Tag communication

{ rethinking mentorship …* } How Might We Change Traditional Learning Scenarios & Completely Decentralize Learning From Its Current Form?

Grasp_4

Image: Akarsh Sanghi

  “In the 21st century when we are surrounded by digital devices and are occupied by a screen most of the time for every possible activity, I wanted to explore how can we break away from this cycle to learn something in a more organic and natural way.” – Akarsh Sanghi

I discovered Grasp yesterday and was immediately charmed by this “wearable tool to assist learning” created by interaction designer, Akarsh Sanghi. Grasp is a design provocation aimed at questioning our assumptions about traditional learning practices and environments–

“The scope of the current version of the project was to spark a debate on how traditional learning scenarios can be changed and learning as we know it can be completely decentralized from its current form. [….] The idea was to learn new skills which are more physical in nature-like craftsmanship and require step-by-step instruction assist learning.” –Akarsh Sanghi

As our lives, learning, work and communities become increasingly decentralized, online and interconnected, Grasp raises some urgent and important questions about the future of learning and mentorship. Head over to Sanghi’s website to learn more about Grasp and check out his other projects.

“Learning new skills which are more physical and instructional in nature has always been limited by the constraint of a mentor and the learner being present in the same physical space. Grasp is a wearable device which attempts to overcome that constraint by connecting the mentor and the learner across distances. The tool provides the mentor with a real time insight into the learners environment through the coupling of a first person point of view and an instructional laser pointer. Therefore, the mentor can communicate to the person learning via the device and instruct using the laser pointer. It is the idea of having a companion looking over your shoulder and instructing you while learning something new irrespective of distance.”

question & rethink . . .*

Source: This Robotic Wearable Is Like Having a Teacher on Your Shoulder

Grasp_Concept-Sketch.001

Image: Akarsh Sanghi

Assertive Inquiry: An Excellent (and Free) Tool For Better Teamwork, Creative Listening & Decision-Making …*

Assertive Inquiry: An Excellent (and Free) Tool For Better Teamwork, Creative Listening & Decision-Making ...* | rethinked.org

Assertive Inquiry is a framework for engaging in productive dialogue that derives from the methods and theories of leading theorist of organizational learning Chris Argyris. It is an approach to communication, which, “blends the explicit expression of your own thinking (advocacy) with a sincere exploration of the thinking of others (inquiry).”

“In other words, it means clearly articulating your own ideas and sharing the data and reasoning behind them, while genuinely inquiring into the thoughts and reasoning of your peers.”

Playing To Win: How Strategy Really Works, pg. 136

I first learned about assertive inquiry while reading Roger Martin’s Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking (2009). Martin calls Assertive Inquiry one of the top three most important tools of an integrative thinker (along with generative reasoning and causal modeling) as it is a particularly helpful framework for communicating through clashing models and efficiently bringing together often contradictory models and various points of view into a whole greater than its parts.

I remember thinking it sounded like an incredible tool and skill to develop but failed to follow up on practicing. A few weeks ago, I read Martin’s latest book, Playing to Win where he once again mentions the power of Assertive Inquiry in helping teams harness their diversity and enhance and elevate collaboration, ideation and decision-making. Assertive Inquiry starts with a simple beginning stance:

“I have a view worth hearing, but I may be missing something.” It sounds simple, but this stance has a dramatic effect on group behavior if everyone in the room holds it. Individuals try to explain their own thinking–because they do have a view worth hearing. So, they advocate as clearly as possible for their own perspective. But because they remain open to the possibility that they may be missing something, two very important things happen. One, they advocate their view as a possibility, not as a single right answer. Two, they listen carefully and ask questions about alternative views. Why? Because, if they might be missing something, the best way to explore that possibility is to understand not what others see, but what they do not.”

Playing To Win: How Strategy Really Works pg.136-137

Once you are aware of the perspective from which you are approaching the conversation and have focused on cultivating the proper stance, there are three key tools that you must employ as the conversation unfolds: 

  1. Advocating your own position and then inviting responses (e.g., “This is how I see the situation, and why; to what extent do you see it differently?”)
  2. Paraphrasing what you believe to be the other person’s view and inquiring as to the validity of your understanding (e.g., “It sounds to me like your argument is this; to what extent does that capture your argument accurately?”)
  3. Explaining a gap in your understanding of the other person’s  views, and asking for more information (e.g., “It sounds like you think this acquisition is a bad idea. I’m not sure I understand how you got there. Could you tell me more?”)

