Tag exploration

unleashing creativity with d.global…*

Hello, fellow rethinkers! I took a break this past summer from posting, but I am excited to be back and to share excited ideas about education with you.

This past weekend I participated in a d.global workshop, a design thinking challenge that the d.school at Stanford is taking around the world with the goal of unleashing the creative potential in all of us.nycinvite

In this seven-hour workshop, we went through a design thinking process to seek new insights and understandings towards large problems attendees were facing in their day-to-day lives. We began with three postures – short activities meant to establish a culture with specific norms and values. I discuss two below:

creative postures…*

Our first posture – “I am a tree”- brought everyone into the mindset of stepping forward and taking risks. This is an improv game where one person begins by standing as a tree in the center of the circle and states “I am a tree.” Next, another team member steps in and states what she is to complete the setting. For example, “I am a bird.” A third person then steps in and could say, “I am bird poop.” The first person steps out of the scene and chooses one person to remove as well, and then the game continues. Here’s a youtube video of an improv team performing “I am a tree,” since it is far easier to understand if you watch it happening.

After reflecting on risk-taking, we began our second posture – “Tada!” This game seeks to reframe failure. Teams of two play a variety of counting games where it is very easy to mess up. After reflecting on how our body language and demeanor was affected by these mess ups, we were instructed to instead shout “Tada!” each time our group failed, complete with a step forward and spirit fingers.

design challenges…*

In an ideation session, we developed questions pertinent to our own life goals and struggles. I focused on how to seek a work/life balance and how to better structure my days.IMG_7768

We then shared and synthesized these questions into more broad goals that groups of 5-6 could rally around. My group asked “How to design a life that has meaningful impact and is meaningful / life-giving to you?” Other questions are included in the photos below.IMG_7766IMG_7770

In a surprise twist, we were then tasked with seeking inspiration and ideas to solve another group’s problem, rather than our own. Our group was looking into the question “how to find passion and a reason to get out of bed in the morning” We spent time with the other group, building empathy and deeper understand of their question. We realized that the members of this group had diverse reasons for asking this question. Some were overwhelmed. Others lacked focus or drive. Generally, they all had issues around goal-setting and motivation. With this in mind, we began our three hour exploration of NYC, seeking inspiration and new perspectives to bring back with us.

how to life a motivated and passionate life...*

Our journey to seek empathy and new perspectives led us to talk to many people, and the conversations we had were wonderful and inspiring. A barista at a local coffee shop spoke of how his day job paid the bills while his passion was to become a theologian. He was slowly obtaining a Masters in Theology at night. He advised us to first focus on what has to get done, and then focus on what you’d like to get done. An employee at Old Navy worked two jobs during the day and found both to be fun and fulfilling. Outside of work, she was an aspiring dancer. Her advice to those who dread leaving bed in the morning was to be patient and to mix it up every once in a while.

Last, we spoke with a highly regarded trainer at a luxury fitness enter. He spoke of setting a combination of short and long-term goals and holding yourself accountable by writing things down and telling your friends or family about your goals.

Our final task as a group was to create a gift for the group we were designing for, based on our experiences that day. We decided to combine all of the nuggets of wisdom we noted throughout our exploration into a “choose your own adventure” poster, shown below:

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HOW TO LIVE A MEANINGFUL AND LIFE-GIVING LIFE…*

The group designing for us gifted us with a line from the poem Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson shown below. This line is a beautiful representation of the desire to do good in the world that our group was struggling with.

I felt invigorated by the exploration of my city and inspired by the wonderful minds I spent the day designing with. This year, I hope to bring a similar experience to the Riverdale community.

Thank you, d.global, for a tremendous experience!

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Rethink { Passion }: Elusive, Idealized, & Obsessed

Having a Passion

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to “have a passion,” and why our society values this so much. As I talked about in my recent post about the construct of “grit”, grit is a character strength defined by passion and perseverance of long term goals. People with grit have sustained passion for one thing and stick to it. Research indicates that people with grit succeed in life, both professionally and academically.

