A Better Way to Say Sorry

13 04 2014

A Better Way to Say Sorry from



“Say sorry to your brother.”

“But he’s the one who–”

“Say it!” you insist, an edge of warning in your voice.

He huffs, rolls his eyes to the side and says flatly, “Sorry.”

“Say it like you mean it,” you demand.

“Sorrrrry,” he repeats, dragging out the word slowly with bulging eyes and dripping insincerity.

You sigh in defeat and turn to #2, “Now tell him you forgive him.”

“But he doesn’t even mean it!”

“Just say it!”

“iforgiveyou…” he mutters, looking down to the side dejectedly.

“Now be nice to each other.”

Harumphy silence.

This scenario might sound all too familiar– if not from your experiences as a parent, then at least your own experiences as a child. It’s easy to see how it isn’t always that effective. You, the teacher/parent/authority, probably benefit from it the most because now at least you can feel like you did something about it, allowing you to close the case. Problem solved… now stop bickering. You know inside, however, that the offended still feels bitter, because the apology was not sincere. And while it may seem like the offender got off easy– not even having to show proper remorse or use a sincere tone–he is actually the one who loses out the most. He not only learns a poor lesson that he can get away with lies and empty words, but does not have the opportunity to experience true reconciliation and restoration of relationships. He will probably continue inflicting similar offenses, feel less remorse than he should, and undergo less positive character change than he could have.

But what alternative do you have? What else are you supposed to do? It’s not like you can force a genuine apology and repentant heart out of him, right?

Actually, you can. It’s not 100%, but it’s a lot more % than the scenario you read above.I first heard this in a teacher training program. The speaker started off with a rant about how No one teaches children how to apologize properly these days. My ears perked up, because I didn’t really know of any way to teach them other than to… just make them say it: Sorry. I knew it was not very effective, but I hadn’t considered other methods. So I held my pen at the ready, and as he listed off the “proper way to apologize,” I scribbled his words down verbatim:

I’m sorry for…
This is wrong because…
In the future, I will…
Will you forgive me?

It made a lot of sense. It seemed a little tedious, but the more I thought about it, the more it became clear that each component was necessary. Even though that was all he said about it that day, it became an integral part of my classroom culture for years to come. That day, I went back to my classroom and got some stiff cardboard and wrote the prompts clearly, labeling the poster, “How to Say Sorry.” The next afternoon, I talked with the children about apologizing properly. We went over the importance of tone of voice and body language; when I used my brattiest voice and spat out, “Well FINE then, SOR-RY!” they all laughed, because the insincerity was so obvious and the scene so familiar. I demonstrated the importance of body language, crossing my arms and rolling my eyes to the side as I mumbled, “Sorry.” When I asked if it seemed like I meant it, they all gleefully cried out “NOOOO!!!” in unison. I did a few more impressions of pathetic “sorries,” and then we got down to business. I shared with them that apologies were pointless and meaningless if people didn’t feel like the offender meant it, and if the offender didn’t actually plan to change in the future. Then I went over the poster I had made, and outlined the following points:

1) I’m sorry for…: Be specific. Show the person you’re apologizing to that you really understand what they are upset about.

Wrong: I’m sorry for being mean.
Right: I’m sorry for saying that nobody wants to be your friend.

2) This is wrong because…: This might take some more thinking, but this is one of the most important parts. Until you understand why it was wrong or how it hurt someone’s feelings, it’s unlikely you will change. This is also important to show the person you hurt that you really understand how they feel. I can’t tell you how much of a difference this makes! Sometimes, people want to feel understood more than they want an apology. Sometimes just showing understanding– even without an apology– is enough to make them feel better! 

Wrong: This is wrong because I got in trouble.
Right: This is wrong because it hurt your feelings and made you feel bad about yourself.

3) In the future, I will…: Use positive language, and tell me what you WILL do, not what you won’t do.

Wrong: In the future, I will not say that.
Right: In the future, I will keep unkind words in my head.

Now let’s practice using positive language. It’s hard at first, but you’ll get better. Can anyone think of a positive way to change these incorrect statements?

Wrong: In the future, I won’t cut.
(Right: In the future, I will go to the back of the line.)

Wrong: In the future, I won’t push.
(Right: In the future, I will keep my hands to myself.)

Wrong: In the future, I won’t take your eraser.
(Right: In the future, I will ask you if I can borrow your eraser.)

4) Will you forgive me? This is important to try to restore your friendship. Now, there is no rule that the other person has to forgive you. Sometimes, they won’t. That’s their decision. Hopefully, you will all try to be the kind of friends who will forgive easily, but that’s not something you automatically get just because you apologized. But you should at least ask for it.

As a teacher, I know that asking for forgiveness puts the offender in an uncomfortable and vulnerable place of humility. However, this seemingly obvious yet widely underused phrase is very, very powerful for both the offender and the offended. It is the key to reconciliation and often the first step in restoring friendship.

I also know that the second item, “This is wrong because…” is powerful in changing the longer-term behavior of the offending child. Forcing the child to put themselves in another’s shoes will increase empathy and help them understand better how they have hurt someone else. This exercise in trying to see themselves from someone else’s perspective can be very powerful.

After this talk, I had some volunteers come to the front to role-play some apologies. We paused at various points and reflected on how to improve the apology: was the body language sincere? Did the apologizer really capture how the other person felt? Sometimes, I would whisper instructions to one student to roll his eyes, look away, mumble, or phrase something a certain way. The students treated it like a game, trying to spot what was amiss in the apology. This was very effective, because when the time eventually came for real apologies, everyone knew we were all going by the same rules, and the expectation was set for a sincere, thorough apology.

When I first tried out this “new” old-fashioned apology with my students, I didn’t expect any long-lasting results. I just wanted to see what would happen. But what happened in the weeks and months following simply blew me away. It started with our weekly Friday afternoon class meetings. We already had a good thing going here, with the kids “throwing” kudos to each other with compliments and appreciations: “I’d like to give a kudo to John for asking me to play with him at recess,” or “I’d like to give a kudo to Kylie for working really hard on her writing this week!” It was cute, and students enjoyed both giving and receiving the kudos.

One week, I decided to review our apology lesson, and then asked the students if anyone needed to “clean-up” something that happened this week with an apology to someone in the classroom. When I asked, I meant for any volunteers to take their business outside. My first volunteer, however, started apologizing to her friend right there on the spot in front of the whole class. Before I could stop her, she began blubbering through her apology, reciting each line like she’d planned this for days. Maybe she had. I could see the relief on her face when her friend accepted her apology. The girls smiled shyly and I knew we were onto something good. Before I knew it, students were raising their hands left and right, eager to make amends with people they had offended. Some of the “offended” people hadn’t even realized that they had ever been wronged, but happily forgave anyway.

Then a boy raised his hand. A boy most of the kids did not like for all the usual reasons– he was bossy and rude and generally unpleasant to be around. He apologized to the whole class for being really, really annoying and stated his plans to change. I was among the many individuals exchanging puzzled but impressed glances, and indeed it was one big step in this child’s personal growth. It was especially heartwarming to see how his classmates interacted with him afterward. They really wanted to give him a second chance, and they sincerely tried to help him be his best. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him to admit to the class that he was annoying, but it was a powerful first step in changing his relationships with everyone. While not perfect, his behavior improved greatly after this event and I am glad I gave him the tools and space to “reset” this way.

As you can imagine, this meeting took much longer than usual. In the weeks that followed, I had students take their apologies outside and every week, there were takers. Students relished in the opportunity to admit wrongdoing, share intent to change, and restore friendships. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing. They walked out stiff and uneasy, and returned with bright smiles on their faces.

The kids weren’t the only ones to benefit from apologies. I did, too. There used to be times when I’d call on a student and the student wouldn’t be paying attention. The whole class would sit, waiting impatiently for the classmate to get up to speed and answer the question. Usually, it was the same kids that weren’t paying attention and held up the whole class. One day, surprising even myself, I stopped, turned to the offending student, and demanded, “Apologize.”


“Apologize. To me.”

“Um…” he began, looking around bewildered, “I’m sorry for… not paying attention. This is wrong because… I wasn’t paying attention…”

“Try again.”

“…because you’re upset?” he offered.


“…because I’m not learning?” he asked.

“Yes, and?”

“And because…” he glanced down nervously.

“Because,” I finished for him, “Now the whole class is waiting for you and you’re wasting our time.”

“Because the whole class–”

“Start from the beginning.”

Yeah, I can be pretty tough on them sometimes. Tough love.

He started again, “I’m sorry for not paying attention. This is wrong because I’m not learning and the whole class is waiting and I’m wasting their time. In the future, I will pay attention. Will you forgive me?”

“Yes,” I said, then turned to the others, “Class?”

The students nodded their heads and we resumed our lesson. No one missed a beat the rest of the day. The next time it happened, weeks later, the offending student was quick to apologize, articulating how her inattention affected herself and her classmates, and was quick to change. It was no longer a matter of embarrassment or shame, but simply acknowledging 1) what went wrong, 2) who was affected, 3) how to change, and 4) asking forgiveness. I couldn’t believe how much more focused all of my students were once we began these apologies for not paying attention! It was astoundingly more effective than giving them individual warnings. I think it had something to do with feeling beholden to the entire class. Either way, win for me, and win for them.

One day, my principal came to inform me that a couple of my students had gotten in a fight with some other kids during lunch. I started to let out a discouraged sigh when she continued to share with me how impressed she was with my students. Impressed?Turns out one of them quickly offered a thorough, 4-step apology. Immediately after, my other student also apologized for his part. She was totally floored by their responses, and wanted to find me to tell me what happened. While I was not that surprised that they were so good at apologizing (there tend to be a handful of children who get more practice than the rest…), I could not have been more proud! These real, meaningful apologies had made their way out of my classroom, onto the playground, and into the principal’s office! Maybe, just maybe, they would bring it into other spaces in their lives. A teacher can hope.

I’m not sure if my students carry this formal apology home, or if they even remember it in fifth grade. But I know it works, and I know I’ll be teaching it to my own children someday. Try it on your own kids sometime…you won’t be sorry!

Update: Have a kid who needs to say sorry more often than you’d like? Let’s do one better andprevent the problem in the first place!

Editing Your Life’s Stories Can Create Happier Endings

2 01 2014


January 01, 2014 2:00 PM

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

It was a rainy night in October when my nephew Lewis passed the Frankenstein statue standing in front of a toy store. The 2 1/2-year-old boy didn’t see the monster at first, and when he turned around, he was only inches from Frankenstein’s green face, bloodshot eyes and stitched-up skin.

The 4-foot-tall monster terrified my nephew so much that he ran deep into the toy store. And on the way back out, he simply couldn’t face the statue. He jumped into his mother’s arms and had to bury his head in her shoulder.

For hours after the incident, Lewis was stuck. He kept replaying the image of Frankenstein’s face in his mind. “Mom, remember Frankenstein?” he asked over and over again. He and his mom talked about how scary the statue was, how Lewis had to jump into her arms. It was “like a record loop,” my sister said.

But then, suddenly, Lewis’ story completely changed. My sister was recounting the tale to the family: how they left the store, how they had to walk by Frankenstein. And then — “I peed on him!!” Lewis blurted out triumphantly, with a glint in his eyes.

In that instant, Lewis had overpowered Frankenstein — if only in his mind.

“Well, your nephew is a brilliant story editor,’” says psychologist Tim Wilson of the University of Virginia.

Wilson has been studying how small changes in a person’s own stories and memories can help with emotional health. He calls the process “story editing.” And he says small tweaks in the interpretation of life events can reap huge benefits.

This process is essentially what happens during months, or years, of therapy. But Wilson has discovered ways you can change your story in only about 45 minutes.

Wilson first stumbled on the technique back in the early 1980s, when he found that a revised story helped college students who were struggling academically. “I’m bad at school” was the old story many of them were telling themselves. That story leads to a self-defeating cycle that keeps them struggling, Wilson says.

The new story Wilson gave them was: “Everyone fails at first.” He introduced the students to this idea by having them read accounts from other students who had struggled with grades at first and then improved. It was a 40-minute intervention that had effects three years later.

“The ones who got our little story-editing nudge improved their grades, whereas the others didn’t,” Wilson says. “And to our surprise … those who got our story-editing intervention were more likely to stay in college. The people in the control group were more likely to drop out.”

Similar interventions have also helped students feel like they fit in socially at college and have helped parents to stop abusing their kids.

The idea is that if you believe you are something else — perhaps smarter, more socially at ease — you can allow for profound changes to occur.

You can even try story-editing yourself at home with these writing exercises. Simply pick a troubling event. And write about it for 15 minutes each day for four days. That’s it.

These exercises have been shown to help relieve mental anguish, improve health and increase attendance at work.

No one is sure why the approach works. But Wilson’s theory is that trying to understand why a painful event happened is mentally consuming. People get stuck in thinking, “Why did he leave me?” or “Why was she so disappointed in me?” Or for Lewis, “Where did that scary Frankenstein face come from?”

As you write about the troubling, confusing event again and again, eventually you begin to make sense of it. You can put those consuming thoughts to rest.

So as you look forward to changing yourself this year, consider looking back on whatever your Frankensteins may be. And if you squint your eyes a little and turn your head just a bit, you may see that your leg was lifted. That maybe you did pee on him after all.

~We are All Teachers~

1 01 2014
~We are All Teachers~

“We are all teachers at all times – with everything we do, with everything we don’t do, with everything we say, with everything we don’t say and with our beliefs, with our attitudes – all of us.

When you hold a door for someone, you are being a teacher. When you honk and yell obscenities while driving, you are being a teacher. When you walk about with a furrowed brow and pursed lips, you are being a teacher. When you smile at those who cross your path, you are being a teacher.

It all spreads. It is all felt. The energy that you are walking around with, whether you say anything to anyone or not, is felt. What are you carrying around? What are you spreading out into the world? It is all within your control. You are choosing it all. The thoughts that come into your brain you may not get to control, but you can choose which ones stay and which ones you are projecting out into the world.

I invite you to pay more attention to what is going on up there. I invite you to pay more attention what is going on with you. Are you feeling tension in your body? Well, what is going on upstairs? Is your stomach upset? What is taking up space in your head? What are you holding onto? If it doesn’t serve you, let it go. Kick it out. Laugh it at.

You may think that it’s no big deal, that you can ignore it, that you can push it down, but it doesn’t go away, it won’t leave you. It will just multiply into the Universe. So, maybe you have a hard time thinking about yourself; you think, “Oh, I’m fine.” “It really doesn’t bother me”, but consider that you are not just poisoning yourself, but all of those around you.

Let it go and live it up. Do it for you and do it for them. Do it for the ones that you know and love and the ones that you may never speak to. Really, do it for all of humankind.

We are all teaching, at all times. What are you teaching? How about teaching love and acceptance to all beings at all times, yourself included! Deal?”

Much Love & Gratitude
Your Joyologist, Tricia Huffman


20 Things To Let Go Of Before The New Year

30 12 2013
DECEMBER 16, 2013 9:00 AM EST

How much stress are you carrying around? Do you feel burdened by life’s circumstances and emotional issues? Becoming more grounded and happy starts with letting go of worry and stress. I learned this in my own journey, through overcoming drug addictions, healing myself from depression, and walking away from a career in corporate to follow my heart and be a successful writer and life coach. In the process, I had to let go of a lot of things to become the person I am today.

Physically, spiritually and emotionally, I had to learn how to let go of the person I thought I should be in order to be the person I really wanted to be. Letting go of anything in life can be a little scary, but it can also be an amazing act of self-love.

Letting go of my worries and stress made a difference for me; of course I still dip in and out of some of my stress jar from time to time, but I’ve found this list a good reminder of what I need to strive for each day in order to reach unlimited happiness.

Here are 20 things to let go of in order to reach unlimited happiness.

1. Let go of all thoughts that don’t make you feel empowered and strong.

2. Let go of feeling guilty for doing what you truly want to do.

3. Let go of the fear of the unknown; take one small step and watch the path reveal itself.

4. Let go of regrets; at one point in your life, that “whatever” was exactly what you wanted.

5. Let go of worrying; worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.

6. Let go of blaming anyone for anything; be accountable for your own life. If you don’t like something, you have two choices, accept it or change it.

7. Let go of thinking you are damaged; you matter, and the world needs you just as you are.

8. Let go of thinking your dreams are not important; always follow your heart.

9. Let go of being the “go-to person” for everyone, all the time; stop blowing yourself off and take care of yourself first … because you matter.

10. Let go of thinking everyone else is happier, more successful or better off than you. You are right where you need to be. Your journey is unfolding perfectly for you.

11. Let go of thinking there’s a right and wrong way to do things or to see the world. Enjoy the contrast and celebrate the diversity and richness of life.

12. Let go of cheating on your future with your past. It’s time to move on and tell a new story.

13. Let go of thinking you are not where you should be. You are right where you need to be to get to where you want to go, so start asking yourself where you want to go.

14. Let go of anger toward ex lovers and family. We all deserve happiness and love; just because it is over doesn’t mean the love was wrong.

15. Let go of the need to do more and be more; for today, you’ve done the best you can, and that’s enough.

16. Let go of thinking you have to know how to make it happen; we learn the way on the way.

17. Let go of your money woes — make a plan to pay off debt and focus on your abundance.

18. Let go of trying to save or change people. Everyone has her own path, and the best thing you can do is work on yourself and stop focusing on others.

19. Let go of trying to fit in and be accepted by everyone. Your uniqueness is what makes you outstanding.

20. Let go of self-hate. You are not the shape of your body or the number on the scale. Who you are matters, and the world needs you as you are. Celebrate you!

Reflections on Turning Sixty by Bob Bishop

17 11 2013

The phrase “turning 60″ brings to mind the face of a clock. One reason is that my youngest daughter gave me a notebook with clock faces on it with a quote from the ancient book of Ecclesiastes for my birthday. This quote exploded in my mind with a haunting song written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950′s. The lyrics were adapted almost entirely from verses from the Book of Ecclesiastes, set to music and recorded in 1962 by the Byrds. “To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)…There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)..And a time to every purpose, under Heaven.” It is difficult not to sing it as I write this. 

So my mind ventured further. As a math teacher I felt compelled to investigate the significance of 60 in the matter of time. The age old question pierced my thoughts. Why are there 60 seconds per minute, 60 minutes per hour and 24 hours in a day? I discovered that there was a rather enigmatic tale of a collaboration of the Egyptian use of sundials to divide a twelve hour day and a twelve hour night, the Babylonian using base 60 in their astronomical calculations and the Greek mathematicians who divided circles into 360 degrees. It has a wonderfully mathematical history interesting to some and accepted by everyone. So we have the invention of the face of a clock circle explained as well as the significance of 60 in the matter of time.
So I have lived 60 years, 219,145 days, 525,960 hours, 31,557,600 minutes or 1,893,456,000 seconds.

That brings us to a story of a couple who had an old grandfather clock in their family for generations. It used to keep perfect time, but lately they had noticed that, instead of going “tick tock tick tock “, it was just went ” tick, tick, tick, tick “,and consequently it had started to lose time. Eventually they decided to take the clock back to the manufacturers in Germany. The clock maker studied the grandfather clock suspiciously, walked up to the face and declared, ” Ve haf vays of making you tock.”

Clocks have a face but no mouth to talk with. They have hands but do not communicate. We impose personality to Father Time but still time tics away giving no meaning to our lives. Clocks do not give meaning- they only give time. As I return to the circular face of a clock I again see the turning of time. Turn, turn, turn. The hands circle round and round but do not produce significance.

I have an old clock that I wind every week just as my father did years ago. I remember the sounds of the gongs on the hour, the pings on the half hour and the memories of my father. As I look through the scrapbooks of my life that clock appears over and over. Through my childhood, through my middle school years and high school years it was in the background of the photographs. The clock was on the fireplace mantle where Christmas cards were hung. It was also on display at my father’s memorial service. I have significant memories and I give meaning to that clock.
Clocks are tools and like other instruments they have a specific purpose, meaning and significance we give them. But they do not give us purpose, meaning or significance.

