I have been reading a bit of Maslow and also Colin Wilson's "A Criminal History of Mankind", which references Maslow's work.
One of Wilson's theories postulates that there is no such thing as Evil but rather a (perhaps total) lack of empathy in these so-called Evil individuals.
I took a little time out to peruse some of the comments posted for the Trade Me auction for the "MAORI" number plate. There have been some quite appallingly racist comments posted and other responses that show that some readers find those comments to be sad and despicable.
I used to feel incredible anger at what I perceived as 'redneck' racism and ignorance.
To be honest, I possibly leaned too much the other way at times - tending to see everything from the indigenous or non-white point of view.
What should be obvious - but clearly often isn't - is that people are people and skin-colour is not a defining characteristic. There are what most would refer to as 'good and bad' in every race and no one race or people has the market cornered on rightness, goodness, badness or the proclivity for laziness or criminality.
To be successful on society's terms requires that we have options, opportunities, hope and a positive self-image. A lack of most of these is what leads to crime, laziness, violence or substance abuse.
As things stand, we have a considerable section of our society who do not have options, opportunities, hope and a positive self-image. A large proportion of this section of our society have not been successful at school - or to put it another way, school did not work for them. They are what is called our "Education Tail”.
National have introduced National Standards to address this Education Tail. Many would argue this is because it is easier to blame so-called "slack" teachers for society's problems than it is to address the much deeper and more difficult reasons that give rise to an underclass in our society and a poverty line that has 16% to 25% (depending who you listen to), of our population living below it.
National Standards are not the panacea for our Education Tail. The 16% to 25% below the poverty line is our Education Tail right there. In fact, bearing poverty line levels in mind, we are arguably the most successful education system in the world. Ranked at three or four in most areas of education performance, we are only beaten by countries with a poverty level of 3 or 4%.
To return to the racism issue and the issue of apparent evil, I believe empathy is the key ingredient that is missing. If we take one of our own reasonably recent cases, that of Clayton Weatherston, he is fought to have his case reheard in the Supreme Court as he felt the sentence he received for stabbing his girlfriend 216 times was unfair. He argued provocation - she did not respect him - and that this was not given due consideration. Any reasonable person considering this would find such thinking appallingly egotistical and utterly self-centered and remorseless. I think it shows a complete lack of empathy. Clayton sees everything from his - and only his - perspective. During the original trial, his time on the stand was spent providing a totally egotistical review of his superior intelligence, his personal needs and feelings and the apparent slight on his intelligence and feelings by the victim, whose punishment was therefore somehow at least partly justifiable in his eyes.
Clayton is an extreme example of such self-self-centredness and lack of empathy, however the continuum that leads to Clayton is peopled with those who steal, hurt, racially abuse, bully and see things only from their own point of view.
We are all of us designed to look out for number one - failure to do so could well mean we don't survive very long. Most of us also learn that it is right and good (and often rewarding and mutually beneficial) to have a shared commitment to our fellow humans.
As educators, one of the most important things we can teach our children is Empathy. Most of the negative behaviours and responses that general society finds unacceptable are an indication of a lack of empathy. So how?
Empathy arises out of Education and Experience. This is why it concerns me that we are being forced into a very narrow Education focus - teach the basics of reading and writing and maths to the exclusion of almost all else in order to be perceived as a successful school. In doing so we will be producing a batch of graduates with an empathy deficit. The repercussions for society will be huge. We will end up spending even more to protect the haves and their possessions from the have-nots, to incarcerate the angry and resentful who have no hope, no opportunity and no self-belief because they were differently smart.
We know beyond all dispute that there are many differently-smart people for whom school was torture, frustration and irrelevant, who nevertheless found a way to succeed in spite of school. Richard Branson and Barry Crump for example. But what of this list - Rabindranath Tagore, George Bernard Shaw, Sigrid Undset, Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, Bertrand Russell, Winston Churchill, Richard Feynman, Andrei Sakharov, Arno Penzias, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar - these people all hated school and yet also all won Nobel Prizes for everything from Literature to Physics.
We need a system that provides for the differently-smart child as well as those with a proclivity for traditional subjects delivered in a traditional manner. We need a system that teaches children - and expects children - to be citizens, to grow and to demonstrate empathy. Imagine if instead of National Standards, we had National Expectations for Empathy and all of the other crucial life-tools we need to be providing our children with.