Yet are we jumping on the grit wagon a bit too enthusiastically, at the expense of exploration?

passion

http://goldengatebpo.com/blog/passion-in-the-workplace/

Passion versus exploration

In a NY Times article last month entitled Our Push for ‘Passion,’ and Why It Harms Kids, Lisa Heffernan discusses this strange new notion that, by high school, a child must “have a passion that is deep, easy to articulate, well documented and makes him stand out from the crown“. She jokes that this must happen before he begins his Common App, and anyone who has applied to college recently or helped another do so is awake of this phenomenon. As Heffernan states,

This passion, which he will either stumble upon or be led to by the caring adults in his life, must be pursued at the highest level his time and talent, and his parent’s finances, will allow… This is madness.

She warns that the obsession with seeking a passion comes with costs. Children latch onto “passions” that are not really things they enjoy simply to be able to proclaim one. They feel lost and pressured to find their “one thing” early on. If we are laser-focused on finding one thing our students are good at and then push them to pursue it doggedly, they may miss out on other things they are perhaps more suited to or enjoy more. Childhood is about exploration. As Heffernan concludes,

…childhood isn’t about passion, but rather about exploration. Our job… is to nurture that exploration, not put an end to it. When we create an expectation that children must find their one true interest so early in life, we cut short a process of discovery that may easily take a lifetime.

In some ways, the exploration that Heffernan prescribes is antithetical to grit. However, I’d argue that grit is great, once you find something you want to be gritty at. However, we can’t push young students to latch on so quickly, and sometimes it IS more sensible to quit rather than to doggedly pursue.

Find-your-passion

http://idealistcareers.org/category/job-search/find-your-passion/

 

Passion requires struggle

Evidencing the harm that societal pressure towards passion can cause, in a NYMag Ask Polly column last week, Polly assuages a 25-year-old woman’s fear that she does not yet have a passion. The writer calls herself “Life Is Buffering” and worries that she lacks an anchor in life.

Polly takes a different approach to the obsession of passion, explaining that children in the upper middle class who have been coddled by their parents and lived very fortunate lives often have known no struggle. Yet passion is not born from the easy life. She explains,

Passion comes from hard work. Passion bubbles up from intense, sometimes tedious labor. Passion floats in when you’re exhausted from doing something by yourself, for yourself, just to survive… Passion arrives when you stop seeing men and babies as a kind of solution to not having enough passion. Passion materializes once you give up hope and then you’re just sitting there, without hope, and you think, I might as well do something. I have to pay the bills some way, don’t I? 

Polly reminds us that passion is not “something that descends like magic at cocktail hour, when all the work is done.” It is instead an uphill battle through thankless work and setbacks and struggles. 

Moreover, it is okay to not yet know exactly what you want to do. Part of the struggle is defining that purpose. As Polly concludes,

Those people with the biggest question marks are usually the ones with the most passion of all.

Passion: Elusive, Idealized, & Obsessed

Overall, I believe that “finding a passion” is a bit idealized in our society. Moreover, for upper class students who’s parents and teachers are trying to give them every advantage in life, finding a passion can be a bit of a contradiction. Passion is not something you can be spoon fed, and it is not something that should be a item on your checklist for college acceptance. It is born from struggle and hard work, it takes time to develop, and it’s okay if you haven’t figured yours out yet.

This – of course – goes back to my obsession with failure. If we want our students to develop passions, we need to put them in situations where they can fail. We need to take them out of their comfort zones and into contexts where they will struggle. We need to let them explore and remove the expectations and pressures to zero in on one thing so early on. We must rethink what it means to be passionate, why we value it so much, and how to instill passion in our students without smothering them with the label.

Harper’s Playground: Rethinking the Typical Playground to Create A More Inclusive World …*

“A quality play area is more than just a collection of play equipment. It is a place for play and learning – a place where children develop essential physical, social and cognitive skills, where different generations share common experiences, and where community members gather and build relationships.”The Inclusive City, Susan Goltsman & Daniel Iacofano – MIG

Haper’s Playground, located in Portland, Oregon, is an inclusive playground which allows children of all abilities to play together. Harper’s Playground was founded by April and Cody Goldberg whose daughter Harper uses a wheelchair to get around and could not enjoy their local playground. The Goldbergs were also frustrated with the alternative option of “adaptive” playgrounds which they view as:

expensive solutions to the wrong problem.  The problem isn’t about access to a structure, it’s about allowing and encouraging children of all abilities to play together.