Here is a metaphorical example for the use of tools. When you observe a clock you will see that most are round, they have 12 numbers,  they help when you want to be on time, and helps with schedules and appointments. Now take a compass. Notice that it is also round, it has 360 numbers, it helps when you are lost and gives us direction.

A person run by a clock could be seen as one who runs life by patterns, often distracted by the urgent, goes in circles, just turns the crank but winds up nowhere. Consider the idioms about time. We use so many phrases with it. We pass time, waste time, kill time and lose time. We do things in good time and we take our time. We save time and we are right on time. We are out of time. We mind the time. We keep time and we stall for time.

A person led by a compass has a direction in life, runs life by principles, stays focused on the important, and has direction and even sets direction. What comes to mind here is how a compass gave Einstein a sense of wonder. Here is how the story goes. When Einstein was five years old he came down with an illness that forced him to take bed rest. His father gave him a compass – a gift that would change his life. He pondered what made the arrow always point to north no matter where he stood. He shook it up, spun it around and it would still point north. When most people go through their lives with the least thought of the mysteries of the universe, this compass caused him to question. It kindled in him a life-long need to know how nature worked. There is a force in nature, a magic. Nature itself tells us there is much more than what senses cannot explain. This was the first time he experienced wonder. This sense of wonder gave Einstein a sense of direction for the rest of his life. A sense of awe and wonder drives one to ponder as Shakespeare wrote when Hamlet said to Horatio “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Returning to a timepiece we find that there are two words for time in the Greek. They are chronos and kairos. Both are Greek words which mean time, but they imply different things. Chronos refers to minutes and seconds like a clock. It refers to time as a measurable resource. It reminds us that we have only so much time in this world. Mitch Albom says in The Time Keeper , “Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. You probably can’t. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie. Yet all around you, timekeeping is ignored. Birds are not late. A dog does not check its watch. Deer do not fret over passing birthdays. Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.”

Kairos is also a word used for time. Kairos means an appointed time, an opportune moment, or a due season. We tend to think of our time in a chronos mindset. We think of having 24 hours in a day. We define our workweeks by the number of hours that we work. We have a list of things to do and only so much time to get everything done. Being conscious of our minutes and seconds is a good thing. Our time on earth is so brief, and we want to be good stewards of every second that we have. We only have such a brief opportunity to raise our kids when they’re still young children. When a friend is experiencing pain, we have a brief window of time in which to reach out to them. Instead of looking at our time as grains of sand slipping through an hourglass, we view our time as opportunities flying by. Instead of viewing our time as seconds ticking by, we realize that not every second holds the same worth. This presupposes meaning and purpose.

Brian Selznick, in his wonderful children’s book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Isabelle and Hugo discusses this high in a clock tower.

Isabelle: I wonder what my purpose is…

Hugo Cabret: Everything has a purpose, clocks tell you the time, trains take you to places. I’d imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured if the entire world was one big machine… I couldn’t be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason. And that means you have to be here for some reason, too.

For Hugo the giant clock reminded him of his purpose but it did not give him purpose. And such it is when we look for purpose and meaning “under the sun.” (a phrase introduced again in the ancient book of Ecclesiastes). Like a sundial and the silent face of a clock, as well as a calendar or how many birthdays I live–they give no meaning, they measure time and provoke us to see a higher purpose.

Others have set their sights higher for meaning by looking beyond the endless measurement of time to the vastness of the universe. The tools and instruments are not clocks but telescopes.

We hear from scientists that the universe is about 13.7 billion years old. Light reaching us from the earliest known galaxies has been travelling, therefore, for more than 13 billion years. So one might assume that the radius of the universe is 13.7 billion light-years and that the whole universe size is double that, or 27.4 billion light-years wide. The standard picture is that our universe descends from a Bang 13.7 billion years ago. According to scientists, we do not even know whether it is finite or infinite.

The satirist Sci-fi writer Douglas Adams, in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy says “The universe is a very big thing that contains a great number of planets and a great number of beings. It is Everything. What we live in. All around us. The lot. Not nothing. It is quite difficult to actually define what the Universe means, but fortunately this Guide doesn’t worry about that and just gives us some useful information to live in it.”

We gather this smallness and meaningless from the recent film Gravity. We see Ryan Stone hanging in the vast void of space and devoid of God seeking enough reason to survive and bravely overcome insurmountable obstacles in order to return to earth. Here I am reminded of a quote by Ravi Zacharias, “Meaninglessness is the plague of our time.”

But in the vastness of space we can be wowed but miss the music of the spheres, the poetry and mystery of wonder. Does science necessarily lead us down a road that ends in the naturalistic explanation of everything we see? In the nineteenth century, modernism lead us that direction. The “God of the gaps” was finding himself in a narrower and narrower niche. However, 20th century and now 21st century science is leading us back down the road of design – not from a lack of scientific explanation, but from scientific explanation that requires an appeal to something that the tools of science do not deal well with. As a result of the recent evidence in support of design, many scientists now believe in God. Here are a few of these voices:

Paul Davies: “The laws [of physics] … seem to be the product of exceedingly ingenious design… The universe must have a purpose”.

Alan Sandage (winner of the Crawford prize in astronomy): “I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing.”

Roger Penrose (mathematician and author): “I would say the universe has a purpose. It’s not there just somehow by chance.”

Robert Jastrow (self-proclaimed agnostic): “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

Frank Tipler (Professor of Mathematical Physics): “When I began my career as a cosmologist some twenty years ago, I was a convinced atheist. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would be writing a book purporting to show that the central claims of Judeo-Christian theology are in fact true, that these claims are straightforward deductions of the laws of physics as we now understand them. I have been forced into these conclusions by the inexorable logic of my own special branch of physics.” Note: Tipler since has actually converted to Christianity, hence his latest book, The Physics Of Christianity.

Arthur L. Schawlow (Professor of Physics at Stanford University, 1981 Nobel Prize in physics): “It seems to me that when confronted with the marvels of life and the universe, one must ask why and not just how. ……I find a need for God in the universe and in my own life.”

It is strange how the infinity of time and vastness of space impresses people but smallness displays infinity in another direction.

When we replace the telescope of astronomy with the microscope of nuclear physics we ask how small is the universe? It can be said that there are possibly more atoms within that single grain of sand than there are grains of sand on this entire beach.

When we replace the microscope back to instruments of time measurement we approach the question how short of time can we measure. We have moved from seconds to, milliseconds (one thousandth of second), to single digit microseconds (one millionth of a second) and now into the nanosecond range”

Here we are reminded of William Blake’s haunting poem….

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour.

We are awed that we can explore infinity of the macrocosm as well as the microcosm with instruments of science. But tools are made to measure and observe things. They are not to give meaning. We need not bow to the papacy of science. The tools of science compel us to keep asking questions but it will never give us the answers to the deeper questions of life.
As we seek answers to life, as we search for that compass to give direction and wonder, as we desire a kairos purpose in our lives, as our hearts echo the childhood wisdom of Hugo Cabret, as we see that science does not necessarily lead us down the road of atheism, we can ask the deeper questions of life and seek answers for the head, heart and hands. We can seek answers that are intellectually satisfying, answers that fill the desires of our heart, and answers that give us something significant to do.

Just as there are scientific facts to the universe there are also facts and deeper questions that science does not have the instruments to discover.

Fact number one: There is something rather than nothing. We live as though we are real people in a real world. Why is there something rather than nothing?

Fact number two: We can know this universe (or at least part of it). We live as though we can trust our senses and reasoning. Why do we have the ability to know and understand?

Fact number three: People have dignity as well as cruelty. We live as though we have a superior standing in the world and are moral creatures, but we have difficulty living up to this standard. Why do we have a sense of morality, love, and justice?

Fact number four: We hunger for something more. We feel a need for purpose, we have longings to satisfy, we desire challenge, victory, and contribution. Why do we seek beyond what is? Why do we feel like the Hallow Men of T.S. Eliot yet feel unfulfilled at the end of it all…”This is the way the world ends….Not with a bang but a whimper.”? Why are we not satisfied with Macbeth’s utterance, “Life….. is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

I remember after my brother died of cancer he left us his car. Not able to sell this car it had just enough energy to drive to the junk yard. Arriving there I traded the car for some cash and asked the attendant what I should do with the car keys. He took the keys and threw them into the junkyard with all the rest of the wreckage. And so it will be with all the so-called scientific keys of life that with a hubris bravado claim they have finally arrived at the answer of life. We have a history full of claims. Again Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is nothing new under the sun.

We seek satisfying and sufficient answers. We desire something greater to live for. We seek not just a life enjoyed but a life with a purpose larger than we are. Deep inside we seek a life non sibi (not for self). Deep inside we desire our finale to have a life well-lived, a life well- played and a life well-told. We will not find these answers or even the correct questions “under the sun” but somewhere else. So at sixty years of age I looked at a clock, face to face, and it served only as a goad for me to seek further.

I close with these words by Frederick Buechner from his book Wishful Thinking,

On her deathbed, Gertrude Stein is said to have asked, “What is the answer?” Then, after a long silence, “What is the question?” Don’t start looking in the Bible for the answers it gives. Start by listening for the questions it asks. We are much involved, all of us, with questions about things that matter a good deal today but will be forgotten by this time tomorrow—the immediate wheres and whens and hows that face us daily at home and at work—but at the same time we tend to lose track of the questions about things that matter always, life-and-death questions about meaning, purpose, and value. To lose track of such deep questions as these is to risk losing track of who we really are in our own depths and where we are really going. There is perhaps no stronger reason for reading the Bible than that somewhere among all those India-paper pages there awaits each reader, whoever he is, the one question which, though for years he may have been pretending not to hear it, is the central question of his own life.

21 Habits of Happy People

16 11 2013

Posted in  Self Improvement on January 30, 2013Comments: 162 comments


“Happiness is a habit – cultivate it.” ~ Elbert Hubbard 

Happiness is one aspiration all people share. No one wants to be sad and depressed.

We’ve all seen people who are always happy – even amidst agonizing life trials. I’m not saying happy people don’t feel grief, sorrow or sadness; they just don’t let it overtake their life. The following are 21 things happy people make a habit of doing:

1. Appreciate Life

Be thankful that you woke up alive each morning. Develop a childlike sense of wonder towards life. Focus on the beauty of every living thing. Make the most of each day. Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

2. Choose Friends Wisely

Surround yourself with happy, positive people who share your values and goals. Friends that have the same ethics as you will encourage you to achieve your dreams. They help you to feel good about yourself. They are there to lend a helping hand when needed.

3. Be Considerate

Accept others for who they are as well as where they are in life. Respect them for who they are. Touch them with a kind and generous spirit. Help when you are able, without trying to change the other person. Try to brighten the day of everyone you come into contact with.

4. Learn Continuously

Keep up to date with the latest news regarding your career and hobbies. Try new and daring things that has sparked your interest – such as dancing, skiing, surfing or sky-diving.

5. Creative Problem Solving

Don’t wallow in self-pity. As soon as you face a challenge get busy finding a solution. Don’t let the set backs affect your mood, instead see each new obstacle you face as an opportunity to make a positive change. Learn to trust your gut instincts – it’s almost always right.

6. Do What They Love

Some statistics show that 80% of people dislike their jobs! No wonder there’s so many unhappy people running around. We spend a great deal of our life working. Choose a career that you enjoy – the extra money of a job you detest isn’t worth it. Make time to enjoy your hobbies and pursue special interests.

7. Enjoy Life

Take the time to see the beauty around you. There’s more to life than work. Take time to smell the roses, watch a sunset or sunrise with a loved one, take a walk along the seashore, hike in the woods etc. Learn to live in the present moment and cherish it. Don’t live in the past or the future.

8. Laugh

Don’t take yourself – or life to seriously. You can find humor in just about any situation. Laugh at yourself – no one’s perfect. When appropriate laugh and make light of the circumstances. (Naturally there are times that you should be serious as it would be improper to laugh.)

9. Forgive

Holding a grudge will hurt no one but you. Forgive others for your own peace of mind. When you make a mistake – own up to it – learn from it – and FORGIVE yourself.

10. Gratitude

Develop an attitude of gratitude. Count your blessings; All of them – even the things that seem trivial. Be grateful for your home, your work and most importantly your family and friends. Take the time to tell them that you are happy they are in your life.

11. Invest in Relationships

Always make sure your loved ones know you love them even in times of conflict. Nurture and grow your relationships with your family and friends by making the time to spend with them. Don’t break your promises to them. Be supportive.

12. Keep Their Word

Honesty is the best policy. Every action and decision you make should be based on honesty. Be honest with yourself and with your loved ones.

13. Meditate

Meditation gives your very active brain a rest. When it’s rested you will have more energy and function at a higher level. Types of meditation include yoga, hypnosis, relaxation tapes, affirmations, visualization or just sitting in complete silence. Find something you enjoy and make the time to practice daily.

14. Mind Their Own Business

Concentrate on creating your life the way you want it. Take care of you and your family. Don’t get overly concerned with what other people are doing or saying. Don’t get caught up with gossip or name calling. Don’t judge. Everyone has a right to live their own life the way they want to – including you.

15. Optimism

See the glass as half full. Find the positive side of any given situation. It’s there – even though it may be hard to find. Know that everything happens for a reason, even though you may never know what the reason is. Steer clear of negative thoughts. If a negative thought creeps in – replace it with a positive thought.

16. Love Unconditionally

Accept others for who they are. You don’t put limitations on your love. Even though you may not always like the actions of your loved ones – you continue to love them.

17. Persistence

Never give up. Face each new challenge with the attitude that it will bring you one step closer to your goal. You will never fail, as long as you never give up. Focus on what you want, learn the required skills, make a plan to succeed and take action. We are always happiest while pursuing something of value to us.

18. Be Proactive

Accept what can not be changed. Happy people don’t waste energy on circumstances beyond their control. Accept your limitations as a human being. Determine how you can take control by creating the outcome you desire – rather than waiting to respond.

19. Self Care

Take care of your mind, body and health. Get regular medical check ups. Eat healthy and work out. Get plenty of rest. Drink lots of water. Exercise your mind by continually energizing it with interesting and exciting challenges.

20. Self Confidence

Don’t try to be someone that you’re not. After all no one likes a phony. Determine who you are in the inside – your own personal likes and dislikes. Be confident in who you are. Do the best you can and don’t second guess yourself.

21. Take Responsibility

Happy people know and understand that they are 100% responsible for their life. They take responsibility for their moods, attitude, thoughts, feelings, actions and words. They are the first to admit when they’ve made a mistake.

Begin today by taking responsibility for your happiness. Work on developing these habits as you own. The more you incorporate the above habits into your daily lifestyle – the happier you will be.


“I Can’t Do This!” The Biggest Lie Students Tell Me (and How to Turn It Around)

27 10 2013

The Biggest Lie Students Tell Me (and How to Turn It Around)

OCTOBER 22, 2013

It’s easy to say that students lie to teachers all the time. Frankly, everyone, including teachers, has a lie in them, and these untruths keep the schooling process rolling along. When adults say, for instance, that they develop rules with the students, chances are that students often develop rules that teachers already thought of anyway. Or, when adults say that a student can’t use the restroom during certain parts of the day “Just because,” rather than “Because the hallways is crowded, and I don’t want you distracted from the lesson in the classroom,” that’s just one more micro-fib in a collage of fibs that we tell children.

But my push today is to talk about the lies that students tell, specifically the ones that keep them from growing into the best students possible.

“I Can’t Do This!”

This statement is perhaps the worst possible offender, and we have layers to this that we ought to unravel. If students say it often enough, they can prevent themselves from giving an honest effort toward learning the material. The student gets to fall back while the teacher explains and re-explains the material, which might have gone from a more implicit, constructivist explanation to a straight-up “This is what you do!”

Thus, it also works as a signal to the teacher that, perhaps, the student can’tlearn the material. The teacher, human and serving 30 students at a time, will focus away and leave that student to his or her own devices rather than insisting, “Try your best.” The teacher might stay away from the student, hovering over and hoping that her or she will come back into the fold again. The student often won’t.

The discussion around “I can’t do this” can be broken down into three general levels:

  • They genuinely don’t understand the material.
  • They’ve had a long day and just don’t have the energy to work any more.
  • They have a situation at home that currently distracts them.

There are levels to “I can’t do this” that don’t get discussed, either. The current discussion around lack of effort focuses on “grit,” the cure for lack of effort — and with good reason. Paul Tough’s book How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and The Hidden Power of Character gives you a sense that he believes, with the right level of effort and conditions that help translate effort into success, any child can overcome his or her disposition.

Yet for some, the argument has taken a twist to mean that, rather than trying to address structural and pedagogical issues in our schools, we ought to focusonly on the attitudes espoused by our students. If they try hard enough, that argument goes, and if they work longer and harder than their peers, they too will surmount the incredible odds against them and acquire a proper education.

To an extent, I believe this, as I am a product of a poverty-stricken neighborhood. I was fortunate to go to good public and private schools (including Head Start) throughout my formative years. With enough effort, I made it out of the hood — only to teach in a neighborhood similar to the one where I used to live. My teaching reflects this, too. I have high expectations for my students, and I keep in mind that I should ask questions before getting emotionally bent out of shape around a student’s lack of compliance with the assignment.

Strategies for Comprehension

Thus, here are some solutions for the student who says, “I can’t do this!”

1. Ask why before all else.

Don’t just ask, “Why?” and let the answer linger. Often, the student will just say, “Because I don’t.” Your next question could be, “What part do you get?” Once you reach the point where they’re unsure, ask follow-up questions from that point onward. Push for them to answer questions rather than listen to your personal line of reasoning out the material. If they can vocalize the process and demonstrate understanding before you take them through it step by step, then let them do it. And keep asking why in the meantime.

2. Give breaks within reason.

Some of my students just need a genuine break. This isn’t about being soft, though I try not to run my classroom like a jail. If adults constantly bombard them with speeches they call lessons, then these students have had an entirely passive experience of education that doesn’t allow them to think for themselves. If you see a student who looks tired or has a hard time concentrating, firmly ask him or her to take a break just to breathe. Letting students take a small break might energize them again.

3. Make modifications to how you teach and how they learn.

The push for higher standards, rigor and accountability often means that our students’ humanness gets pushed to the wayside in some classrooms. We try to force students to see the material the way we estimate that a test-maker would, rather than developing lessons that work for as many students as possible. For instance, instead of using definitions from the textbooks, let students create explanations for the words. These explanations should come as close as possible to the definitions that you would create.

4. Teach students the art of the good question.

Unlike many of my colleagues, I do believe in smart questions (and not-so-smart questions). We ought to teach students how to ask questions that clarify, expound or enhance meaning. Students ask a lot of questions, and we ought to encourage them to get in the habit of questioning. Yet, we can differentiate between asking a question that adds value and a question that doesn’t.

All together, this means we can only control our own actions as educators in the classroom. We can teach students to persevere. We can teach students to work harder, and to see the fruits of their efforts in the learning they do. We can ask them to translate these attitudes to their lives overall.

We as educators must also keep in mind the vast personal experiences they bring into class, especially if they don’t get what we’re trying to teach them. Sometimes, there are a lot of things they’re not getting for reasons we can’t imagine, and it’s our job to provide sustenance in the meantime.

The Psychology of Getting Unstuck: How to Overcome the “OK Plateau” of Performance & Personal Growth

20 10 2013


“When you want to get good at something, how you spend your time practicing is far more important than the amount of time you spend.”

