The Value of Tools – Preparing for the Unknown

In the Grade 9 + 10 English class, we have discussed how to prepare for the unknown. At least, we have asked the question and started to explore that idea. This theme on “The Value of Tools” is part of the answer. It is about building capital before you need it. The capital being: education; seeking a wide variety of activities and experiences; developing a network of friends, mentors, and trusted advisors; building a library of books, audio and video recordings, blogs, podcasts that encourage, inspire, challenge, and help you to grow.

Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, explores this very idea, of preparing for the unknown, in a TED Talk (she also introduces the idea of identity capital). While this talk is aimed at the twentysomethings, it is a great talk for anyone who is a young adult or has one in their life. A sample of a great piece of wisdom from the talk is the following quote: “the best time to work on Alex’s marriage is before she has one.”

Check out the video below in which she gives 3 pieces of advice that are invaluable to any young adult and, really, to anyone:


The Value of Tools TED Talks

TED: Ideas worth spreading, has since 1990, done exactly that. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) brings together thought-leaders from various fields to give talks that are usually 20 minutes or less. In 2006, the talks were put online for free viewing. By 2009 the various talks had been viewed 50 million times; by 2011, 500 million times; on Tuesday, November 13, 2012, they had been viewed 1 billion times. They are currently about 1500 talks available.

TED’s mission statement is: We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.

On Friday, May 17, our English class watched a TED Talk by Dan Ariely on “What makes us feel good about our work”. It is an amazing talk that highlights how easily we can be motivated, but also how easy it is to be de-motivated. Students answered a few questions before the 20-minute video, and then were asked to share what they learned after.

The video is below. Enjoy!

The Value of Tools – Learning from Others

Did Henri learn from Jacques?

In the logging contest (last post), Henri was completely convinced that Jacques cheated somehow, because he took four, ten-minute breaks, while he worked hard non-stop. Jacques explained, that he did not rest during the breaks, but used the time to sharpen his axe.

The real question is, “Did Henri learn from the experience and wisdom of someone else?” Or did he just keep doing what he always did in the past?

How do we prepare for the unknown? How do we help our children (students) prepare for a future which is changing rapidly and in many unpredictable directions?

One of the ways is to learn from the Jacques’s of the world. Often our first “Jacques” are usually our parents. As parents do we share our experiences – good and bad – to help our children understand. Do we let the see that we have made mistakes and that we can all learn from those.

Do we seek out mentors and advisors in various areas of life: relationships, finance, health and fitness, faith, and yes, do you know a good mechanic? These are relationships built over time with people that you trust. People who are knowledgeable and have your best interest at heart. Communication today makes it easier to connect, to share information, and stay connected. Remember as in any relationship, face to face time is always invaluable.

When is a good time to start?

“The best time to plant an oak tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” Author Unknown

The Value of Tools – The “Work Harder” Approach

The “Work Harder” Approach (taken from Educational Leadership magazine, April 2013)

Once upon a time, two loggers had a contest to determine who could cut the most logs in a 4-hour period. Henri worked continuously for 4 hours without a break and cut 124 logs to specification. His opponent, Jacques, chopped just as hard but only for 50 minutes of each hour. Jacques took four 10-minute breaks but cut 144 logs to specification. Henri lost the contest but was furious. Henri complained that he was cheated since Jacques could not have cut that many logs because there were periods when he was not chopping. Then Jacques explained that during his breaks he didn’t rest. He sharpened his axe.

There is a great deal of emphasis on being a hard worker or a “tireless chopper” in our society. We also tend to conform; to do things in the same way because “that’s the way it always has been done”. I can just imagine how incensed Henri must have been! It was impossible for him to imagine a better way. Yet there was.

We live in an age where there are so many tools at our disposal. Tools which can make chopping the wood just a little easier and quicker. A single book can contain information that can greatly enhance a person’s enjoyment of life. Of course there are other tools as well.

What tools are on your tool belt?


Student Assignment – Books as a Tool

Grade 9 + 10 English          Non-Fiction Book Study

Description: Students are often asked to complete assignments for school – to demonstrate competency in various areas of the curriculum. This assignment  is for the student – to learn new concepts and to internalize principles that can be applied throughout their lives (it will also meet many of the learning outcomes of the curriculum).

Students will choose a non-fiction book from a selection provided. These books will cover a wide variety of areas from relationships, to thinking, to finances and many others. Students are encouraged to choose a book from the area that most interests them, that they want to learn about, and is written in a way that they can relate to. The book will become the student’s property, part of their personal library, to serve as a future reference guide.

Purpose: To study a non-fiction book that can serve as a reference tool throughout life.

Evaluation: For our purposes, the student must demonstrate that a real effort to learn and apply the principles has taken place. This can be done in a number of different ways, but it is the responsibility of the student. There will be a rubric provided.

The true evaluation for this assignment will come from the student, their desire to learn, the time they invest in the book.

 Timeline: Assignment starts immediately. It is suggested that book be picked by Friday, May 13. If you need a book that needs to be ordered it will take a few days.

Daily check-in, entry slips which the student will indicate what they did to move their learning forward. (for the student’s own accountability).

Weekly check-in in small groups will take place. This will be a time to share what we are doing, ideas that are being learned, how we are applying the principles. Groups will be changed so that everyone can hear about different books and different ideas.

Friday, June 7th is the targeted deadline date. (Could be a lifelong project.)

To come: Discussions: On ideas for how you might demonstrate your learning, Evaluation Rubric, Entry Slips, Group discussions, Q&A


*If you read 15-20 minutes a day, you can easily read 1 book a month – that is 12 books a year – that is 120 books in 10 years – close 10 a 1000 books in an average lifetime!

The Value of Tools – Books

What book has changed your life?

Really I would like to hear from you! If a book can change one life, it certainly has the power to change the lives of others.

How does a book change a person’s life? There is oft-used quote: “We don’t know what we don’t know.” The new ideas presented in a ‘life-changing-book’ change our perception and succeed in changing the way we think. Another popular quote is one by Albert Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

Over the past few years, I have talked to a number of people who have cited books that have literally changed their lives in a significant manner. Here is a list of several of those books:

Personality Plus by Florence Littauer; Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Dad series); The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman; The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwarz; How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

If spending a few hours reading one of these books could radically change your life, would you read one? Imagine if people would start applying the following principles from Section 2 of How to Win Friends and Influence People into their lives:


Principle 1. Become genuinely interested in other people.

Principle 2. Smile 🙂

Principle 3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

Principle 4. Be a good listener; encourage others to talk about themselves.

Principle 5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

Principle 6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

What are your picks?

The Value of Tools – EnRICHed Academy

What is your “Financial Literacy”? Your child’s? Last Thursday Miguel Catellier presented the students of Grades 9 – 12 some of the information contained in the EnRICHed Academy DVD program. This was the last 2 periods before a long weekend (students did not have school Friday). For an hour and half they listened!! A number stayed and asked questions! There were many positive comments from students and staff (“I wish I would have had this information when I was young”).

For anyone interested Miguel will be giving a presentation on Thursday, May 9th, 7 pm at École Régionale St-Jean-Baptiste (salle multimedia).

Checkout the website:

What is the value of “good information”? Short term? Over a life time? As parents we all hope to prepare our children for the world, so that they can meet the many challenges and enjoy their life fully. As a parent, who teaches, I realize that I did not always have the best information (I did have an awesome wife to fill in many of the holes).

The area of finance would definitely be an area that we could have done a better job. It is one of those almost “taboo” areas that does not get talked about much with children and students. The DVD’s provide great information, but most importantly they provide a tool to start the conversation on finances.

My children will be getting a copy and will be talking about the information presented. I encourage you to checkout this great tool!