke.
In having taught business and professional communication, and after having read hundreds of resumes from students, it is interesting to me that this example from so long ago is still a lighthouse to help us see the benefits of persuasion when ensuring the audience’s needs are met…
Good luck and good learning.
For those of you creating workshops of your own, we found some amazing benefits to practicing what we preach. This is a major differentiator for the Institute, actually leveraging brain science, learning research, and more as we learn and contextualize. We utilized the most effective practices from cognitive science, persuasion, and perception strategies in each session. From Interleaving to pattern finding to intentional creation of norepinephrine / dopamine / endorphin moments, we saw the power behind these learning frameworks. Participants had the opportunity to review and reflect often. Attendees also networked like crazy, establishing a community of practice that will follow them home. In other words, I am confident in saying that we all learned. I am also confident that learning will stick.
A course based mostly on lecture has negative consequences. A campus where student affairs and academic affairs don’t legitimately work together has negative consequences. Schools that resist online learning have unseen negative consequences for students, just as schools who bound into eLearning without strategic considerations for quality and scale also see negative consequences. Faculty Development being left solely to the discretion of the faculty can have negative consequences. Athletics integration on campus can have negative consequences. Hiding school email addresses from the public can have negative consequences. Creating a school website for marketing purposes and ignoring current students, faculty, and staff can have negative consequences. Recruiting volunteer faculty as adjuncts can have negative consequences. And on and on and on…
Higher education is broken. I’ve talked to educators and administrators from the most famous institutions on the planet. All of them have horror stories of how impossible it is to overcome the baggage, the traditions, the paradigm that is higher education. Not the Ivy Leagues, not the most innovative community colleges and not even the for-profits who were designed to do exactly that. The system is broken and at this point it’s hard to find anyone or any way to fix it.
The normal dysfunction of higher ed was clarified for me by a professor at ASU. He was explaining how impossible it was to create a curriculum map. He said that they have potentially 10 or more versions of any given class, often under different departments entirely. Those 10 versions of the class are taught 10 completely different ways with no more than a nod to outcomes and objectives. So, trying to find “the” course of truth to use for a large-scale experience is impossible. They ended up creating yet another version from scratch. That description is not only the opposite of innovative, it’s not even inline with the most effective practices for education.