Carol Dweck on Helping Kids Move From the Tyranny of Now Into the Power of Yet …*

In this short TEDx talk, psychologist Carol Dweck gives an overview of her research on the power of mindset to facilitate or hinder children’s capacity to connect with and activate their potential. The ways in which children frame and cope with challenges and difficulties have enormous implications on their ability to thrive. Students with a fixed mindset are prisoners to the tyranny of the now, believing that each challenge is a reflection of a fixed level of a given capacity–be it intelligence, creativity or athleticism. Meanwhile, students with a growth mindset luxuriate in the power of yet, understanding that each new challenge is an opportunity to learn something new and to practice and refine skills. Dweck shares some tips and strategies for helping students move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset–praising process rather than intelligence to help students redefine things like effort and difficulty, for example.

watch & rethink …* 

“Design is never finished but constantly adapting to a world in flux” – How Do You Define Design?

"Design is never finished but constantly adapting to a world in flux" - How Do You Define Design?  | rethinked.org

“Design is making. Design is thinking with your hands. Design is arranging the world around us to ensure the functioning and well-being of our communities. Design is the inherent human capability of understanding a challenge and its context followed by the instinctive act of rapid, iterative trial and error until a solution is found. Design is having trust in your intuition to take non-linear creative leaps in order to beat habit. Design is never finished but constantly adapting to a world in flux.” –  Matthias Reichwald

I’m always interested in hearing how people define design and I quite liked the definition above, which I found yesterday while reading an article on Design Indaba. What do you think?

How do you define design? 

Source: What Design Thinking Can Do For Africa via Design Indaba

“Everything changes, every day, which is the glory & curse of things” -Maira Kalman on Navigating Through It All …*

"Everything changes, every day, which is the glory & curse of things" -Maira Kalman on Navigating Through It All ...* | rethinked.org

“Everything changes, every day, which is the glory and curse of things. You can’t rely on anything, but you can rely on navigating through it all—or at least one hopes.” 

I was thrilled to see that this week’s guest on The Great Discontent is rethinked * favorite, Maira Kalman. With her usual keen sense of observation, whimsy and honesty, Kalman shares various insights on her life and work. Here are some highlights from the interview, which I encourage you to read in full.

*

-  g r o w t h   m i n d s e t   &   g r i t – 

I think I’m incredibly lucky because I had the patience and perseverance and single-mindedness to believe that I belonged in that world. It took a very long time to become an illustrator, and I had all kinds of odd jobs along the way. However, I had the good fortune to meet a man who had the same kind of philosophical outlook that I did: we were both curious and had a sense of humor, and we believed we could do whatever we wanted. For us, New York was an optimistic place. Yes, it can be a very difficult place, but we thought there was nothing we couldn’t do—it would just take time. So we found our way by working hard.

Whenever anyone asks me, “What will happen? How will I do in this world?,” I say I don’t know. You’ll either do it or you won’t do it; you’ll stick with it or you won’t; or something else will happen to inform it. There’s no prediction. You have a feeling and you try to do the best you can.

*

- t a k i n g   r i s k s   &   d e a l i n g   w i t h   f e a r   t h r o u g h   w o r k – 

Tibor and I grew up together, and I learned a tremendous sense of work ethic and fearlessness from him. I’m not saying I don’t have fears—I have many, many fears. But Tibor was the kind of person who said, “You can have an idea. That’s fine, but why don’t you make the idea happen,” which is a whole other thing to do. His belief in work and in finding yourself through work was an extraordinary learning for me.

*

- w a l k i n g  – 

I love to walk, and this [New York] is the best walking city in the world. There is more inspiration in a walk around the block than I could ever catalogue. I could write a book about every walk I take. Besides being the cultural center of the world and home to all of the museums I live in, the eccentric energy level of the city is fantastically inspiring. I can walk down the street, clear my head, and come back with most problems solved. For me, the best time is when I’m alone and don’t expect anything, but then an idea comes.

*

- w h o l e n e s s ,   s e l f – k n o w l e d g e , v i s i o n   &   l o v e – 

It’s a terrible thing to give advice. I’d say that you have to try to be true to yourself and find out who you are by doing the things that give you the most pleasure in life. Try to weave that into your work; don’t separate yourself into different beings. But people starting out who are in their twenties? That’s a rough time. Stick with your vision, if you can, and find people to love you, if you can.

*

{ global learning } through Mystery Skype in our interconnected world …*

Traveling to a new place and immersing oneself in its culture is an amazing opportunity and experience. However, it can be unrealistic and infeasible for many students to travel like this, especially young learners. Yet with thoughtful use of technology platforms, we can provide students with rich cultural experiences without ever leaving the classroom.

