Rival Views, Both Right (reposted from The New York Times)

I’d like to share an interesting read –  Rival Views, Both Right (Reposted from The New York Times)

Is there an app for improving America’s educational system? Will watching a PowerPoint presentation about the nation’s educational challenge help to understand the opportunities and difficulties facing the country?

Two college dropouts, Steve Jobs (Reed College) and Bill Gates (Harvard University) have articulated theories about education. And their viewpoints are as different as are their companies (Apple and Microsoft, respectively), presenting a contrast in style and philosophy.

Flashback to 1983: Jobs and Gates.
Gates hopes to analyze and adjust the education system in order to produce a more efficient and effective learning environment. He advocates sophisticated metrics to measure results. What makes one teacher better at her job than another and how can best practices be shared? Technology enables analysis and is also the delivery mechanism.

Once the education community receives reliable disaggregated research, the policy makers can allocate their limited resources in a fashion that will produce a higher yield. As Gates has said, “…we need to raise performance without spending a lot more.”

Jobs is focused more on individual learning and less on systemic education. Technology is his way to get a well-integrated mind flowing in multiple directions. His learning philosophy gives each person the ability to chart his own course. It is less about the structure of the system and more about free will.

A discerning mind, one that blends science and Springsteen, is the backbone of the creative spirit: ideas fuel entrepreneurship. Gates’ recent speech to the nation’s governors stressed assessment, measuring outcomes and tracking students’ progress. Technology and benchmarking are joined at the hip. He feels it is worth charting the effectiveness of particular majors with regional job creation. (Does he favor vocational education?)

Jobs’ approach allows for individual experimentation to find a unique solution to each person’s quest. It is the symbol of intellectual multi-tasking. This is a more experimental, integrated search for a holistic view of the universe, one that has multiple access points. Each student becomes his or her own teacher.

My heart is with Jobs (full disclosure: I wrote this on a MacBook Pro). But my mind fully understands Gates’ mandate to discover ways to maximize scarce resources to best prepare the workforce. It is beyond noble; it is essential. Gates has contributed millions, perhaps even billions, for the study of education. He is looking for the vaccine to cure education’s ailing health. Jobs is tripping our mind with the jazz of life put before us to spark awareness that the more we learn the more powerful we become.

How does this relate to the curriculum of higher education? Keep poetry, architectural history and Russian literature alongside mechanical engineering and agricultural studies. A discerning mind, one that blends science and Springsteen, is the backbone of the creative spirit: ideas fuel entrepreneurship.

Gates is studying the science of education. Jobs is creating the art of learning. I’m sure there is an app for teaching arithmetic by watching the heavens and counting the stars.

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WFH

Last Wednesday, I was working from home. It was a fairly quiet shift until I decided to do something I have never done before during work hours. Midway on my shift I decided to pop a cold bottle of Red Horse Beer right from the fridge.  I didn’t exactly planned to drink beer, it just happened. Suddenly I was in the zone during that moment. God knows how I hate drinking beer even in parties and special occasions. The thought of drinking during work hours is too much to resist, especially when you are tasked to monitor a network with more than a hundred sites – an outage that is left ignored could cost millions of pesos including my job. Now that is doing something different for a change, a stab on the back of daily routine.

After drinking 3/4 of the bottle’s contents, I saw the alarms turn bloody red. I scampered towards my work desk with the TV still on, totally ignoring Anne Curtis in the process. A one gig link connecting all of the 18 branches in the Philippines was down hard. In short, I am in for a long day of troubleshooting and coordination with the stupid carrier, not to mention the after actions reports which I despise more than anything, maybe next to GMA.

The lesson is to never ever even think about drinking beer during your work hours except if you are Chuck Norris, which is on a different level. It was hard on my mortal body to work properly with alcohol on my veins. I was giggling most of the time while I was talking to someone on the phone.

Deep Blue Sea

You can only take so much bad news making you wonder what the hell is happening to the world today. In the light of recent earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, wars, radiation scares and abnormal weather patterns you can’t help but ask why disasters seem to strike more often than usual. Is the end near? I certainly hope not.  Doomsayers have long predicted the end of times, and they have failed countless times. The pending apocalypse on 12-2012, I hope, is just another one of those failed predictions that would sink their trust ratings down to the bottom of the ocean floor.

Super Moon

How I crave to be brave and let everything fall to place. My feet are frozen to the ground, bounded by my fears and hesitations. I feel like I’ve traveled far and wide in search of something pure to believe in only to find myself back to the place where I started when I look at you. Oh, Super Moon!

Huling El Bimbo

My guitar fell flat on the floor this night, getting its first paint crack since I bought it last December. I had three beers and all my senses were delayed by a minumum of 2 seconds. By the time we started to play our first song,  I knew it got detuned on impact. I had to tune it before proceeding to the next song. So much for the smooth medley we practiced.

After, we had a blast watching the Nihon-jins perform Aitakatta by AKB 48. I will surely miss those guys 😦

Arabian Night

The Arab world is in the midst of waking up to a new day after ages spent in slumber. It started as a dream in Egypt which eventually became a nightmare for every dictator in Libya, Jordan, Saudi, and other nations who have been long dictated and stripped of their basic human rights. It is ironic that this part of the world is the cradle of civilization, that hosted some of the earliest civilizations of all time like Mesopotamia (Iraq).

Hajime no Workshop

Today, I officially went back to school. Not to study exactly but to partake in a seven day Network Workshop organized by UPIttc, Spiceworx and Hitachi Joho. The goal is to design a Network that would suffice the requirements of an expanding company. In the coming days, I hope to enjoy this workshop.