These kinds of phrases, which blend advocacy and inquiry, can have a powerful effect on the group dynamic. While it may feel more forceful to advocate, advocacy is actually a weaker move than balancing advocacy and inquiry. Inquiry leads the other person to genuinely reflect and hear your advocacy rather than ignoring it and making their own advocacy in response. 

Playing To Win: How Strategy Really Works pg.136-137

Assertive Inquiry could have huge payoffs for teamwork. It creates an atmosphere of authentic openness, inquiry and creative listening. It also seems like an excellent framework for having better conversations all around–at work or at home, with one individual or many. Try it out …*

“‘I wonder what’s really going on for him right now?’ – That moment of curiosity is the doorway to empathy”

"'I wonder what’s really going on for him right now?' - That moment of curiosity is the doorway to empathy" | rethinked.org

This week, the theme that caught my attention was this notion of creating sparks or moments of curiosity to activate and facilitate empathy, connection and community. Over on Ashoka’s Start Empathy blog, Joshua Freedman shares an instance where he got frustrated with his son over homework and failed to live up to being the parent he wants to be. His son was putting off doing his homework and Freedman started yelling and blaming him in an aggressive manner. In retrospect, Freedman acknowledges the various failures of emotional intelligence he exhibited in the way he responded to the situation and focuses particularly on the fact that he was overly focused on his own perspective and unresponsive to what his son’s internal reality may have felt like.

When I increase empathy and relook at the situation with compassion, I see a different story.  Perhaps he was afraid, too.  Perhaps he felt powerless, too.  Perhaps he’s learned the exact same pattern I’ve modeled: When you’re afraid, attack.  Perhaps our power struggle was simply two people afraid to honestly share their fears.

[ … ]

Hopefully, tomorrow I’ll remember to take that all-important pause and ask myself: I wonder what’s really going on for him right now? That moment of curiosity is the doorway to empathy, and it’s a game changer.

[ … ]

That little pause of curiosity is a way to step out of the stress reaction, and step into being the person we choose to be.

Then yesterday I discovered artist Hunter Franks whose various projects aim to do just that–to create these sparks of curiosity that promote empathy, and connection–across communities.

San Francisco-based artist Hunter Franks challenges our ever-increasing personal and physical isolation by transforming public spaces into positive venues of conversation and connection. His public installations create shared spaces and experiences that break down social barriers and catalyze connections between people and communities.

Franks’ various projects include urban interventions such as The Neighborhood Postcard Project which,

collects personal positive stories from underrepresented communities and mails them to random people in different neighborhoods within the same city to catalyze connections between people and neighborhoods.

The Story Forest:

The Story Forest invited passersby to share a story from when they were little and hang it from the branch of a tree for others to read. The Story Forest created a playful shared space as participants took time to write their story and then weaved through the tree branches, reading the stories of others.

or The First Love Project:

Regardless of what we look like or where we come from, we all share the story of a first love. The First Love Project collects the story of people’s first love as well as a portrait and displays them in public space.

To amplify his efforts at creating moments of curiosity and empathy, Franks started the League of Creative Interventionist:

The League of Creative Interventionists is a global network of people working to build community through creativity. League chapters around the world carry out creative interventions that build connections between people and add to the vibrancy of their communities. 

I love everything about this–the mission, the ideas and the execution. To find out more about how to join or start a local chapter of the League of Creative Interventionists, head over to their website, where you can also check out past interventions from around the world. Prepare to be inspired and curious about your neighbors!