Something I am super excited about is Mystery Skype, an educational initiative to bring classrooms together from all over the world. To take part in this educational game, teachers can register their classrooms and then connect with other classrooms around the world. After arranging a time for the lesson, the classrooms then Skype with one another and the aim of the game is to try and guess the location of the other classroom by asking questions. Mystery Skype has been used for all sorts of subjects, including geography, history, language, math, and science, and students of all ages seem to be entranced by this clever way to bridge cultural divides.

In a recent edSurge article, Brandi Leggett talks about the transformative experiences her students have had with Mystery Skype. Her third grade classroom in Kansas has worked with students in Rio de Janeiro, Utah, Manhattan, Japan, Israel, Kenya, and Pakistan. Through these experiences, they have learned a myriad of lessons, both formal and informal. The students have been amused by accents, amazed by time zones, and shocked by realities such as war drills in Israel or the conditions of classrooms in a slum in Kenya. The game itself teaches them about the geography and culture of the places they Skype, but also requires them to be more aware and knowledgeable about their own communities. Throughout each lesson, they have learned valuable communication skills, both verbal and written.

Global collaboration is not new, but as technology and access to technology progresses, the experiences are becoming more and more immersive and inclusive. Collaborating with classrooms around the world, the learning opportunities become intersectional and endless.

Learn more about Mystery Skype below:

{ You Don’t Need to Travel Far to Unhouse Yourself } Being Open To the Potential All Around Us Is A Choice …*

{ You Don’t Need to Travel Far to Unhouse Yourself } Being Open To the Potential All Around Us Is A Choice ...* | rethinked.org

A few weeks ago, I shared a list of the top five things that walking 500 miles helped me understand in a deeper or different way. Here is a bit more context around the third lesson- be open.

Earlier this week, Jenna remarked that we have both been writing a lot about travel these past few months. Perhaps even with puzzling frequency given that this is a learning innovations blog. Yet few activities compare to travel in terms of speed and efficiency at making the ordinary unknown–a critical condition for deep learning, cultivating empathy, curiosity and a host of other learning and flourishing-enabling capacities that fascinate (obsess) us, here at rethinked …*

When we travel, the scope and definitions of what we know become more malleable; we shed our routines and leave behind our habits. Our assumptions are questioned–whether by will or circumstance, or both.

This enlargement of the mundane through added awareness and presence is one of the most fantastic aspects of travel. But what I realized during my walk is that it is possible, easy even, to capture this sense of mystery and presence inherent to travel in one’s everyday. It is a question of choice, of choosing to be open to the present moment.

When I was walking, I met new people every single day–people of all backgrounds, ages and interests. In fact, some of the most meaningful friendships I made were with people I would likely not have been open to meeting at home in New York. I felt significantly more social on the Camino and more excited by the things around me–I peeked around corners; I entered decrepit buildings; I climbed bell towers; I looked up in churches. I felt so eager to interact with the life all around me and I found that many of the barriers I experience in New York, things like anxiety or tiredness, were absent. I wondered why that was and thought how nice it would be to live one’s life as if perpetually in foreign territory. And that’s when I realized how accessible it is to do just that. When I set out for my walk, as I almost always do when I prepare to travel, I set for myself the intention of being open and attentive to the new people I would meet and the new places I would visit. And then I did exactly that, and it was enough, it worked, I lost myself in the best way in the present moment all throughout my trip.

All one has to do is decide to be open to the potential that surrounds us. It seems obvious and it is. But so often we get caught up in the flow of things and we forget that our daily surroundings are teeming with potential for new discoveries, connections and experiences.

There’s a quote from one of Martin Amis’ brilliant novels, Time’s Arrow, which I love and which I’ve shared here before:

Mmm—people! It seems to me that you need a lot of courage, or a lot of something, to enter into others, into other people. We all think that everyone else lives in fortresses in fastnesses: behind moats, behind sheer walls studded with spikes and broken glass. But in fact we inhabit much punier structures. We are, it turns out, all jerry-built. Or not even. You can just stick your head under the flap of the tent and crawl right in. If you get the okay.

We have these ideas of the world being much more impermeable than it actually is. The places, people and experiences that surround us have infinite potential to surprise and delight us, if we just remember to be open. If we make the choice, daily, of asking for the okay.

Adopt A Growth Mindset To Deal With Procrastination …*

“You get down to work when the fear of having done nothing finally exceeds the fear of doing it wrong.”

Okay, so I get that watching a video about procrastination may seem like, well, procrastination; but I found this lovely short from The School of Life quite insightful. It’s easy to grow frustrated with ourselves or others when things are not getting done, but rather than giving in to the labeling game (I’m/he/she is lazy, useless etc.) which, by the way, is a key characteristic of a (highly unproductive) fixed mindset, this video reminds us that a little (self) compassion and a growth mindset go a long way in helping us to get our work done. Often the reason we put off the work we know we should be doing is because we are afraid that it will be anything less than perfect (which, of course, it will be). So next time you find yourself putting off doing your work, remember this little girl, recognize the fears and anxieties that may be hindering your progress and rather than grow frustrated or discouraged, gently remind yourself that getting better at anything requires effort over time. And get started.

It seems like I’m lazy, that’s what everyone must say, I know. But in truth I do nothing, not because I’m lazy, but because I’m sacred. I’m terrified that if I start, what I do will be horrible. I want things to be so amazing and I know they can’t be so it seems best not even to begin. What helps me the most is when occasionally, it feels like it doesn’t matter, when it feels I can mess up and that would be okay. When the pressure isn’t so great. Like when I was younger and there was less at stake.

{ Going Nowhere } – Pico Iyer on the Importance of Sitting Still… *

Elsa and I have been blogging a lot about travel and all of the things you learn by exploring the world and exploring yourself while out in the world. [See 5 Things I Understood While Walking 500 Miles or Thoughts on Travel – The People and The Lightness] So I found it funny and refreshing to hear this TED talk by Pico Iyer, a travel blogger, about the value in sitting still. He states that in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent then the act of going nowhere. I thought it to add the perfect balance to our discussion.

 

Iyer agrees with the value and beauty of travel, but he explains that only through sitting still we can sift through the slideshow of experience. This balance of movement and stillness is a loop that leads to learning. He tell the story of how a trip to North Korea of a only few days gave him sights, but only through sitting still for years after could he turn those into insights. He also sees the value of stillness for improving travel- suggesting that “nowhere is magical, unless you can bring the right eyes to it.” Through stillness, we can develop more attentive and appreciative eyes.

For Iyer, going nowhere means taking a few minutes a day, a day a few, or a few months a year (whichever works best for you) to sit still to find out what moves you, to recall where your happiness lies. It also entails taking retreats from life, turning off our technology, and getting to places of real quiet.

He urges his audience to make more conscious efforts to sit still. I blogged a month or so ago about mindfulness meditation, which is one great technique for approaching some stillness. But rather than focusing on the “now” of experience, Iyer believes in the importance of stillness for reflection on the past and for cultivating a future.

I wholeheartedly agree with this message. I worry that in this world of technology and interconnectedness, I spend my free moments checking email or playing Candy Crush rather than reflecting and being still. Especially in New York City, it is so easy to get swept up in the constant motion and movement – to feel that busyness is a sign of success. Yet our bodies and minds really crave those moments of doing nothing, and in fact need those moments to process, reflect, and to learn.

You can view this inspirational talk below. Let me know what you think!

 

{ Start Walking } Rethinking Uncertainty …*

{ Start Walking } Rethinking Uncertainty ...* | rethinked.org

A few weeks ago, I shared a list of the top five things that walking 500 miles helped me understand in a deeper or different way. Here is a bit more context around the second lesson- start walking.

My biggest personal goal in walking the Camino Frances was to practice growing comfortable with uncertainty. My decision to walk the Camino had been very last minute and, frankly, when I set out I had no idea what I was doing (seriously– did you read my post about how it wasn’t until about 10 pm the night before I was setting out that I realized my sleeping bag wouldn’t fit in my pack?!), where I was going or how I would get there.

WHEN IN DOUBT, FIND A PLACE TO START & BEGIN 

Luckily for me, I got plenty of opportunities to practice being/thinking/doing uncertain. Each day was an unknown, which, of course, they always are, but the stakes felt a tiny bit higher when out on the road. Most days I didn’t know where I would end up or if I would find a place to sleep. I would just start walking and go from one yellow arrow to the next. I had bought a greatly detailed (if insufferably sentimental) guidebook and hoped it would get me to where I was going. It turns out however, that I didn’t even need the guidebook as there are yellow arrows pointing the way to Santiago all along the road. All I needed was to find the first arrow and go from there.

Picasso famously remarked, “To know what you’re going to draw, you have to begin drawing.” Drawing, walking, living–all require that one starts somewhere. Often, when we start, we don’t don’t know what we will make, where we will go or whom we will become. We don’t know because we can’t know, because the acts of drawing, walking and living are transformative– we grow and change as we act. And while we may not know whom we will be at the end of our journey, we can be sure that we can make it the whole way one line/arrow/decision at a time.