“Any sequence of mental action which has been frequently repeated tends to perpetuate itself,”William James wrote in his influential meditation on habit”so that we find ourselves automatically prompted to think, feel, or do what we have been before accustomed to think, feel, or do, under like circumstances.” As we’ve seen, one of the most insidious forms of such habitual autopilot — which evolved to help lighten our cognitive load yet is a double-edged sword that can also hurt us — is our mercilessly selective everyday attention, but the phenomenon is particularly perilous when it comes to learning new skills. In a chapter of Maximize Your Potential (public library) — that fantastic guide tomaking your own luck, the sequel to 99U’s blueprint to mastering the pace of productivity and honing your creative routine— science writer Joshua Foer explores the mechanisms that keep us from improving and the strategies we can use to disarm them. He sketches out the problem:

In the 1960s, psychologists identified three stages that we pass through in the acquisition of new skills. We start in the “cognitive phase,” during which we’re intellectualizing the task, discovering new strategies to perform better, and making lots of mistakes. We’re consciously focusing on what we’re doing. Then we enter the “associative stage,” when we’re making fewer errors, and gradually getting better. Finally, we arrive at the “autonomous stage,” when we turn on autopilot and move the skill to the back of our proverbial mental filing cabinet and stop paying it conscious attention.

And so we get to the so-called “OK Plateau” — the point at which our autopilot of expertise confines us to a sort of comfort zone, where we perform the task in question in efficient enough a way that we cease caring for improvement. We reach this OK Plateau in pursuing just about every goal, from learning to drive to mastering a foreign language to dieting, where after an initial stage of rapid improvement, we find ourselves in that place at once comforting in its good-enoughness and demotivating in its sudden dip in positive reinforcement via palpable betterment.


Color restoration of archival Einstein photograph by Mads Madsen


The challenge, of course, is that we can’t get better on autopilot. Fortunately, psychologists have found a number of strategies to help us overcome this stagnation by overriding our auto-mode — and it turns out the benefits of reflective failure and the art of making mistakes play a key role, something to which J. K. Rowling has attested. Foer writes:

Something experts in all fields tend to do when they’re practicing is to operate outside of their comfort zone and study themselves failing. The best figure skaters in the world spend more of their practice time practicing jumps that they don’t land than lesser figure skaters do. The same is true of musicians. When most musicians sit down to practice, they play the parts of pieces that they’re good at. Of course they do: it’s fun to succeed. But expert musicians tend to focus on the parts that are hard, the parts they haven’t yet mastered. The way to get better at a skill is to force yourself to practice just beyond your limits.

Foer first bumped up against the OK Plateau while working on Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything(public library) — the fascinating record of his quest to dramatically improve his memory’s capacity using a combination of ancient wisdom and modern science. After spending several months learning to memorize a deck of playing cards, he rapidly plateaued, but his memory-mentor assured him this was the standard course of improvement. Intrigued, Doer dusted off the work of psychologists Paul Fitts and Michael Posner, the researchers who had discovered those three stages of skill acquisition — cognitive, associative, and autonomous. The autonomous stage in particular was what interested Foer the most:

During the autonomous stage, you lose conscious control over what you’re doing. Most of the time that’s a good thing. Your mind has one less thing to worry about. In fact, the autonomous stage turns out to be one of those handy features that evolution worked out for our benefit. The less you have to focus on the repetitive tasks of everyday life, the more you can concentrate on the stuff that really matters, the stuff that you haven’t seen before. And so, once we’re just good enough at [something], we move it to the back of our mind’s filing cabinet and stop paying it any attention. You can actually see this shift take place in fMRI scans of people learning new skills. As a task becomes automated, the parts of the brain involved in conscious reasoning become less active and other parts of the brain take over. [This is] the “OK Plateau,” the point at which you decide you’re OK with how good you are at something, turn on autopilot, and stop improving.

Early psychologists, Foer tells us, used to believe the OK Plateau signified the upper limit of one’s innate capacity — in other words, they thought the best we can do is the best we could do. But Florida State University’s Anders Ericsson and his team of performance psychologists, who have studied the phenomenon closely, found that the single most important factor for overcoming the OK Plateau to become truly exceptional at a skill is the same thing that turned young Mozart into a genius and that drives successful authors to their rigorous routines. Foer writes:

What separates experts from the rest of us is that they tend to engage in a very directed, highly focused routine, which Ericsson has labeled “deliberate practice.” Having studied the best of the best in many different fields, he has found that top achievers tend to follow the same general pattern of development. They develop strategies for consciously keeping out of the autonomous stage while they practice by doing three things: focusing on their technique, staying goal-oriented, and getting constant immediate feedback on their performance. In other words, they force themselves to stay in the “cognitive stage.”


The Mozart family on tour: Leopold, Wolfgang, and Nannerl. Watercolor by Carmontelle, 1763 (public domain)


And yet, Foer is careful to point out, the mere amount of practice has little to do with improvement — it is, rather, its deliberateness that drives progress. In fact, studies have shown that in areas of expertise as diverse as basketball and chess the number of years one has spent honing the respective skill correlates only weakly with the degree of mastery and level of performance. What Ericsson found, rather, is that the best way to transcend the OK Plateau and reboot the autonomous stage is to cultivate conscious control over the thing we’re practicing and, above all, to actually practice failing:

Deliberate practice, by its nature, must be hard.

When you want to get good at something, how you spend your time practicing is far more important than the amount of time you spend. … Regular practice simply isn’t enough. To improve, we must watch ourselves fail, and learn from our mistakes.

Complement Maximize Your Potential and Moonwalking with Einstein, both excellent reads in their entirety, with philosopher Daniel Dennett on how to make mistakes that improve us and some of today’s most celebrated contemporary creators on how to break through your creative block.

The Psychology of Getting Unstuck: How to Overcome the “OK Plateau” of Performance & Personal Growth

20 10 2013


“When you want to get good at something, how you spend your time practicing is far more important than the amount of time you spend.”

“Any sequence of mental action which has been frequently repeated tends to perpetuate itself,”William James wrote in his influential meditation on habit”so that we find ourselves automatically prompted to think, feel, or do what we have been before accustomed to think, feel, or do, under like circumstances.” As we’ve seen, one of the most insidious forms of such habitual autopilot — which evolved to help lighten our cognitive load yet is a double-edged sword that can also hurt us — is our mercilessly selective everyday attention, but the phenomenon is particularly perilous when it comes to learning new skills. In a chapter of Maximize Your Potential (public library) — that fantastic guide tomaking your own luck, the sequel to 99U’s blueprint to mastering the pace of productivity and honing your creative routine— science writer Joshua Foer explores the mechanisms that keep us from improving and the strategies we can use to disarm them. He sketches out the problem:

In the 1960s, psychologists identified three stages that we pass through in the acquisition of new skills. We start in the “cognitive phase,” during which we’re intellectualizing the task, discovering new strategies to perform better, and making lots of mistakes. We’re consciously focusing on what we’re doing. Then we enter the “associative stage,” when we’re making fewer errors, and gradually getting better. Finally, we arrive at the “autonomous stage,” when we turn on autopilot and move the skill to the back of our proverbial mental filing cabinet and stop paying it conscious attention.

And so we get to the so-called “OK Plateau” — the point at which our autopilot of expertise confines us to a sort of comfort zone, where we perform the task in question in efficient enough a way that we cease caring for improvement. We reach this OK Plateau in pursuing just about every goal, from learning to drive to mastering a foreign language to dieting, where after an initial stage of rapid improvement, we find ourselves in that place at once comforting in its good-enoughness and demotivating in its sudden dip in positive reinforcement via palpable betterment.


Color restoration of archival Einstein photograph by Mads Madsen


The challenge, of course, is that we can’t get better on autopilot. Fortunately, psychologists have found a number of strategies to help us overcome this stagnation by overriding our auto-mode — and it turns out the benefits of reflective failure and the art of making mistakes play a key role, something to which J. K. Rowling has attested. Foer writes:

Something experts in all fields tend to do when they’re practicing is to operate outside of their comfort zone and study themselves failing. The best figure skaters in the world spend more of their practice time practicing jumps that they don’t land than lesser figure skaters do. The same is true of musicians. When most musicians sit down to practice, they play the parts of pieces that they’re good at. Of course they do: it’s fun to succeed. But expert musicians tend to focus on the parts that are hard, the parts they haven’t yet mastered. The way to get better at a skill is to force yourself to practice just beyond your limits.

Foer first bumped up against the OK Plateau while working on Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything(public library) — the fascinating record of his quest to dramatically improve his memory’s capacity using a combination of ancient wisdom and modern science. After spending several months learning to memorize a deck of playing cards, he rapidly plateaued, but his memory-mentor assured him this was the standard course of improvement. Intrigued, Doer dusted off the work of psychologists Paul Fitts and Michael Posner, the researchers who had discovered those three stages of skill acquisition — cognitive, associative, and autonomous. The autonomous stage in particular was what interested Foer the most:

During the autonomous stage, you lose conscious control over what you’re doing. Most of the time that’s a good thing. Your mind has one less thing to worry about. In fact, the autonomous stage turns out to be one of those handy features that evolution worked out for our benefit. The less you have to focus on the repetitive tasks of everyday life, the more you can concentrate on the stuff that really matters, the stuff that you haven’t seen before. And so, once we’re just good enough at [something], we move it to the back of our mind’s filing cabinet and stop paying it any attention. You can actually see this shift take place in fMRI scans of people learning new skills. As a task becomes automated, the parts of the brain involved in conscious reasoning become less active and other parts of the brain take over. [This is] the “OK Plateau,” the point at which you decide you’re OK with how good you are at something, turn on autopilot, and stop improving.

Early psychologists, Foer tells us, used to believe the OK Plateau signified the upper limit of one’s innate capacity — in other words, they thought the best we can do is the best we could do. But Florida State University’s Anders Ericsson and his team of performance psychologists, who have studied the phenomenon closely, found that the single most important factor for overcoming the OK Plateau to become truly exceptional at a skill is the same thing that turned young Mozart into a genius and that drives successful authors to their rigorous routines. Foer writes:

What separates experts from the rest of us is that they tend to engage in a very directed, highly focused routine, which Ericsson has labeled “deliberate practice.” Having studied the best of the best in many different fields, he has found that top achievers tend to follow the same general pattern of development. They develop strategies for consciously keeping out of the autonomous stage while they practice by doing three things: focusing on their technique, staying goal-oriented, and getting constant immediate feedback on their performance. In other words, they force themselves to stay in the “cognitive stage.”


The Mozart family on tour: Leopold, Wolfgang, and Nannerl. Watercolor by Carmontelle, 1763 (public domain)


And yet, Foer is careful to point out, the mere amount of practice has little to do with improvement — it is, rather, its deliberateness that drives progress. In fact, studies have shown that in areas of expertise as diverse as basketball and chess the number of years one has spent honing the respective skill correlates only weakly with the degree of mastery and level of performance. What Ericsson found, rather, is that the best way to transcend the OK Plateau and reboot the autonomous stage is to cultivate conscious control over the thing we’re practicing and, above all, to actually practice failing:

Deliberate practice, by its nature, must be hard.

When you want to get good at something, how you spend your time practicing is far more important than the amount of time you spend. … Regular practice simply isn’t enough. To improve, we must watch ourselves fail, and learn from our mistakes.

Complement Maximize Your Potential and Moonwalking with Einstein, both excellent reads in their entirety, with philosopher Daniel Dennett on how to make mistakes that improve us and some of today’s most celebrated contemporary creators on how to break through your creative block.

7 Simple, Science-Backed Ways to Boost School Success

7 10 2013

Hasil Penelusuran Gambar Google untuk http://sleepdisorders.dolyan.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Effects-of-Sleep-Deprivation-in-Teenagers-student-sleeping.jpg

Academic success impacts our children for the rest of their life: it influences their self-esteem, college selections, job attainment, financial success, and even their choice of spouses. It’s no wonder we go great lengths to give our kids an academic edge.

Despite our good intentions we often overlook a few simple strategies that research has proven to impact children’s academic success. Even better, these seven science-backed solutions are things that every parent can do, don’t cost a dime, and are proven to boost school success.

1. Make sure kids get enough zzz’s

In one recent study, Tel Aviv University researchers found that missing just one hour of sleep can be enough to reduce a child’s cognitive abilities by almost two years the next day. For example, a sixth grader who loses precious zzz’s the night before a big test could end up performing at a fourth grade level.

A lack of sleep can have a serious impact on children’s abilities to learn and perform at school.

Set a bedtime and keep to it every single night.

Flashing images affect REM, so be sure to turn off the computer and television at least thirty minutes prior to bedtime.

Watch out for caffeinated sleep stealers like cold medications, chocolate, and those energy-drinks.

Take away the cell phones during nighttime hours—62% of kids admit they use it after the lights go out and their parents are clueless.

2. Applaud efforts the right way

Carol Dweck’s research at Columbia University found that how we praise our kids’ schoolwork can enhance or impede achievement. For example, instead of encouraging your child to bring home straight A’s, put the emphasis on how hard she is working. This will encourage her to persist and it will help to sustain her motivation.

Kids who are praised for their persistence are more likely to blame any failure they have on not trying hard enough, rather than on a lack of ability (a belief which can discourage kids very easily).

Above all, keep in mind that the grade is not what motivates a top student to succeed-it’s their inner drive for learning.

3. Respect their learning style

If your son insists on plugging into his iPod when he studies, or if your daughter swears that flash cards are the only way she can learn her spelling words- listen up! While you may prefer a quiet room with no distractions when it comes to getting work done, that doesn’t mean it’s the best way for your kids to concentrate and get down to business.

Harvard researcher, Howard Gardner’s work shows there are eight kinds of intelligences-or ways kids learn best-which include: musical, spatial, logical-mathematical, linguistic, bodily, intrapersonal, interpersonal and naturalist.

The trick is to pay attention to how your kid learns best so you can identify their unique learn style (not yours!) and then tap into it help them be more successful. For instance, if your child learns best by remembering what she sees, point it out to her and encourage her to draw, mindmap or draw those images.

4. Pay attention to peers

Pals play an enormous part of our kids’ self-esteem, and research also reveals that who our kids befriend can affect their study habits and their overall academic success.

The truth of the matter is that peer pressure can have both positive and negative consequences on a child’s education. If your child chooses friends who believe that education is important, chances are she will adopt those attitudes and put more emphasis into hitting the books harder and focusing more in class. On the flip side, if your child is best buddies with a kid who stays distracted during class, doesn’t turn in homework assignments, and rarely studies before a big test, chances are she will fall in line with their bad habits.

An Ohio State University study found that kids are more likely to have friends with future college plans if they have a warm, positive relationship with their parents. So cultivate that kind of parenting style and you’ll help your child make the right friendship decisions! And encourage your child to seek out pals with like-minded educational values.

5. Make family meals a must

A recent study by Columbia University showed that kids whose families eat regular, relaxed meal together are not only less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and develop eating disorders-they are also more likely to achieve higher grades.

Family dinners do not have to consist of gourmet, five-course meals. Serve simple, healthy meals, turn off the television and unplug the phone, and enjoy each other’s company. And if everyone in your family is on a different schedule and can’t make it to dinner- don’t worry!

Consider instating an evening family snack time where everyone can review their days with each other before bedtime.

The trick is to find what works best for you family and turn it into a routine. Keep in mind it’s not the macaroni and cheese dish has nothing to do with giving your kid the academic edge. It’s those informal: “How was your day?” “What are you discussing in science?” “How do you plan to study for that test?” kind of discussion topics that let your kid know your family prioritizes education.

6. Squelch the stress…at home

Research shows that the conflict kids face at home spills over into their school life and impedes their learning. In fact, family-induced stress can affect kids’ learning and behavior for up to two days following an incident.

So take a vow of ‘yellibacy.’ Make your home a stress-free zone.

Find ways to de-stress with your kids. Take longs walks, read together, do yoga, or have a family movie night.  Be a model to them on how to disagree without it ending in a screaming match. Teach your kids that it’s okay for them to walk away from an argument until they are calm enough to return. Teach your child healthy ways to reduce stress. Tune into your child’s unique stress signs, so you’ll be able to recognize when he’s on overload, help him learn to identify his own stressors (and triggers) so that you can intervene and help him to decompress before something comes to blows.

7. Tailor expectations to your child’s abilities

All parents want the very best for their kids. It’s only natural!

As a parent, you should consider your learning aspirations for your child like a rubber band: gently stretch but don’t snap.

Every child is different, and while its okay to encourage her to try hard and achieve her best, it’s also important to remember that ‘What’s best’ is different for every child. Just because your kid isn’t composing his own symphonies or writing his memoirs by age 10, doesn’t mean that he won’t still do great things with his life. Always remember this one commandment: ‘Tailor thy parenting only to thy child’. You and your children will be happier and healthier for it, as well as succeed.

Final thoughts

If you want to boost your kid’s academic performance and see lasting results, it will take a few things from you: consistency, dedication, and patience.

Form a partnership with your child’s teacher..the more you’re on the same page the better for your child.

When your child continues to struggle..get help! Those things are always better parenting tools than anything money can buy.

Remember that no two kids are the same, even if they come from the same household. If you pay attention to the individual needs of each child and do what’s right for them and for you, you’ll see the payoff in their attitudes and their report cards in no time.

Dr. Michele Borba, Parenting Expert

I am an educational psychologist, parenting expert, TODAY show contributor and author of 22 books including The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries.

You can also refer to my daily blog, Dr. Borba’s Reality Check for ongoing parenting solutions and late-breaking news and research about child development.


9 09 2013

Photo by Barney Moss

Gifted kids, by their nature, often breeze through the early years of school, not facing a real challenge until high school or college. They get used to succeeding without putting in the work. Then, when things get difficult, they can flounder. Even in 6th grade, I’d see this starting.

So, here’s a great opening week discussion that sets up a year-long expectation. Teach your students that we only get stronger when it’s difficult.

How To Grow A Muscle

I showed my students this image:

Weight lifter

Photo from the US Navy

After waiting for the commotion to die down, I asked:

“Do you know how his muscles got so large?”

They knew that lifting weight was involved, but didn’t know about whymuscles grow.

Push ‘Em To Their Limits

I explained: muscles only grow when we work them just more than what they’re used to. This causes “micro-tears,” damaging the muscle just slightly. This is why our muscles hurt after a workout.

The muscle then thinks, “Uh oh! We’re doing harder work, I better get stronger!” and uses protein to repair the micro-tears, building itself backa little bit bigger.

Then, we repeat.

Work the muscle past its ability, it hurts, and then it rebuilds itself stronger. Eventually, this is how bodybuilders get huge muscles! Little bit by little bit, they push their muscles just past their limits.

We Only Get Stronger When It’s Difficult

I’d emphasize, if we did nine pushups, but stopped because the tenth got tough, then the muscle won’t grow! It’s only the difficult repetitions that cause growth. We only get stronger when we push ourself through that final, tough pushup.

Of course, I’d dramatically act out the final repetition of a bicep curl, wincing with the imaginary effort.

Our Thinking Muscle

All of this is true for thinking and learning as well. When it’s difficult, when it’s uncomfortable, when it’s getting frustrating, that’s when we’re pushing our brain. That’s when we’re learning and growing.

So many of my students would give up just as things got hard. They don’t like the way it feels. They’re not used to it. But the longer they wait, the more difficult it will be to push themselves.

This difficult part could apply to:

  • finishing the word problems in math homework
  • writing out answers in complete sentences
  • taking notes while reading
  • citing sources in a research paper
  • pushing through a challenging book

It Gets Easier!

And, as many athletes will say, you don’t just get used to the idea of pushing past a barrier, you actually start to like it! Runners, bodybuilders, and swimmers all profess how good they feel after a tough workout. It’s getting started that’s so hard.

Beyond The Brain

I’m sure your students will come up with many different situations where struggling past the difficult part is important. Do a class brainstorm and capture these examples.