All of society would win and our incarceration tax-dollars could instead be used to support an education system that is potentially a world-beater and a world-changer.
Prof. Gerry Sussman said, “Being smart in the arts is the same as being smart in engineering is the same as being smart in writing is the same as being smart in anything, really. It’s the ability to manipulate all the pieces of the puzzle in your mind, try to fit them together, and when they don’t fit quite right … you sand the edges/corners and make them all fit.”
Teaching your students about art is a good idea:
It's been proven that early exposure to visual art, music, or drama promotes activity in the brain.
Art helps children understand other subjects much more clearly—from math and science, to language arts and geography.
Art nurtures inventiveness as it engages children in a process that aids in the development of self-esteem, self-discipline, cooperation, and self-motivation.
Participating in art activities helps children to gain the tools necessary for understanding human experience, adapting to and respecting others' ways of working and thinking, developing creative problem-solving skills, and communicating thoughts and ideas in a variety of ways.
The arts are not so much a result of inspiration and innate talent as they are a person's capacity for creative thinking and imagining, problem solving, creative judgement and a host of other mental processes. The arts represent forms of cognition every bit as potent as the verbal and logical/mathematical forms of cognition that have been the traditional focus of public education (Cooper-Solomon, 1995).
The British aesthetician and critic, Herbert Read, went so far as to say, "Art is the representation, science is the explanation… of the same reality" (Fowler, 1994). The arts are able to teach divergent rather than convergent thinking and encourage children to come up with different, rather than similar, solutions because the solutions to artistic problems are multiple.
The arts break through the black-and-white, true-false, memorise-that, name-this that cause Eisner concern. This kind of reasoning is far more the case in the real world, where there are often many ways to address a problem and, "An effective work force needs both kinds of reasoning, not just the standardized answer" (Fowler, 1994).
In his music advocacy speech at the 1996 Grammy Awards, Richard Dreyfuss announced, "It is from that creativity and imagination that the solutions to our political and social problems will come. We need that Well Rounded Mind, now. Without it, we will simply make more difficult the problems we face" (Dreyfuss, 1996).
The results of balancing the arts with other learning areas in the curriculum have shown that where 25% or more of the curriculum is devoted to arts courses, students acquire academically superior abilities (Perrin, 1994), demonstrating an apparent relationship between learning in the arts and other areas. Perrin also refers to long-term educational aims, saying that workers at all levels in our post-industrial society need to be creative thinkers and problem solvers and able to work collaboratively, they must be judicious risk-takers, they must be able to push themselves towards high levels of achievement, and they must have the courage of their convictions, and that arts education develop such skills. Perrin suggests that these attributes are nurtured in the arts because "the student artist (musician, dancer, visual artist, writer, or actor) learns by doing" (Perrin, 1994).
We may agree with Einstein and Iris Murdoch and also with Polanyi, that "we can know more than we can tell" (Polanyi, 1967). There are, though, other ways of "telling" besides verbal language. The arts as ways of knowing are as potentially powerful as any other form of human discourse and they are just as capable of contributing to the development of the mind on a conceptual level (p.48).
The key learning area of the arts is able to provide children with unique and multiple ways of exploring, forming, expressing, communicating and understanding their own and others’ ideas and feelings. It provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to understand how the arts reflect and depict the diversity of our world, its cultures, traditions and belief systems. The procedures within the arts can contribute to the development of the potential of the whole child by proving children with the opportunity to:
The future of this world rests upon the shoulders of its youth. It is our responsibility as adults and educators to ensure we do all in our power to aid the development of children’s potential. Equity in educational opportunity is essential if society is to tap all the possible resources in the shaping of its future, and the arts are an integral and undeniable part of this development of potential.
"In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity."
"The will to win...the will to achieve...goes dry without continuous reinforcement."
I have been reflecting a little on what stops me from being as successful at sport today as I (like to think I was) 30 years ago. It all comes down to desire and self-dsicipline. Sure life priorities and old age come into it. Priorities is just an excuse though. I could hit the hay earlier, get up earlier and do the ten k thing again - if it was my priority, it I could re-summon the self-discipline. Old age is just an excuse too. Sure the reflexes are a little slower, but that's where experience and an old head can compensate - anticipation compensating for reaction speed.
Brian Tracy is one of America's leading authors on the development of human potential. He said this..."If I had to pick the #1 key to success, it would be...self-discipline. It is the difference in winning or losing; between greatness and mediocrity.