. . . * 

Hat Tip: Bringing Divided Cities Together, With A Little Creativity

{ Coffee Culture } and the value of Face-to-Face Communication

In celebration of International Coffee Day, I’d like to talk about how we can rethink one of America’s most coveted beverages. Many Americans love their daily morning cup of coffee. For me, it’s all about the coffeehouse. It is a place where a buck entitles you to stay for as long as you like, and it’s a cornerstone of communication and connection that holds something vital for our disconnected generation.

coffee

[ A History ]

The coffeehouse has been a social hub of public discourse since its introduction into British society in the 1650s. The concept of the coffeehouse immediately resonated with the British bourgeoisie; by 1700 there were two thousand coffeehouses in London, and they were considered “the site for the public life of the eighteenth century middle class”. Initially, these places took on many communal functions, characterized by civil discourse and intellectualism and home to the first modern newspapers and ballot box.  Some go as far as to suggest coffeehouses are the birthplace of modern democracy. Coffeehouse culture quickly caught on in colonial America and became a defining aspect of American culture dating back to 1689.

One aspect of coffee culture that has been retained over time is that of “bourgeois sociability.” Many coffeehouses in 18th century London began to represent community, harmony, and civility.  The coffeehouse was a crucial institution in the development of the public sphere of society because it embodied the “civilized self.”

The modern-day coffeehouse experience, mass-marketed by Starbucks, is one of relaxation, leisure, community, and enjoyment.  It is a respite from the stresses of political and economic life. This redefined purpose of the coffeehouse is, best described by Ray Oldenburg in The Great Good Place, a cure to the more “jangled and fragmented” American lifestyle.   Oldenburg’s research concerned the specialness of commercial places that served as a location to unwind, relax, and talk.  This social space was coined the “third place” because it was neither home nor work, but rather a place where people simply felt comfortable.  Oldenburg felt that this place would facilitate conversation, both between friends and strangers.  This place has become a necessary solution to America’s interactional ills.  The disconnection in a world of technology and constant work can be offset by the civil engagement produced in the coffeehouse. The public nature of a coffeehouse interaction enables the physical and psychology intimacy of face to face conversation.

[ The Ignition Initiative ]

For the most part, NYC is full of strangers. It’s one of those weird places where you can be surrounded by people but feel completely lonely. Coffeehouse culture here is mostly people conversing with their own friends or students and the self-employed staring intently at their Macbook screens.

However, my favorite coffee shop, Birch, has something called the Ignition Initiative. The initiative presents a new twist on American coffee culture, and it’s one that could really show promise for promoting human connections in a place where connection has traditionally thrived. As can be seen below, the shop has little placards with thought-provoking conversation starters. To participate, one simply places a placard on her table and waits for some one to approach.

Participants in the Ignition Initiative receive an extra free hour of WIFI (Birch provides 1 hour per customer), and it also resolves the issue of crowding, where one person has commandeered an entire table.

photo

I have to admit that I haven’t yet tried this out yet, since I’m usually there to do schoolwork, but I’d love to give it a shot. Would you?

Dr. Brené Brown On The Power of Empathy …*

Enjoy this lovely short animation on the power of empathy, excerpted from Brené Brown‘s speech at the RSA  where she explains why embracing vulnerability is critical to human flourishing. 

RSA Shorts – The Power of Empathy | Published December 10, 2013, on YouTube.

Issues of Confidence & Permission in Wanting to Make A Difference…*

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to observe the EdgeMakers workshop, led by John Kao, with the entire ninth grade class of the Riverdale Country School. EdgeMakers is a new organization, founded by Kao in November 2012, with the mission of empowering young people everywhere to become innovators and make a difference. EdgeMakers hopes to be a resource for young innovators, giving them “a new set of “edge capacities” that include the ability to create and manage the creativity of others; communicate with empathy; be a proactive catalyst; collaborate with a diverse, global, ever-changing array of partners; innovate; and to cultivate the emotional intelligence needed to manage, lead, and inspire.”

About EdgeMakers via EdgeMakersmedia on YouTube, published October 15, 2013.

The students were broken up into eight groups for the day-long workshop and spent the morning rethinking and designing the perfect book bag by following the Lean Startup method. In the afternoon, the students gathered again in their groups, this time to identify opportunities for rethinking throughout the school, and worked collaboratively to design solutions to their chosen challenges.

The workshop was a resounding success, with the students learning and practicing some key tools and techniques necessary to affect positive change in their lives and environments–rapid prototyping, giving and receiving feedback, identifying pain points, and collaborating in diverse teams.