They decided to design their own solution to the unmet needs of their daughter. The result is Harper’s Playground, which is an inclusive, fun and social place where children of all abilities and their families can come together to play, learn and explore. This is a splendid project, which aims to create a paradigm shift in how we think of and design the typical playground. Every community should have such a thoughtfully designed and delightful play space and luckily for us, the Goldbergs have a How To tab on the Harper’s Playground website with a form you can send them to receive feedback and advice on how to start an inclusive playground in you own community.

more play for more people …

Harper’s Playground: “More Play for Everyone” from Cody Goldberg on Vimeo.

Hat Tip: A Lot of Playgrounds Can’t Accommodate Children With Disabilities. A TEDx Speaker is Changing That. via TED, published August 6, 2014. 

{ The Independent Project …* } What If Students Designed Their Own Learning?

A few weeks ago I posted a deeply insightful observation from John Maeda about the disconnect between thinking and doing in academia. Maeda argued that the gift of ideas is the curse of doing nothing and highlighted the stigma around “doing” in the world of pure academia. I posed the question: How might we help students become fluent in both literacies of doing and thinking? Just this morning I read an interesting article on Ashoka’s Start Empathy blog about the importance of college students taking ownership of their education by engaging with the myriad learning opportunities surrounding them both in and outside the classroom. The quote below really struck a chord with me and I thought it highlighted a potent entryway into rethinking * the harmful dichotomies we have created between thinking and doing and being students and “real” people functioning in the “real” world:

“The very best students wring the veritable sponge of their institution for every last drop of value. They assume ownership of their education by taking advantage of all the available resources. They let what they learn shape them as human beings so that when the mantle of “student” eventually falls away, a knowledgeable, prepared, and motivated person remains underneath.” – Engaged Learning, Engaged Living 

What might this process look like? How do we enable the young minds that are entrusted to us to engage with and construct their learning in a way that shapes them as human beings rather than simply as “students”–an identity which is context-specific and thus ephemeral (and far too often, is experienced as imposed and begrudged by children who are disengaged and cannot wait to shed the “student” label, eagerly awaiting emancipation from the school system)? In other words, how might we produce ‘knowmads’–lifelong, engaged and passionate learners? One fantastic initiative, which attempts to do just that, is The Independent Project, started by a high school student, Sam Levin, in 2010.

The Independent Project is an alternative student driven school-within-a-school that was started at Monument Mountain Regional High School.

The idea for The Independent Project came about from that student’s own experience of high school, and his observation of the experiences of his peers. The two main things he felt were missing from many high school classrooms were engagement and mastery. He also felt that even students who were engaged were often learning material that was not very intellectually valuable. They were learning lots of information, but very little about how to obtain information on their own, or even create new information. His intent was to design a school in which students would be fully engaged in and passionate about what they were learning, would have the experience of truly mastering something, or developing expertise in something, and would be learning how to learn. He felt that the most important ingredient to a school like that would be that it was student-driven. Research by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on engagement suggested that if students have more control over their learning, they will be more engaged, excited, and committed to their studies. He also felt that it was important for the school to be focused on methods rather than specific topics, having students work like actual scientists, mathematicians, or writers. – Sam Levin’s ‘White Paper’ on The Independent Project 

The pilot for the Independent Project ran for one semester, accepting eight students ranging in grade levels and academic ability, and was divided into four parts: Orientation, The Sciences, The Arts, and The Collective Endeavor. The students’ days were broken up into collective learning in the mornings and independent, project-based, inquiry-led learning in the afternoons. Watch the two videos below, produced by the students themselves, to learn more about The Independent Project. Also be sure to check out Sam Levin’s White Paper on the project for a detailed overview of the pilot and helpful tips, ideas and insights on the project.

question, engage & rethink …*

Hat Tip: This Is What a Student-Designed School Looks Like via MindShift, published July 14, 2014

{ Traveling Lightly …* } How Might We Thrive & Flourish Within Tensions & Contradictions?