Self-discipline is the key to personal greatness. It is the magic quality that opens all doors for you, and makes everything else possible. With self-discipline, the average person can rise as far and as fast as his talents and intelligence can take him. But without self-discipline, a person with every blessing of background, education and opportunity will seldom rise above mediocrity.
My question is how much are we encouraging our children and supporting our children to be self-disciplined? It's so easy to do things for them, to make excuses for them, to offer them the 'easy option'. I'm not advocating child cruelty, boot-camps, or bully tactics to live vicariously through my child's success at something I'd wished I could do, or could do better.
No, I mean expecting kids to make a bit of an effort, a genuine commitment to seeing things through. How many kids give up stuff without even giving it a good go?
The most important success principle of all was stated by Thomas Huxley many years ago. He said, "Do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not."
That's self-discipline. That's what I need to work on, that's what I am going to encourage in my son as supportively but persistently as I think is right.
"No stream or gas drives anything until it is confined. No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is tunneled. No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated and disciplined."
~Harry E. Fosdick
“Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.
Simplicity is about finding the obvious, and adding the meaningful.
Context often distorts good analysis of a problem. That’s why finding the obvious isn’t all that obvious! The challenge is simplifying the problem - and thus finding the purest, simplest and most obvious solution!
Simplicity is about subtracting the redundant, and adding the meaningful.
HOW SIMPLE CAN YOU MAKE IT?
HOW COMPLEX DOES IT HAVE TO BE?
The process of reaching an ideal state of simplicity can be truly complex. The simplest way to achieve simplicity is through thoughtful reduction. When in doubt, just remove. But do be careful of what you remove.
Daniel Pink is someone whose philosophies and thinking I admire. I read his book “Drive" a couple of years ago, and it seemed to encapsulate my evolving thinking to that point very well.
I loved Dennis Littky’s “The Big Picture”. I read it, re-read it and wrote notes in the margins and in the spare pages at the back. When I gave that copy to some of my leadership team, they said they understood me and what Drives me, much better.
Daniel's work helped me critically reflect further upon my leadership practices. I had been very focused on encouraging our students to be self-motivating, self-moderating, self-monitoring, reflective leaders of their own learning. I needed to ensure I expected the same of my staff.
The difficulty is this can lead to a laissez-faire approach where motivated students and staff set high standards and strive for them, and others do not.
So what to do?
Daniel’s work in Drive makes it clear that carrot and stick approaches are not the answer. This ties in with the writings and studies of Alfie Kohn. Kohn's book, “Punished by Rewards” should be compulsory reading for teachers, parents, business leaders, and especially politicians.
I often refer to what is almost becoming a mantra - High Trust, High Expectation. This works for most, in fact for most it works extremely well, providing it is built on a base of a strong and meaningful relationship between the trusters and the trustees, the expecters and the expectees (I doubt that is a word).
There is one key element that is also needed, and that is reflection (as mentioned above).
Reflection needs to be taught and it needs to be practised. Do something 20 days or more in a row and it becomes a habit. So, at the end of each lesson, at the end of each learning period, at the end of each practice, at the end of each day, take some time and teach your children to reflect and how to reflect effectively.
The Reflective Practitioner is objective, considered, honest, seeks improvement, and is semi dispassionate about their performance. By this I mean they are realistic - they understand that luck plays a part in any performance, that over congratulating yourself for success can be as dangerous as flagelating yourself for a failure.
Persuasion is a huge component of what we do in education. Much of our time is spent in helping (persuading) the reflective practitioner to make necessary change. Change to make progress, through to change to achieve a paradigm shift.
This change process and its success, lies in our ability to persuade people to embrace new ideas, concepts, approaches, mindsets and strategies. As if this was not sufficient of a challenge, we are trying to achieve this in a world dominated by rapidly changing technology. Gone are the days where you could quote research figures off the top of your head. With google in our pockets, everything can be verified at once - checked or challenged. There is no longer a monopoly on information. We are moving into a world where learning can happen anywhere, anytime and with anyone. Google in your pocket makes the art of persuading and moving people in a better direction much more challenging.
So with these challenges how do we persuade change in our schools?
Robert Cialdini’s research into influence and behavioural science can help us to encourage (persuade) others to embrace change.
Three core qualities to move people towards change:
• Attunement – Can you see through a different set of eyes? The old saying of ‘walk a week in my shoes and you will understand me.'
