Tag teaching

On Deep Learning, Transformative Change & Rethinking Bad Habits …*

On Deep Learning, Transformative Change & Rethinking Bad Habits ...*  | rethinked.org - Photograph: Elsa Fridman

Long time readers may remember Friday Link Fests of past, in which I curated links to some of the most intriguing things I had read, watched or seen that week. I’m thinking of bringing it back for 2015 but this time I’d like to experiment with some intriguing ways to pair and contrast the content instead of just sharing it in a list. What do you think? Any suggestions on how to do that well? Let me know * 

 

“We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves, otherwise we harden.”

–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe ( 23 Powerful Quotes To Inspire A Successful Year)

{ OUTSOURCING COGNITIVE CONTROL TO THE ENVIRONMENT — WHAT IT MEANS FOR OUR ABILITY TO MULTITASK AND CHANGE OUR HABITS }

This week I read two articles–one about multitasking and the other about changing habits–which both dealt with the outsourcing of cognitive control to our environments when faced with repetitive tasks and behaviors. I enjoyed the contrast between the two lenses through which this tendency to offload cognitive demand can be a positive thing (it helps to make multitasking slightly less inefficient) and how it can be a highly detrimental thing (it can keep us stuck in bad habits).

– – – 

What Heroin Addiction Tells Us About Changing Bad Habits is that roughly 45 percent of what we do each day, we do “in the same environment and is repeated.” This is a problem because:

“People, when they perform a behavior a lot — especially in the same environment, same sort of physical setting — outsource the control of the behavior to the environment.”

So we stop making choices and react to environmental cues, like sitting on the couch at the end of the day, getting on Netflix, and reaching for the pint of ice cream without really thinking about whether or not we even want ice cream.

“To battle bad behaviors then, one answer is to disrupt the environment in some way. Even small changes can help — like eating the ice cream with your nondominant hand. What this does is disrupt the learned body sequence that’s driving the behavior, which allows your conscious mind to come back online and reassert control.”

– – – 

Consistently performing actions and behaviors in similar environments does have an upside however, especially when it comes to multitasking. While multitasking is counterproductive and should be avoided, it can be rendered more useful if you “practice multitasking when you learn it in the first place.” In The Curious Science of When Multitasking Works, Walter Frick reports on a new study published in Psychological Science, which shows that consistent context matters in our ability to multitask well:

“These results suggest the possibility that our ability to juggle tasks and recall information depends on the context in which we learned those things in the first place.”

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{ THE NEED TO CULTIVATE A GROWTH MINDSET & EMBRACE VULNERABILITY TO ACHIEVE DEEP LEARNING & AUTHENTIC GROWTH  }

“Learning is fundamentally an act of vulnerability. It is an acknowledgement that what one knows is not sufficient, and that new information and new thinking about that information is needed.”

So starts Jal Mehta’s article on Education WeekUnlearning Is Critical for Deep Learning. Across industries, from the boardroom to the classroom, we are becoming increasingly aware of the discomfort dimension of learning and the need to cultivate a growth mindset to transcend this discomfort and push through to achieve deep learning and transformative change.

“At the end of the day, the factors that facilitate unlearning are the same qualities that mark good organizations and good teaching environments: psychological safety, the normalization of failure, the recognition that rethinking core assumptions is critical for significant improvement, and the development of challenging, rigorous, but supportive communities that help people do this kind of learning. If school leaders organize their schools with the explicit intent of creating these kinds of environments for students, it will be much easier to do the same kind of learning with the adults (and vice versa). And if districts and states can fight their usual instincts to apply pressure and seek immediate results, and instead create the space for schools to do the kind of experimentation, unlearning, and re-learning that significant change entails, they will be more likely to see the kinds of qualitative change in teaching and learning that they seek.”

– – – 

Meanwhile on Harvard Business Review, Herminia Ibarra reminds us that You’re Never Too Experienced to Fake It Till You Learn It. While the idea of “faking it” may seem inauthentic to some, depending on one’s appraisal of identity,  it is a key learning strategy with tangible benefits.

“By definition, transformative learning starts with unnatural and often superficial behaviors. When we are working at improving our game, a clear and firm sense of self is a compass. It helps us navigate choices and work toward our goals. But when we are looking to change our game, a rigid understanding of authenticity is an anchor that keeps us from sailing forth. By viewing ourselves as works in progress, we multiply our capacity to learn, avoid being pigeonholed, and ultimately become better leaders. We’re never too experienced to fake it till we learn it.”

