In the Zone

In my Tedx talk below, I speak about a set of five focal points for learning that can assist us in reaching an optimal state of flow.

I make the case that schools should embrace their individuality and that every day should be the most rewarding, exciting and memorable day possible.


The slides that show these focal points are included here as many of them don’t come through clearly in the recording.

Taming the Horse

Sakyong Mipham in Running with the Mind of Meditation describes the Buddhist view of the mind and body as being a single entity. This connection is a unique relationship between the breath and the mind that creates the feeling of calmness that I so often experience after a run. Mipham explains that the breath is like a horse, and the mind is like the rider. This Eastern analogy has been borrowed and re-purposed on numerous occasions from the Switch Framework for change to the tongue-in-cheek “Dead Horse” strategy. The story goes that when you discover you are riding a dead horse the best strategy is to dismount, however in education we do things like:

• Get a stronger whip.
• Ride the horse for longer periods of time.
• Appoint a committee to study the horse.
• Blame the horses’ parents. The problem must be in the breeding.
• Increase the standards for dead horses.
• Increase the standards for dead horse riders.
• Change the standards so that the horse is no longer technically dead.
• Complain about the state of horses these days.
• Identify and visit sites where they ride dead horses more efficiently.

Dead horses aside, runners have a natural feeling for the breath. According to Mipham, the mental benefits of running  are achieved not by taming the horse, but by exhausting the horse.

Thus the mind is present and at peace. So the clarity and peace of mind we feel after running is mostly because the wild horse is tired, not necessarily because it has been tamed. The mental clarity brought about by physical exercise is temporary. When the horse has more energy, it resumes running around.

Perhaps this is why we get addicted to running…

We breathe all the time, but rarely breathe deeply. Taking a few moments each day to breathe deeply, whether through running or just in a quiet moment, is one of the easiest things you can do to momentarily tame the horse.

I was particularly taken by Amit Carmeli’s focus on the breathe as a force for unleashing creativity at Creative Innovation 2015.


Paraphrasing Peter Diamandis in Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think,

Imagine a world of nine billion people with clean water, nutritious food, affordable housing, personalized education, top-tier medical care, and non-polluting, ubiquitous energy – it’s a not an issue of scarcity, its an issue of accessibility.

The inevitable, inexorable, exponential march into the future, where yesterday’s crises is tomorrow’s opportunity, reminds me of Isaac Asimov’s The Last Question. You read enough science fiction you get used to the idea that science fiction quickly becomes science fact – it is incredibly exciting, scary, empowering and strangely dis-empowering all at the same time.

Give it a listen.

Resolving Homing Errors

From the MakerBot forums:

“A homing error occurs when the extruder nozzle doesn’t reseat properly after pressing against the build plate during homing. A message will appear on the LCD panel and will look similar to this:
HOMING ERROR. Homing failed. Your extruder nozzle may be stuck. Please try again.”

How to Resolve a Homing Error

  • Make sure your build plate is firmly in place and not crooked or resting on top of the platform.
  • Make sure your build plate tape adheres evenly to the build plate. The surface should be smooth, and the tape should completely cover the build plate.
  • On the control panel, navigate to Filament > Load Filament. Hold the Smart Extruder in place and try to push the filament through. You may want to grip the filament with a pair of pliers to help you push. Then choose Unload Filament. Loading and unloading filament will help align the nozzle.
  • If this does not resolve the error, you may need to reseat the nozzle. First, wait for the Smart Extruder to cool. Never touch the Smart Extruder while it is still heated. Once the nozzle has completely cooled, remove the Smart Extruder from the extruder carriage and hold it with the nozzle pointing upward. Press the nozzle down into the Smart Extruder. Move the nozzle gently back and forth and around in circles. Then release the nozzle. The base of nozzle should pop into place and stick out from the Smart Extruder.

A video explaining the process:

How To Resolve A Homing Error from MakerBot on Vimeo.


Having written previously about using Autodesk’s 123D Creature in relation to character design and printing an Elephanticus, I was excited to hear of Autodesk’s new offering Tinkerplay. Tinkerplay is a free app that lets you design and customize your own creatures and characters on your mobile device and then make them “real” using a 3D printer. It goes in a different direction then 123D Creature (which is now called Sculpt Plus) in the sense of creating snappable parts.


It’s easy to use, multiple platform and on my first attempt I was able to get something pretty reasonable on a Makerbot 5th gen.

*Off the print bed, the individual parts probably need a little finishing with some sand paper or acetone but in the photos below no finishing has been attempted.