Sunday, June 8, 2014

It's Over??

With the conclusion of TEDxGrossePointeSouthHS, 20 Time is over! A few responses to Mr. Provenzano's questions:
1. Overall, what is your opinion of 20 Time based on YOUR experience in class?
I have EXTREMELY mixed reviews about 20 Time. I loved it and I hated it. It simultaneously impacted my life in positive and negative ways. I began the year loving 20 Time. I was excited and ready to really create and accomplish things. I became impacted by a lack of motivation and drive, and essentially gave up on my project. At this point, 20 Time became more of a stress-inducing chore. On the other hand, speaking at TEDx was simultaneously the coolest/most emotional/amazing/life changing experience that I've ever had in school. 
2. What are some aspects of 20 Time that you think should be adjusted for students next year? A few flaws in 20 Time caused me to strongly dislike it as the process continued. Those being (in no particular order) THE BLOG. I hated the blog. I would like to personally apologize to all 2000 people who have clicked the link to emilyfgps20time.blogspot.com and continued to scroll and read through the posts because not only are they poorly written, they're incredibly boring. Most of them say things like, "haven't done anything this week, busy, will next week. I'm bored. I'm uninspired, I don't have any ideas". Which was probably painfully awful to read. To be completely honest, there is only one blog post I've written this entire year that I actually don't mind people reading. (here). I thought it was insightful and I came to a lot of realizations to writing it. Which brings me to the positives of the blog: it was a good place to become self-aware. Every week I had to be held accountable to the fact that I hadn't made any progress, and that really whipped me into shape a couple times. Which brings me to my second flaw, MOTIVATION. Our 20% class time was virtually ineffective. I wish Mr. Provenzano had spent that class time really talking to us about our projects. I felt like the majority of that hour was the students sitting and talking while he was at his desk working on other aspects of 20 Time. Having someone help you out of the slumps of boredom and a lack of motivation would have helped the success rate of this project A LOT. This brings me to favoritism. I really wish we weren't compared to other students throughout the course of this project. As it got to around January, I really felt like both myself and my project were virtually unimportant because I wasn't the one kid running a marathon. (DON'T GET ME WRONG. RUNNING A MARATHON IS AWESOME AND THAT PROJECT IS INSANE AND THAT IS REALLY COOL). I just wish that we were all treated the same. I strongly believe that as humans we all have different abilities and strengths and our projects really reflected that because they were tied very personally to each one of us. This project grew with us throughout the year, and as some grew and others failed, not all people were treated the same in the classroom environment. I just wish someone was there to tell me that even though I wasn't running a marathon or climbing a mountain that I was just as important. 

**SIDE NOTE: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE SHOW NEXT YEARS STUDENTS OUR TALKS SO THEY CAN LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKES. I WOULD HAVE HAD A MUCH MORE POSITIVE EXPERIENCE WITH THE ACTUAL 20 TIME PROJECT IF I HAD KNOWN THINGS TO AVOID. 
3. What are some aspects of 20 Time that should NOT be changed for students next year?
Freedom to choose projects and the talks at the end of the year. I think you should try your hardest to keep the kids from talking about the projects and their ideas before bringing them to you because I think that will help the kids that are afraid what others will think of their project. Doing something you're passionate about is what makes 20 Time so great, and everyone should be focused on something they love. The talks, though the most stressful thing ever, really helped me step out of my comfort zone. I'm kind of shy, and the talks allowed me to experience and play with public speaking in a way I hadn't experienced before. That was the coolest part of 20 Time for me. 
4. Is 20 Time something that more students should do in school? Please explain why or why not.
I think 20 Time should be implemented in more places IF AND ONLY IF it is not impacting the quality of their education in that class. Though I think I received a good education in HAL, I think a couple aspects of high school English were thrown to the way-side because of 20 Time. (Namely, writing skills and text analysis.) I feel like I have good reason to be more nervous about taking AP Lang than my peers in other sections of HAL.  
5. What advice would you give to students who are doing 20 Time next year?
BE CREATIVE AND DO NOT. UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. LET A FEAR OF FAILURE PREVENT YOU FROM TRYING. 
6. (Only if you spoke at TEDxGPSHS) What did you take away from speaking at a TEDx event? Was it as scary and you thought? Did you learn anything?
Speaking at TEDx was the coolest thing ever. That sounds lame, but I really can't think of another way to phrase it. I walked in to TEDx thinking I wasn't a public speaker and was going to forget my speech (which I did... oops), and walked out feeling much different. I've been really shy my whole life, and always struggled to be myself in front of large groups of people. The fact that I stood up in front of a ton of people yesterday and forgot my speech and made people laugh by just saying random things that came into my head WAS THE COOLEST THING EVER. I WAS BEING MYSELF THE ENTIRE TIME AND THAT IS SOMETHING I AM DEFINITELY NOT USED TO AND REALLY ENJOYED. Without a doubt my most positive experience in school this year. The camaraderie between the students in our grade was amazing, and the entire day was one I will never forget. 