• Buoyancy – How do we stay afloat facing the choppy seas of change, rejection, and set-backs?
• Clarity – How do we make sense of information? We must move from information hunter-gatherers, to quality control, curators of information. We need to be able to sift and sort, to verify and validate.
I see similarities between these three and Guy Claxton’s Four R’s
Reciprocity - which we renamed Relationships. ‘Being ready, willing and able to learn alone and with others'.
Resilience - 'being ready, willing and able to lock on to learning'. Being able to stick with difficulty and cope with feelings such as fear and frustration.
Resourcefulness - 'being ready, willing and able to learn in different ways'. Having a variety of learning strategies and knowing when to use them.
Reflection - 'being ready, willing and able to become more strategic about learning'. Getting to know our own strengths and weaknesses.
To encourage (persuade) others to embrace change, Pink suggests that we should focus on small wins. As we continue to find success through these small wins they will eventually move people to where we need them to be. For this to happen we must move the locus of control. It is important for us to not let power overtake our core values, as it will make it hard for us to understand and value the perspectives of others.
One of the reasons I have loved this opportunity to start anew at Western Heights is because it has allowed me to reinvent myself - to be the best me I can be. All the things I wished I’d done from the start at previous schools, I can do from the start here. All the mistakes I’ve made in the past can be learned from, and hopefully avoided.
We have to become a better version of ourselves in order to improve our ability to move people to where they need to be.
To be that better version of ourselves again comes back to reflection and to interrogative self-talk. This is so important, but finding the time and the space (the quiet place) for it is always a challenge. This is where a PLG (Professional Learning Group) is so helpful.
Last week I met with a PLG of principals from around New Zealand. We reflected, discussed, debated and challenged. The "crowded curriculum" was a topic that led to some tough questions and some internal questioning of what we believe, what we accept, what we know and what we think we know.
Interrogative self-talk helps us stay afloat. Interrogative self-talk can motivate us and help us achieve our goals. Pink provides a great analogy in Bob the Builder, who asks the question can we fix this? Asking the question is the first step to achieving the fix.
Persuasion, motivation, encouragement, empowerment - are catalysts for change. The key as leaders is not to leave them hanging…
We need to ensure there are resources, infrastructure, support systems and the climate in place, for action to evolve and take shape.
One of the greatest frustrations is to see people full of hope and fervour losing that Drive because the environment and infrastructure didn’t support the change they were trying to make. Persuasion from that point becomes ten times harder.
Why Why Is So Vital - Buying the Why
It is so easy to focus on the how - how we will change this, how we will improve that.
What we must focus on is the Why. If our colleagues and co-learners understand the why, and are fully persuaded by the why, they will persist, they will be resilient and they will be resourceful to ensure this necessary change happens.
Oliver Driver is a bit of a TV and Theatre star in New Zealand. He has a great tip for us, where he says, "We are the stars of our own life's movie." We have the lead role, and our life and what happens to us is terribly important - to us.
What we have to realise is this is true of everyone we meet. We may think we are important and people will be impressed when they meet us...
BUT in that person's life we are not the star, not the lead actor. They are.
Oliver says we must treat everyone we meet as a movie star - the movie star in their own life.
Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, “Make me feel I’m important". So how do we go about this?
The key to making people feel important is simple: just listen.
The thing about listening is, it's active.
When you are listening, it’s true that you shouldn’t be talking - that's called interrupting (and we learned that in Kindergarten).
One of the things we often do as we are listening, is is prepare how we re going to respond, while the the other person is talking. You don't want to seem like you can't hold up your end of the conversation.
Wrong! In Dale Carnegie’s iconic book “How to Win Friends and Influence People," we learn that people fail to make a favourable impression because they don't listen attentively. They have been so much concerned with what they are going to say next that they do not keep their ears open.
A bonus that comes with listening well - it makes you seem more interesting. Dale Carnegie says, “To be interesting, be interested." Give people an opportunity to talk about themselves and their ideas, seem genuinely interested, and they will, consequently, like you. So, hand-in-hand with being a good listener is encouragement.
Some Tips For Active Listening:
If you don’t have time to truly listen, arrange to talk later.
Give the person your FULL attention. If you’re on the telephone, don’t multi task by reading or typing on your computer. People will hear you striking the keyboard. This will not help build a good relationship. If you get a business call on your mobile phone while you’re driving, pull over or arrange to talk later.
Acknowledge active listening:
Give the speaker a response that says “YES I’m listening to you. I hear you”. Just demonstrate you are engaged.
Show active listening:
Use your body language to acknowledge you hear the other person. Nod, smile, lean forward, maintain eye contact, have an open body posture, be relaxed.
Reflect on what you heard:
Do this through your words, tone of voice, body position and gestures – so the other person knows he’s understood. You can paraphrase what speaker said. “My understanding of what you said is….” or “let me see if I understand what you’ve been saying…”
When a speaker is feeling strongly about something, their emotions are engaged. In order to really listen to the person (as opposed to just hearing their words) you need to be in touch with the feelings. Let the speaker work through the emotion before you respond. Then paraphrase the feelings and the facts to let the speaker know you’ve heard.
Everyone has the right to express their opinions. You may not agree – but you should respect the other person’s right to their feeling. So don’t judge verbally, or non verbally with your body language.
Always say something, even if it’s just “I’ll get back to you.” Say what’s appropriate to the situation. Be honest, respectful. Treat the other person the way you would like to be treated.
"The Big Picture" by Dennis Littky is one of the most influential texts I have read as a principal.
This book, perhaps more than any other text, helped clarify my vision, values and philosophy.
Education innovator Dennis Littky — co-founder of The Met school in Rhode Island, Big Picture Learning and College Unbound — knows that we can’t afford to fail our future. His ten steps to smarter schools:
1) Create individual learning plans.
The basics of reading, writing, math and scientific thinking apply to any discipline, so let’s build lessons around each student’s interests and goals. When students are motivated and engaged, they stick with school.
2) Involve families.
Parents are a child’s first teacher and know their student best. Schools need to do all they can to get parents involved — and not just when something is wrong. Parents will make it a priority. They just haven’t been asked.
3) Focus on real-world learning.
Memorising facts is the lowest level of learning, yet it’s what we ask our students to do most. Working on purposeful projects and internships under the guidance of advisers, parents and mentors allows students to develop knowledge and skills in an integrated way.
4) Foster questions, not answers.
Curiosity is a powerful motivator. Instead of giving students the questions, we need to teach them to frame important questions and seek out answers for themselves.
5) Evaluate skills.
Answering a, b, c, d, or e on a standardised multiple-choice test doesn’t reflect a student’s ability to put knowledge into action. We need a broad spectrum of assessments: oral presentations, portfolios of written work and projects, and detailed written evaluations by teachers.
6) Use technology wisely.
Students are mostly using computers in schools as word processors and online encyclopaedias. They need to learn to use computers for collecting and analysing data, networking and solving problems.
7) Support great teachers.
We must work hard to have only the very best teachers in our schools. Teacher training colleges need to get future teachers thinking innovatively about what school should be, not preparing teachers for the schools of yesterday.
8) Focus on college completion.
For the first time in U.S. history, today’s college-age generation will be less educated than their parents because they’re just not finishing their degrees. We can’t keep encouraging students to go to college while forgetting to help them make it through once they’re there. We talk about students being college-ready, but colleges need to be student-ready as well. Colleges have to move beyond text books and lectures to prepare students for work and life in the twenty-first century.
9) Make schools, not districts, accountable.
Teachers, principals, parents and students know their school the best. They should have enough control to design some of the measures to show how their students are succeeding on the broad district, state and federal goals.
10) Do everything at once.
Tweaking around the edges hasn’t created noticeable change or narrowed the achievement gap in our country. We must reinvent.
In this world of increasingly rapid technological change, it is important we do not forget some of the core skills, habits and values that have stood the test of time.
Chief among these in my book - excuse the pun - is a love of reading.
If there is one skill we teach our children that carries more weight than anything else, it would probably have to be the ability to read with deep comprehension.
So, tonight a few ideas to help you support your child become a great reader...
We want our beginning readers to be able to lose themsclvei n a book. We want them to be transported to a different place. We especially want them to realise the world they live in is much bigger than the street they live on.
When you take a trip to the library or the book store, try these strategies to find books that are worth your time and investment. Many of the strategies go hand in hand.
1. The Five Finger Test.
If you are not sure of your child's reading level or if they have picked a book by its cover, this is a strategy you can use to see if the book is something they can really read. Pick a page from the middle of the book. Ask your child to hold up five fingers and begin reading the page aloud. Each time they encounter a word they don't know, they put a finger down. At the end of the page (or a reasonable passage length] they should still have one or two fingers up. If all their fingers are down, you may determine you still want to get the book as a read-aloud-to-them title. If all their fingers are up, the text is easy for him. This isn't a bad thing.
2. Nonaction Captions.
Let's say your daughter has a thing about horses and has chosen a book about them. You can do the Five Finger Test on the captions. This is often a strategy to enter into non-fiction. If the captions are within her reading ability, she may use them as a way into the regular text as she looks for more information about the concept shown in the photo.
3. Multilevel Texts.
Many books, both beginning fiction and non-fiction have text written on two levels.
These books have simple beginning text for your child to read and more difficult text for you or an older child to read. Frequently these have more information and richer storylines than simple beginning readers. This is a great way to help support their reading.
4. Tried and True.
If your child wants to read a title they have read before, don't worry. Although you know it's too easy for them, let them reread them.
Familiarity with text builds fluency, a skill that supports reading prowess. In addition, there is nothing wrong with having a character or storyline you love.
Magazines are a great way to encourage reading for readers of all levels. There is a wide range of reading abilities. Articles tend to be short enough for beginning or struggling readers. The captions are often at an easier level than the text.
6. Talk to the Staff.
Both librarians and book store staff know their stuff. Ask for suggestions based on reading ability, interests, and your child's favourite authors. They know what is new and what is popular. They also know the old stand-bys that may have fallen out of vogue but are reading gems. They can help you find books at the right level of ability and interest.
7. Determine the Purpose.
We read for enjoyment and to gain knowledge. When your child picks a book, ask why it interests them. This isn't meant to be a quiz. Keep it simple. If it is because their friends are reading it, use the five finger test to see if they can read it.
There is anything wrong with carrying around a book you wish you could read. It shows a curiosity of what is in the text. Just be sure to have material that they can read available.
8. Don't forget to pick up a book or two for yourself.
It doesn't have to be a novel. It can be a travel magazine or a book on gardening. The best way to get your child to want to read is by seeing their parents read. You are the most influential role model they have.
Stephen Hawking’s life is remarkable in many ways. Firstly, because he is a brilliant physicist and has made groundbreaking discoveries regarding the cosmos, black holes and other unexplored aspects of the universe we live in. Secondly, he has survived motor neurone disease (ALS) which was diagnosed when he was 21 years old. He was told he had a few years to live and now, at the age of 73, he is still alive and as mentally active as ever. He has been immobilised since his twenties and then lost the power of speech which means that he now speaks via a computerised synthesiser.
Stephen Hawking was born on Jan 8th in 1942 which was the 300th anniversary of the death of Galileo. At school, he only managed to get average grades. He was curious about how clocks worked and regularly took them to pieces but was not very good at reassembling them.
His studies at Oxford were disturbed by his rowing practice which occupied six afternoons a week. He was the coxswain who steered the boat and kept the rowers safe. The only problem was that his studies suffered and he admitted that he had to cut some corners to pass his exams.
His studies and research brought him countless prizes and recognition. He held the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for 30 years. Isaac Newton held the same position in 1669.
Hawking’s relationship with his wife Jane is movingly portrayed in the film The Theory of Everything. When asked what he thought of the film, Hawking replied that there was not enough science in it while his ex wife thought that there was not enough emotion.
Stephen Hawking’s life is an astonishing story of a man who faced enormous odds and went on to become one of the world’s most famous scientists. Here are some of his most famous quotes.
“I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.”
“The downside of my celebrity is that I cannot go anywhere in the world without being recognised. It is not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away.”
“Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.”
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”
“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically.”
“One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.”
“It is no good getting furious if you get stuck. What I do is keep thinking about the problem but work on something else. Sometimes it is years before I see the way forward. In the case of information loss and black holes, it was 29 years.”
“So next time someone complains that you have made a mistake, tell him that may be a good thing. Because without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.”
“We are all different, but we share the same human spirit. Perhaps it’s human nature that we adapt and survive.”
“If I had to choose a superhero to be, I would pick Superman. He’s everything that I’m not.”
“I am just a child who has never grown up. I still keep asking these ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. Occasionally, I find an answer.”
“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”
“Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious, and however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
“It is a waste of time to be angry about my disability. One has to get on with life and I haven’t done badly. People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.”
“We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.”
“Keeping an active mind has been vital to my survival, as has been maintaining a sense of humour.”
“I have so much that I want to do. I hate wasting time.”
Greetings to all the families and friends of Western Heights school.