It’s great that these students are being equipped with the tools and processes that they need to transform their dreams and ideas into impact but, in my mind, the most valuable contribution an initiative like EdgeMakers can make, is to give these students the right mindset and confidence to be change agents; the sense that they do not need to wait for permission to take control of their environments and rethink their lives and those of others for the better.

A couple days prior to the EdgeMakers workshop, I attended a book party with Tom and David Kelley for the launch of their new book, Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, and although I have not yet had a chance to read it, the Kelley brothers’ assertion that we are all creative and that it’s just a question of removing the blocks that we acquire in the process of growing up so that we may realize our creative potential resonated deeply with my own experience. In my life and creative endeavors, I have come to realize that the issue of permission has often gotten in my way and kept me from fully exploring my potential or pursuing in a tangible way many of my ideas. Growing up, I was fortunate enough to attend eleven schools, both public and independent, in three different countries before even reaching high school. Yet despite the wide range of learning models that I was exposed to, the sum total of my education left me with a sense of ingrained obedience and hesitancy. I have had to unlearn the idea that someone else knows (or can know) better than me what I can or cannot accomplish, or that I should wait for someone more knowledgeable to give me the go ahead to pursue my hunches and inclinations. This is why EdgeMaker’s mission and curriculum to empower children and adolescents to make their mark on the world and to translate their ideas into impact is so critically on point and urgent. Education should be about giving learners the tools and mindsets they’ll need to shape and navigate their ever changing world, not to fill them with blocks they have to unlearn in adulthood.

Friday Link Fest…*

Friday  Link Fest...* | rethinked.org | Photo by Elsa Fridman

READ

When Empathy Hurts, Compassion Can Heal ~ A new neuroscientific study shows that compassion training can help us cope with other people’s distress. Research suggests you can cultivate a compassionate mindset through encouraging cooperation, practicing mindfulness, refraining from placing blame on others, acting against inequality, and being receptive to others’ feelings without adopting those feelings as your own. via Greater Good Science Center, published August 22, 2013

Closing the Chasm Between Strategy and Execution ~ Strategy and execution is a false dichotomy, unnaturally sheared apart in order to divide labor in increasingly complex organizations. It’s an efficient approach. Alone, the shearing isn’t a problem. The problem is that both sides don’t see it as their responsibility to intelligently pull the two sides back together again. They leave a chasm, hoping that it will miraculously close on its own. The best strategists and executors don’t see a hand-off between strategy and execution. They see an integrated whole. They continuously hand ideas back and forth throughout all phases of a project, strengthening them together. via Harvard Business Review, published August 22, 2013.

How Four Years Can (and Should) Transform You: Mark Edmundson’s Essays Ask, ‘Why Teach?’~ Mr. Edmundson reminds us of the power strong teachers have to make students rethink who they are and whom they might become. This is what a real education is all about. via New York Times, published August 20, 2013.

The Real Neuroscience of Creativity ~ The latest findings from the real neuroscience of creativity suggest that the right brain/left brain distinction is not the right one when it comes to understanding how creativity is implemented in the brain. Creativity does not involve a single brain region or single side of the brain. Instead, the entire creative process– from the initial burst of inspiration to the final polished product– consists of many interacting cognitive processes and emotions. Depending on the stage of the creative process, and what you’re actually attempting to create, different brain regions are recruited to handle the task. via Scientific American, published August 19, 2013.

An Inventor Wants One Less Wire to Worry ~ A great profile of Meredith Perry who has the mindset and habits of a true rethinker…* via New York Times, published August 17, 2013.

Growing shoes and furniture: A design-led biomaterial revolution ~ En Vie (Alive), curated by Reader and Deputy Director of the Textile Futures Research Center at Central Saint Martins College Carole Collet, is an exposition for what happens when material scientists, architects, biologists, and engineers come together with designers to ask what the future will look like. According to them, it will be a world where plants grow our products, biological fabrication replaces traditional manufacturing, and genetically reprogrammed bacteria build new materials, energy, or even medicine. via Ars Technica, published August 18, 2013.

Make Your Work More Meaningful ~ You learn to make your work more meaningful yourself. While it helps enormously to have conditions in place that facilitate work meaning (like autonomy in deciding how you do your work), it’s important to realize that meaning is ultimately something you create on your own. Indeed, even in jobs that may look dismal from the outside, there are always steps you can take to build the kind of meaning that will make you feel better and work better. via Harvard Business Review, published August 16, 2013.