{ Traveling Lightly ...* } How Might We Thrive & Flourish Within Tensions & Contradictions? | rethinked.org

“My dream is to walk around the world. A smallish backpack, all essentials neatly in place. A camera. A notebook. A traveling paint set. A hat. Good shoes. A nice pleated (green?) skirt for the occasional seaside hotel afternoon dance.” – Maira Kalman

Mine too (dream–down to the pleated skirt; definitely green). I have always felt quite strongly l’invitation au voyage, the compulsion to wander and explore, to pack up and walk into the unknown, yielding to restlessness. During my teenage years, I imagined Bruce Chatwin’s essay, The Nomadic Alternative, my personal manifesto. Having grown up in three different countries and across two continents, I have always fancied myself a true nomad. Flying back and forth between the United States and France, three times a year, every year until I turned eighteen, I remember looking at the little GPS monitor on the plane, feeling there must have been an error on my passport: I was not French, I belonged nowhere and everywhere–I was the child from the middle of the Atlantic.

Of course, I fully realize that there is a fair degree of romanticizing in my conception of nomadism in my life. I am well aware that, practically speaking, it would be more difficult than I like to think it, to pack everything up one crisp fall morning and walk into the unknown. There are leases and bills and my unimpressive muscles which would soon tire of a backpack, however neatly arranged, all of which would very much restrain my ability to live on the go. But the idea of nomad, not as daydream, but as value–the idea of treading lightly through life, of being nimble, curious and prone to exploration and unhousing at a moment’s notice–is and has been for as long as I can remember a core value in my worldview and sense of self.

So what happened? How is it that two weeks ago, I found myself drowning in my stuff, trying to cram an endless amount of things into far too few boxes. I was moving out of my apartment and decided that the move would be a good time to shed what I imagined to be my very few bulky possessions — a couch, a large bed, maybe store a few books with my parents. Yet once I started attempting to pack, taking things out of their designated spaces to place them in boxes, I was surrounded by things, my treasures, which taken collectively were suffocating me. Paper cranes, sculptures of matchsticks and clay, poster boards, countless stashes of notebooks and loose torn out pieces of paper covered in paint and words, my grandmother’s broken jewelry, boxes of letters, photographs, markers, books–everywhere–crawling like ants in every corner of every room. So many things, which, individually, delight and reassure me but when taken out of the nooks and closets in which they hide, thrown together, made me sick, literally, dizzy and nauseous. How could there be such a disconnect between how I imagine and desire my life and how I actually live it? And how I might I begin to align the vision and the reality more closely?

I have no answer to this question that I ask, which is a little bit about how to live lightly, but very much about how to exist productively within tensions and contradictions? For me, one of those tensions is how to reconcile the need for comfort and delight that things can provide with my need to feel free and light. We all exist within webs of such interlocking tensions, whatever they may be. I would love to hear your insights on how to flourish in this very human space…*

Friday Link Fest…*

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

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” – Winston Churchill

READ

Rhizomatic Learning Is A Metaphor For How We Learn ~ Rhizomatic learning takes another approach. It freely admits the beautiful complexity of the human experience, and thus, by proximity, the sheer craziness of the learning process. This idea, not so much a learning theory as it is a clever and accurate metaphor, describes learning as having no beginning nor an end. It posits that learners have needs so diverse that the “teacher” is essentially off the hook in meeting every need for every student, no matter how noble that sounds. Within the rhizomatic perspective, “knowledge can only be negotiated, [and is] a personal knowledge-creation process with mutable goals and constantly negotiated premises.” So, iteration. Design. Try. Monitor. Fail. Reflect. Rethink. Redesign. Reiterate. via Teach Thought, published August 5, 2013.

In Defense of Life Hacking ~ Recently, Slate published an article entitled Down with Lifehacking, arguing that life hacking is just a time-wasting buzzword that doesn’t make anyone’s lives better. Lifehacker’s Whitson Gordon disagrees, here’s why. via Lifehacker, published August 6, 2013.

Daydreaming Can Improve Your Focus ~ Focus and concentration are essential, of course. But so are introspection and reflection, and Immordino-Yang and her colleagues recommend that adults and children find a balance between the two modes: by regularly unplugging our blinking, buzzing devices, and by providing time and space for a quieter, more inward kind of entertainment. via Business Insider, published July 30, 2013.

The 12 cognitive biases that prevent you from being rational ~ We’re subject to cognitive biases, those annoying glitches in our thinking that cause us to make questionable decisions and reach erroneous conclusions. Here are a dozen of the most common and pernicious cognitive biases that you need to know about. via io9, published January 9, 2013.