– – – 

Finally, in From the Editor: In Praise of Humility, Martha E. Mangelsdorf concludes her introduction of the MIT Sloan Management Review Winter 2015 edition of the magazine–which focuses on articles urging us to stay open and aware of what we don’t know–by reminding us:

“Awareness of our human frailties and fallibility shouldn’t discourage us. Instead, being aware of our own limitations creates opportunities to learn, to experiment, to change — and to improve.”

And to conclude this week’s Friday Link Fest, this wise, adorable and important PSA on domestic violence from Italian media company Fanpage.it.

Source: These Boys Are Told To Slap Some “Pretty Girls.” Here’s What They Do Instead. via GOOD, published January 7, 2015

{ Our Deepest Gratitude For Teachers Everywhere } John Maeda: Teaching As An Intellectual Philanthropy …*

{ Our Deepest Gratitude For Teachers Everywhere } John Maeda: Teaching As An Intellectual Philanthropy ...* | rethinked.org

A virtual bouquet to express our gratitude to teachers all over the world …*

“My Ph.D advisor in Japan, Akira Harada, reminded me of what a great professor is about: someone who is curious and loves when others are curious, too. But he also knew how to stay on deadline; it was a combination of being able to diverge and converge. He loved teaching. One time, he told me a story about growing up during World War II as the son of a wealthy banking family. Nobody had any food; it all went to the soldiers. But his family was wealthy, so he had rice. In Japan, rice is the essential thing in a person’s life; the soul of Japan is rice. There’s this little pickled plum called ume, and, every day, my professor got a lunchbox from his mom with a bed of white rice and a red plum in the middle, like the Japanese flag. One day, he forgot his lunch, so he went to his teacher and told her. She said, “I made too much lunch this morning. So please come to my desk and we’ll have lunch together.” At lunchtime, he went to his teacher’s desk. She pulled out her bento box, opened it, and there were two tiny potatoes inside. She said, “Look, I made too much,” and he replied, “I’ll help you, teacher.” He remembered that later on and cried about how thankful he was for his teacher. I thought that was an important story; it made me think and believe in teaching as an intellectual philanthropy. It’s about doing something good for others. Professor Harada was a great teacher. Along the way, there have been many more like him who have made me more awake” John Maeda in an interview with The Great Discontent

What a wonderful story from the great John Maeda to celebrate Teacher’s Appreciation Week. I love how he frames teaching as an act of generosity. When I think about the teachers and professors who have had a real impact on my life and learning, I now realize that generosity is what they all shared. Would love to hear your stories and anecdotes of the generous teachers you’ve had the good fortune to encounter throughout your learning journey.

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W.H. Auden On Teaching Creative Writing, the Joys Of Constraints & the Transformative Power of Collaboration …*

W.H. Auden On Teaching Creative Writing, the Joys Of Constraints & the Transformative Power of Collaboration ...* | rethinked.org

W. H. Auden at the Poetry Center, 1966. Photo: Diane Dorr-Dorynek, courtesy of 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center via The Paris Review

 

W.H. Auden, whose birthday is today, had some marvelous views on the impossibility of teaching creative writing, the productive joys of constraints and the transformative power of collaboration, all topics dear to our hearts here at rethinked * I particularly love his views on teaching creative writing by exploring a wide range of other disciplines– creativity, after all, is often found in the in-between, cross-over spaces. Also, apprenticeships!

 TEACHING CREATIVE WRITING TRANSDISCIPLINARILY & THROUGH AN  APPRENTICE SYSTEM

If I had to “teach poetry,” which, thank God, I don’t, I would concentrate on prosody, rhetoric, philology, and learning poems by heart. I may be quite wrong, but I don’t see what can be learned except purely technical things—what a sonnet is, something about prosody. If you did have a poetic academy, the subjects should be quite different—natural history, history, theology, all kinds of other things. When I’ve been at colleges, I’ve always insisted on giving ordinary academic courses—on the eighteenth century, or Romanticism. True, it’s wonderful what the colleges have done as patrons of the artists. But the artists should agree not to have anything to do with contemporary literature. If they take academic positions, they should do academic work, and the further they get away from the kind of thing that directly affects what they’re writing, the better. They should teach the eighteenth century or something that won’t interfere with their work and yet earn them a living. To teach creative writing—I think that’s dangerous. The only possibility I can conceive of is an apprentice system like those they had in the Renaissance—where a poet who was very busy got students to finish his poems for him. Then you’d really be teaching, and you’d be responsible, of course, since the results would go out under the poet’s name.