A Year’s Motto

I printed out the statement “We Only Get Stronger When It’s Difficult” and stuck it to the board, referencing it constantly. If I saw the class being academically lazy, I’d point to the weight-lifter and recite the motto: we only get stronger when it’s difficult!

Here’s an image I made using PasuKaru76‘s hilarious Lego photo. Feel free to download, print, and use it in your class:

Lego stronger

Download here in color or here 

’10 big brain benefits of playing chess’

5 09 2013

'10 big brain benefits of playing chess'

Not for nothing is chess known as “the game of kings.” No doubt the rulers of empires and kingdoms saw in the game fitting practice for the strategizing and forecasting they themselves were required to do when dealing with other monarchs and challengers. As we learn more about the brain, some are beginning to push for chess to be reintroduced as a tool in the public’s education. With benefits like these, they have a strong case.

1. It can raise your IQ
Chess has always had an image problem, being seen as a game for brainiacs and people with already high IQs. So there has been a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation: do smart people gravitate towards chess, or does playing chess make them smart? At least one study has shown that moving those knights and rooks around can in fact raise a person’s intelligence quotient. A study of 4,000 Venezuelan students produced significant rises in the IQ scores of both boys and girls after 4 months of chess instruction.

2. It helps prevent Alzheimer’s
Because the brain works like a muscle, it needs exercise like any bicep or quad to be healthy and ward off injury. A recent study featured in The New England Journal of Medicine found that people over 75 who engage in brain-stretching activities like chess are less likely to develop dementia than their non-board-game-playing peers. Just like an un-exercised muscle loses strength, Dr. Robert Freidland, the study’s author, found that unused brain tissue leads to a loss of brain power. So that’s all the more reason to play chess before you turn 75.

3. It exercises both sides of the brain
In a German study, researchers showed chess experts and novices simple geometric shapes and chess positions and measured the subjects’ reactions in identifying them. They expected to find the experts’ left brains being much more active, but they did not expect the right hemisphere of the brain to do so as well. Their reaction times to the simple shapes were the same, but the experts were using both sides of their brains to more quickly respond to the chess position questions.

4. It increases your creativity
Since the right hemisphere of the brain is responsible for creativity, it should come as no surprise that activating the right side of your brain helps develop your creative side. Specifically, chess greatly increases originality. One four-year study had students from grades 7 to 9 play chess, use computers, or do other activities once a week for 32 weeks to see which activity fostered the most growth in creative thinking. The chess group scored higher in all measures of creativity, with originality being their biggest area of gain.

5. It improves your memory
Chess players know — as an anecdote — that playing chess improves your memory. Being a good player means remembering how your opponent has operated in the past and recalling moves that have helped you win before. But there’s hard evidence also. In a two-year study in 1985, young students who were given regular opportunities to play chess improved their grades in all subjects, and their teachers noticed better memory and better organizational skills in the kids. A similar study of Pennsylvania sixth-graders found similar results. Students who had never before played chess improved their memories and verbal skills after playing.

6. It increases problem-solving skills
A chess match is like one big puzzle that needs solving, and solving on the fly, because your opponent is constantly changing the parameters. Nearly 450 fifth-grade students were split into three groups in a 1992 study in New Brunswick. Group A was the control group and went through the traditional math curriculum. Group B supplemented the math with chess instruction after first grade, and Group C began the chess in first grade. On a standardized test, Group C’s grades went up to 81.2% from 62% and outpaced Group A by 21.46%.

7. It improves reading skills
In an oft-cited 1991 study, Dr. Stuart Margulies studied the reading performance of 53 elementary school students who participated in a chess program and evaluated them compared to non-chess-playing students in the district and around the country. He found definitive results that playing chess caused increased performance in reading. In a district where the average students tested below the national average, kids from the district who played the game tested above it.

8. It improves concentration
Chess masters might come off like scattered nutty professors, but the truth is their antics during games are usually the result of intense concentration that the game demands and improves in its players. Looking away or thinking about something else for even a moment can result in the loss of a match, as an opponent is not required to tell you how he moved if you didn’t pay attention. Numerous studies of students in the U.S., Russia, China, and elsewhere have proven time and again that young people’s ability to focus is sharpened with chess.

9. It grows dendrites
Dendrites are the tree-like branches that conduct signals from other neural cells into the neurons they are attached to. Think of them like antennas picking up signals from other brain cells. The more antennas you have and the bigger they are, the more signals you’ll pick up. Learning a new skill like chess-playing causes dendrites to grow. But that growth doesn’t stop once you’ve learned the game; interaction with people in challenging activities also fuels dendrite growth, and chess is a perfect example.

10. It teaches planning and foresight
Having teenagers play chess might just save their lives. It goes like this: one of the last parts of the brain to develop is the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for planning, judgment, and self-control. So adolescents are scientifically immature until this part develops. Strategy games like chess can promoteprefrontal cortex development and help them make better decisions in all areas of life, perhaps keeping them from making a stupid, risky choice of the kind associated with being a teenager.

This article was cross-posted with permission from OnlineCourses.com.

Security Matters: Motivating People by Building Trust

4 09 2013


Posted by 

ImageI fly a lot in my work and, for the most part, I don’t mind the TSA security lines, high-priced airport food, delayed and cancelled flights or even the lack of legroom in coach.

But there is one part of flying that has grown quite “old” and boring to me:  the safety announcements.  If you’ve heard one, you’ve literally heard them all (unless you’re lucky enough to fly Southwest and get acomedian or rapper as your head flight attendant).

The safety announcements–whether by mouth, audiotape or video–rarely catch my attention anymore. I pretty much know exit locations, how to buckle my seat belt and what to do “in the unlikely event of a loss in cabin pressure.”  And, no, it’s not to scream like a little girl!

And yet, these safety announcements are incredibly important, even for experienced travelers who can rattle off the announcement in their sleep.

But that’s how most of us approach security.  It rarely means anything until there’s smoke, strange sounds or screams.  We need to experience insecurity to appreciate security.

One day my son Ryan surprised my wife and I with the revelation that he had discovered what women really want.

“Okay, son,” I inquired, “what do women really want?”

“Simple,” he replied, “They want security.”

“Security?” I said, pausing to reflect and see if mother and sister agreed (they nodded approvingly).  As I mulled over his answer, I was struck by the maturity of my son. He was right.  Deep down, every woman hungers for security.  She wants to be physically and emotionally safe.  And men do too!

But this sudden wisdom only scratched my curiosity.  How did my son know this truth?  How could a young boy reveal such a wonderful insight?

I had to know his thought process!  How did he know this?

“So tell me, son,” I asked further, “how do you know women want security?”

Not missing a beat, my son shot back, “It’s easy, dad. Every time I enter a room full of women I always hear them yell for security!”  

I can hear you laughing and that’s good.  It’s a funny joke.  However, the truth is there too: we all need to be safe and secure!  The most basic of needs are those related to physical safety (food, drink, sleep) and emotional security.  When workplaces, classrooms and homes are riddled with insecurity (financial questions, emotional conflict, physical discomfort, mental mistakes, spiritual disharmony ) it creates discord, doubt and dysfunction.

In fact, without security all other human needs (belonging, control, self-worth, freedom, pleasure) will fail.  People need to be comfortable, competent and confident.

Security creates trust.  And trust is essential to self-motivation.

Six Ways To Motivate Students To Learn

3 09 2013

 | September 2, 2013 | 




Scientific research has provided us with a number of ways to get the learning juices flowing, none of which involve paying money for good grades. And most smart teachers know this, even without scientific proof.

1.   Fine-tune the challenge. We’re most motivated to learn when the task before us is matched to our level of skill: not so easy as to be boring, and not so hard as to be frustrating. Deliberately fashion the learning exercise so that students are working at the very edge of your abilities, and keep upping the difficulty as they improve.

2.  Start with the question, not the answer. Memorizing information is boring. Discovering the solution to a puzzle is invigorating. Present material to be learned not as a fait accompli, but as a live question begging to be explored.

3.   Encourage students to beat their personal best. Some learning tasks, like memorizing the multiplication table or a list of names or facts, are simply not interesting in themselves. Generate motivation by encouraging students to compete against themselves: run through the material once to establish a baseline, then keep track of how much they improve (in speed, in accuracy) each time.

4.   Connect abstract learning to concrete situations. Adopt the case-study method that has proven so effective for business, medical and law school students: apply abstract theories and concepts to a real-world scenario, using these formulations to analyze and make sense of situations involving real people and real stakes.

5.   Make it social. Put together a learning group, or have students find learning partners with whom they can share their moments of discovery and points of confusion. Divide the learning task into parts, and take turns being teacher and pupil. The simple act of explaining what they’re learning out loud will help them understand and remember it better.

6.   Go deep. Almost any subject is interesting once you get inside it. Assign the task of becoming the world’s expert on one small aspect of the material they have to learn—then extend their new expertise outward by exploring how the piece they know so well connects to all the other pieces they need to know about.

12 Comedian Quotes for When Your Job Makes You Want to Cry

27 08 2013

That motivation might come from an unexpected place, like the words of comedians. Funny folks like Amy Poehler and Louis C.K. might seem more likely to tickle your funny bone than inspire your thoughts, but if you stop laughing for a moment, you might learn something.

Even if you’re not looking to switch careers or aren’t quite ready to take a job leap, these 12 quotes should at least inspire you to be a slightly better version of you today.

  • 1.

  • 2.

  • 3.

  • 4.

  • 5.

  • 6.

  • 7.

  • 8.

  • 9.

  • 10.

  • 11.

  • 12.


That’s How the Fight Started!!!

23 07 2013
These are hilarious…well worth the read!
My wife and I were watching Who Wants To Be A Millionaire while we were in bed.<br />
I turned to her and said, ‘Do you want to have Sex?’<br />
‘No,’ she answered.<br />
I then said, ‘Is that your final answer?’</p>
<p>… She didn’t even look at me this time, simply saying, ‘Yes..’<br />
So I said, "Then I’d like to phone a friend."</p>
<p>And that’s when the fight started…</p>
<p>I took my wife to a restaurant.</p>
<p>The waiter, for some reason, took my order first.</p>
<p>"I’ll have the rump steak, rare, please."<br />
He said, "Aren’t you worried about the mad cow?"<br />
"Nah, she can order for herself."</p>
<p>And that’s when the fight started…..</p>
<p>My wife and I were sitting at a table at her high school<br />
reunion, and she kept staring at a drunken man swigging his<br />
drink as he sat alone at a nearby table.</p>
<p>I asked her, "Do you know him?"<br />
"Yes", she sighed,<br />
"He’s my old boyfriend. I understand he took to drinking<br />
right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear he<br />
hasn’t been sober since."</p>
<p>"My God!" I said, "Who would think a person could go on<br />
celebrating that long?"</p>
<p>And then the fight started…</p>
<p>When our lawn mower broke and wouldn’t run, my wife kept hinting to me that I should get it fixed.<br />
But, somehow I always had something else to take care of first, the shed, the boat,<br />
making beer.. Always something more important to me.</p>
<p>Finally she thought of a clever way to make her point.<br />
When I arrived home one day, I found her seated in the tall grass, busily snipping away with a tiny pair of sewing<br />
scissors. I watched silently for a short time and then went into<br />
the house. I was gone only a minute, and when I came out again<br />
I handed her a toothbrush.</p>
<p>I said, "When you finish cutting the<br />
grass, you might as well sweep the driveway."</p>
<p>The doctors say I will walk again, but I will always have a limp.</p>
<p>My wife sat down next to me as I was flipping channels.<br />
She asked, "What’s on TV?"<br />
I said, "Dust."</p>
<p>And then the fight started…</p>
<p>Saturday morning I got up early, quietly dressed, made my lunch, and slipped quietly into the garage. I hooked up the<br />
boat up to the van and proceeded to back out into a torrential<br />
downpour. The wind was blowing 50 mph, so I pulled back into the garage, turned on the radio, and discovered that the weather<br />
would be bad all day.</p>
<p>I went back into the house, quietly undressed, and slipped back into bed. I cuddled up to my wife’s back;<br />
now with a different anticipation,<br />
and whispered, "The weather out there is terrible."</p>
<p>My loving wife of 5 years replied, "And, can you believe my stupid husband is out fishing in that?"</p>
<p>And that’s how the fight started…</p>
<p>My wife was hinting about what she wanted for our upcoming anniversary.<br />
She said, "I want something shiny that goes from 0 to 150 in about 3 seconds."</p>
<p>I bought her a bathroom scale.</p>
<p>And then the fight started……</p>
<p>After retiring, I went to the Social Security office to apply<br />
for Social Security. The woman behind the counter asked me </p>
<p>for my driver’s License to verify my age. I looked in my pockets </p>
<p>and realized I had left my wallet at home. I told the woman that </p>
<p>I was very sorry, but I would have to go home and come back later.</p>
<p>The woman said, ‘Unbutton your shirt’.<br />
So I opened my shirt revealing my curly silver hair.</p>
<p>She said, ‘That silver hair on your chest is proof enough for me’ and she processed my Social Security application.</p>
<p>When I got home, I excitedly told my wife about my experience at the Social Security office.</p>
<p>She said, ‘You should have dropped<br />
your pants. You might have gotten disability too.’</p>
<p>And then the fight started…</p>
<p>My wife was standing nude, looking in the bedroom mirror.</p>
<p>She was not happy with what she saw and said to me,<br />
"I feel horrible; I look old, fat and ugly. I really need you<br />
to pay me a compliment.’</p>
<p>I replied, "Your eyesight’s damn near perfect."</p>
<p>And then the fight started……..</p>
<p>I rear-ended a car this morning…the start of a REALLY bad day!</p>
<p>The driver got out of the other car, and he was a DWARF!!<br />
He looked up at me and said ‘I am NOT Happy!’<br />
So I said, ‘Well, which one ARE you then?’</p>
<p>That’s how the fight started.</p>
<p>One year, I decided to buy my mother-in-law a cemetery plot<br />
as a Christmas gift…</p>
<p>The next year, I didn’t buy her a gift.<br />
When she asked me why, I replied,<br />
"Well, you still haven’t used the gift I bought you last year!"</p>
<p>And that’s how the fight started.” src=”<a href=https://fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/1004646_10151760621876154_1682477245_n.jpg&#8221; width=”350″ height=”258″ />

My wife and I were watching Who Wants To Be A Millionaire while we were in bed. I turned to her and said, ‘Do you want to have Sex?’ ‘No,’ she answered. I then …said, ‘Is that your final answer?’
… She didn’t even look at me this time, simply saying, ‘Yes..’ So I said, “Then I’d like to phone a friend.”
And that’s when the fight started…
I took my wife to a restaurant.
The waiter, for some reason, took my order first.
“I’ll have the rump steak, rare, please.” He said, “Aren’t you worried about the mad cow?” “Nah, she can order for herself.”
And that’s when the fight started…..
My wife and I were sitting at a table at her high school reunion, and she kept staring at a drunken man swigging his drink as he sat alone at a nearby table.
I asked her, “Do you know him?” “Yes”, she sighed, “He’s my old boyfriend. I understand he took to drinking right after we split up those many years ago, and I hear he hasn’t been sober since.”
“My God!” I said, “Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?”
And then the fight started…
When our lawn mower broke and wouldn’t run, my wife kept hinting to me that I should get it fixed. But, somehow I always had something else to take care of first, the shed, the boat, making beer.. Always something more important to me.
Finally she thought of a clever way to make her point. When I arrived home one day, I found her seated in the tall grass, busily snipping away with a tiny pair of sewing scissors. I watched silently for a short time and then went into the house. I was gone only a minute, and when I came out again I handed her a toothbrush.
I said, “When you finish cutting the grass, you might as well sweep the driveway.”
The doctors say I will walk again, but I will always have a limp.
My wife sat down next to me as I was flipping channels. She asked, “What’s on TV?” I said, “Dust.”
And then the fight started…
Saturday morning I got up early, quietly dressed, made my lunch, and slipped quietly into the garage. I hooked up the boat up to the van and proceeded to back out into a torrential downpour. The wind was blowing 50 mph, so I pulled back into the garage, turned on the radio, and discovered that the weather would be bad all day.
I went back into the house, quietly undressed, and slipped back into bed. I cuddled up to my wife’s back; now with a different anticipation, and whispered, “The weather out there is terrible.”
My loving wife of 5 years replied, “And, can you believe my stupid husband is out fishing in that?”
And that’s how the fight started…
My wife was hinting about what she wanted for our upcoming anniversary. She said, “I want something shiny that goes from 0 to 150 in about 3 seconds.”
I bought her a bathroom scale.
And then the fight started……
After retiring, I went to the Social Security office to apply for Social Security. The woman behind the counter asked me
for my driver’s License to verify my age. I looked in my pockets
and realized I had left my wallet at home. I told the woman that
I was very sorry, but I would have to go home and come back later.
The woman said, ‘Unbutton your shirt’. So I opened my shirt revealing my curly silver hair.
She said, ‘That silver hair on your chest is proof enough for me’ and she processed my Social Security application.
When I got home, I excitedly told my wife about my experience at the Social Security office.
She said, ‘You should have dropped your pants. You might have gotten disability too.’
And then the fight started…
I rear-ended a car this morning…the start of a REALLY bad day!
The driver got out of the other car, and he was a DWARF!! He looked up at me and said ‘I am NOT Happy!’ So I said, ‘Well, which one ARE you then?’
That’s how the fight started.
One year, I decided to buy my mother-in-law a cemetery plot as a Christmas gift…
The next year, I didn’t buy her a gift. When she asked me why, I replied, “Well, you still haven’t used the gift I bought you last year!”
And that’s how the fight started.

When the World Has Got You Down…

29 06 2013

Put things in perspective.

Move ahead in a positive way;

don’t allow yourself to become mired

in a negative view.

See things for what they really are.

Don’t let the little things get in the way.

Do what you can, however you can,

with the resources you have available

to you.

Don’t sell yourself short;

you have the power within you

to change what needs changing.

Face the situation with the resolve

to remedy it; do what you need to do

to put it behind you.

Move ahead in the direction of happiness:

go for your dreams

and reach for your star.


And remember who’s in

the driver’s seat; you are.


–Collin McCarty

I Believe in You

28 06 2013

I will be posting some motivational letters that appear from I Believe in You edited by Gary Morris published by Blue Mountain Arts.  I hope you find them helpful for you and to give to someone who needs some encouraging motivation.

I Care About You

I may not be the one

with all the answers,

the wisdom, or the power

to make the best decisions in your life.

That power is in your hands,

those decisions are in your heart,

and you’re perfectly capable

of choosing well.

But I am someone who is

always here to listen

and maybe help

those answers appear.

I’m here to wait and hope with you,

to keep you company

and let you know how much I care.

I can’t do everything I wish,

but caring about you

is what I do perfectly.

So I will do what I do best-

care deeply and be here

when you need me.

These are special promises

I can always keep,

and I always will.

- Barbara J. Hall

Quotes about Wonder

23 06 2013


curiosity admiration
spontaneous delight:


Quotes about Wonder:

“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
E.E. Cummings

“The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.”
Anais Nin

“The meaning I picked, the one that changed my life: Overcome fear, behold wonder.”
Richard Bach

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”
Rachel Carson

“I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.”
Gerry Spence


“The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who know it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out can.”
Albert Einstein

Philosophy begins with wonder.
Plato, quoting Socrates

“It was through the feeling of wonder that men now and at first began to philosophize.”

“Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand.”
Neil Armstrong

“Stuff your eyes with wonder … live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”
Ray Bradbury

“Wherever life takes us, there are always moments of wonder.”
Jimmy Carter

“He who wonders discovers that this in itself is wonder.”
M. C. Escher

“All wonder is the effect of novelty on ignorance.”
Samuel Johnson

“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.”
Helen Keller

“The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”
John Muir

A morning glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.
Walt Whitman

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

“If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I would ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.”
Rachel Carson

“There is not a sprig of grass that shoots uninteresting to me.”
Thomas Jefferson


Journeys awaken your sense of wonder

23 06 2013

Posted in Journeys by Seth Barnes on 4/6/2011

From www.sethbarnes.comChildren start out life going on a journey of discovery – they approach the first waterfall, the first rainbow, the first trip to the aquarium with wonder. For an orphan growing up without privileges, it can be as simple as the first trip to a fast food restaurant, the first look in a mirror, the first taste of ice. Their eyes grow wide and they exclaim, “Wow!”

Everything in life is new for a child; they are perpetually in discovery mode. The world hasn’t taught them to be cynical yet. They wake up to a physical reality in the same way that Jesus wants us to wake up to spiritual reality.
God put that sense of wonder in us just as he gave us the gift of laughter and of tears. And he never wants our journey of discovery to stop. Life may have slammed the brakes on it and tied us down with responsibilities that we can’t escape in the short-term. But for many of us, we are freer to leave than we realize. We may make the same sort of excuses that Jesus heard, but deep down, we can’t escape the yearning to continue that journey we started as kids.
Knowing we have much to discover about his kingdom and knowing how hard it is for us to see new things, Jesus emphasized our need to come to him as children: “He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 18:2-3)
It’s easy to get stuck in life’s ruts, places where we’re trapped by past experience, by expectations, by relationships. Parts of the brain and spirit actually atrophy there. We need to break free – we need to get out of those places of immobility and limited imagination. We need to bungee jump something, trek somewhere; we need to cross a river on an elephant – our spirits cry out for experiences that will challenge us.
Do you need a change of scenery? Different surroundings, different people, different ideas? If something inside you feels stuck and knows there’s more, consider that maybe what you need to do is to go on a journey.

“Never Lose Your Sense of Wonder”

23 06 2013

 “Never Lose Your Sense of Wonder”   by Yeti

As a child my mind was open wide
Seeing many wonders all the time
I had to close it just to survive
At school they tried to break my soul
Doing all the things that I was told
And trying to push me in an automatic life mode
I couldn’t live my life that way
It’s bad for my health
Never lose your sense of wonder
Even if you lose all else
So I took a trip inside my mind And it opened up these eyes which had been blind
I saw wonders I can’t define
Then I lost control and I fell
From this earthly heaven into hell
how long i stayed there, I couldn’t tell
And so I climb up on a lonely ladder
put my heart on the shelf
Never lose your sense of wonder
Even if you lose all else
Love is the key
And only love will set you free
Its all yours now, everything that you need
Go give a little piece to others
Take a piece for yourself
Never lose your sense of wonder
Even if you lose all else
You can keep your sense of wonder
Even if you lose all else

Developing a sense of wonder in young children

23 06 2013

Developing a sense of wonder in young children

by Peter Ernest Haiman

Rachel Carson has written:*

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder   and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision,   that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even   lost before we reach adult­hood. If I had influence with the good fairy,   who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask   that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible   that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom   and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that   are artificial, the alienation from sources of our strength.

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder without any such gift   from the fairies, he needs the companionship of at east one adult who can share   it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live   in. Parents often have a sense of inadequacy when confronted on the one hand   with the eager, sensitive mind of a child and on the other with a world of complex   physical nature, inhabited by a life so various and unfamiliar that it seems   hopeless to reduce it to order and knowledge. In a mood of self-defeat, they   exclaim, “How can I possibly teach my child about nature—why, I   don’t even know one bird from another!”

I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide   him, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds   that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions   of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of   early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been   aroused—a sense of the beautiful; the excitement of the new and the unknown;   a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration, or love—then we wish for knowledge   about the object of our emotional response. Once found, it has lasting meaning.   It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put   him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.” (1965, pp. 42-45)

In recent years, the field of early childhood education, historically a field   fully committed to whole child development, has focused primarily on cognitive   and academic issues. From the point of view of the child, the most important   dynamics of life and learning are emotional and social.

Where are we today in our understanding about the sense of wonder in young   children? What thought and theory have been proposed, and what research has   been done on this centrally important aspect of being?

Is our problem that we have so lost within ourselves the sense of wonder that   we do not value—are even threatened by—its presence in children?   Have we bought the powerful societal messages about which the poet, William   Wordsworth, alluded to so perceptively many years ago when he wrote:

“The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!” (1952, p. 260)


Are we not irritated by experiences outside the timed lockstep of daily living?   That lockstep does seem to offer surety and security to our lives. But does   it really? If so, what is the life that remains? Is it not a bargain with the   devil in which we ensure our survival by repressing our sense of wonder—the   core and meaning of life itself? No wonder then that many adults are so threatened   or annoyed by the spontaneity of young children. No wonder that “for most   of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring   is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood”. How can we, as parents   and teachers, most effectively become the companions that help each child discover   the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in? How do we make sure   that our curriculum fosters and strengthens the sense of wonder in young children?

The sense of wonder is an integral part of every newborn infant. It is possible   when children are free from threats and fears.

Here are some ideas which parents and teachers can use to provide an atmosphere   in which wonder can flourish in children. A sense of wonder is created, nourished,   and sustained when:

  • sensitive adults react in a prompt, responsible, and satisfying way to     the voiced and unvoiced needs of their children.
  • children are well-fed, rested, and allowed ample opportunity to run, jump,     ride, climb, and play.
  • parents have lovingly held and cuddled their child in ways and amounts     that addict not only the child but the parent to their mutual comfort and     joy.
  • the child feels secure in the child-satisfying love and attention of her     parents.
  • parents and other adults who are models for the child regularly show their     surprise, interest, and attraction to the natural world and its happenings—from     the movements of a worm, the wag of a dog’s tail, bubbles popping in     a bath, the shadow cast by the sun, and a spider’s web, to the mold     on an old slice of bread.
  • parents and other adults close to the daily life of the child interact with     the child and her world from evident interest, spontaneous humor, and joy.
  • parents and teachers encourage children freely to experiment, taste, feel,     hear, see, imagine, explore, and get into things that are interesting and     safe.
  • parents and teachers show their pleasure and delight and create novelty     in what otherwise would be life’s daily mundane chores and routines.
  • children see and hear their parents and teachers become engaged and responsively     enlivened when doing such things as reading a story and playing or listening     to music.
  • children safely and playfully enact the stories in their imaginations or     the imaginations of creative, empathetic parents and teachers.
  • children notice that their parents and teachers let themselves get lost     in the fun and creativity of play.
  • parents and teachers find something good about the mistakes children will     make as they grow and learn.
  • children in schools and preschools are influenced by educators who often     ask, rather than teachers who usually tell.
  • teachers and parents are flexible enough to postpone their planned activities     from time to time and let a child’s creative idea or direction lead     the way.
  • children are encouraged to voice their emotions and to talk about their     hurts and fears with attentive, responsive parents and teachers.
  • young children can choose play activities based on their own feelings of     interest and boredom and not the decisions of another person.
  • the efforts of young children are regularly encouraged and prized. Children’s     sense of wonder is damaged and grows weak if their efforts are often met by     adult corrections and criticism.
  • Wonder becomes possible when children can risk being themselves without     there being any risk at all.

* * *

Oh, how I hope and pray that members of NAEYC, in their daily work with young   children and through their local, state, and national organizations, deliberately   choose to become allies of the good fairy. If they do so, it might come to pass   that we may develop, preserve, and enrich a sense of wonder in children—of   all ages.


*Carson, R. (1965). The sense of wonder. New York; Harper & Row.

Wordsworth, W. (1952). The world is too much with us. In 0. Williams (Ed.),   Immortal poems of the English Language. New York; Washington Square Press.

Peter Ernest Haiman, Ph.D., holds graduate degrees in educational psychology   from Case Western Reserve University . Doctor Haiman counsels parents with child/adolescent-rearing   problems. He also works with adults in therapy,

Haiman, P.E. 1991. Viewpoint. Developing a Sense of Wonder in Young Children:   There is More to Early Childhood Education Than Cognitive Development. Young   Children 46 (6): 52-53.

“Reprinted with permission from the National Association for the Education   of Young Children.”

This article was published in Brown University Child and Adolescent Behavior   Letter, 1999.

Have You Lost Your Sense of Wonder?

23 06 2013

Have You Lost Your Sense of Wonder?

By Nancy Swisher October 15, 2008

In this article, Nancy asks you to think about your own sense of wonder.  Is it alive and well?  Or does it need to be activated?

     Flying home to Iowa City after leading a personal transformation program, I witnessed something that inspired me to write this article.  My plane had landed in Detroit, taxied to the gate, and stopped.  Passengers were still seated, waiting for the door to open and for those in the front of the plane to start to exit.  Some began to gather their things.  One young man, who I had noticed earlier because he and his army buddy had walked onto the plane in front of me, began to talk on his cell phone in a tone that could be heard.  He wasn’t talking too loud.  He could be heard because right then no one else was talking.  Soon, his narrative became a focal point for all of those around him.  Rows of people began to stare.
He was sharing with his family—parents, brothers and sisters– (it seemed, from his intimate tone) about his flight.  It was his first. His excitement was palpable. He talked about the clouds, how beautiful they were.  He talked about what it was like to be above the clouds.  He didn’t just say one sentence about the clouds; he described them in detail.  He exclaimed that the speed of the jet was ‘unbelievable!”  He went on and on, articulating in a most amazing way his sense of wonder.  His energy so filled my heart.
I looked around at the others who had begun to stare at him.  Their faces were expressionless.  There were no smiles of recognition or whispers of “isn’t that wonderful.”  Were they seeing what I was seeing?  Maybe if there hadn’t been so many people staring blankly at him, I wouldn’t have noticed them.  But there were probably twenty or so seated and standing all around, their attention fixed on the young man’s description of his first plane ride.
They stared as if they were trying to remember the feeling of wonder this young soldier expressed.  I felt like I was watching a drama take place.  Part of me wanted to start teaching about wonder.  “You have that too,” I wanted to say.  There were no smiles of recognition.  There were only blank, expressionless faces, as if there was nothing extraordinary going on.  But there was something extraordinary going on: a full-out expression of wonderment.
This young soldier had not lost touch with his sense of wonder.  Granted, when we experience something for the first time, it may be easier to access wonder because we are more present in the moment.  But wonder is always available.  It is our nature.  The people with the blank faces have wonder beneath their worry, their thoughts, and their stress.  But it is buried.  Did seeing the soldier make them start to remember their own wonder?   I saw no signs.
Today, I sit out back in the sun.  The sky is bright blue, the kind of clear blue that makes you feel like you can see into infinity itself.  My wonder is with me.  There’s a butterfly, yellow and black, flying high up in the shiny leaves of the beech tree.  It lands.  My gaze meets it.  I allow my consciousness to feel the color yellow, to feel the beauty and the being of the butterfly.  The butterfly is not a thing.  I experience it as a fellow being.  Then comes the hummingbird, suddenly swooping down to the magenta flowers of the Rose-of-Sharon bush.  The tiny metallic green bird darts from flower to flower.  Here I am, completely feeling my sense of wonder.
Does wonder come to us from the outside?  Did the jet plane ride cause the young soldier’s wonder?  Did the butterfly and hummingbird cause my wonder?  No.  Wonder is within us.  Wonder arises from being present, fully in the moment of one’s life.  Presence and wonder go hand in hand.
Some days, I am disconnected from my sense of wonder, just like those observers on the plane.  I have the wonder the young man animated so beautifully, and I have the blankness of the other passengers.  If both were not in me, I would not see it in them.  However, I am grateful for this awareness and know that I have choice over my state of consciousness in any given moment, as do you.
And why is our sense of wonder important to experience?  Through wonder comes a deep knowing that we are always connected to All-That-Is.  Through our sense of wonder comes communication with the natural world, in the form of insight, inspiration, and thoughts that are aligned with our Essence.  Wonder is part of our Guidance system.
Transformational Inquiry When was the last time you experienced your sense of wonder?  How long ago?   Where were you?
Life-Changing Action Step
Create an experiment.  For one week, each day, expect your sense of wonder to make itself known to you.  Look for signs of wonder in others throughout your day.  Be still long enough to find the feeling within yourself.  Take notes at the end of the day. ________________________________________
Nancy Swisher, MA, MFA is a Master Facilitator and Spiritual Life Coach, specializing in guiding people to let go of their limiting beliefs and move into full self-expression by providing an array of leading edge transformational tools.  Visit  her website at www.soulwordscoaching.com to receive her Free interactive essay 6 Ways to Create Love, Peace & Joy Every Day of your Life!  

5 Ideas for Cultivating a Sense of Wonder

23 06 2013

By        Associate Editor

cultivate a sense of wonderReverb 10 is an annual end-of-year project  that helps readers reflect on the old year via a series of prompts. One of 2010′s prompts was “How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?”

This question made me think about cultivating wonder in our lives all the time, from the old year into the new.

Wonder is a magical word, I think. And it’s a word that needs more exploration. We need to explore wonder more often, because as adults, many of us lose our sense of wonder in life. It gets buried under piles of bills, deadlines, responsibilities and housework.

Maybe you think you’re too old, too mature or too sensible to have a sense of wonder.

According to Dictionary.com, wonder means to admire, to be amazed, to be in awe, to marvel. It means something strange or surprising or a remarkable phenomenon.

How often do you marvel at your daily life?


For most of us, it’s a fleeting moment, if at all.

In the movie Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (Julia Roberts) says “I want to go someplace where I can marvel at something,” so she sets off on a life-changing journey through Italy, India and Indonesia.

Of course, I don’t think you have to go that far to find wonder. (If I did, I’d be broke with tons of credit card debt.) In fact, your living room will do just fine.

Here are some of my ideas for cultivating wonder, whether you’re at home or away.

  1. Watch kids play or do anything. Kids approach life with a sense of wonder. Everything is new and bright. Everything is exciting. We can all take a lesson from observing children, from how excited they get with a new toy to how they smile at the simplest things. Apply some of that wonder to your daily life.
  2. Read about creativity. Lately, I’ve been immersed in the topic of creativity. When I think of being creative, I think of being lighthearted, relaxed and passionate. (Yes, passion can be intense, but to me, it’s more excitement than extreme.) I think of having fun and being free. When we’re preoccupied with the quotidian, we forget that.The creativity books currently on my shelf include Sparks of Genius: The 13 Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People by Robert and Michele Root-Bernstein and Creativity Is a Verb: If You’re Alive, You’re Creative by Patti Digh. And, of course, Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird: Instructions on Writing and Life is a classic.But you don’t have to be a writer, a singer, a dancer, poet or a painter to be creative. As Digh writes in her book, “If you’re alive, you’re creative. If you’re alive, you’re an artist.”
  3. Take up photography. You don’t have to buy a fancy-pants camera. Take any camera that you have out for a spin. The quality of the photos really doesn’t matter. Focus on the beauty all around you. I believe that in order to see beauty in ourselves, we must pay attention to the beauty among us. Photographers do an incredible job of finding and capturing the beauty in the smallest of things, in the most mundane of moments, and let’s be honest, in the typically not-so-pretty places. Here are two of my favorite websites to visit for a dose of wonder: 1010 Project and 3191 Miles Apart.
  4. Travel to far-off places. If you can actually afford to do tons of traveling, then great! If not, go to your local library, and check out the section on travel essays. (Though if your library is anything like mine, just go to Amazon.com or your nearest bricks-and-mortar bookstore.)I’m currently reading Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier. The book begins with these lines: “Officially, there is no such place as Siberia. No political or territorial entity has Siberia as its name…During Soviet times, revised maps erased the name entirely, in order to discourage Siberian regionalism.” Now tell me that doesn’t seem at all interesting.OK, maybe it’s just because I’m from Russia.
  5. Learn something. Learning is one of the best ways you can cultivate wonder. You can either dig deeper into topics you’re already familiar with, or take on a totally strange, interesting subject. Right now, I’m also reading the book, The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York. If you’re not a big reader, watch The History Channel or visit a museum or local landmark.Ask yourself: What topics have I always wanted to learn about? What classes did I want to take in high school or college but didn’t have time to? What topics make me happy?

So how do you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life? Or how do you plan on cultivating it?


20 06 2013

Paul Harris

“If you take any activity, any art, any discipline, any skill, take it and push it as far as it has ever been pushed before, push it into the wildest edge of edges, then you force it into the realm of real magic”-Tom Robbins



The magic arena is a place of infinite possibilities and there’s room to play whatever game you want. But just for a moment let’s play the game of pushing the art into the wildest edge of edges.

All right. Here we go. Think back to your first magical encounter. The seed experience that first excited you then compelled you to do magic yourself. Someone did a trick for you that made you gasp. For me it was when my uncle Paul smashed a newspaper-covered glass through a table top. A moment of ecstatic bliss where every thought was pulled from my face leaving nothing more then empty space.

My first instinct was not to hear a joke or to be entertained or to be told a story or to make small talk but to experience that moment again and again. And it’s natural to think if you could learn to do magic yourself, then…well, you could have this experience all the time. But then about three seconds later you realize that it’s fun to know secrets and to do things for people that they can’t figure out. And suddenly you’re out of the astonishment game and into the ego game and with hard work and some good jokes and maybe even into the money game.

So now you’re a long way from home and from that virgin gasp that motivated the journey. And now you’re performing some of your high-entertainment-value effects and despite yourself a profound moment of astonishment is unleashed. It doesn’t happen every time but when the moon is right and the conditions are just so…there it is, a moment of total white-light astonishment. And you look at those astonished faces and maybe you’re not sure what to say, or you feel a little guilty, or a bit uncomfortable because it’s stopped the flow of your show or changed your easy relationship with the audience. Something powerful has happened. But everyone knows its just a trick and you’re “just a magician” so there’s this dysfunctional relationship going on and no one’s sure what to do with this strange experience including yourself.

But in general you’re pretty happy because on some level you realize this is a big win until someone says, “I wish the children were here to see this.” And for a moment you feel your whole game fall apart. Doing magic for children can be glorious. But the frequently voiced opinion that the experience of astonishment is a childish thing makes you wonder about what’s really going on.

If you listen carefully you’ll also hear things like “that made me feel like a child again” or “you made me feel like a little kid at the circus.” And if you think about this, you’ll see that what these astonished adults are really trying to say, even though they’re not consciously aware of it, is that for a brief moment, they experienced a clear, primal state of mind that they associate with a child’s state of mind. Somehow the adult experience of astonishment triggered some feeling of what it felt like to be a child.

I’m going to say this again because it’s so much fun using the italics button: The experience of astonishment is the experience of a clear, primal state of mind that they associate with a child’s state of mind. It’s the same experience that seduced you into performing magic in the first place. And if you follow these footprints it takes you right up to the crumbling edge of everything we think we are…and just beyond to a state of mind we experienced naturally as small children but that society devalued then made taboo as we became adults.

Here’s basically how it works, give or take a few metaphors.

You came into this world a blank slate. No ideas about who you are or what anything is. You’re just being. And it feels great…because there are no options, or opinions or judgments. There is no right or wrong. Everything is everything. That’s what you see in a baby’s eyes. Pure child’s mind. Then, very quickly, we learn stuff. The names of ten thousand things, who we are, what we’re supposed to be, what’s good and bad according to the current rules of the game. And you organize all of this information into little boxes. And when any new information comes along you file it into the appropriate box.

Right now you might be filing these very thoughts into the whack-o ideas box. I understand. You’re just doing your job. You’ve been trained to do this since birth. You have thus created your world-view.

There’s no particular reality to any of this. But it’s in your head and you know the territory and its where all of your thoughts do their thinking. But we quickly forget what was there in the first place because these thousands of little thought-boxes are stacked up so tight that the original clear space of child’s mind is completely covered up. It’s not gone. It’s just blocked by this wall of overstuffed boxes.