Build a Career Worth Having ~ Insights into what’s lacking in the traditional approach to career planning, and how professionals can create careers with an ongoing sense of purpose. via Harvard Business Review, published August 5, 2013.

Why Fear Of Discomfort Might Be Ruining Your Life ~ The problem is that when you run from discomfort all the time, you are restricted to a small zone of comfort, and so you miss out on most of life. On most of the best things in life, in fact. And you become unhealthy, because if eating healthy food and exercising is uncomfortable, then you go to comfort foods and not moving much. Being unhealthy, unfortunately, is also uncomfortable, so then you seek distractions from this (and the fact that you have debt and too much clutter, etc.) in food and entertainment and shopping (as if spending will solve our problems!) and this in turn makes things worse. Here are some tips for embracing discomfort. via Design Taxi, published August 5, 2013.

Come Out and Play: The Joy of Novice Game Design ~ Come Out and Play is an annual showcase of games open to the public to play. Think Field Day for adults, but with a wild mix of technology-driven experiences, athletic challenges, and whimsical competitions. Games are submitted a few months prior—the application demands proof of play-testing and clearly explained rules—and forty or so are accepted to be featured as either Night Games or Field Day events. The festival started in 2006 as a city-wide game of zombie tag in New York City, and now brings hundreds out to play in San Francisco and New York every summer. via GOOD, published August 8, 2013.

Book-Exchange Benches Supply New Reading Material Everyday ~ Through the end of September, public benches in nine spots around Amsterdam will be supplied with different reading materials every day as part of the Ruilbank project by Pivot Creative. The benches are fitted with red metal clips that can hold a newspaper or a book. People who happen to find themselves on that bench are welcome to read the material, take it home, bring it back or exchange it with another material. via PSFK, published August 7, 2013.

LOOK

The “Celebrity Lecture Series” From Michigan State Features Talks by Great Writers of Our Time The Celebrity Lecture Series was established at Michigan State University in 1988, and it has “featured some of the most illustrious scholars, critics, novelists, poets, and creative artists of our time.” Now, thanks to a special online archive, you can revisit these lectures presented by the likes of Amy TanArthur MillerJoyce Carol OatesKurt Vonnegut, Jr.Margaret AtwoodMaya Angelou, Norman MailerPaul TherouxPhilip RothRichard FordSusan SontagTom WolfeCarlos FuentesAugust WilsonE.L. DoctorowEdward AlbeeIsabel AllendeGarry WillsJane SmileyJohn IrvingJohn Updike and Joseph Heller. via Open Culture, August 6, 2013.

Unique Experimental House “Roll It” ~ Students from University of Karlsruhe, Germany, Christian Zwick and Konstantin Jerabek have designed this unique experimental revolving house called Roll It, based on the concept of “mobile and space-efficient construction”. via The Design Home, published August 18, 2011.

Mushroom Furniture My Merjan Tara Sisman + Brian Mcclellan~ ‘The Living Room Project’ is an exploration into manufacturing objects from living materials. Philadelphia university students Merjan Tara Sisman and Brian Mcclellan investigated the potential of particular organisms and came across mycelium, the rooting system for mushrooms, which they found to be particularly suitable for their intended application of the production of furniture. Through their research, the young designers realized that they could control the growth of the organisms in a variety of different ways within fabricated moulds–a process which they like to think of as a zero energy form of 3D printing. via Designboom, published August 8, 2013.

Assembling a Map of Manhattan Using Only Handwritten Directions From by Strangers ~ New York conceptual artist Nobutaka Aozaki is exploring the act of asking for directions in his ongoing art piece, Here to There, by gathering a collection of impromptu hand-drawn maps he obtains from complete strangers. Dressed as a tourist in a souvenir baseball cap and carrying a Century 21 shopping bag, the artist hits the streets around Manhattan and approaches random pedestrians to inquire about directions through the current part of the map he’s working on. via Colossal, published August 9, 2013.

464 Digital Learning Tools To Sift Through On A Rainy Day ~ via Teach Thought, published August 6, 2013.

The 25 Best Websites for Literature Lovers ~ via Flavorwire, published August 5, 2013.

WATCH

This Ship Uses Underwater Robots To Livestream Mysteries Of The Deep To Your iPhone ~ The Okeanos, the exploration ship of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is about to set out on another voyage, with a brand new robot sub. via FastCo.Exist, published August 2, 2013.

JR appears on Charlie Rose, talks about his artistic process ~ via TED, published August 5, 2013.

Robert Steven Kaplan: The Value of the Failure Story ~ Harvard Business School’s Robert Steven Kaplan argues in his new book, What You’re Really Meant to Do: A Roadmap for Reaching Your Unique Potential, that success is not about meeting someone else’s definition, but reaching your potential by defining it on your own terms. Here Kaplan advises people to write down the story of their failures in order to make themselves aware of them. via BigThink, published June 4, 2013.

Mindsets: Growth vs. Fixed ~ Your kids’ ticket to engagement vs. anxiety ~ via Greater Good Science Center, published August 5, 2013.

Paul Ekman: Outsmart Evolution and Master Your Emotions ~ Renowned psychologist and emotion-guru Paul Ekman describes how introducing conscious awareness to facial expressions can help one override and control their emotions. via Big Think, published August 1, 2013.

High School Internships Offer Meaningful Real-World Learning ~ 16-year-old Noah finds purpose and learns valuable career skills at a nonprofit two full days a week, while protecting and restoring his local watershed. Internships with deep impact are a key element at his high school, San Diego Met, part of the Big Picture network. via Edutopia, published July 23, 2013.

Trip to the Moon (And Five Other Free Films) by Georges Méliès, the Father of Special Effects ~ via Open Culture, published August 7, 2013.

Michael Shermer: The pattern behind self-deception ~ Michael Shermer says the human tendency to believe strange things — from alien abductions to dowsing rods — boils down to two of the brain’s most basic, hard-wired survival skills. He explains what they are, and how they get us into trouble. via TED, published June 14, 2010.

Rethinking…* the Value of Play & Its Potential to Transform Education

“To be at play is an experience–you feel ideas of freedom, of being able to be creative, to make choices, to try out things, to experiment, to explore. I actually think it’s a state of being that, when you’re at play, you’re in a very different state of mind. You have a kind of openness about ideas. Definitely, when you’re at play with other people, there is an openness to what does it mean to be with these people in this space. You’re communicating with them, you’re trying to understand, “well, how can I relate to them?” “How can we do something together?” You’re always kind of pushing and pushing and exploring and feeling. Rather than a really close rule-bounded space, where you’re nervous about suggesting something or trying something or taking the next step. So that openness of that space feels incredibly important to people that are collaborating and are trying to engage in ‘what-if’ questions around what they might do together, what solutions might be to things, how they feel about each other. It’s a very very human experience.” – Katie Salen

Enjoy this fantastic video on the crucial importance of play to the human experience, produced by Nic Askew and commissioned by The Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. The film centers on game designer, professor and executive director of the non-profit Institute of PlayKatie Salen. Salen highlights play as one of the fundamental human experiences and frame of mind for experiencing the world. Based on Salen’s discussion of play, the film poses several poignant questions to help us rethink…* the value we give to play in our lives and our educational system.

  • Might we have underestimated the value of ‘play’?
  • How would your life look if seen through a playful state of mind?
  • Might confidence sit at the heart of an extraordinary education?
  • Might a playful frame of mind stand to transform the experience of education?
  • Might a playful state of mind enable the strength of our true human spirit?

Play & rethink…*

Connected Learning: Playing, Creating, Making from DML Research Hub on Vimeo.

{ molo } design, play & rethinking…*

“I think everybody is at some level a maker. I constantly flashback to being a little kid doing things, probably a lot of us stop doing that after we’re not kids anymore but it’s really natural because it’s a form of play.”

Here’s a short video on Vancouver-based design studio molo to infuse your Tuesday with inspiration.

Enjoy & rethink…*

via Fast Company, published June 13, 2013.

Friday Link Fest…*

READ

Naoto Fukasawa & Jane Fulton Suri on Smartphones as Social Cues, Soup as a Metaphor for Design, the Downside of 3D Printing and More ~ As keen observers of the world at large and the man-made objects and obstacles we encounter on a regular basis, designer Naoto Fukasawa and IDEO’s Jane Fulton Suri, who served on the jury for last year’s Braunprize selections, had plenty of interesting things to say about the current state of design and just what it means to be ‘normal’. via Core77, published June 17, 2013.

Ask Great Questions: Leadership Skills of Socrates ~ Socrates holds the key to an essential leadership skill: asking great questions. The challenge is that too few leaders, managers and employees ask great questions. This is a big problem. Cultures that embrace a culture of questioning thrive and those that fear it either fail or are doomed to mediocrity. Here are 7 basics ingredients to nurture this Socratic culture. via Forbes, published June 18, 2013.

The Bossless Office Trend ~ A nonhierarchical workplace may just be a more creative and happier one. “Management is a term to me that feels very twentieth century,” says Simon Anderson, the CEO of the web-hosting company DreamHost, “That 100-year chunk of time when the world was very industrialized, and a company would make something that could be stamped out 10 million times and figured out a way to ship it easily, you needed the hierarchy for that. I think this century is more about building intelligent teams.” via New York Magazine, published June 16, 2013.

The Worry That You’re Doing The Wrong Thing Right Now ~ You begin one task from an email, but then quickly have the urge to see if there’s something else more important you should be doing. And this problem repeats itself—every time you sit down with one thing, the dozens of others on your mind (and the many potential urgent items that might be coming in as you sit there) are grasping for your attention. Is there ever any certainty that you’re doing the right thing right now? via Design Taxi, published June 17, 2013.

50 Problems in 50 Days:  A Cross-Continent Design Adventure ~ Peter Smart recently travelled 2,517 miles to try and solve 50 Problems in 50 Days using design. This journey took him from the bustling streets of London to the cobbled lanes of Turin to test design’s ability to solve social problems—big and small. via GOOD, published June 18, 2013.

England’s ‘Play Streets’ Initiative Shuts Down Streets so Kids are Free to Play in their Neighborhood ~ via Inhabitots, published June 17, 2013.

The Best Thing We Could Do About Inequality Is Universal Preschool ~ The latest research, from a new National Bureau of Economic Research working paper by James Heckman and Lakshmi Raut, concludes that a policy of free preschool for all poor children would have a raft of cost-effective benefits for society and the economy: It would increase social mobility, reduce income inequality, raise college graduation rates, improve criminal behavior (saving some of the societal expenses associated with it), and yield higher tax revenue thanks to an increase in lifetime wages. via The Atlantic, published June 17, 2013.

When Catastrophe Strikes, Emulate the Octopus ~ Nature teaches us that adaptation to environmental risk carries no goal of perfection. In human society, it’s politically expedient to propose top- down security initiatives that promise total risk elimination, such as “winning the global war on terror.” But trying to eliminate a threat like terrorism is like trying to eliminate predation, and trying to minimize it with a single, centralized plan is the direct opposite of adaptability. Well-adapted organisms do not try to eliminate risk—they learn to live with it. via Wired, published March 21, 2012.

LOOK

12 Amazing Miniature Replicas Of Famous Artists’ Studios ~ Joe Fig visits famous artists in their studios, asking questions, shooting photographs, and taking meticulous measurements. Then he creates these incredibly accurate dioramas. via FastCoDesign, published June 12, 2013.

Students Transform a Parking Spot In Front of Their School Into a Cool Parklet ~ As a technology teacher at Jericho Middle School in Long Island, New York, Matthew Silva is constantly looking for ways to infuse design thinking and process into his curriculum. With this goal in mind, he recently challenged his students to solve a problem for their school. Their challenge was to design a parklet for a parking space in front of the school where students wait every day for their parents to pick them up. via Inhabitat, published June 17, 2013.

This Is What Our Grocery Shelves Would Look Like Without Bees ~ A Whole Foods store in Rhode Island made it crystal clear to customers how their favorite fruits and vegetables depend on bees. via FastCoDesign, published June 20, 2013.

Play Perch / Syracuse University ~ architecture, play, exploration & early childhood development. via ArchDaily, published June 18, 2013.

Beautiful Pics Of Trash, Inspired By Botanical Drawings ~ Barry Rosenthal‘s series of jewel-toned garbage collections, ‘Found in Nature‘, sheds new light on litter. via FastCoDesign, published June 12, 2013.