10 of the Most Counterintuitive Pieces of Advice from Famous Entrepreneurs ~ Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in what we ‘should’ be doing that we forget there are others who have gone against the grain and had it work out for them. via Creativity Post, published August 19, 2013.

What A Mallard’s Feet Can Teach You About Learning Tools ~ Often I see amazing educators using tools, apps and programs to create the most fantastic learning experiences for the students. These educators make it look easy. It is like watching a duck as it gracefully glides across the pond. The thing to remember is the graceful glide of that duck is powered by the fervent paddling of webbed feet under the water. via Teach Thought, published August 20, 2013.

“I Approached Business the Way a 6-Year-Old Would.” ~ Fast Company has an outstanding piece on the revitalization of Detroit, and all of the do-ers that are making it happen, many with little or no experience. It’s a must read for anyone launching a project. Andy Didorosi is one of the people profiled, and he shared how he started a bus company to help fill in for Detroit’s gutted public transportation system. via 99u, published August 20, 2013.

Google’s New Chat Service Connects Information Seekers With Experts ~ Helpouts by Google is a new way to connect people who need advice with experts in different fields. It consists of face-to-face video chats powered by Google+ Hangouts, where people can pay to get help from people who are able to monetize their knowledge and skills by covering areas like cooking, gardening, computers and electronics. via PSFK, published August 22, 2013.

The Magic of Metaphor: What Children’s Minds Teach Us about the Evolution of the Imagination ~ Metaphorical thinking — our instinct not just for describing but for comprehending one thing in terms of another, for equating I with an other — shapes our view of the world, and is essential to how we communicate, learn, discover, and invent. Metaphor is a way of thought long before it is a way with words. via Brainpickings, published August 19, 2013.

LOOK

7 Essential Life Lessons From Kids’ To-Do Lists ~ These sometimes-hilarious, always-adorable to-do lists written by children serve as refreshing life lesson reminders. via Mashable, published August 22, 2013.

Smart Interaction Lab Presents: TOTEM: Artifacts for Brainstorming ~ How can interactive objects encourage inspiration and dialog during brainstorming sessions? We worked together as a team of multidisciplinary researchers and designers to explore how we can improve people’s experiences of the ideation process through tangible interaction. Our solution was TOTEM—a family of three unique objects that help people get inspired and stay engaged in creative conversations and debates in order to generate new ideas. It is composed of a stack of three separate but complementary objects: Batón, Echo and Alterego. via Core77, published August 21, 2013.

Feeling brain-dead? Go for a walk: Your brain on walking, in fMRI ~ fMRI scan indicating increased brain activity associated with happiness after a 20-minute walk vs. 20 minutes in sedentary mode. via Explore, published August 12, 2013.

249 Bloom’s Taxonomy Verbs For Critical Thinking ~ Bloom’s Taxonomy’s verbs–also know as power verbs or thinking verbs–are extraordinarily powerful instructional planning tools. via Teach Thought, published August 18, 2013.

Play & Learn: A new interactive board game, laXmi, designed by Akshay Sharma, aims to teach illiterate Indian women about financial literacy in a fun and engaging way ~ via Design Indaba, published August 19, 2013.

Torafu’s Haunted Art Gallery for Kids at the Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art ~ In an attempt to better engage the youngest visitors to the Museum of Contemporary Art in TokyoTorafu Architects created a special art gallery just for kids called Haunted House. On entering the exhibition a few familiar artworks appear hung in frames around a large white cube, but something is clearly amiss as everything appears to be moving. via Colossal, published August 18, 2013.

How To Draw Out Your Worst Fears ~ For her Fear Project, Julie Elman asks people about their fears and then lets her illustrative mind go wild gathering and visually interpreting their fears. And in committing to the project, she confronts her own creative fears in a circuitous way. via NPR, published August 15, 2013.