And then along comes a focused piece of strange in the form of magical effect. Let’s say this book vanishes from your hands. “Poof” no book. Your trained mind races into action and tries to put this piece of strange into one of its rational boxes. But no box will hold it. At that moment of trying to box the unboxable your world-view breaks up. The boxes are gone. And what’s left? Simply what was always there. Your natural state of mind. That’s the moment of astonishment. The sudden experience of going from boxes to no boxes. If you can keep the fear-response from arising you have the experience of going from a cluttered adult mind to the original clear space. Gee, it almost makes you feel like a kid again.

For most people the moment lasts less then ten seconds. Then because we crave the security of our missing world-view, we quickly build a new box. The “it-went-up-his-sleeve” box or the “it-was-all-done-with-mirrors” box or even the “I-don’t-know-what-happened-but-I-know-it-was-a-trick” box. And that’s all it takes. One thought, one guess, even a wrong one, and the boxes all come back, natural mind gets covered up, and the moment of astonishment is over.

Astonishment is not an emotion that’s created. It’s an existing state that’s revealed.

So what’s the point?

This new model redefines the magician’s valuable role in our culture as an “astonishment guide” who can help others experience their natural state of mind. This is a galactic leap from the magician’s current role as a novelty entertainer, or super con-man or Mr Ego. The centre or magic has always been the therapeutic experience of our natural state of mind. But that primal experience is so powerful and the taboo of “loosing” our mind is so great that we water down the experience with jokes and excuses and “hey, it’s just a trick.”

When the experience of astonishment starts to be recognized as a highly-valued destination, the win/lose magician vs. spectator game starts to dissolve. Suddenly you’re both on the same team…equally responsible for getting the most out of the moment.

More experienced astonishee’s who’ve learned to surrender to the moment and sink into the astonishment will be rewarded with a deeper, more sustained experience. Others who feel compelled to fight the moment or treat it as a puzzle to be figured out will get what they pay for…non-astonishment.

There is a genuine difference in the quality of peoples experience of magic once they understand the new model and take responsibility for the moment. I’ve had the participants who “get it” trying to explain it to those who don’t. One astonishee said it was like the difference of tossing down a beer and savoring a fine wine. Someone else referred to it as “gourmet astonishment.”

This model reshapes the perceptions of people who feel “I was astonished but I know it was just a trick, so what I experienced couldn’t have been real or very valuable.” Because now it’s understood that the astonishment and the tricks are not the same thing. The astonishment is real. It’s a brief flash of our natural state of mind. A place we should all experience more often.

The tricks are helpful tools to help unleash the moment.

You and your astonishee can still have fun and tell jokes and play together, but now there’s an understandable therapeutic value t the game. A definite win for all players.

In a nutshell: You’re using magical illusions to dissolve cultural illusions in order to experience a moment of something real.

The art of astonishment, when pushed into the wildest edge of edges, is the art of doing real magic.

Einstein Quotes on Wonder and the Quest for Learning

19 06 2013

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.
The process of scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder.

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.

It is almost a miracle that modern teaching methods have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for what this delicate little plant needs more than anything, besides stimulation, is freedom.

The search for truth and knowledge is one of the finest attribute of man-though often it is most loudly voiced by those who strive for it the least.

It is not so very important for a person to learn facts.  For that he does not really need college, He can learn them from books.  The value of an education is I liberal Arts College is not the leaning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.

It is my inner conviction that the development of science seeks in the main to satisfy the longing for pure knowledge.

The main source of all technological achievements is the divine curiosity and playful drive of the tinkering and thoughtful researcher, as much as it is the creative imagination of the inventor.

17 06 2013

A reminder to all educators and math teachers.  Comment on how this applies to you.

 If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders.

Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless seas.

    Antoine de Saint-Exupery

An idea from the new workshop of Bob Bishop
Neuro-magical Motivation in the Classroom.
        How do you make “magic” happen in the classroom? What if you could motivate hearts to yearn and minds to learn? What if you could produce engaging learning moments that would build lasting intrinsic motivation in your students? In this workshop Bob Bishop (Idaho’s Math Magician and award winning teacher) will take you on an exciting adventure of state-of-the-art brain research-based strategies that will arouse curiosity, enhance understanding, engage reluctant learners and stimulate under-achievers. Using recent discoveries in neuroscience with how magicians think and perform magic, Bob will teach you the “magic wonder words” and the engaging activities that will make magic happen in your classroom!
Next presentation is at Edufest in Boise State University    see www.edufest.org for details

Six Words You Should Say Today

12 06 2013

Posted on April 16, 2012 by Rachel Macy Stafford

If you have ever experienced an emotional response simply by watching someone you love in action, I’ve got six words for you.

Very rarely does one sentence have immediate impact on me.

Very rarely does one sentence change the way I interact with my family.

But this one did. It was not from Henry Thoreau or some renowned child psychologist. It was a comment from kids themselves. And if I’ve learned anything on this “Hands Free” journey, it is that children are the true experts when it comes to “grasping what really matters.”

Here are the words that changed it all:

“… College athletes were asked what their parents said that made them feel great, that amplified their joy during and after a ballgame. Their overwhelming response: ‘I love to watch you play.’”

The life-changing sentence came at the beginning of an article entitled, “What Makes a Nightmare Sports Parent and What Makes a Great One.” Although I finished reading the entire piece, my eyes went back and searched for that one particular sentence; the one that said, “I love to watch you play.”

I read it exactly five times. And then I attempted to remember all past verbal interactions I had with my kids at the conclusion of their extracurricular activities.

Upon completion of a swim meet, a music recital, a school musical, or even a Sunday afternoon soccer game, had I ever said, “I like to watch you play”?

I could think of many occasions when I encouraged, guided, complimented, and provided suggestions for improvement. Did that make me a nightmare sports parent? No, but maybe sometimes I said more than was needed.

By nature, I am a wordy person—wordy on phone messages (often getting cut off by that intrusive beep) and wordy in writing (Twitter is not my friend).

And although I have never really thought about, I’m pretty sure I’m wordy in my praise, too. I try not to criticize, but when I go into extensive detail about my child’s performance it could be misinterpreted as not being “good enough.”

Could I really just say “I love to watch you play” and leave it at that? And if I did, would my children stand there cluelessly at the next sporting event or musical performance because I had failed to provide all the “extra details” the time before?

Well, I would soon find out. As luck would have it, my 8 year old had a swim meet the day after I read the article.

Her first event was the 25 yard freestyle. At the sound of the buzzer, my daughter exploded off the blocks and effortlessly streamlined beneath the water for an unimaginable amount of time. Her sturdy arms, acting as propellers, emerged from the water driving her body forward at lightning speed. She hadn’t even made it halfway down the lane when I reached up to wipe away one small tear that formed in the corner of my eye.

Since my oldest daughter began swimming competitively two years ago, I have ALWAYS had this same reaction to her first strokes in the first heat. I cry and turn away so no one sees my blubbering reaction.

I cry not because she’s going to come in first.

I cry not because she’s a future Olympian or scholarship recipient.

I cry because she’s healthy; she’s strong; she’s capable.

And I cry because I love to watch her swim.

Oh my. Those six words …

I love to watch her swim.

I had always FELT that way—tearing up at every meet, but I hadn’t said it in so many words … or should I say, in so few words.

After the meet, my daughter and I stood in the locker room together, just the two of us. I wrapped a warm, dry towel around her shivering shoulders. And then I looked into her eyes and said, “I love to watch you swim. You glide so gracefully; you amaze me. I just love to watch you swim.”

Okay, so it wasn’t quite six words, but it was a huge reduction in what I normally would have said. And there was a reaction—a new reaction to my end of the meet “pep talk.”

My daughter slowly leaned into me, resting her damp head against my chest for several seconds, and expelled a heavy sigh.  And in doing so, I swear I could read her mind:

The pressure’s off. She just loves to watch me swim; that is all.

I knew I was onto something.

Several days later, my 5 year old daughter had ukulele practice. It was a big day for her. The colored dots that lined the neck of her instrument since she started playing almost two years ago, were going to be removed. Her instructor believed she was ready to play without the aid of the stickers.

After removing the small blue, yellow, and red circles, her instructor asked her to play the song she has been working on for months, Taylor Swift’s “Ours.”

With no hesitation, my daughter began strumming and singing. I watched as her fingers adeptly found their homes—no need for colorful stickers to guide them.

With a confident smile, my daughter belted out her favorite line, “Don’t you worry your pretty little mind; people throw rocks at things that shine …”

As her small, agile fingers maneuvered the strings with ease, I had to look away. My vision became blurred by the tears that formed. In fact, this emotional reaction happens every time she gets to that line of the song. Every. Single. Time.

I cry not because she has perfect pitch.

I cry not because she is a country music star in the making.

I cry because she is happy; she has a voice; and she is free.

And I cry because I love to watch her play.

I’ll be damned if I hadn’t told her this in so many words … or rather, in so few words.

My child and I exited the room upon the completion of her lesson. As we walked down the empty hallway, I knew what needed to be said.

I bent down, looking straight into the blue eyes sheltered behind pink spectacles and said, “I love to watch you play your ukulele. I love to hear you sing.”

It went against my grain to not elaborate, but I said nothing about the dots, nothing about the notes, and nothing about her pitch. This was a time to simply leave it at that.

My child’s face broke into her most glorious smile—the one that causes her eyes to scrunch up and become little slices of joy. And then she did something I didn’t expect. She threw herself against me, wrapped her arms tightly around my neck, and whispered, “Thank you, Mama.”

And in doing so, I swear I could read her mind:

The pressure’s off. She loves to hear me play; that is all.  

Given the overwhelmingly positive reactions of my daughters when presented with the short and sweet “I love to watch you play” remark, I knew I had a new mantra. Not that I would say it like a robot upon command or without reason, but I would say it when I FELT it—when tears come unexpectedly to my eyes or when suddenly I look down and see goosebumps on my arms.

Pretty soon I found myself saying things like:

“I love to watch you read.”

“I love to watch you swing across the monkey bars.”

“I love to watch you gently admire God’s smallest creatures.”

“I love to watch you love your baby cousin.”

I now know how important it is to say it—say it simply—in moments when I feel that heart palpitating kind of love that comes solely from watching another human being who I adore.

Now at this point, I could wrap up this story with a nice, tidy, Kleenex-required ending, but living “Hands Free” means taking it a step further, going outside the comfort zone.

And it struck me that there is one other person to which this new mantra could apply. It hit me when this person, donned with white bandage on his arm from giving blood, was hoisting a large trashbag as we cleaned the art room at a center for residents with autism.

I watched him, my husband, from the corner of the room where I was dusting shelves with my youngest child. Embarrassingly, I had to turn away so no one saw me tear up. In that moment, I reflected on other recent events where I had been going about my business and had to stop to take pause. Moments when I stopped to watch my husband in action simply to admire the loving person, the devoted husband, and caring father he is.

But had I ever told him in so few words?

It was time.

And since writing is much easier for me than speaking, I wrote my observations down. There were no long-winded paragraphs or flowery descriptions, just words of love, plain and simple:

I love watching you help our daughter learn to roller skate.

I love watching you teach her how to throw the football.

I love watching you help your employees in times of need or uncertainty.

I love watching you interact with your brother and sister.

I love watching you read side by side with our daughters.

I love watching you laugh.

I love watching you love our family.

I typed up his note and plan to give it to him when we have a quiet moment together this weekend. I don’t know what his reaction will be, but it doesn’t matter. I feel these things, so I should say these things.

When simply watching someone makes your heart feel as if it could explode right out of your chest, you really should let that person know.

It is as simple and lovely as that.


The next time you feel the need to guide, instruct, or criticize after a ball game, performance, or extracurricular activity, instead consider six simple words: “I love to watch you play.”

Furthermore, if you become emotional simply by watching someone you love in action, consider these six words, “I love to watch you _______.“

In some cases, less is more.

Less can be exactly what they need to hear. No pressure … just love, pure and simple.

 * For continued inspiration and tips on how to grasp the moments in life that matter, check out The Hands Free Revolution on Facebook. Your support is greatly appreciated! 

Here are some great motivations from http://www.brainyquote.com/

10 06 2013

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
Dalai Lama


Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.
Norman Vincent Peale


If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.
Jim Rohn


 After a storm comes a calm.
Matthew Henry


A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.
Ayn Rand


If you’re going through hell, keep going.
Winston Churchill


// // Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.
Thomas A. Edison


You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
C. S. Lewis


Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later.
Og Mandino


The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.


With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.
Eleanor Roosevelt


Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.
Wayne Dyer


I don’t believe you have to be better than everybody else. I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be.
Ken Venturi



Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.
Alfred A. Montapert


Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
Helen Keller



Always continue the climb. It is possible for you to do whatever you choose, if you first get to know who you are and are willing to work with a power that is greater than ourselves to do it.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now.
Denis Waitley


If you can dream it, you can do it.
Walt Disney


Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.
Thomas Jefferson


The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.


Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.
Victor Kiam


By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
Benjamin Franklin


You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.
Albert Einstein


Either you run the day or the day runs you.
Jim Rohn

19 Top Ideas for Education in Drive by Daniel Pink

8 06 2013

January 5, 2011

 Drive the Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. 2009. by Daniel Pink I finally finished Drive, by Daniel Pink. Since I had read so many reviews about the book, seen the video (below), and engaged in many education discussions about motivation, I felt like I knew the book before I started. I am glad that I read the whole book to fill in what I’d been missing. Drive contains enough that is important to the current discussions of education that one more blog post about it is worth the effort (if I may say so myself). Clearly this book has a ton of ideas relevant to education. I’ll start by repeating Pink’s own twitter summary of the book: “Carrots & sticks are so last century. Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery & purpose.” (p 203) In this era of education reform focused on carrots and sticks (seems like mostly sticks right now), I wish more ‘edreformers’ would listen to this idea. (At the end of this post, I embedded a nifty video from RSA Animate that does a wonderful job summarizing the book.) A large section of the book focuses on how goals work in the age of creative thought-based tasks. I have culled out a few nuggets followed by my commentary (page numbers refer to 2009 hardback).


1. “Routine, not-so-interesting jobs require direction; non-routine, more intersting work depends on self-direction.” (p 32)

Obvious education connections.

2. “An incentive designed to clarify thinking and sharpen creativity ended up clouding thinking and dulling creativity. Why? Rewards, by their very nature, narrow our focus.” (p 44)

How many times have we educators offered more points on an assignment to those students who will be creative in their project. Maybe we shouldn’t.

3. “By neglecting the ingredients of genuine motivation — autonomy, mastery, and purpose — they limit what each of us can achieve.” (p 49)

When we apply these ingredients to students and teachers we get exciting results. We get people who are invested in what they are doing.

4. “The problem with making an extrinsic reward the only destination that matters is that some people will choose the quickest route there, even if it means taking the low road.” (p 51) 5. “The only route to the destination is the high road.” (p 51) 6. “Goals may cause systematic problems for organizations due to narrowed focus, unethical behavior, increased risk taking, decreased cooperation, and decreased intrinsic motivation. Use care when applying goals in your organization.” (p 51)

Most schools and books about education argue for setting goals. Are we using enough care?

Clearly the current flavor of Ed Reform is using goals to try to get results. Anyone who has been involved in schools in recent years will tell you we also have:

    • a narrowed focus
    • some unethical behavior (cases of cheating or mis-respresenting statistics)
    • a massive decrease in intrinsic motivation – many teachers talk about the joy being tested out of teaching

7. “By offering a reward, a principal signals to the agent that the task is undesirable. (If the task were desirable, the agent wouldn’t need a prod.)” (p 54)

Obvious classroom management and parenting ramifications to this idea. So many of us use complex rewards systems in class. Time to stop.

8. “But introducing an “if-then” reward to help develop mastery usually backfires. That’s why schoolchildren who are paid to solve problems typically choose easier problems and therefore learn less. The short-term prize crowds out the long-term learning.” (p 58)

There are whole districts who use reward systems to boost short-term test scores and claim great success.

Once the reward disappears why continue learning? Are the students really learning anything or just getting good at test-taking?

9. “Positive feedback can have an enhancing effect on intrinsic motivation.” (p 67)

A kind word goes a long way. Written praise goes even further.

10. “We should focus our efforts on creating environments for our innate psychological needs to flourish.” (p 72) Pink goes on to discuss the meaning and importance of autonomy and mastery in motivation. 11. “It requires resisting the temptation to control people — and instead doing everything we can to reawaken their deep-seated sense of autonomy.” (p 89)

Most educators that I know are control freaks. Giving up some of that is quite challenging yet so rewarding.

12. “Yet in our offices and classrooms we have way too much compliance and way too little engagement.” (p 112)

Standards-based grading should help with this.

13. “In flow, people lived so deeply in the moment, and felt so utterly in control, that their sense of time, place, and even self melted away.”

This sounds like ‘Being There’ from the Fish Philosophy. When we can be in flow during people focused activities, we will really make those people feel a sense of belonging. There are days in school when I focused so tightly on the students and staff that I was in the flow. I lost all sense of what else could be happening in the world. Often, my wife would call to bring me back (literally) because I lost track of time.

14. “…’Goldilocks tasks’ — challenges that are not too hot and not too cold, neither overly difficult nor overly simple.” (p 118)

We need this in the classroom as differentiated instruction. Maybe technology will help make the workload more manageable. Maybe additional staffing could do it. Maybe a whole new system. We have a lot of work left on this.

15. ”The young people recognized that setbacks were inevitable on the road to mastery and that they could even be guideposts for the journey.” (p 123) 16. “The best predictor of success, the researchers found, was the prospective cadets’ ratings on a noncognitive, non-physical trait known as ‘grit’ — defined as ‘perseverance and passion for long-term goals.’” (p 124) 17. “‘Being a professional is doing the things you love to do, on the days you don’t feel like doing them.’  -Julius Erving” (p 125)

I’d add that a pro must also do the things he hates on the day he doesn’t feel like doing them if they are part of the job. As teachers, we could work to eliminate boring, meaningless activities so that students can have an easier time working on things they love.

18. “Mastery is an asymptote.” “Mastery is impossible to realize fully.” “Why not reach for it?”

First, I love the word asymptote. Cool word. Second, I am reading Mindset by Carol Dweck, as mentioned by Pink, to learn more about how to help people (myself included) want to reach. Third, as soon as we think we have nothing left to achieve, we will start drifting away from mastery. Like Pink writes about famous athletes, we can always get better. This might be most important to the already high achieving schools that don’t seem to want to improve.

19. ”Children careen from one flow moment to another, animated by a sense of joy, equipped with a mindset of possibility, and working with the dedication of a West Point cadet. They use their brains and their bodies to probe and draw feedback from the environment in an endless pursuit of mastery.”

Now, we just have to guide them to the learning and let their natural flow do what it does best.

The last section of the book, the Toolkit, contains several practical steps for individuals, organizations, and schools. I was most interested in the following three toolkit items:

* Three-part Type I Test for Homework * Autonomy over how and when to do the work? * Does the assignment promote mastery by offering a novel, engaging task? * Do my students understand the purpose of this assignment? * FedEx or 20% time for the students * Offer praise…The Right Way * Praise effort and strategy, not intelligence * Make praise specific * Praise in private * Offer praise only when there’s a good reason

Drive is an important look at motivation in a time when those in charge of the education reform discussion are pushing extrinsic motivators that do not work for teachers. I’d like all those involved in Ed Reform to understand the ideas in Drive; maybe then, they would change their tunes and begin thinking about what is really good for children.

For a great summary of the book, please watch this video:

cross posted to Principal’s Point of View.

Related articles

Travel Quotes

6 06 2013

Travel Quotes

Here are a few of my favorite travel quotes. Feel free to send me new ones and I’ll gladly post them. Travel Quotes

Dont take life too seriously…no one comes out alive.