WATCH

Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation ~ Human-Centered Design for Social Innovation is a five-week course that will introduce you to the concepts of human-centered design and help you use the design process to create innovative, effective, and sustainable solutions for social change. No prior design experience necessary. Brought to you by Acumen & IDEO.org. Register now!

Browser that allows people around the world to surf the internet together in one window ~ What if you and your friends (or complete strangers) shared a browser? What sites would you visit and how would you communicate with one another? Swedish artist Jonas Lund explores those questions in his most recent project We See in Every Direction. As part of Rhizome’s online exhibition series The Download, Lund built a browser that allows people around the world to surf the internet together in one window. Users appear as cursors and can click around to different URLs, type messages in search bars or just sit back and observe what’s happening on the web. via Wired, published June 14, 2013.

Introducing Wireless Philosophy: An Open Access Philosophy Project Created by Yale and MIT ~ “Wireless Philosophy,” or Wiphi, is an online project of “open access philosophy” co-created by Yale and MIT that aims to make fundamental philosophical concepts accessible by “making videos that are freely available in a form that is entertaining” to people “with no background in the subject.” via Open Culture, published June 18, 2013.

EYE AM: Teaching Kids in Developing Countries to Tell Their Stories Through Photography ~ Todays media often creates an unfair picture of the lives of kids in developing countries – how they live and who they are. Poverty. No individuality. No creativity. But that’s a picture that isn’t created by those who really know what it looks like. The kids themselves. Together with you, we’ll create a more realistic view of the world. via Petapixel, published June 15, 2013.

School kids convince Crayola to start recycling their pens ~ Last year, members of the Sun Valley Elementary School’  “Green Team”, made up of 1st thru 5th-graders, decided to try to reduce the environmental impact of their creative process — by looking for a way to give those dried-up markers another life outside the landfill. Led by teacher Mr. Land Wilson, the forward-thinking youngsters made an appeal to the manufacturer of their favorite felt-tipped pens, Crayola, to convince the company to start recycling their empties. via Inhabitat, published June 17, 2013.

Friday Link Fest…*

Friday Link Fest...* | rethinked.org

READ

The Power of the Pen: How to Boost Happiness, Health, and Productivity via Adam Grant on LinkedIn, published May 28, 2013.

Enhance Your Resilience ~ Scientists have compiled evidence-based tactics for building resilience. Among them: rethink adversity, forge close friendships and tackle novel challenges. via Scientific American, published June 6, 2013.

Redefining Intelligence: Q&A With Scott Barry Kaufman~ via Big Think, published June 4, 2013.

Why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes ~ via BBC, published June 4, 2013.

The Secret of Great Work: Play ~ via Tim Brown on LinkedIn, published June 4, 2013.

How A Guerrilla Art Project Gave Birth To NYC’s New Wheelchair Symbol ~ The Accessible Icon Project. via FastCoDesign, published June 6, 2013.

The Way to Produce a Person ~ via New York Times, published June 3, 2013.

The Importance of Play for Adults ~ via Psych Central, published November 15, 2012.

LOOK
Thoughtful Designer Creates A Comic Book For Blind People ~ ‘Life’ by Philipp Meyer. via Design Taxi, published June 1, 2013.

Kenyan Company Turns Old Sandals Into Colorful Toys ~ via Junkculture, published May 22, 2013.

IBM Turns Its Ads Into Useful Urban Furniture ~ The People For Smarter Cities Project. via FastCoDesign, published June 4, 2013.

Your mega summer reading list: 200 books recommended by TEDsters ~ via TED Blog, published May 31, 2013.

WATCH

Oprah Winfrey’s Harvard Commencement Speech: Failure is Just Part of Moving Through Life via Open Culture, published June 1, 2013.

The Creative Process of Ansel Adams Revealed in 1958 Documentary ~ via Open Culture, published February 20, 2013.

Biosphere 2 via The Avant/Garde Diaries, published May 9, 2013.

Toy helicopter guided by power of thought ~ via Nature, published June 5, 2013.

Bauhaus, Modernism & Other Design Movements Explained by New Animated Video Series ~ via Open Culture, published June 5, 2013.

What are the advantages of a multi-disciplinary approach to education?  via Discovery 

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