Off Ground: Playful Seating Elements For Public Spaces ~ Exploring different playful elements and seating alternatives, ‘off-ground’ by amsterdam-based designers Jair Straschnow and Gitte Nygaard is made from recycled materials. The public installation is a different approach to the way public space is used and perceived, basing the design on fun and play for adults. ‘Play is free, is in fact freedom. Play is essential to our well being. Why does play most commonly associated with children? Why do all playing facilities in public spaces get scaled-down to kid’s size? Why do all seating facilities in public spaces sum-up to rigid benches?’ via Designboom, published August 5, 2013.

Matali Crasset Creates Living Pods for Modern Artists in the Forests of France ~ Parisian designer Matali Crasset has produced a series of low-impact living pods in which modern artists can spend a summer residency while working in a natural setting. via Inhabitat, published August 22, 2013

WATCH

Carol Dweck on the power of “Yet” ~ It’s just one little word, but says world-renowned Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, it has the power to inspire your child to do incredible things. via Great Schools, published June 26, 2013.

Brené Brown On Why Embracing Vulnerability Is Critical To Human Flourishing…*

“Our capacity for wholeheartedness can never be greater than our willingness to be brokenhearted.” 

In this splendid talk given at the RSA, research professor, Dr. Brené Brown, who has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame, highlights the tension between the behaviors spurred by our culture of scarcity– a culture of never enough–and the critical function of vulnerability in human flourishing. We live in a culture shaped by fear and blame, argues Brown; everywhere around us, the dominant questions framing the discourse in virtually all areas of society are: “What should I be afraid of today?” and, “Who’s to blame?” Our instinctual response to this culture of scarcity is to armor up in an attempt to protect ourselves from being rejected and hurt.

We wake up in the morning and we armor up and we put it on and say, “I’m going to go out into the world, I’m basically going to kick some ass, I’m not going to let anyone see who I am and in doing so, I can protect myself against the things that hurt the most–judgment, criticism, fear, blame, ridicule. I’m going to armor up and I’m going to be safe.” 

This armor takes on many facets–perfectionism, intellectualizing, etc.–but at its core, the armor serves the same function for everyone: to protect our sense of being lovable, and being acceptable and being worth connection; to avoid feeling like we’re not enough. The issue, as Brown points out, is that, as the research shows, “vulnerability is the path to love, belonging, joy, intimacy, trust, innovation, creativity and empathy.” Essentially, the strategy that we are using to protect and nurture our sense of love, acceptance, and connection–putting an armor on–is keeping us from reaching those very goals in an authentic and fulfilling manner.

What can we do to move in a more positive direction? Brown suggests three focal points for rethinking…* our behaviors:

  1. Learn to differentiate between empathy and sympathy. Act on empathy.
  2. Learn to move past blame and focus on accountability .
  3. Learn to differentiate between behavior (guilt) and self (shame). Guilt mobilizes individuals for positive action, while “shame corrodes the part of us that believes we can change.”

EMPATHY vs. SYMPATHY

Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy drives disconnection. Empathy is feeling with people. So to respond empathically, I would need to try to understand [that person’s] perspective, stay out of judgment, recognize what [they’re] feeling and kind of communicate it back: “Oh, shit. I hate that.” or “Oh God, There’s nothing worse than___.” That’s empathy. Empathy is, “I’m feeling with you.”

Sympathy is, “I’m feeling for you.” […] In Texas, in the South in general in the U.S., we have the worst saying ever, that just smacks and reeks of sympathy, which is, “Bless your heart.” Basically, what I’m saying is, “that sucks, but too bad and God is on my side.” So sympathy is one of the things that really gets in the way of empathy and sympathy is also often how we respond when we don’t want to be vulnerable to someone else’s struggle. 

[…]

We all need different things from empathy. There are no hard and fast rules about what empathy looks like or what it sounds like, but there is one that I will share with you from the research, it is: “Rarely, if ever, does an empathic response begin with ‘At least’.” And we do it all the time because someone just shared something with us that’s incredibly painful and we’re trying to put the silver lining around it. So, “I had a miscarriage”, “At least, you can get pregnant.” How does that feel? Awful. But one of the things we do sometimes in the face of very difficult conversations, is we try to make things better instead of leaning into. If I share something with you that’s very difficult, I rather you say, “Wow, I don’t even know what to say right now, I’m just glad you told me.” Because the truth is, rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection. 

Sometimes, the most profound and eloquent examples of empathy happen without any words. And sometimes, not even with eye contact. To me, if I’m sitting next to you and I say, “Wow, I feel like the wheels are falling off right now and things are out of control.” And someone just puts their hand on top of my hand and squeezes–that says, with touch, I think, the two most important words in my work, which are: “Me too.”

BLAME vs. ACCOUNTABILITY

Blame is simply the discharging of discomfort and pain. It has an inverse relationship with accountability. Meaning that people who blame a lot, seldom have the tenacity and grit to actually hold people accountable because we expand all of our energy raging for fifteen seconds and figuring out whose fault something is. 

Accountability, by definition, is a vulnerable process: it means me calling you and saying, “Hey, my feelings were really hurt about this,” and talking. It’s not blaming. Blaming is simply a way that we discharge anger, which is really hard, and blaming is really corrosive in relationships and it’s one of the reasons we miss our opportunities for empathy, because when something happens and we’re hearing a story, we’re not really listening, we’re making connections as quickly as we can about whose fault something was. 

GUILT vs. SHAME

Shame is, “I’m bad.” And guilt is, “I did something bad.” So shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. The outcomes are hugely different. What we know from the research is that shame is highly, highly correlated with addiction, depression, aggression, violence, suicide, bullying. And, almost more importantly, we know that guilt is inversely correlated with those outcomes. Meaning the more someone is able to separate themselves from their behaviors, the less likely it is that they’ll end up suffering from these struggles. And the implications are huge, especially around parenting. As it turns out, there is a tremendous difference between, “You’re a bad girl” and, “You’re a great kid, but that was a bad choice.” 

When we see people change behaviors, make amends, when we see positive behavioral change, you can almost always trace it back to guilt. Guilt is uncomfortable but I’m a big fan of it because it’s cognitive dissonance–it’s, “I’ve done something, and I’m holding it up against my values and it doesn’t feel right.” That’s guilt.

Brown’s work and insights on the power of vulnerability link back directly to Carol Dweck’s research on mindsets. Armoring up to protect the self is a fixed mindset strategy–it stems from a belief that traits are fixed: I have certain inherent character traits that make me lovable, acceptable and worthy of connection to a certain fixed point. And since these traits are fixed and static over time, my best course of action is to keep others from finding out what I’m really like. Shame and blame both come right out of the fixed mindset with its framework of judgment. Meanwhile, the ability to embrace vulnerability, to lean into it, stems directly from a growth mindset. It is a recognition that we as individuals have the agency and capacity to grow, to develop our ability for empathy, change and accountability. It is a willingness to learn new strategies for connection and accepting the risks of failure and pain that inherently comes with trying something new.

The Power of Vulnerability, via RSA, published July 4, 2013.

Friday Link Fest…*

Friday Link Fest...* | rethinked.org

WE ARE THE LANDSCAPE OF ALL WE KNOW ” – Isamu Noguchi

 

READ

Want To Help Kids Solve Problems? Have Them Design Their Own Solutions ~ via FastCoDesign, published July 11, 2013.

Empathy’s Non-Verbal Language: Six tips on how to reach children through our actions ~ via Ashoka, published July 10, 2013.

Improving 3-D Printing by Copying Nature: Biomimicry could make the technology safer and better ~ via National Geographic, published July 7, 2013.

LOOK

Monumental Plant Sculptures at the 2013 Mosaicultures Internationales de Montréal ~ via Colossal, published July 9, 2013.

A Strategy For Promoting Resilience In Children ~ Catch, Challenge, & Change. via Teach Thought, published July 9, 2013.

Total Strangers Who Have Never Met Pose Together In Intimate Portraits ~ via Design Taxi, published July 12, 2013.

51 Sources Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Free eBooks ~ via Teach Thought, published July 11, 2013.

The Modern Seaweed House by Vandkunsten and Realdania Byg ~ via Dezeen, published July 10, 2013.

WATCH

How 80,000 Bees Printed A Bottle For Dewar’s ~ via FastCoCreate, published July 9, 2013.

55 MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) for the Dog Days of Summer ~ via Open Culture, published July 9, 2013.