Below is a rough outline of my speech (including the parts I forgot so it actually makes sense now!!) 
Slide 1:
Hi, my name is Emily Fleming, and before we get started I just want to take a minute to say that I’m really excited to be speaking in front of all of you today. More so, however, you all should be really excited that I’m here speaking in front of you today. I don’t know if you know, but I was recently interviewed by CNN about 20 Time, so I like to consider myself kind of a local A-list celebrity…yaknow.
Slide 2:
Just jumping right in, I want to start off by talking a little bit about creativity. What makes people so great is a desire and a passion and a creativity that drives them to achieve greatness. I strongly believe that greatness doesn’t come from sheer greatness. There has to be something there. Be it as I said, a desire, a passion or an idea that serves as the driving force behind success, that truly is the main source of success. Take Steve Jobs for example. Steve Jobs didn’t just suddenly decide to come up with Apple and the next day walked around with the single most prominent computer and smart phone manufacturer in arguably, the world. It was the stuff in between that made his success possible. It was the late nights, the trial and error, the high  highs and the lowest of lows. Those kinds of things made him poised for success. And that’s the important part.
Slide 3:
20 Time is a passion project, but it’s also kind of a social experiment. You see, you tell a bunch of 15 year olds to come up with a project that they’re passionate about and have them come in once a week to work on when they pick the project and final goal, you’re gonna have a few different reactions. You’re gonna have the two extremes:  the kids that pick a project with a clear process and a clear goal and then the kids that decide within the first two minutes of the project being assigned that it just isn’t worth their time. But then you’re gonna have the kids that are a little hesitant, that over plan and over think and begin to become hesitant and afraid of messing up, of failing. Even in a project with failure as a legitimate option.
You see, we are so fixated on the destination and the greatness that comes as a result of that passion, creativity and drive that we become afraid. And a fear of failure is a direct cause of failure.
Novelist Ray Bradbury once said, “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You must simply do things.”
That fear of failure comes as a direct result of classic over thinking. It makes you afraid. In order to get the ball rolling and to be able to begin the process to achieving greatness, you must, as Ray Bradbury said, simply do things.
Slide 4:
You see, our lives are measured in opportunities. Essentially in the ones we take and the ones we pass up. More so, our lives are measured by the lessons we learn from those opportunities. In order to find success and achieve greatness, the process involved is constantly changing. Lessons we learn from opportunities change our thinking and our mindset as we move forward toward our goal. It’s the little things, and the lessons that we learn from them that guide and change our destination. A fixation on the destination creates that fear of failure, and that’s I guess the precise approach I took to my 20 time project.
Slide 5:
So my AHA! Moment with that came the other day when I was scrolling through my instagram feed. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Humans of New York, but I saw a post on their account that had a picture of a woman with a caption that read essentially “I used to be really afraid of saying something awkward and uninteresting so I stood on the outside of conversations and didn’t really say anything, which ironically came across as awkward and uninteresting.”
Slide 6:
With a little shift in understanding, this is precisely the approach I took to 20 time. I sat around and watched and admired as people accomplished, finding that three, six, then nine months down the line I hadn’t really accomplished anything regarding my initial goal. I began with a really good idea that I was really passionate about… but that was precisely the problem. I got caught up in the end result, the greatness that comes after all the trial and error, and I became afraid to fail. I literally sat there and watched as kids ran marathons or did something scary everyday or learned new languages because I was afraid that if I entered in the circle and really tried toward my goal, that I would fail. I worried that failing would label me as a failure, when it was this exact labeling that did such a thing.
Slide 7:
So I’m going to tell you a little bit about myself. As many people are, I’m a middle child. I’m stuck between my younger brother, who is probably the best singer, dancer, and actor that I’ve ever met… and my older sister. A little bit about her, she’s a senior, and we are involved in all the same activities. And she’s good. At every. Single. One. She’s all state field hockey, all state journalism, academic all state softball and field hockey, and one of the Detroit news best and brightest for the class of 2014. To top it all off, I’m the 6th of 12 cousins that have accomplished all of that and more in their own right. You wanna talk about middle child syndrome, honey I got it. But what I really want to say, is that living in their shadow made me afraid of failure. I became afraid of not being good enough. I was afraid of going to church on Sunday and hearing one of my many aunts and uncles asking when I was going to become that great. But what if I did become that great?
Slide 8:
 The thing is, had I stayed with that mindset I would still walk into church every Sunday afraid of being a disappointment. AFRAID OF FAILING AT SOMETHING I WOULDN’T TRY AT BECAUSE OF AN IRRATIONAL FEAR OF FAILING. It’s a vicious cycle that begins and ends with fear.

Slide 9:
This failure essentially has two pillars. A fear of failure prevents you from success and causes you to fail, spurring from the idea that lives are measured in successes and failures, as opposed to the things we learn from them.
Slide10:
Author of Harry Potter JK Rowling really summed it up for me in saying “it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well have not lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.
This profound idea that the only way to succeed is to find accomplishment in an initial goal prevents us from even trying at all, at which point we are remembered not for what we wanted to do, but what we chose not to. Trying and failing does not make you a failure. Ben Franklin didn’t invent electricity without failing a couple times first.
Slide 11:
Essentially, sometimes you learn more from failure than from success. Focusing on the process to achieving greatness as opposed to finding immediate results prevents a fear of failure from causing you to fail.
Slide 12:
To sum the whole thing up, Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
--To me, this is really saying that you can’t just sit idly by and watch as people accomplish things. If you really want something, you have to chase it. You can’t focus on the end result or be afraid to fail because those are the things that cause you to fail in the end. You must, as Ray Bradbury said, SIMPLY DO THINGS. Jump right in and don’t be afraid. No matter what way it goes, YOU WILL LEARN SOMETHING. 


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