THE PRODUCTIVE JOYS OF CONSTRAINTS 

But I can’t understand—strictly from a hedonistic point of view—how one can enjoy writing with no form at all. If one plays a game, one needs rules, otherwise there is no fun. The wildest poem has to have a firm basis in common sense, and this, I think, is the advantage of formal verse. Aside from the obvious corrective advantages, formal verse frees one from the fetters of one’s ego. Here I like to quote Valéry, who said a person is a poet if his imagination is stimulated by the difficulties inherent in his art and not if his imagination is dulled by them.

THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF COLLABORATION

I’ve always enjoyed collaborating very much. It’s exciting. Of course, you can’t collaborate on a particular poem. You can collaborate on a translation, or a libretto, or a drama, and I like working that way, though you can only do it with people whose basic ideas you share—each can then sort of excite the other. When a collaboration works, the two people concerned become a third person, who is different from either of them in isolation. I have observed that when critics attempt to say who wrote what they often get it wrong. Of course, any performed work is bound to be a collaboration, anyway, because you’re going to have performers and producers and God knows what.

Source: W.H. Auden, The Art of Poetry No. 17 via The Paris Review, published Spring 1974.

Mitch Resnick On Creating Opportunities For Children To Learn By Designing, Creating, Experimenting & Exploring …*

Mitch Resnick On Creating Opportunities For Children To Learn By Designing, Creating, Experimenting & Exploring ...*  | rethinked.org

Mitch Resnick, Papert Professor of Learning Research and director of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT Media Lab, shares some valuable insights on the importance of developing creative thinkers and the various tools and processes to build creative learning experiences. Enjoy the highlights below and read the full interview here.

| THE IMPACT OF THE KINDERGARTEN APPROACH TO LEARNING |

We call the group Lifelong Kindergarten because we’re inspired by the way children learn in kindergarten. In the classic kindergarten, children are constantly designing and creating things in collaboration with one another. They build towers with wooden blocks and make pictures with finger paints—and we think they learn a lot in the process.

What we want to do with our new technology and activities is extend that kindergarten approach to learning, to learners of all ages. So everybody can continue to learn in a kindergarten style, but to learn more advanced and sophisticated ideas over time.

| THE NEED FOR CREATIVE THINKERS | 

The process of making things in the world—creating things; it provides us with the opportunity to take the ideas that we have in our mind and to represent them out in the world. Once we do that, it sparks new ideas. So there’s this constant back and forth between having new ideas in your mind, creating things in the world, and that process sparking new ideas in the mind which lets you create new things. So it’s this constant spiral of creating and generating new ideas.

We live in a world that is changing more rapidly than ever before. Things that you learn today could be obsolete tomorrow. But one thing is for sure: People will confront unexpected situations and unexpected challenges in the future. So what’s going to be most important is for kids to be able to come up with new and innovative solutions to the new challenges that arise. That’s why it’s so important to develop as a creative thinker. Just knowing a fixed set of facts and skills is not enough. The ability to think and act creatively will be the most important ingredient for success in the future.

| THE POWER OF CODING TO LEARN |

Although coding does provide some economic opportunities for jobs and careers, I think the most important reason for learning to code is it lets you organize your ideas and express your ideas. Coding lets you learn many other things. So that’s why I think what’s most important is not just learning to code, but coding to learn. As you’re learning to code, you’re learning many other things.

[ …]

Before you can think about changing living standards, you need to change learning standards. I think computer science provides new opportunities to help people become better learners. I think the thing that’s going to guarantee success in the future is people developing as creative thinkers and creative learners. Doing creative work with technology through learning to code is one pathway to that. It’s not the only pathway. But I think what’s probably the most important thing is having young people grow up with opportunities to think and act creatively. That’s the key.

| RETHINKING …* ALL SCHOOL SUBJECTS TO FACILITATE CREATIVE EXPRESSION |

We should make sure all subjects are taught in a way where kids get a chance to learn through creative expression. And not just computer programming. In a science class or physics class or biology class, teachers should allow students to have creative learning experiences.

We should rethink all school subjects so there are opportunities for children to learn by designing, creating, experimenting and exploring. That’s also true when we use computers. We should use computers to design, create, experiment and explore. But we should apply those ideas to all classes and all media.

Source: Interview: Mitchel Resnick via Maris, West & Baker Advertising, published February 8, 2014.

{ Calling All Knowmads …* } Free MOOC On Teaching Character & Creating Positive Classrooms

{ Calling All Knowmads ...* } Free MOOC On Teaching Character & Creating Positive Classrooms

Dave Levin, co-founder of the Character Lab –along with Angela Duckworth and our very own Dominic Randolph–will be teaching a free MOOC on CourseraTeaching Character and Creating Positive ClassroomsThe course, which begins February 9th, 2014 and runs for four weeks, will explore questions such as:

  1. How can positive psychology help us maximize student engagement and accomplishment?
  2. What does it look like to implement a growth mindset in your classroom?
  3. Can you teach grit in the classroom? If so, how?
  4. Should an educator measure character? If so, how? 

This course explores the interconnection between character research, education, and academic rigor. During our sessions, we’ll cover the field of positive psychology as it relates to character strengths, as well as the concepts of Growth Mindset, Constructive Responding, and Character Behavior Language. We will engage with the existing research, hear from eminent scholars in the field and top K-12 educators, and view footage of classroom teachers integrating these ideas into their classroom instruction.

Head over to Coursera to learn more about the course and register! 

Friday Link Fest…*

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

READ

Passion + Adversity = Success? ~Since adversity in life is a given, our success and happiness depend on our ability not just to cope with it but to actually grow because of it. Professionally, we have the greatest potential to grow when we challenge ourselves in our field just beyond our comfort zone. This means risking fear, embarrassment, errors, or even full-blown failure. And it means gaining new skills and abilities that contribute to our greater mastery and success in the future. Because grit is a combination of persistence and passion, adversity plays a significant role in helping us develop both of those qualities. via Greater Good Science Center, published September 9, 2013.

Montessori Classrooms: Observations through a Design Lens ~ Just as a designer sets out to create problem-solving products in human interaction, Dr. Montessori engaged in a life-long mission to understand and resolve the challenges in childhood learning. Drawing on years of observation and insight, her work was some of the first to acknowledge the inherent dignity of children. Instead of forcing children into an adult environment, she rather sought to defend children’s miraculous abilities through refinement of a myriad of designs. These included beginning-to-end learning tools in language, math, science, geography and practical life. Through a process of observation, design, testing and rapid refinement, she eventually arrived at a comprehensive learning environment. via Core77, published September 9, 2013.

When Memorization Gets in the Way of Learning ~ What separates memorization from learning is a sense of meaning. When you memorize a fact, it’s arbitrary, interchangeable–it makes no difference to you whether sine of π/2 is one, zero, or a million. But when you learn a fact, it’s bound to others by a web of logic. It could be no other way. via The Atlantic, published September 9, 2013.

‘Growth Mindset’ Gaining Traction as School Improvement Strategy ~ In some schools, a “growth mindset,” or the idea that people can improve by seeking challenges and learning from mistakes, has reformed how teachers approach their instruction. via Education Week, published September 10, 2013.

Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught? ~Once a small corner of education theory, S.E.L. has gained traction in recent years, driven in part by concerns over school violence, bullying and teen suicide. But while prevention programs tend to focus on a single problem, the goal of social-emotional learning is grander: to instill a deep psychological intelligence that will help children regulate their emotions. via New York Times, published September 11, 2013.

Google & edX to Create http://MOOC.Org : An Open Source Platform For Creating Your Own MOOC ~ This week, Google has a new announcement: it’s joining forces with edX, (the MOOC provider led by Harvard and MIT), to work on a new open source platform called MOOC.org. The new service will go live in the first half of 2014. And it will allow “any academic institution, business and individual to create and host online courses.” This will give innovative educators the opportunity to put a MOOC online without necessarily making a steep investment in a course. via Open Culture, published September 11, 2013.