4D printing: buildings that can change over time ~ via BBC Future, published July 11, 2013.

The Critical Role of Play, Passion & Purpose for 21st Century Learning & Why Rethinking…* is Greater Than Inventing

“What must we do differently to develop the capacities of many more of our young people to be innovators?”

In this talk from the 2012 TEDxNYED conference, Tony Wagner, Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard and author of several books on transforming education for the 21st century, argues that in the new global ‘knowledge economy’, where knowledge has become a commodity, “what the world cares about is not what you know but what you can do with what you know, and that is a completely different education problem.” The question then becomes, “what must we do differently to develop the capacities of many more of our young people to be innovators?”

Wagner identifies a set of seven core competencies that  “every young person must be well on the way to mastering before he or she finishes high school, not just to get a good job, but to be a continuous learner and an active and informed citizen in the 21st century”. They are:

  1. Critical thinking & problem solving
  2. Collaboration across networks & leading by influence
  3. Agility & adaptability
  4. Initiative & entrepreneurialism
  5. Effective oral & written communication
  6. Accessing & analyzing information
  7. Curiosity & imagination

Wanting to learn more about how these seven core competencies could be facilitated and cultivated, Wagner interviewed a wide range of young innovators in their 20s across various disciplines and industries as well as their parents to uncover any potential patterns in the young innovators’ upbringing and learning culture. He also asked each of the young innovators whether there had been teachers or mentors who had made a significant difference in their lives. Rather shockingly, one-third of all the innovators interviewed could not identify a single teacher or mentor. Also alarming, when Wagner went to interview each of the teachers and mentors that the other two-thirds of innovators had identified, he found that every single one of them was an outlier in his or her institution.

After conducting the interviews, Wagner did see a significant pattern emerge in how these adults had fostered the skills and motivation necessary to become innovators in the young people he had interviewed: “play to passion to purpose.”  Which led him to conclude, “the culture of schooling, as we have grown up with it, is radically at odds with the culture of learning that produces innovators in five essential respects.” They are:

  1. Celebrating individual achievement vs. Teamwork
  2. Specialization vs. Interdisciplinary
  3. Risk aversion & penalizing failure vs. Taking risks, learning from mistakes, iterating
  4. Culture of learning is about passive consumption vs. Culture of innovation is about creating real products for real audiences
  5. Extrinsic incentives for learning vs. Intrinsic Motivation

What I found particularly interesting about Wagner’s talk is the fact that while I agree 150 percent with the insights he shares about the direction education and the learning culture should be taking in the 21st century, I fundamentally disagree with his opening remark, when he says, “I would like to respectfully suggest that our schools are not failing, they certainly don’t need reforming. The system is obsolete and needs reinventing, not reforming.”  This notion that we must start from scratch, begin again or create a new foundation in order to achieve something innovative and thriving is one that keeps coming up and which we find unrealistic and detrimental, here at rethinked…*. It should come as no surprise given our name that the belief that rethinking is greater than inventing is a founding principle that underlies all of our work. So often these days, especially in the education reform debate, we hear people calling for a complete reinvention of the system–do away with classrooms, do away with teachers… These solutions are often unrealistic in terms of widespread implementation and rarely account for the wide spectrum of learning styles and differences in our students. Starting over is a luxury that we do not have. To be fair, Wagner does emphasize what each one of us can do as individuals–whether as parents, mentors, or teachers–to bridge the gap between the current culture of schooling and the culture of learning that fosters innovators (hint: model the desired behavior). And when he speaks of the need to reinvent the system, he’s talking about the underlying principles of our education culture rather than the brick and mortar educational system. Yet, the notion of sustainability does have an important place even in the sometimes abstract world of ideas. While it is disheartening to think that of all the young innovators Wagner interviewed, only two-thirds could identify a significant teacher or mentor, and that in every single case, these mentors were outliers in their fields, the fact is, they were still there–they are already a part of the system. It’s not so much about reinventing the wheel as much as finding ways to amplify, cultivate and facilitate the nuggets of potential already strewn throughout the system. I’d love to hear your take on the rethinking vs. inventing debate in the comments section below.

Play, passion, purpose: Tony Wagner at TEDxNYED | via TEDxTalks, published May 30, 2012.

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