Monday, June 14, 2010

Do Administrators have too much Dopamine?

In education we seek to make "Data-Driven Decisions."  The buzz word is always Data, Data, Data.

If you ever meet with an administrator and want to propose any sort of change in any way the comeback will surely result in the use of the word "data" or involved some form of "data collection."  I know this because I'm a guilty participant in this.

Another thing I've always said is that I can make statistics say anything I want it to.  That's a common joke around those against Data-Driven Decisions.  I do believe all too often we seek to find the data to support whatever it is we are proposing.  We can always, because we are talented professionals, make the data say what we want it to say.

Michael Shermer brings up this point in his TEDtalk.  He presents on two basic principals
Patternicity and Agenticity.

Patternicitiy - The tendency to find meaningful patterns in both meaningful and meaningless noise.

Agenticity - the tendency to infuse patterns with meaning, intention, and agency, often invisible beings and from the top down.

"Belief is the natural state of things!!!" As Shermer says.  As administrators, we seek to find the answer to a problem through data. Well, guess what?  We will find it!  If we beleive there is an assoication between events we will find that association.  The problem is, is that a meaningful pattern or just meaningless noise?

Shermer also states that as the levels of dopamine in increased in a patients brain the ability to find patterns that DON'T really exist increases.  So I guess as adminisntrators it would behoove us to monitor our dopamine levels.

Michael Shermer debunks myths, superstitions and urban legends, and explains why we believe them. Along with publishing Skeptic Magazine, he's author of Why People Believe Weird Things and more....check out his TED talk below...

So do you think Principals have too much Dopamine?  Do they seek out the patterns using meaningful data or is it all just meaningless noise?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

John Wooden - RIP

Here is his TED talk from 2001.  He was just an amazing man and a wonderful coach.

John Wooden on teaching and coaching: