Wednesday, November 11, 2015

About sexting

An interesting article was post in the New York Times about Sexting. It is asking some important question about this new practice which become ordinary for some may be more than we think...

Is this a new phenomena? not really.
What is new and scary is the "no right to forget" aspect of it as much as how a picture or any post can become viral and have uncontrollable consequences...
Words fly away, writings remain.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Superficial, atrociously stupid Scream Queens started on Fox

So the new Fox series is supposed to be an horror-comedy?
This totally poorly written carrying all the superficial value of any teen series those days + a copy-paste cheap recipe from basic horror movie without the development of character.

The worse is that teen may not dare to see and say how unhealthy and annoying the series is because it is so advertised that it looks that this the TV show every teen has to watch

Those teens are as usual obsessed by popularity, looks, fashion... and let's not forget seduction and sex.

Add to that recipe gore and violence and you get a show that any middle-schooler could shoot with his smartphone.

In case they wanted to play a caricature, this is a total failure.

I agree with Kristi Turnquist in :
"Scream Queens": New horror-comedy from Ryan Murphy ("American Horror Story") and his team, about a cursed sorority and a serial killer on a college campus. The two-hour pilot is supposed to be a bloody hoot, with Emma Roberts as the mean-girl head of the sorority, making insulting remarks about minorities, and anyone who doesn't conform to the sorority's standards of beauty. Instead, it's just distasteful. The eclectic cast – which includes Keke Palmer, Lea Michele, and Nick Jonas – are a lively group, but the opener drags.  Jamie Lee Curtis is the only bright spot, and even her role – as a college dean with her own secrets – seems like a rewrite of the Sue Sylvester character from "Glee."

I totally disagree with critics who find that show hilarious with its insane hyper-reality. there is no subtlety there, everything is heavy, gross, easy, cliche. 

I guess that TV writers those days should watch some of the you-tuber who seems much more inspired and certainly funnier than them. 

Friday, May 08, 2015

10 places where anyone can learn to code

Posted by: 

I choose to share this article I just read as I agree completly with the difference between using and making:

Teens, tweens and kids are often referred to as “digital natives.” Having grown up with the Internet, smartphones and tablets, they’re often extraordinarily adept at interacting with digital technology. But Mitch Resnick, who spoke at TEDxBeaconStreet, is skeptical of this descriptor. Sure, young people can text and chat and play games, he says, “but that doesn’t really make you fluent.”
Fluency, Resnick proposes in this TED Talk, comes not through interacting with new technologies, but through creating them. The former is like reading, while the latter is like writing. He means this figuratively — that creating new technologies, like writing a book, requires creative expression — but also literally: to make new computer programs, you actually must write the code.
The point isn’t to create a generation of programmers, Resnick argues. Rather, it’s that coding is a gateway to broader learning. “When you learn to read, you can then read to learn. And it’s the same thing with coding: If you learn to code, you can code to learn,” he says. Learning to code means learning how to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively. And these skills are applicable to any profession — as well as to expressing yourself in your personal life, too.
In his talk, Resnick describes Scratch, the programming software that he and a research group at MIT Media Lab developed to allow people to easily create and share their own interactive games and animations. Below, find 10 more places you can learn to code, incorporating Resnick’s suggestions and our own.
  1. At Codecademy, you can take lessons on writing simple commands in JavaScript, HTML and CSS, Python and Ruby. (See this New York Times piece on Codecademy and other code-teaching sites, for a sense of the landscape.)
  2. One of many programs geared toward females who want to code, Girl Develop It is an international nonprofit that provides mentorship and instruction. “We are committed to making sure women of all ages, races, education levels, income, and upbringing can build confidence in their skill set to develop web and mobile applications,” their website reads. “By teaching women around the world from diverse backgrounds to learn software development, we can help women improve their careers and confidence in their everyday lives.”
  3. Stanford University’s Udacity is one of many sites that make college courses—includingIntroduction to Computer Science—available online for free. (See our post on free online courses for more ideas.)
  4. If college courses seem a little slow, consider Code Racer, a “multi-player live coding game.” Newbies can learn to build a website using HTML and CSS, while the more experienced can test their adeptness at coding.
  5. The Computer Clubhouse, which Resnick co-founded, works to “help young people from low-income communities learn to express themselves creatively with new technologies,” as he describes. According to Clubhouse estimates, more than 25,000 kids work with mentors through the program every year.
  6. Through CoderDojo’s volunteer-led sessions, young people can learn to code, go on tours of tech companies and hear guest speakers. (Know how to code? You can set up your own CoderDojo!)
  7. Code School offers online courses in a wide range of programming languages, design and web tools.
  8. Similarly, Treehouse (the parent site of Code Racer) provides online video courses and exercises to help you learn technology skills.
  9. Girls Who Code, geared specifically toward 13- to 17-year-old girls, pairs instruction and mentorship to “educate, inspire and equip” students to pursue their engineering and tech dreams. “Today, just 3.6% of Fortune 500 companies are led by women, and less than 10% of venture capital-backed companies have female founders. Yet females use the internet 17% more than their male counterparts,” the website notes.
  10. Through workshops for young girls of color, Black Girls Code aims to help address the “dearth of African-American women in science, technology, engineering and math professions,” founder Kimberly Bryant writes, and build “a new generation of coders, coders who will become builders of technological innovation and of their own futures.”
While we’re at it: bonus! General Assembly offers a variety of coding courses at their campuses across the globe. Additionally, their free online platform, Dash, teaches HTML, CSS and Javascript through fun projects on a simple interface that is accessible from your web browser.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What kind of message our kids are getting in television series about school?

Did you watch some television series about school? Do you remember the one you were watching as a kid?
Let's speak about some that are considered as the best one or/and the most successful one.

The Wonder years (1988-1993)
This serie set in the 1960s narrated the adventures through middle-school and high-school of Kevin Arnold.
Let's give a close look at the first episode.

Kevin arrives in Middle-school and you already have there all the stereotypes. What are the center of interest of middle-schooler?

Kevin first thinking on the first day of school is "what am I going to wear?"
The second subject of interest is girls! Already on both side, boys and girls are really concerned by the way they look and the way others look at them.

The third point of concern are the teachers, the supervisors and with them, rules and authority.

The key scene in this first episode is when Kevin and his friend arrive in the cafeteria, here is what the voice of grown-up Kevin is saying "a suburban junior high school cafeteria is like a microcosms of the world, the goal is to protect yourself, and safety comes in group.You have the cool kids, you have the smart kids, you have the greasers, and on those days of course you had the hippies. In effect is that in junior high-school who you are is define less by who you are than by who is the person sitting next to you."

As you can see, at no moment we hear about the interest in learning, the quality of the teacher and how much this would concern the student. So in this first episode the "rule" set that individual  would be defined not through what he thinks, what his opinion and interest may be but by with who he is hanging out.
So if we believe what we are seeing there, middle-schooler have little interest in learning, they are rather so concern by their image that they do not hesitate to get in trouble just to preserve it. Kevin act in a very disrespectful way just by getting angry at his older brother and his parents are called in the principal office.

Another older show is "Degrassi Junior high"
In the first episode,Stephanie asks her young brother, Arthur, to pretend that he does not know her! why? because it does not look cool to have a young brother and as a 8 grader she needs to look cool. She also changes clothes as soon as she gets in the school, from a long skirt and blouse outfit to a very provocative and rather sexy look without forgetting to put make-up.
Arthur get already teased by a 8 grader boy, a player who want to lead.
Stephanie do not hesitate to betray her best friend  and manipulate all the boys in order to be elected as school president.

Ones again, the social interaction and the appearance are the main subject of the show. The interest of studying have no place at all in those series. We are far from inspirational movies like "Dead poet society".

In the series "Popular" it was mean girls acts who were somewhat glorified. Basically you had on one side the popular kids and on the other side the unpopular one and stories which make you think that student were more interested by battling each other than studying.

Did you ever check out the "Monster High" series?
This is an animated serie extremely popular with a huge merchandising success. But what are the value carried there?
Well, ones again, appearance is at the center of interest of the students who are totally superficial. The rivalry between those girl is atrocious and can be totally depressing to any girls watching it. The standard seems to concentrate on having a group of so-called friends who will fight with you for the same goal which always cause suffering in others. Friendship is totally twisted there.

I believe that it is time for parents to look closely to those teen series and not only speak about them with their kids but also let producers know what type of message they would appreciate to see in them.
Teenage and college are already a difficult time as puberty strike and society became more and more materialistic, selfcenter and egoistic. Role model on television does encourage teenager in a totally superficial direction which is source of anxiety and agressivity.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

great program, step 3: second grade.

It is interesting to speak about the Brighton film school with Georges Albert Smith and James Williamson and to show some of their shorts: 
As seen through a telescope, with probably the first close-up of the cinema.
Grandma's reading glasses for more close-up and make the student talk about the use of this type of plan with question like why do he use this close-up for? What does he want to say?

Then we will show the student the film by James Williamson "the big swallow" and make them remark the size of each shot as the gentleman is walking toward the camera. Williamson's use of action continuity across multiple shots established the basic grammar of film.
From there, it will be nice to have them do a collage where they will actually identified the size of the plans.

Then we will continue in the Silent film era with Max Linder.

Max Linder, Gabriel-Maximilien Leuvielle, is the first comedian and first international Movie star. He was Charles Chaplin Mentor. In fact Chaplin got not only inspired by Max Linder but he even copy him in many ways which become obvious when watching Max Linder movies.

This is the silent film Era and there is not so many movies of Max Linder who survived all those years. It will be nice to show as many of those Max Linder to the children as it may be the only occasion for many of them to see them.
They will be able later to recognize what Chaplin copy from Max Linder.

We will show the student some Chaplin Movies as well as some Buster Keaton Movies from the silent Era.

it would be interesting to set up a few little silent comedies for them to play and to videotape. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Great program. Step 2: First Grade

Let's continue our program with first grader, some review would be fun, with some still images observations game, cartoon screening and commercial making again.
Then we can now start with some history class, cinema history for sure.
I like to start by the beginning at it makes more sense to explain to the children how we got there, in the images based world.

So I will start with Emile Reynaud, showing them the "praxinoscope"  and early animation made with it.
Then I will show them his optical theater and one of his projection:

This class that introduce history of cinema is constructed around visual experiences. there is no lesson to learn there, only being exposed to what was done and share feeling and thinking with their pair. The brain will do the rest. Debate is higly encouraged.

After the Praxinoscope should come Edison and his Kinetoscope and some of his film should be screened. 

The Lumiere brother should follow with the screening of  "the arrival of a train at La Ciotat" without forgetting to explain to the kids that people were scared when watching that movie for the first time, scared that the train would run on them. 
Children are usually very receptive to the history of cinema, it is also fun for them to hear that adult were scared by a train on a screen.

Children particularly appreciate Georges Melies 's movies. I like to show them a few of those. "A trip to the Moon" is fascinating, even for those who are watching too much TV. It is important to set up the ambiance when showing those old movies, to make them feel how it was at that time.

Melies is a lot of fun, and children will laugh at his movies, it is interesting to learn about some of the special effect he used as he is the precursor. Eventually the children could reproduce and experiment some of his trick, like the disparition of a person or an object. It will be wise to get a video camera and to realize some short videos with the children at that point,

Friday, January 09, 2015

What should the media show after a terrorist attack and the killing of people

This week France lost some amazing cartoonist in a terrorist attack. Those cartoonist were satirical and as so, they were drawing some provocative and non respectful draw about every figure of authority, political or religious.
They were drawing about any and every political figure as any and every religious figure. Nobody was forced to buy their publication "Charlie Hebdo" and those who did not like their sense of humor and provocation were not buying it.
The cartoonist themselves were very kind people, very generous and open minded, they were fighting obscurantism, racism, injustice... Their satirical representation were there not to hurt the feeling of anyone but instead to make people think further.