Why Keep A Diary? ~ What a calendar cannot do, and a journal can, is help you reflect on the big picture of your life and your creative work—where it is, what it means, and what direction you want it to take. via 99u, published September 13, 2013.

LOOK

NASA Officially Joins Instagram, Already Uploading Awesome Space Photography ~ via PetaPixel, published September 8, 2013.

Everyday Quotes Replaced With The Word ‘Design’ To Highlight Its Importance ~ To India-based Ambar Bhusari, who designs for a living, design is one of the most important things in the world and play a valuable role in our lives everyday. As a way to emphasize this, he came up with quotes. Highlighted in posters, these quotes are real idioms replaced with the word “design”, to give it a different meaning that’s relevant to design. via Design Taxi, published September 11, 2013.

WATCH

Ken Robinson on Passion ~ Ken Robinson believes that everyone is born with extraordinary capability. So what happens to all that talent as we bump through life, getting by, but never realizing our true potential? We need to find that magic spot where our natural talent meets our personal passion. This means we need to know ourselves better. Whilst we content ourselves with doing what we’re competent at, but don’t truly love, we’ll never excel. And, according to Ken, finding purpose in our work is essentially knowing who we really are. via The School of Life.

John Cleese’s Philosophy of Creativity: Creating Oases for Childlike Play ~ The trick, Cleese says, is in making the space to engage in childlike play without relying on childish spontaneity—he recommends scheduling time to be creative, giving oneself a “starting time and a finish time” and thereby setting “boundaries of space, boundaries of time.” via Open Culture, published September 13, 2013.

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.

Educators, Rethink…* Your Assumptions About School To Become More Effective, Engaging & Fulfilled Teachers

One of life’s greatest pleasures, in my opinion, is the discovery of a simple idea that enables you to completely rethink…* and reappraise your understanding of yourself and the world. Not that the actual rethinking…*process is always pleasurable; it has been my experience that change comes with its fair share of growing pains. But once you have put in the hard work, and developed a deep and multilayered understanding of the idea, made it yours and truly changed your perspective to a new, richer and more nuanced vision of yourself and your reality, there is a special type of intense joy that comes from recognizing the extreme power and impact of simple and elegant thoughts. Carol Dweck‘s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success– How We Can Learn To Fulfill Our Potential, provided me with such an opportunity for deep, assumption-shattering rethinking…* Dweck, who is a psychologist at Stanford University, has focused her research on achievement and success and elaborated a simple yet extremely impactful idea: success and fulfilling, engaging lives are linked to whether we approach our goals and existence with a fixed mindset–the belief that intelligence and personality traits are fixed, which leads to a desire to look effortlessly endowed and a primary framework of judgement for evaluating experience–or with a growth mindset–the belief that intelligence and character can be developed, which leads to a desire to learn and a framework of growth. Mindset, is a veritable treasure trove of powerful rethinking…* prompts and simple actionable advice which I will write about more fully in future posts. But for now, I’d like to share a passage that I came across earlier today which made me want to howl with recognition:

How can growth-mindset teachers be so selfless, devoting untold hours to the worst students? Are they just saints? Is it reasonable to expect that everyone can become a saint? The answer is that they’re not entirely selfless. They love to learn. And teaching is a wonderful way to learn. About people and how they tick. About what you teach. About yourself. And about life.

Fixed-mindset teachers often think of themselves as finished products. Their role is simply to impart their knowledge. But doesn’t that get boring year after year? Standing before yet another crowd of faces and imparting. Now, that’s hard.

Seymour Sarason was a professor of mine when I was in graduate school. He was a wonderful educator, and he always told us to question assumptions. “There’s an assumption,” he said, “that schools are for students’ learning. Well, why aren’t they just as much for teachers’ learning?”  I never forgot that. In all of my teaching, I think about what I find fascinating and what I would love to learn more about. I use my teaching to grow, and that makes me, even after all these years, a fresh and eager teacher.

Source: Dweck, Carol. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – How We Can Learn To Fulfill Our Potential. New York: Ballantine Books, 2008. Print.