- Elbert Hubbard

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.

- Lao Tzu

He who knows that he has enough, will always have enough.

- Lao Tzu

Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth.

- Buddha

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

- Lao Tzu

We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope.

- Edward Abbey

My greatest skill has been to want little.

- Henry David Thoreau

Always do what you are afraid to do.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.

- Helen Keller

The fearful are caught as often as the bold.

- Helen Keller

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

- Helen Keller

We will not cease from our exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

- T.S. Elliot

Travel is not really about leaving our homes, but leaving our habits.

- Pico Iyer

Not all those who wander are lost.

- JRR Tolkien

If you don’t know where you are going, any road will lead you there.

- George Harrison

A journey is best measured in friends, not in miles.

- Tim Cahill

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty & well preserved body; but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a ride!’

- Hunter S. Thompson

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.

- Miriam Beard

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste it, to experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.

- Eleanor Roosevelt

All things considered, there are only two kinds of men in the world: those that stay at home and those that do not.

- Rudyard Kipling

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

- Confucius

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.

- Paul Theroux

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.

- Aldous Huxley

The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.

- Rudyard Kipling

And forget not that the Earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.

- Kahlil Gibran

Nobody comes back from a journey the way they started it.

- Unknown

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.

- G.K. Chesterton

Top 25 Quotes from Princess Bride

5 06 2013

25. Rhymes with Peanut
Inigo Montoya: That Vizzini, he can fuss.
Fezzik: Fuss, fuss… I think he like to scream at us.
Inigo Montoya: Probably he means no harm.
Fezzik: He’s really very short on charm.
Inigo Montoya: You have a great gift for rhyme.
Fezzik: Yes, yes, some of the time.
Vizzini: Enough of that.
Inigo Montoya: Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?
Fezzik: If there are, we all be dead.
Vizzini: No more rhymes now, I mean it.
Fezzik: Anybody want a peanut?

24. The Queen of Refuse
The Ancient Booer: Your true love lives. And you marry another. True Love saved her in the Fire Swamp, and she treated it like garbage. And that’s what she is, the Queen of Refuse. So bow down to her if you want, bow to her. Bow to the Queen of Slime, the Queen of Filth, the Queen of Putrescence. Boo. Boo. Rubbish. Filth. Slime. Muck. Boo. Boo. Boo.

23. The book shows promise
Grandpa: Westley didn’t reach his destination. His ship was attacked by the Dread Pirate Roberts, who never left captives alive. When Buttercup got the news that Westley was murdered…
The Grandson: Murdered by pirates is good.

22. The odds in your favor
Fezzik: We face each other as God intended. Sportsmanlike. No tricks, no weapons, skill against skill alone.
Man in Black: You mean, you’ll put down your rock and I’ll put down my sword, and we’ll try and kill each other like civilized people?
Fezzik: [brandishing rock] I could kill you now.
Man in Black: Frankly, I think the odds are slightly in your favor at hand fighting.
Fezzik: It’s not my fault being the biggest and the strongest. I don’t even exercise.

21. Dying with dignity
Fezzik: I just want you to feel you’re doing well. I hate for people to die embarrassed.

20. A pirate gone soft
Buttercup: You mock my pain!
Man in Black: Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.

19. Decent fellows
Inigo Montoya: You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you.
The Man in Black: You seem a decent fellow. I hate to die.

18. A spoonful of sugar
Valerie: The chocolate coating makes it go down easier. But you have to wait fifteen minutes for full potency. And you shouldn’t go in swimming after, for at least, what?
Miracle Max: An hour?
Valerie: Yeah, an hour.

17. To the pain
Westley: To the pain means the first thing you will lose will be your feet below the ankles. Then your hands at the wrists. Next your nose.
Prince Humperdinck: And then my tongue I suppose, I killed you too quickly the last time. A mistake I don’t mean to duplicate tonight.
Westley: I wasn’t finished. The next thing you will lose will be your left eye followed by your right.
Prince Humperdinck: And then my ears, I understand let’s get on with it.
Westley: Wrong! Your ears you keep and I’ll tell you why. So that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish. Every babe that weeps at your approach, every woman who cries out, “Dear God! What is that thing,” will echo in your perfect ears. That is what to the pain means. It means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery forever.

16. It’ll take a miracle
Miracle Max and Valerie: Have fun stormin’ da castle.

15. Career choices
Inigo Montoya: I just work for Vizzini to pay the bills. There’s not a lot of money in revenge.

14. The pick-up line
Prince Humperdinck: Please consider me as an alternative to suicide.

13. The to-do list
Prince Humperdinck: Tyrone, you know how much I love watching you work, but I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped.
Count Rugen: Get some rest. If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.

12. Ewwwww…
The Grandson: They’re kissing again. Do we have to read the kissing parts?

11. Giant dreams
Man in Black: I do not envy you the headache you will have when you awake. But for now, rest well and dream of large women.

10. True love is like a sandwhich
Miracle Max: Sonny, true love is the greatest thing, in the world-except for a nice MLT – mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. They’re so perky, I love that.

9. The clueless king
The King: [after Buttercup kisses him] What was that for?
Buttercup: Because you’ve always been so kind to me, and I’ll never see you again, because I’m killing myself as soon as we reach the bridal suite.
The King: Won’t that be nice? She kissed me! Ha!

8. The frog in the throat
The Albino: [raspy voice] The Pit of Despair! Don’t even think… [clears throat] … don’t even think about trying to escape.

7. The fair giant
Vizzini: Finish him. Finish him, your way.
Fezzik: Oh good, my way. Thank you Vizzini… what’s my way?
Vizzini: Pick up one of those rocks, get behind a boulder, in a few minutes the man in black will come running around the bend, the minute his head is in view, hit it with the rock.
Fezzik: My way’s not very sportsman-like.

6. The end
The Grandson: Grandpa, maybe you could come over and read it again to me tomorrow.
Grandpa: As you wish.

5. Westley’s return from the dead
Westley: There’s a shortage of perfect breasts in this world. It would be a pity to damage yours.

4. Inconceivable!
Vizzini: He didn’t fall?! Inconceivable!
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

3. The battle of wits
Vizzini: You fell victim to one of the classic blunders—the most famous of which is, “Never get involved in a land war in Asia”—but only slightly less well-known is this: “Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line”! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha…[thunk].

2. The wedding
The Impressive Clergyman: Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder tooday. Mawage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam… And wuv, tru wuv, will fowow you foweva… So tweasure your wuv.
Prince Humperdinck: Skip to the end.
The Impressive Clergyman: Have you the wing?

1. Inigo Montoya kills Count Rugen
Inigo Montoya: Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father! Prepare to die!
Count Rugen: Stop saying that!
Inigo Montoya: Offer me money.
Count Rugen: Yes!
Inigo Montoya: Power, too, promise me that.
Count Rugen: All that I have and more. Please…
Inigo Montoya: Offer me anything I ask for.
Count Rugen: Anything you want…
Inigo Montoya: I want my father back, you son of a ……!

Success Principles: lessons from board games that will serve us well in life and business

25 05 2013

 by Adrian Shepherd

I have always loved games.

I enjoyed playing Mario Brothers back in the day and in my 20s I got into some PC games such as F.E.A.R. and Crysis but, for me, there’s nothing like a good board game.

Board games are so much more than games. They are social events. I still remember the laughter and excitement of our sitting around the dinner table with my family and friends and being engrossed in a game.

Some I was a natural at – like Connect 4. I have no idea why but I just got it. From the age of 8 my parents stopped playing with me but it wasn’t for till a year or so later that I found out why. I remember asking my parents “How come we don’t play Connect 4 anymore?” I have never forgotten my father’s answer, “You just got too good. Your mom and I just can’t beat you.” And that was that.

Others I had to work hard at. My parents used to slaughter me at Boggle but I just kept at it and one day things just clicked. From that day on I was pretty much unbeatable.

Scrabble is another game that I struggled with but over the years I got better and could at least give my parents a run for their money. I may have only won once but it was a day I’ll never forget.

I had always thought I was good at Monopoly till I played my cousins in Switzerland where they took me to the cleaners, but I’ll get to that later.

Then there are those games that I’ve never been able to figure out. Othello being one. For the life of me, I just don’t get the strategy of Othello. Despite having played over 100 games I have yet to win a single one.

So how do board games relate to life and business?

Here is a short list:

  • You can’t win every time
  • Strategy is more important than your position
  • Some games we’ll never understand
  • Even when you think you know everything, you can still learn more
  • Never underestimate your competition
  • Sometimes people cheat
  • Understand the rules if you want to win
  • The competition sometimes wants to win more than you
  • Luck does play a small part

Let’s take a look at each one individually.

You can’t win every time

The thing about board games is that it’s you versus the other players. As such someone will win, and other people will lose. This is obvious in the business world because companies that make mistakes will often pay the price. Each year there are companies that go belly up which creates a vacuum which their competitors fill.

There is no such thing as batting 1000. Even the great Babe Ruth struck out 7 times out of 10 times at bat.

Accepting that failure is just part of the game of life is important because it allows to have faith even when things seem at their worst.

Strategy is more important than your position

Too many of us think that life and business is all about where you start out. Your educational background, your socio-economic status, your environment, your friends, and the like but we have all heard of those people who were multi-millionaires only to lose it all. It’s not about where you start out or how much money you have but what your strategy is.

A good strategy involves discipline, study, research, and a little bit of elbow grease.

Some games we’ll never understand

Life is full of things that come natural to us, things that we have to work at, and other things that are pretty much mysteries to us.

As each of us is limited to 24 hours a day we must focus our energies on this that we find easy or, at least, understand. That way you’re taking advantage of your natural talents. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try and learn those things that don’t make any sense to you but you must realize that it will be an uphill battle. To get a handle on such things you will most likely have to expend a heck of a lot of energy and invest a serious amount of time.

Think of it this way. If 10 is a professional and 1 is a beginner, then if you have a talent for something you start off at maybe a 6 or 7. If it makes sense but you not great then you’re around a 4. But when it’s like hieroglyphics you’re a 1. Anyone can become a 10 it’s just a difference of how hard it will be to get there.

How can we apply this to our own lives?

In business it means that you should spend time on the things you’re good at or want to learn but those things that you find incomprehensible it might make more sense to figure a work-around solution. Say you are good at numbers while your coworker is better at dealing with customers. If you’re asked to deal with a customer then you might try and work out a deal where your coworker takes care of that for you and you, in return, take care of something they need help with.

After all, the results are what matters. Spending hours of your time on something another person could do in a fraction of the time then doesn’t it make sense to ask them to help you out.

Two of the greatest lessons I learned about life were taught to me by my cousins as I mentioned earlier. I clearly remember warning them that I was pretty good at Monopoly. Boy, did they prove me wrong. They mopped the floor with me. I was shell-shocked but I learned two lessons that day - always be willing to learn and never underestimate your competition.

Too often we think we know enough, but with the speed of change today this is a mistake. Much of what we learn today, especially when it comes to technology will be obsolete in two years. We must continually work to keep ourselves ahead of the curve.

Another mistake it thinking our competition is too small, too weak, too old, too slow…history is full of examples but two of my favorites are IBM underestimating Microsoft, Yahoo underestimating Google. Don’t end up on the wrong end of this.

Sometimes people cheat

Sadly in games, in business and in life, there are those people who cheat. There are those who lie. There are those who take advantage of others. And there are those who waste our time. We must keep our eyes out for such people in order to protect ourselves.

Understand the rules if you want to win

You can’t win a game consistently that you don’t understand. There is such thing as beginner’s luck but we cannot rely on luck each time. By understanding the rules you can develop a winning strategy. That will also allow you to teach others.

The competition sometimes wants to win more than you

To achieve what you want, whether it’s a business deal, the woman of your dreams, or

Luck does play a small part

Luck favors those who plan and prepare but there is no denying that from time to time things will occur we have no control over and can create success or failure. The key is minimizing the effects of the sudden negative black swan events.

There have been times when I’ve been playing a game and all seemed lost. It was curtains for me…and then something incredible happened. Luck.

I won.

Here, on this planet, the strangest things do happen.

So there you have it – 9 lessons that we should all learn to be able to win at board games, at business or in life.

Try putting them to use in your life today, you may be surprised at the results.

Adrian Shepherd


School’s Out! Now What?

23 05 2013

School’s Out! Now What?

By Arlene DeVries 

Summer can be an exciting but frustrating time for children and parents of gifted students. The high energy level and intensity of these children demand a thoughtful response to how they will be engaged outside the school routine.  Parents may want to keep in mind the needs and personalities of individual students. Summer provides an opportunity to instill the value systems parents wish to pass on to their children. Activities may encompass time for physical activity, time for in-depth exploration, time to develop creativity, time to experience the arts, time to strengthen family ties, time to give back to their community, and at other times an opportunity to simply relax and “do nothing.”

The benefits of being out-of-doors and experiencing nature have become increasingly important in fostering positive mental health. Individual sports that will carry into adulthood can be introduced:  tennis, golf, swimming, bowling, skating, or walking. Some students may need the camaraderie of a team sport that allows them to feel part of a group and an opportunity to make new friends. Arts activities can be experienced as either a spectator or a participant. Visits to museums, dance, drama, and musical productions encourage in-depth exploration of the history and culture of the presentation. These cultural events are instrumental in developing future appreciative audiences in our society. Participating in music lessons develops task commitment and stimulates cognitive processes.

Gifted children are often concerned about the needs of others and the inequities in our society. Summer is a time when families, as a group or individually, can reach out to others through volunteering. Local newspapers and Internet sites provide an abundance of locations for volunteering. Many youth organizations or religious groups plan family work camps to aid in disadvantaged areas. Local conservation commissions and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers offer educational activities in most areas at no cost. The Internet identifies museums, historical sites, parks, and other opportunities in your community.

Based on your child’s intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual needs, your family might select summer activities from the following list.

Fifty Things to do When There’s Nothing to do

  1. Start a rock or fossil collection; classify what you have found.
  2. Learn to play a musical instrument.
  3. Offer to care for neighbors’ pets while they are on vacation.
  4. Draw cartoons.
  5. Read some poetry, write some poetry, submit it for publication, or enter it in a contest.
  6. One child-one parent:  go to a fast food restaurant for breakfast.
  7. Entire family: go out to eat at an elegant restaurant and engage in stimulating conversation.
  8. Paint pictures with water or chalk on the sidewalk or driveway, create a hopscotch pattern, and play it.
  9. Attend a city council meeting or a court room case.
  10. Write a letter to the editor of a local newspaper.
  11. Explore ways to make your home more environmentally friendly.
  12. Enroll in a school or pre-collegiate gifted summer school class.
  13. Visit a zoo or aquarium.
  14. Tour an art center or historical museum.
  15. Acquire some DVDs and learn a foreign language.
  16. Create a new board game and teach it to family or friends.
  17. Write and produce a play.
  18. Using things found at home, make instruments and start a rhythm band.
  19. Make paper airplanes in as many designs as you can and have a contest to see which flies farthest.
  20. Buy a telescope and view the star, or visit a local observatory.
  21. Research your family tree; interview parents and grandparents.
  22. Start a neighborhood newsletter; interview interesting persons.
  23. Create a recipe for a new food dish and prepare it for your family.
  24. Write a thank-you letter to someone who did something nice for you.
  25. Go fishing.
  26. See how many different kinds of birds you can spot; identify them by sight and by their songs.
  27. With the help of an adult who enjoys woodworking, build a bird house or bird feeder.
  28. Spend a week at a camp of your choice (or a family camp).
  29. Plant a garden, either vegetable or floral; research what to plant.
  30. Volunteer at a hospital, senior citizen center, day care, local mission, or homeless shelter.
  31. Play chess with a senior citizen.
  32. Gather cardboard appliance or moving boxes; create a playhouse or city.
  33. Pitch a tent and sleep overnight in the backyard.
  34. Keep a journal.
  35. Create a medieval sand castle.
  36. Learn to play tennis
  37. Visit a grandparent to learn how to knit, bake a pie, quilt, carve wood, or play croquet.
  38. Budget a given amount of money, attend a garage sale or farmers’ market, and decide how to spend it.
  39. Read some mythology or folk tales.
  40. Create some puns or jokes and create your own joke book.
  41. Do crossword or sudoku puzzles or create your own.
  42. Read biographies of persons in careers of interest to you.
  43. Join the library teen club or access a college-bound reading list. As a family, read books aloud; start with the Newbury Award winners.
  44. Make a new friend.
  45. Learn a computer program new to you.
  46. Hold a family meeting; discuss household chores and upcoming family activities.
  47. Study the map of a favorite vacation spot; create your own maps of real or imaginary places.
  48. Plan a family vacation that includes a visit to a college campus.
  49. Create a work of art in a medium you have not previously explored
  50. Do something nice for a family member but don’t get caught doing it.

Arlene DeVries, retired Community Resource Consultant for the Des Moines Public Schools, is a SENG parent group facilitator and trainer, past president of SENG and Iowa Talented and Gifted Association. She is co-author of Gifted Parent Groups: The SENG Model, and A Parent’s Guide to Gifted Children.

The Complexity of Greatness: Beyond Talent or Practice

23 05 2013

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The Complexity of Greatness: Beyond Talent or Practice

By Scott Barry Kaufman | May 22, 2013 |  Comments3

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What is greatness and how do people get there? Is greatness born or made? Is greatness the result of talent or practice? Few other questions have caused such intense debate, controversy, and diversity of opinions. The heights of human accomplishment have always fascinated us, and for good reason. The striving for greatness is a fundamental human drive, and without it we would be bereft of some of our most valuable cultural products. How we conceptualize greatness and its developmental trajectory has important implications for education, business, and society— which makes it all the more important that we make an effort to understand all the many complex, nuanced factors contributing to its emergence.

Greatness eludes precise definition, and historically it has been approached in different ways. In ancient times, greatness had spiritual connotations, and geniuses were viewed as divine. Kant thought talent was an integral ingredient of the emergence of greatness, as geniuses use their natural talents to produce something original and exemplary (Kant, 1790/1952). According to Kant, since genius was inborn, it cannot be taught; it can only be imitated by inspired non-geniuses. The English dramatist John Dryden echoed Kant’s sentiment, declaring, “genius must be born, and never can be taught” (Dryden, 1693/1885, p. 60).

Since the beginning of this debate, both extremes have been represented. Sir Joshua Reynolds, an influential 18th century British painter, warned his students at the Royal Academy that

You must have no dependence on your genius. If you have great talents, industry will improve them; if you have but moderate abilities, industry will supply their deficiency. Nothing is denied to well directed labour; nothing is to be obtained without it. Not to enter into metaphysical discussions on the nature or essence of genius, I will venture to assert, that assiduity unabated by difficulty, and a dispo- sition eagerly directed to the object of its pursuit, will produce effects similar to those which some call the result of natural powers. (Reynolds, 1966, p. 37)

While it seemed everyone had an opinion, the topic started receiving scientific treatment with the publication of Francis Galton’s Hereditary Genius in 1869. Based on his analysis of eminent lineages, Galton, who was Charles Darwin’s cousin and was greatly influenced by Darwin’s ideas, argued that genius is primarily born. While Galton acknowledged the importance of passion, zeal, and persistence, he argued that regardless of environment, those with exemplary natural abilities inevitably rise to the top (Galton, 1874). This idea didn’t go unchallenged. Alphonse de Candolle (1873) showed evidence for the importance of environmental factors, finding that eminent scientists from Western civilization tended to do their best work under particular political, economic, social, cultural, and religious circumstances. However, while de Candolle’s results showed the importance of environmental conditions on the average population, his data did little to explain individual differences within a population.