This freedom of speech in France does not suffer of any political correctness limitation. In France, everyone as an opinion and everyone voice it. French people fought for it and many dies for it.
For centuries, people were oppressed by the nobility and the clergy. They had to work hard to give them most of everything they were producing. Then the French Revolution happen and from there, French people decided to never ever been under the domination of the nobility or the clergy and this is why France is a secular country.

Among all those drawing Charlie Hebdo published were caricatures of religious figure like the pope and Muhammad, the prophet. Some Muslim got offended and did manifest in many European town. Unhappily The Grand Mosque and another French Muslim organisation sued Charlie Hebdo in 2007. They lost to the benefit of freedom of speech and the French tradition of satire.

From there, hate rised and djihadist started to threat all those cartoonist of death until Wednesday January 7 were barbarian executed most of Charlie Hebdo talents. We all fell angry and attacked and the movement "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie) support not only Charlie Hebdo but the freedom of speech and resistance to armed threat.

For those 3 last days, medias showed the track of attackers of Charlie Hebdo. They were finally found and killed in the action. so what the media are going to speak about now? Because their responsibility is huge.
On which points are they going to focus now?

Shouldn't they show the pain that killing leave behind?
Shouldn't they have more people coming up in front of the camera like friends of the deceased who dared to share their sadness and cry in front of the camera?
Shouldn't they speak about the family they are leaving behind?
Shouldn't they show to those young eyes that killing in reality is not like killing in a video game, that people do not get up in the next game? That when people are dead, the game is over forever!

Shouldn't they show the pain and the shame of the killer's family as well?
Shouldn't they show that death has immediate consequences in the life of many?

Does media have an immense responsibility when choosing which facts to show and how?
do they show more acts of violence than the consequence of that violence?
And if so, do they desensitizing the viewers and not supporting compassion?

The Media always argue that they are just showing what is going on, the facts, but which facts?
In choosing what to show. don't they setting up the example.

We will see what they are going to show from now on as the consequence of this terrorist attack...

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

New year: great program! Step 1: Kindergarten

One of the thing which appears essential to me is to educate our children to this visual world because it is obvious that image dominate our today word.
The best way to empower them in this context is to give them as much toold as possible to not be dominate and even influence by all those images.
This is why I believe that children should make commercials even before seeing any. And this is something they can do early on, let say around 5 years old.
I think that it will be wise to implement some audiovisual class as early as kindergarten. I will start with some very basic games:
- first bring some still picture taken from magazine and simply ask the student to look at them closely and tell what they see. they can do that as small group of 2 or 3 or individually. The idea is to make them focus and notice details that they would probably not have even pay attention to in the first place.

- then it would be nice to project some other pictures with a retro-projector after darkening the classroom to improve the focus on the image but also give a sense of "special moment" to the kids. The exercise will be the same as the first one, just telling what they see on the picture except that this time the whole class will see the same image. it should be interesting to notice what they actually observe on each picture as a collective. the goal is to eventually have them surprise each other by not noticing the same thing.

- if the class is well spoken, it could be nice to ask them to tell a little short story about the image, what the story of it.

- Make a flip book will be a great new step as well as a nice craft for the children to realize. Sure they will not do the drawing themselves, each teacher can easily choose what kind of flip book she would like her class to make and make the template for each kid to assemble and play with and keep forever. ( The goal is there is for the kids to feel some more sensation about an image go from still to movement. Experimentation stays much better than explanation.