Out of Nothing

If you had watched several episodes the popular anime Full Metal Alchemist, you  are probably familiar with Edward’s monologue which he delivers before the opening theme song. It goes something like the paragraph below which I got from the third link of my Google search.

“Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is alchemy’s first law of Equivalent Exchange. In those days, we really believed that to be the world’s one, and only truth.”

I was a sucker for the series, not only for its powerful lines that makes you think about the metaphysical aspect of our life but also for the brotherly love between Edward and Alphonse, willing to sacrifice their life and cross parallel dimensions for each other.

Until one fateful Sunday morning changed everything I thought about the series. I was doing my usual habit of hopping radio stations while waiting for the green light, when I heard the line “Out of nothing at all, makin’ na na na and so on…” I had gone past 3 stations when I realized that I need to get back to the channel and listen more to the song. My mind was battered with what I heard, feeling close to having an intra-cerebral hemorrhage. I came to class still agitated, I was thinking about the song I heard, if I heard it right in the first place.

After a quick search in Google, I found out the song was entitled MAKING LOVE OUT OF NOTHING AT ALL, by Air Supply. I hastily clicked on the link to YouTube and listened to the song.

“Out of nothing at all, na na na”

Alright

One Sunday morning, I woke up with the usual alarm ringing in my ears. The usual stench reeking out of my mouth every morning and the usual scent of saliva on my pillow, I can already tell that it’s going to be a usual day. I thought about the cursed meows that broke my sleep at 2 a.m., seems like I need to double my effort on obtaining a slingshot. I need to put an end to all the purring and meowing; even my dad has started to complain for the past few days. Those overweight felines feel like they own our garage, staging concerts and orgies. How I miss my pellet gun and my slingshot.

Out of words and out of place, I begin to question the reality that I made myself believe. Lost in a forest of skepticism, the good old path that I had trodden for all these years suddenly led me to a fork. How I want to murder those cats in cold blood. Darkness is upon me and my body is yearning for it.

Tumasian

Sitting atop these battered steps while staring afar at pale columns that linger with four centuries of grand history, I began to trace my steps backwards in time when I was in college. I still had roughly 20 minutes before my part time job beckons me to Amparo Building, so I thought a little reminiscing would do no harm. After all, I consciously park my truck here to save on parking fees every time I have some business nearby.

Change was everywhere and it was like a kraken that engulfed this old university and spat out a modernized version like coke light to coke zero or whatever. Four storied carports that resembled an SM Cyberzone, a 60 foot effigy of a man carrying a watch c/o Timex, all sorts of fast food chains (foreign and local) facing adjacent to the face lifted hospital.

The funny thing was that I had more vivid recollections of my high school days than my college days. This is a draft.

27

I stopped killing time during my prime, I started chasing dimes instead of jotting down rhymes. I stopped staring at my reflection, I started looking right through the person. I stopped wondering why, and started accepting things as they are. I stopped falling from trees, and started climbing the corporate ladders. I stopped setting our house on fire, I started torching my deepest desire. I stopped making friends, and I started gaining enemies. I stopped being naive, only to find out it was than better being wise. I stopped seeing good in people hearts, and I started seeing the darkness in people’s minds. I stopped making love, I started brooding hate. I stopped day dreaming in class and started to wake up to the bitter truth that life is crazy, and so is this world we are living in. But change is within our reach, we just have to step up and start owning things instead of passing the ball around. It is 1 a.m. and I’m sleepy, hey moon don’t you go down yet.

Switch

Yesterday, I cleared the 642-813 Switch exam. To be honest, It is was the most brutal Cisco exam I have ever taken to date. Although my preparation was not as long and thorough like when I took the 642-901 BSCI exam last July 2010, I was just happy to pass and that’s it. It took a lot from me to hurdle this exam, I had to culture a lot of effort and patience, the qualities I always fell short in every aspect of my life.

Keeping the Promise

When we were kids, my sister had a small paper back dictionary. The title, I barely recall but it goes something like Dictionary of words that don’t mean what you think, to that effect. It was like the ancestor of Urban Dictionary before Al Gore invented the Internet. You know I’m joking about Al Gore inventing the Internet, right? Going back to Urban Dictionary’s ancestor on paper back, it had an entry regarding promises:

Promises: Are like snowballs, easy to make but hard to keep.

Too young to grasp the satire, the entry prompted a vivid winter scene in my head . I can see myself wearing winter clothes with matching scarf and ear muffs. What the hell, snow in our backyard! My puny hands in snow gloves shaping snow, round and round, filling our wheel-barrow with snowballs of promises that glowed in the dark. Even at the start of summer, the snowballs remain intact inside my grandfather’s barong-barong along with his pack of juicy fruit gum, melon candies and some pack of cigarettes he used to smoke under my mom’s radar. It is the first thing to pops out of my head whenever promises are mentioned, or discussed in context. I avoided making promises that I couldn’t keep, like the adults that seem to keep one  in handy and use it carelessly when they need to shut a kid’s mouth.

Back in 2008, I promised myself to complete the exam requirements for CCNP before my CCNA expires in July 2011. If you look at the picture below, you will see the huge gap from the time I took my ICND2 until I took BSCI which is one of the prerequisites of CCNP. During that span of inactivity, I had doubted many times if I would ever keep my promise. I was preoccupied with the wrong things,  until a good friend helped me regain track. Thank you Berns!