This is exactly what rethinked…* is about–we are an autonomous, innovation team whose mission is to help students and teachers question their assumptions and rethink…* their practices to optimize their learning and teaching and experience more fluid, nourishing, and engaging lives. We’ve worked with IDEO to explore the ways in which design thinking could be applied to K12 to optimize the learning and teaching experiences. We’ve worked with the Rotman School of Management to see how integrative thinking could be leveraged in rethinking…* education. We’ve partnered with Martin Seligman and Angela Duckworth to integrate principles of positive psychology into the curriculum to teach character strengths such as grit and gratitude. But at the end of the day, all of these methods are just tools that we employ to rethink…* our doing and, just as importantly, iterate our questioning. Tools are lifeless, their impact comes from the purpose for which they are used and from the people who use them. And people are complex, multilayered beings ruled by their assumptions. By using different tools we broaden our field of inquiry, we try on new perspectives from which to evaluate our assumptions and in the process, we continue to refine our questions about what it means to thrive in our lives and learning. How? is a very important question–without it, nothing would get done, ideas would remain intangible, non actionable and therefore unimpactful. But why? must come first and it must infuse the process of iterating the how?

Ultimately, we’re not looking for definitive, all encompassing answers. Rather, we aim to keep moving towards more salient iterations of the age old question: what is the good life for man and how do we get there? And through our evolving questioning, to discover simple, impactful hacks such as the one proposed by Dr. Sarason– reframing how we approach teaching by questioning assumptions about school and rethinking…* their purpose with a simple question–to empower as many people as we can to take control of their experiences and learning and enjoy fluid, playful and fulfilling lives.

Check out Joy’s post, What Do We Assume About School and Learning? and try to see how many different ways you can rethink…* the assumptions he’s collected.

David Kelley on Creative Confidence, Building to Think, Defining Innovation, Multidisciplinary Teams & So Much More…*

David Kelley, founder of IDEO consultants and Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, shares his thoughts and experiences on a wide range of topics in this engaging hour-long conversation and Q & A with longtime television journalist, Richard Sergay. From building creative confidence, embracing failure, learning by building, multidisciplinary teams, defining innovation to facing his own mortality and his friendship with Steve Jobs, Kelley’s pointed and valuable insights are sure to resonate deeply with anyone interested in rethinking…* how we approach the challenges of the 21st century. I have transcribed some of my favorite stories and insights from the conversation, which took place at the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships 8th Reunion & Conference at Stanford, July 11-14, but the full video is well worth a watch.

d.school founder taps into humankind’s innate creativity | via Knight Foundation, published July 18, 2013.

{ CURIOSITY } As a designer, you kind of do everything in your life with intention. You know, like I decided to wear these shoes, or this wall is painted exactly or not painted the way exactly because of intention. And so, when you’re that way, you’re always wondering why things are because you’re about to have to design the future and so being curious about the way things are now and being empathetic to people is the way that you […] you know, if you’re responsible for painting a picture of the future with your ideas in it, being hyper diligent about understanding what makes things stick.

{ CREATIVITY } Everybody is wildly creative–go into a kindergarten class, go into a first grade, just don’t go into a fifth grade class. But as long as you go early enough, it’s really clear that everybody is wildly creative. When we started working on this notion of building creative confidence in people, we were thinking we would have to do some remedial work, it’s just not true. I mean hundreds of students come through this building and they’re all wildly creative. We just have to remove some of the blocks. What happens is, somewhere along the way, you opt out of thinking of yourself as creative–a teacher said that wasn’t a very good drawing, or you don’t pick up the piano in the first lesson. I mean, I know what this is because I opted out of athletics. I said, “I’m not athletic,” and that allowed me to play sports for the rest of my life but I told everybody that I wasn’t athletic so they lowered the bar. If you say, “I’m not creative,” that’s a strategy for having people not judge you. Because when we look at it, the big fear is this fear of being judged. The reason you move from thinking of yourself being creative, to thinking of yourself as not creative, is really a fear of being judged–that other kids can draw better than you or your idea is not going to be up to snuff.

{ MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAMS & THE GENESIS OF THE D.SCHOOL } People have been talking about multidisciplinary teams for like 25 years and at Stanford, I can tell you, that meant that faculty from different departments came together, they had a meeting, they fought a little bit and they said, “I’m never coming back to this meeting again.” And then we said, “check, we’re multidisciplinary.” But what I saw after I got tenure and I started teaching classes with different professors–I taught with an art professor, I taught with a computer science professor, I taught with a business school professor–is that when the students from the different departments came together, it was kind of easier to come up with innovations because they were coming from different places IF there was a glue that held them together. The problem with the meetings, where they didn’t work, is that there was no common methodology. So what everybody wanted to do is to do the same thing that they are doing now and have everybody else do it that way. And so the idea for the d.school came from the fact that I noticed people would sign up for our methodology. […] What we saw early on was that design, for whatever reason, was a methodology, was nonthreatening. It’s all so human-centered, so when you got people from different backgrounds together and you said, “Ok, let’s go out and build empathy for the people we’re trying to help in Africa or waiting for the train, or checking in to the hospital,” for some reason, all these various disciplines, these big shot professors who had been trying to win a Nobel Prize, going in in their way, we’re willing to do that. So I felt like I was just, luckily, in the discipline that had a methodology, we call it design thinking, that people would sign up to do. And so I decided that I had to try to touch as many people at the university as possible and I proposed this notion of an institute that could bring all seven schools together and that we would do it in this way that I had seen prototyped in these other classes. […] It’s really about this notion that in this multidisciplinary world, I think diversity is the number one thing that correlates to better innovation. So different people, with different ideas, from different backgrounds–if you can get them to have a methodology where they can build on each other’s ideas, you, by definition, get to places, to breakthrough ideas because those brains have never done the mind-meld to the result in that new thing. The reason that I ended up at the center of this is that our methodology seems to be a universally acceptable way to do innovation, problem-solving, and that kind of stuff.

{ DEFINING SUCCESS AT THE D.SCHOOL } Our success, if you can call it that, has to do with finding a way to get these students to think of themselves in a creative way. And it’s through this confidence that they build by doing–everything is a project, everything is a real world project, and so they see that they have this sense of the world and that they can do what they set out to do.

{ DEFINING INNOVATION } Somebody, I’m trying to remember who, said, “innovation is creativity plus implementation.” I think that resonates with me. Being creative is this notion of having an open mind and trying different things and not having this fear of being judged or failing or that kind of stuff. But innovation is doing something that has real impact on the world. So taking those new ideas and sorting them and synthesizing them and deciding what to do and measuring its impact is really innovation. I usually try to stay away from the word creativity, because it has this meaning associated with talent and artistic that I don’t really mean when I say “creative,” and try to use the word innovation most of the time.

{ FAILURE } The trick is to kind of fail early on so that you get to a new place. […] We reward a spectacular failure and a spectacular success in the same way in the early stages of the project. That allows you to have insights and build a point of view that comes from a wider range of possibilities because you’re not fearful about failing. But then, as we start to converge, we’re not looking for failure, as it were. […] It’s actually hard to fail in our process because it’s so iterative. So, you basically come up with ideas, you show them to everybody that is a stakeholder, including the person who is going to use it, they tell you what’s wrong with it and then you go back and redesign it or even redefine the problem. […] And so, if you do enough iterations, it’s hard to have a failure in the end, because it’s built in that we’re going to cycle through and improve and improve and show it to the people. So we’re not surprised when the product or service goes out into the world because we’ve messed with a lot of people before that.

{ BUILD TO THINK } We really believe, at IDEO and the d.school, that the kind of fastest way to get to an innovation is to not do a lot of strategizing and planning–you know, cash flow analysis out ten years and stuff like that–and that all that planning is useful but AFTER you’ve done what we would say ‘building’. We call it a bias toward action. So, if you want to improve the experience of taking the train to San Francisco, you could start analyzing the train and all that stuff but what we would do is just go talk to Caltrans and have them give us a car and try a bunch of stuff. You know, like tear the seats out, serve coffee on the platform or try to get our bikes on–do a bunch of stuff. We think it’s a way of thinking. This building, this doing, prototyping, whatever we’re going to call it, is a way of thinking. As opposed to the kind of grubby thing manufacturing does after all the decisions are made. We spend a lot of time getting the students and at IDEO, to kind of think about how can you be really clever about jumping right in and finding out as much as you can from building. And we don’t mean like in a machine shop, we mean by doing something in the real place, with the real people and it really works for us because then you start to have real empathy, you start to have real understanding of the situation–what’s really going on on that platform when people are waiting for the train and what’s really going on when they find their way out of the station or how they book their seat in the first place.

[ H/T ] d.school founder taps into humankind’s innate creativity via John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford, published July 18, 2013.

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