BE AWARE OF HOW YOU FRAME UNCERTAINTY & RETHINK AS NEEDED

The second thing that I understood from my daily experiments in the uncertain, is that uncertainty is not an either-or proposition, it is a spectrum of options. This seems like an obvious statement, and perhaps it is to you, but whilst walking, I realized that I was unconsciously framing the idea of uncertainty as a highly reductive binary of what I could know, predict and affect versus utter catastrophe. It was a tremendously valuable insight as I realized that I hadn’t even been aware of how I was appraising the concept of uncertainty until I felt my unease and sense of impending doom relax and fade each time an unexpected outcome proved less than catastrophic (which they always did.)

Throughout my journey, I sometimes arrived in tiny towns where every last bed was occupied, but something always worked out–I slept on dusty mattresses on gym floors and wrestling mats in locker rooms. While neither of these options come close to my idea of an ideal place to sleep, I must say that those nights spent on gym floors were some of the best sleeps I had the entire journey and some of my fondest memories of laughs and bonding with fellow pilgrims. Not only was the uncertain and unexpected not catastrophic, it often proved delightful, better even than what I could have been certain of.

start, take a chance & rethink …*

Rethinking Our Assumptions About the Role of Self-Interest In Human Evolution — Our Brains Are Wired For Compassion …*

Enjoy this lovely short video featuring professor of psychology and founding faculty director of the Greater Good Science CenterDacher Keltner, who prompts us to rethink our assumptions about human evolution and to redefine human self-interest. Far from being predisposed to selfishness, greed and competition our nervous systems are (and have been for a long time) set up for compassion, generosity and empathy.

rethink & be kind …*

Hat Tip: Your Brain Is Built For Kindness via The Science of Us

{ Generosity Is A Habit, Not An Achievement } Reflecting on Service to Others this Giving Tuesday …*

{ Generosity Is A Habit, Not An Achievement } Reflecting on Service to Others this Giving Tuesday ...* | rethinked.org

{ ARE YOU CELEBRATING GIVING TUESDAY?

Today is “Giving Tuesday,” which is an attempt to create a new tradition of generosity through a global day of giving back after the consumption frenzy of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. 

What I find most promising about Giving Tuesday is the opportunity it creates for us to reflect on generosity in our lives and which will, hopefully, prompt us to translate this awareness into ongoing action.

{ WHAT ARE SOME CONCRETE EXAMPLES OF ACTIONS DEMONSTRATING YOUR SERVICE TO OTHERS ?

Several months ago while piloting a tool that we are creating to help knowmads be more reflective about their experiences and learning, I was asked to give concrete examples of actions demonstrating my service to others. I’m ashamed to admit that I could not think of a single action to write down. This moment has stayed with me because it clashed rather brutally with this idea I have of myself as a fairly generous person.

{ GENEROSITY IS A HABIT NOT AN ACHIEVEMENT

The thing is, I have volunteered–in orphanages, women’s shelters, soup kitchens and language learning centers; I donate money to the various causes my friends are engaged in. This should all add up to something; I mean it all makes me generous–right? Well, no, not really. When I tried to identify examples of concrete ACTIONS that demonstrated my service to others, I realized the last time I had actually given anything in a way that I might qualify as “service to others” –as in given of my time in a consistent and meaningful manner over a significant length of time–was seven years ago, when in 2007, I volunteered twice a week at a women’s shelter. But generosity is a habit, not an achievement. I can’t trade on the service I performed nearly a decade ago to label myself as generous. It’s a bit like those awkward encounters you sometimes have with people you meet at parties who describe themselves as writers or artists but who never write or paint anything. Being generous, like being a writer or an artist, is about doing the work, putting in the hours, week after week, months after months, year after year. If you’re not giving, you’re not generous.

{ HOW MIGHT I MAKE SERVICE TO OTHERS A REGULAR HABIT? 

So today, in honor of Giving Tuesday, I’ve donated to an inspiring grassroots project which I recently read about and that, at the time, I told myself I would like to donate to “someday” –Survivors Ink. The project helps survivors of human trafficking who have been branded by their traffickers to reclaim their lives and bodies by providing funds to cover up the markings on their body. I hope you will check it out, spread the word, and maybe consider donating yourself.

I am also pledging three days of my work time to service (thank you, rethinked …*) as well as two full weekends. If you know of a good non-profit or grassroots project that could benefit from my help, please email me at elsa@rethinked.org.

Beyond a one time financial donation and pledging a week of my time, I want to make generosity and service to others a regular habit in my life. Rethinked.org regulars, you know what’s coming … a design thinking challenge–How might I make service to others a regular habit in my every day? Get in touch [ again, elsa@rethinked.org ] if you would like to collaborate on this challenge.

reflect, rethink & give …* 

%d bloggers like this: