Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘culture’

18 NOVEMBER, 2011

How to Get Unstuck in 30 Seconds

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From squiggle to masterpiece in 30 seconds, or how to refill your annual bucket of creative mojo.

“Getting stuck is not a problem. Staying stuck is. Good learners practice getting unstuck,” said education provocateur Alistair Smith in his fantastic recent DoLecture. After last month’s omnibus of creativity-catalyzing activity books for grown-ups, which became an instant hit, here comes a fine new addition from Noah Scalin: Unstuck: 52 Ways to Get (and Keep) Your Creativity Flowing at Home, at Work & in Your Studio is a handy guide to exactly what it says on the tin, featuring 52 simple creativity-sparking projects for any lifestyle, arranged in order of time commitment (from 30 seconds to several hours) and doable either choose-your-own-adventure style or one per week for a year’s worth of creativity. (Not to be confused with Stuck, the characteristically delightful new Oliver Jeffers children’s book.)

Alongside the activities are 12 profiles of real-life creators, including artist Matt Lively and ImprovEverywhere’s Charlie Todd, who share what they do to stay inspired, productive, and fresh. A series of 30-second videos complement each of the profiles.

Unstuck is a follow-up to Scalin’s 365: A Daily Creativity Journal, based on the “365 method” behind his Skull-A-Day project.

For more on the mechanisms and secrets of creativity, give the Brain Pickings creativity archive a whirl.

via BoingBoing; images courtesy of Noah Scalin

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17 NOVEMBER, 2011

Choosing to Die: Sir Terry Pratchett Comes to Terms with His Death

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Befriending the Grim Reaper, or what Swiss sunshine has to do with the ultimate personal freedom.

In 2008, having just turned 62, beloved fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with a rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s. Three years later, he began the process to take his own life. Terry Pratchett: Choosing To Die is a powerful and fascinating film, in which Pratchett explores the cultural controversies and private paradoxes surrounding the issue of assisted suicide, which remains illegal in most countries. From the “small but imbalancing inconveniences” of the disease’s earlier stages to the loss of his ability to type to witnessing a terminally ill man peacefully choreograph his own last breath in Switzerland, Pratchett explores what it would be like to be helped to die, and what it would mean for a society to make assisted death a safe refuge for the dying.

What you’re about to watch, may not be easy, but I believe it’s important… Is it possible for someone like me, or like you, to arrange for themselves the death that they want?” ~ Terry Pratchett

When I am no longer able to write my books, I am not sure that I will want to go on living. I want to enjoy life for as long as I can squeeze the juice out of it — and then, I’d like to die. But I don’t quite know how, and I’m not quite sure when.”

Snuff: A Novel of Discworld, Pratchett’s latest and possibly final novel, came out last month.

HT @sociografik

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16 NOVEMBER, 2011

Superwoman Was Already Here: Montessori’s Philosophy, Animated

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A visual manifesto for keeping the fire in kids’ eyes burning.

Superwoman Was Already Here! is an animated adaptation of the Montessori philosophy of education by Maria Montessori superfan Daniel C. Petter-Lipstein (who lists Harvard College and Columbia Law School as his alma maters). Though I wish he hadn’t used a company called 321 Fast Draw, who use all-caps, exclamation points, and the word “ZING” in their sales pitch and who effectively ripped off Andrew Park’s brilliant and memorable style of RSA animation — and poorly, at that — I’m still intrigued by a sketchnote-animated synthesis of the Montessori philosophy. (Though it certainly doesn’t help that the most famous RSA animation is actually the adaptation of Sir Ken Robinson’s now-legendary TED talk on changing educational paradigms, adding to the similarity of style a similarity of message.) Be your own judge:

Kids don’t stop asking questions because they lose interest. It’s the other way around — they lose interest because they stop asking questions.”

This, in turn, inspired another animation, alas also from 321 Fast Draw, by Petter-Lipstein’s “fellow Montessori caped crusader” Trevor Eissler, based on Eissler’s popular book Montessori Madness! A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education:

For more on the Montessori school of thought, see Maria Montessori’s own recently digitized handbook and her seminal 1949 book The Absorbent Mind. For a broader look at the past and future of learning, don’t miss these 7 must-read books on education.

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