- it is now time to pass to videos and I will start with something they probably know better than anyone: cartoon! Except that I will not simply show them a cartoon and any cartoon, I will follow some very precise steps. First I will take a Looney Tune cartoon as they are usually short, extremely well done and intelligent and rich of elements to observe. I like to take Bugs Bunny. So the idea is to first show them the cartoon without the sound. The children will pay more attention to the images in order to understand what is going on. And they will understand. So as soon as the cartoon is done, they will be able to tell the story to their teacher. From there I will have some other step which will be new games, knowing that the children will certainly pay more attetion to the words as they surely want to check if they got the story right, the next game will be to "pay attention to the tone of the voice". is the voice happy, sad, grave, high, fast, slow, clear or not, angry, scare...
So the children will not only listen to what is being said but also to how it is being said.
then the teacher can have them share what they observe and there the all will learn from each other.
The next step will allow the children to see the same cartoon again. And this time they will have to focus on the music! Is there music, what kind of music is that and when? is that an happy music, a fast one, a slow one, a scary one? they should be able to notice the change of music at it occurs. Children are sometime so excited by the exercise that they shout out as the cartoon run what they are noticing. When the cartoon ends, it is time to share what has been noticed and then to make it in relation with the other elements we already observe:
Example: at that moment when the music is rapid we see the rabbit running, or when the rabbit is hiding the music is really slow and low...
The idea is to make the children notice the relation between the images and the music, and eventually understand why a sad music will be strange at this happy moment...
There is one more element that we need our children to notice in the cartoon: the sound effects. So I will show them a last time the cartoon and ask them to focus on all those sounds: do we hear a door opening? step in the stairs? a knock on the door? a car braking?....
The children will this time focus on the sound effects and at the end of the cartoon put all their observation in common one last time.
This should be fun but it is demanding a great amount of energy and focus, particularly the first time. It will be wise to repeat this "observation of a cartoon" a few times with different cartoon of course. Cartoons have to be short, as they will be watch a few time. As they practice those exercises the children should become better and better at it and soon be extremely fast in noticing detail that may be the adult will not even noticed.

Those exercises are determinant in training awareness to the brain. most of the time children and adult as well do not noticed all those elements and the relations in between them and that is making them so easily influenced by what they are seeing, including commercials.

- The next step I will introduce involve some material, not much but a video camcorder and eventually some light, however light are totally optional and not necessary at that point. this should be fun and the teacher should be prepare for some excitation among those young student. They will now make some commercials! Oh well, I am not going to ask them to develop script and concept. But here is how I will proceed:
first I will ask them if they know what a commercial is? I am pretty sure that some of them will have some ideas and some can be surprising. at that point it is usually easy to focus on one example, lets say that one of them speak about a commercial about cereal, probably because he saw it and it was a fun one. I am going to ask him now to tell us what the story this commercial is telling? and how? what he remember most about it? ask him if he actually knows those cereal? if not, if he would like to know them and why?
The idea if by questioning the children, make them kind of understand or guess that commercial are made to create the desire to buy the product. In my experience, children do figure it out pretty quickly.
Then it is also important to make them realize the part of lies in commercial, it is easy for example if there is a cartoon character in the commercial, does cartoon character exist in real life?
no, certainly not. So why is it in the commercial? Well, because it is funny that way and it make the cereal more fun and we like to have fun so we want those cereal...

It is interesting if one kid or more mention commercial for junk food like chips for example, It is an occasion to make the children think a little about nutrition: Is eating chips good for your health? What main happen if you eat a lot of chips?...

At that step I will simply explain the purpose of commercial: make you buy their product. And also tell them that commercial lies all the time to make us buy their product. I like to make them realize that commercial crate needs and that they can make us feel hungry and how, or guilty and how.
Example: if on you are watching a show and each commercial show you pizzas, do you thing you may start to feel hungry and want some pizza?
Another example: thinking about a cleaning product, this one wash a lot better than this other one which leave some dirt on the laundry, so how the adult who is not using the "good" product will feel?

After all this chatting part, children will choose a product that the teacher or themselves will bring to class and they will do their commercial: something very simple,they will have their product in their hand and speak to the camera to convince people to buy it. Believe me, the result can be hilarious,

Depending of the class, this step can be done a few time with a little more complex commercial that would involve more than one kid on the screen.

Then the teacher will show the class their commercial and they will talk about it as freely as possible.

I think that this whole process will be a great program for kindergarten.  Children are learning extremely fast and this will give them some essential tools to "read" and apprehend images around them.