The early behaviorists, including B. F. Skinner and John Watson, emphasized conditioning. No doubt biased by his particular theoretical position on learning and behavior, Watson made the following bold claim:

Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in, and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select—a doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief, and yes, even a beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and race of his ancestors. I am going beyond my facts and I admit it, but so have the advocates of the contrary and they have been doing it for many thousands of years. (Watson, 1930, p. 82)

Regardless of the veracity of this bold assertion, at least Watson was honest that more data were needed on this topic! The advent of cognitive psychology brought an emphasis on expertise acquisition as the main factor underlying differences in elite performance. Nobel Prize laureate Herbert Simon and William Chase suggested that a decade of intense work and apprenticeship is required to become an expert in chess (Chase & Simon, 1973). This has become known as “the 10-year rule.” K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues have extended this research in a number of domains, including medicine, professional writing, music, art, math, and sports (Ericsson, Charness, Feltovich, & Hoffman, 2006). Researchers operating under the expertise performance framework argue that greatness is largely the result of a large amount of domain-specific knowledge, acquired through many thousands of hours of deliberate practice where one is constantly striving to learn from feedback and push beyond his or her limits (Colvin, 2010; Coyle, 2009; Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Römer, 1993; Syed, 2010).

While deliberate practice is certainly important, it’s unlikely to be the whole story. Even though the most cited and well-known philosophers and psychologists of all time were those who took extreme views on key debates of their time, including the nature–nurture debate, more moderate, integrative stances are more likely to be correct (Simonton, 1976, 2000a). In only the past quarter century, scientists across numerous fields—such as behavioral genetics, neuroscience, developmental psychology, personality psychology, and positive psychology— have amassed a large body of empirical findings that suggest the origins of greatness are far more complex than any single approach will capture (Marcus, 2012; Shenk, 2011; Kaufman, 2013). Things are often not what they seem.

Take the practice side of the debate. Many studies looking at experts suffer from a restricted range: Those without the requisite abilities have already been weeded out of the competition, so those skills will no longer be predictive of performance. What happens when you look at a random selection of the population? While deliberate practice may be an important contributor to expertise, is it also sufficient to carry just anyone all the way to greatness?

Recent research suggests it’s not. David Z. Hambrick and colleagues found that deliberate practice explained about 30% of the variation in performance in the two most widely studied domains in expertise research– chess and music (Hambrick et al., 2013). On the one hand, this is a very impressive amount of variation explained. Clearly, deliberate practice matters a lot, perhaps trumping any other single personal characteristic. But at the same time, most of the variation was left unexplained by other personal and environmental factors.

But if we dig even deeper, we can see more complications. What is the genetic contribution to the willingness to practice in the first place? While passion and persistence are certainly important for greatness, where do these characteristics come from (Cordova & Lepper, 1996; Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, Michael, & Kelly, 2007; Ryan & Deci, 2000; Kaufman, 2009, Vallerand et al., 2003)? Behavioral geneticists have discovered that virtually all psychological dispositions have a heritable basis (Turkheimer, 2000). Therefore, motivation and the ability to persevere and persist in the face of obstacles are likely influenced (although not completely determined) by genetic factors, which are always interacting with environmental factors.

Another complication is that there seem to be notable exceptions to the 10-year rule (Simonton, 1994, 2009a). For one, there exist prodigies and savants who seem to display extraordinary ability, even at an expert level, well before the requisite 10 years (Feldman & Goldsmith, 1991; Feldman & Morelock, 2011; Rutsatz & Urbach, 2012; Subotnik, Olszewski-Kubilius, & Worrell, 2011; Treffert, 2011; Winner, 1997). In some cases, such as the savant who sits down at the piano and starts playing tunes, talent seems to emerge without any deliberate practice whatsoever!

What has become clear is that the 10-year rule is not actually a rule, but an average with significant variation around the mean. In fact, in some domains within the arts and sciences, those with the greatest lifetime productivity and highest levels of achieved eminence required the least amount of time to acquire the requisite expertise (Simonton, 1991a, 1991b, 1992, 1997, 1999). However, there are some fields, such as creative writing, where there doesn’t appear to be an early advantage to achieving greatness (Kaufman & Gentile, 2002), and if anything there may require on average an additional 10 years after professional-level expertise is acquired to achieve greatness (Kaufman & Kaufman, 2007). An even further complication is that too much expertise can be detrimental to greatness. Research shows that experts are at risk of becoming overly specialized and inflexible in their thinking (Frensch & Sternberg, 1992), although the disadvantages of over-training can be overcome by acquiring expertise across numerous, diverse domains (Simonton, 2000a).

Now consider the talent side of the debate. Many popular writers on this topic treat talent as if it means that some people are born with a skill, fully formed at birth. While psychologists acknowledge that many different traits such as IQ, creativity, talents, interests, and personality dimensions influence greatness, no sensible scientist claims that any of these traits are completely deterministic. Scientists will be the first to admit that no trait comes fully formed at birth, and there is plenty of variation unaccounted for to leave room for late bloomers and prodigies who burn out fast (Kaufman, 2008; Protzko & Kaufman, 2010). Also, no sensible scientist would argue that just because a trait has a genetic contribution, it is immutable. Something can have a very large heritability coefficient and still be very amenable to change. As it turns out, the way genes influence greatness is much more nuanced and fascinating.

For one, the many traits that make up greatness, such as creativity and leadership, don’t appear to operate in an additive manner, but appear to require the full configuration of many interacting genes for their manifestation (Simonton, 1999a; Lykken, 1982; Waller et al., 1993). Also, the pathway from genes to talent to greatness is often very nuanced and complex. Some of the most well-known behavioral geneticists recognize that it’s time to go beyond heritability estimates. A currently active area of research is the study of epigenetics, and how the many interacting genes that make up any trait are differentially activated depending on the environment (Johnson, 2007; Turkheimer, 2012; Johnson, Turkheimer, Gottesman, & Bouchard, 2009; Moore, 2003; Ridley, 2003).

Genes pull us subtly, and not so subtly, in various directions and influence our decisions. The “multiplier effect”—in which initially small, genetic advantages can compound into large, observed differences—can operate in a multitude of ways (Ceci, Barnett, & Kanaya, 2003). The environment can cause exaggerated differences, such as when children pick the taller kid for the basketball team in elementary school, but the slightly more talented and passionate musician can also make decisions throughout his or her life that compound into larger differences down the road.

Also, many seemingly environmental effects, such as parenting style, have turned out to have large genetic components. As one example, the direct influence of parenting has been shown to be overrated, as the apparent association between parental phenotype and offspring phenotype is often the result of shared parent–child geno- type rather than a direct effect of parenting causing their children’s behaviors (Harris, 1999; Pinker, 2003). Certainly parenting matters. Water still has an essential influence on fish, even if it doesn’t explain any of the differences between fish. It turns out that parenting is important for child development in ways different than originally assumed. Genes influence parenting because, like any other behavior, parenting behaviors are influenced by genes. Parents play a crucial role in supporting the expression of genes, as do peers and teachers. The importance of environmental support is most striking in the context of disadvantaged homes, where genes account for substantially less variation in cognitive ability compared to socioeconomically advantaged homes (Tucker-Drob, Rhemtulia, Harden, Turkheimer, & Fask, 2010).

Further nuance is introduced when one looks across domains of greatness. Many different traits contribute to greatness, in differing degrees and combinations depending on the domain (Simonton, 2009b). Athletic greatness surely draws on a different set of skills, dispositions, and cognitive abilities than academic/scientific greatness. And both forms of greatness differ from what is required for artistic and performance/ entertainment-related greatness. Even within domains there are different skills and dispositions required. Think about the difference between poets and science writers— both are writers but seem to come from a different species sometimes!

The complexities don’t stop there. By definition, very few people reach excellence in a domain, and no two paths are exactly the same. Some people actually invent a whole new path of deliberate practice for others to follow! The fact that two people can obtain the same result through a very different route opens up a new can of questions. Do all domains require creativity for greatness? Can someone, such as the gold-medal winner of the 100-meter dash, be great simply by running faster than all other competitors that year? Likewise, some domains (such as mathematics) may demand more domain-specific talent, whereas for others (such as dart throwing), intense deliberate practice may play more of a role. Must all paths to greatness require extraordinary talent? Also, it can be tricky differentiating expert performance from great performance. What’s the dividing line? Is greatness reserved only for the gold-medal winner of the 100-meter dash, or is the runner-up great as well?

And that’s just talent and practice. What about the full range of life experiences and early developmental experiences— many of which are quite harsh and traumatic —that shapes drive and passion (Ludwig, 2003; Simonton, 2000b, 2009a, 2009b)? Where does inspiration come from (Thrash & Elliot, 2003)? What’s the influence of mindset, stress, and stereotype threat on cognition and performance (Aronson & Juarez, 2012; Beilock, 2011; Dweck, 2007)? What about so-called learning disabilities, mental illnesses, and all different kinds of minds—can’t they be an advantage (Grandin, 2010; Kaufman, 2013)? What about opportunities and just sheer luck (Gladwell, 2008)? How do all those factors contribute to greatness? Lots of questions. These are all thorny issues that must be dealt with when scientifically studying greatness.

The topic of greatness is one of the most fascinating in all of psychology and has relevance for every single human being on this planet. As it turns out, the truth is far more nuanced, complex, and fascinating than any one viewpoint or paradigm can possibly reveal. It’s time to go beyond talent or practice. Greatness is much, much more.

Which was the spirit behind my edited volume, The Complexity of Greatness: Beyond Talent or Practice, available for purchase today on Amazon. The volume doesn’t include all the answers, but at least points out the many complexities when scientifically investigating this topic. My aim in assembling the stellar list of contributors was to put together a well-balanced review of the latest research and thinking on greatness that could serve as a valuable resource, not just for scientists but for anyone who wants to get a broader, more complete understanding of greatness. Hopefully this volume also stimulates thought and leads to new, testable hypotheses and research programs.

Table of Contents

Preface (Excerpted above) Scott Barry Kaufman, New York University

Part One: Perspectives

1. Greatness as a Manifestation of Experience-Producing Drives

Wendy Johnson, University of Edinburgh

2. If Innate Talent Doesn’t Exist, Where do the Data Disappear?

Dean Keith Simonton, University of California at Davis

3. Where Does Greatness Come From: A Treasure Hunt Without a Map

Samuel D. Mandelman, Teachers College, Columbia University and Elena L. Grigorenko, Teachers College, Columbia University, Yale University, Moscow State University

4. Whither Cognitive Talent?: Understanding High Ability, its Development, Relevance and Furtherance

Heiner Rindermann, TU Chemnitz, Stephen J. Ceci and Wendy M. Williams, Cornell University

5. Young and Old, Novice and Expert: How We Evaluate Creative Art Can Reflect Practice or Talent

James C. Kaufman, California State University at San Bernardino, John Baer, Rider University, and Lauren E. Skidmore, California State University at San Bernardino

6. Prodigies, Passion, Persistence, and Pretunement: Musings on the Biological Bases of Talent

Martha J. Morelock, Vanderbilt University

7. Savant Syndrome: A Compelling Case for Innate Talent

Darold A. Treffert, University of Wisconsin

8. Mindsets and Greatness: How Beliefs About Intelligence Can Create A Preference for Growth Over Defensiveness

Paul A. O’Keefe, New York University and CUNY Graduate Center

Part Two: Debate

9. Giftedness and Evidence for Reproducibly Superior Performance: An Account Based on the Expert Performance Framework (REPRINT)

K. Anders Ericsson, Roy W. Roring, and Kiruthiga Nandagopal, Florida State University

10. Yes, Giftedness (aka Françoys Gagné, Université du Québec à Montréal

11. Gagné is Omitting Troublesome Information so as to Present More Convincing Accusations: His Accusations Along with My Own Exploration of the Evidence for Innate Talent

K. Anders Ericsson, Florida State University

Part Three: Domains

12. Scientific Talent: Nature Shaped by Nurture

Gregory Feist, San José State University

13. The Promise of Mathematical Precocity

Linda E. Brody, Johns Hopkins University

14. Memory Expertise or Experts’ Memory?

John Wilding, University of London

15. Practice and Talent in Acting

Helga Noice and Tony Noice, Elmhurst College

16. The Rage to Master: The Decisive Role of Talent in the Visual Arts (UPDATED REPRINT)

Ellen Winner, Boston College and Harvard Project Zero; Jennifer E. Drake, Boston College

17. Music in Our Lives

Jane Davidson and Robert Faulkner, University of Western Australia

18. Creating Champions: The Development of Expertise in Sports

Paul R. Ford, Nicola J. Hodges, and A. Mark Williams, University of British Columbia

Epilogue: Michael Howe Remembered

Jane Davidson, University of Western Australia; John Sloboda, Keele University; and Stephen Ceci, Cornell University


Aronson, J., & Juarez, L. (2012). Growth mindsets in the laboratory and the real world. In R. F. Subotnik, A. Robinson, C. M. Callahan, & E. J. Gubbins (Eds.), Malleable minds: Translating insights from psychology and neuroscience to gifted education (pp. 19–36). Storrs, CT: The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.

Beilock, S. (2011). Choke: What the secrets of the brain reveal about getting it right when you have to. New York, NY: Free Press.

Candolle, A., de. (1873). Histoire des sciences et des savants depuis deux siècles. Geneva, Switzerland: Georg.

Ceci, S. J., Barnett, S. M., & Kanaya, T. (2003). Developing childhood proclivities into adult competencies: The overlooked multiplier effect. In R. J. Sternberg & E. L. Grigorenko (Eds.), The psychology of abilities, competencies, and expertise (pp. 70–93). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Colvin, G. (2010). Talent is overrated. New York, NY: Portfolio Trade. Cordova, D. I., & Lepper, M. R. (1996). Intrinsic motivation and the process of learning:

Beneficial effects of contextualization, personalization, and choice. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 715–730.

Coyle, D. (2009). The talent code: Greatness isn’t born. It’s grown. Here’s how. New York, NY: Bantam.

Dryden, J. (1885). Epistle to Congreve. In W. Scott & G. Saintsbury (Eds.), The works of John Dryden (Vol. 11, pp. 57–60). Edinburgh, Scotland: Paterson. (Original work published 1693).

Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 1087–1101. Dweck, C. (2007). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, NY: Ballantine Books. Ericsson, K. A., Charness, N., Feltovich, P. J., & Hoffman, R. R. (2006). The Cambridge hand-book of expert performance. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R. T., & Tesch-Römer, C. (1993). The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance. Psychological Review, 100, 363–406.

Ericsson, K. A., Roring, R. W., & Nandagopal, K. (2007). Giftedness and evidence for repro- ducibly superior performance: An account based on the expert performance framework. High Ability Studies, 18, 3–56.

Feldman, D. H., & Goldsmith, L. T. (1991). Nature’s gambit: Child prodigies and the development of human potential. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

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Galton, F. (1874). English men of science: Their nature and nurture. London, England: Macmillan.

Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers: The story of success. New York, NY: Back Bay Books.

Grandin, T. (2010). Thinking in pictures, Expanded edition: My life with autism. New York, NY: Vintage.

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Scott Barry KaufmanAbout the Author: Scott Barry Kaufman is adjunct assistant professor of psychology at New York University, where he teaches courses on cognitive psychology and human intelligence. He is author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, editor of The Complexity of Greatness: Beyond Talent or Practice, and co-founder of The Creativity Post.  Follow on Twitter @sbkaufman.

200 Free Kids Educational Resources: Video Lessons, Apps, Books, Websites & More

9 05 2013

200 Free Kids Educational Resources: Video Lessons, Apps, Books, Websites & More

This collection provides a list of free educational resources for K-12 students (kindergarten through high school students) and their parents and teachers. It features free video lessons/tutorialsfree mobile appsfree audiobooks, ebooks and textbooksquality YouTube channelsfree foreign language lessonstest prep materials; and free web resources in academic subjects like literature, history, science and computing. This newly-released list is a work in progress. Please tell us if we’re missing something good.

Free Audio Books, eBooks and Textbooks

Free Audio Books: Our collection of 450 free audio books includes many children’s classics. The Wizard of Oz, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Mark Twain, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Swiss Family Robinson, Gulliver’s Travels, Anne of Green Gables, Aesop’s Fables, and much more. You can download audio files straight to your computer or mobile device.

Free eBooks: This collection includes many children’s classics in ebook format. You generally have the option to download these texts to your Kindle, iPad, Nook or computer. Video tutorials are included on the page. You may also want to visit our resource: Download 20 Popular High School Books Available as Free eBooks & Audio Books.

Bartleby.com: Gives you access to free online classics of reference, literature, and nonfiction, including Strunk & White’s Elements of StyleThe World FactbookThe Oxford Shakespeare, and The King James Bible.

Calibre: Download free e-book software that will manage your electronic library, convert e-books from one format to another, and give you online access to free e-books. We have more on it here.

CK-12: This non-profit provides “open textbooks” for K-12 students all over the world. It offers free high-quality, standards-aligned, open content in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

ePubBud: Makes available free children’s books for the the iPad, Nook, Kindle and other ereaders. Begin browsing books here, and find instructions here.

International Children’s Digital Library: Provides free access to high-quality children’s books from around the world in different languages, including Arabic, Afrikaans, Danish, English, Farsi and beyond. Hosts books for kids 3-56-9, and 10-13. Start browsing the library here.

Librivox: A favorite of ours, Librivox provides free audio books from the public domain. You will find 5000+ books in their catalogue.

OER Commons: Discover a meta collection of free textbooks that can be sorted by subject and grade level.

Project Gutenberg: The mother of all ebook sites hosts 40000 free ebooks, and makes them accessible for Kindle, Android, iPad, and iPhone.

The Harvard Classics: Harvard’s influential president, Charles W. Eliot, said that if you spent just 15 minutes a day reading the right books, you could give yourself a proper liberal education. He published a 51-volume series, now known as The Harvard Classics, and they’re available free online. Ideal for the older student.

Free Textbook Collection: Our site provides a meta collection of free textbooks available on the web. It covers everything from Art History to Biology, Math, Physics, and Psychology.

Foreign Languages 

Open Culture Foreign Language Collection: This list created by Open Culture offers free lessons in 40 different languages. You can generally download the mp3/podcasts to your devices.

Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish: This video instructional series for high school and college classrooms teaches Spanish speaking and listening skills. Produced by WGBH Boston.

Deutsch – warum nicht?:  An extensive collection of introductory German lessons put together by Deutsche Welle. Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4.

French in Action: Become fluent in French by exploring French culture in this well-known video series for high school and college classrooms. Produced by Yale University and WGBH Boston with Wellesley College.

Ma France: The BBC offers 24 video lessons that will teach you French.

Real Chinese: Presented by the BBC. A lively introduction to Mandarin Chinese presented in 10 short parts with video clips from the Real Chinese TV series.

Talk Italian: A lively introduction to Italian presented by the BBC.

WatchKnowLearn: This site has aggregated YouTube videos that will teach students new languages.

Video Lessons/Tutorials

iTunesU: Apple provides hundreds of free courses, lectures and academic talks, mostly suitable for older students. The easiest way to access the courses available on iTunesU is to visit our collection of 550 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Khan Academy: The site famously features K-12 video tutorials created by Sal Khan and team. It currently gives students access to thousands of video tutorials that explain the ins-and-outs of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, statistics, finance, physics, economics and more. Videos can also be accessed via YouTube and iTunesU, or on the Khan Academy’s website.

Learner.org: Run by The Annenberg Foundation, Learner.org hosts multimedia resources for teachers, students and lifelong learners. You can browse their general collection of educational videos here. Selected collections are cataloged below.

MIT-K12: Taking a page from Khan, MIT is now producing ”short videos teaching basic concepts in science and engineering” for K-12 students. The videos are generally created by MIT students. You can sort the videos by topic and grade level.

NeoK12: Designated a “Great Site for Kids” by the American Library Association, this site provides educational videos, lessons, quizzes and educational games for K-12 students in various subject areas, such as science, math, health, social studies and English.

TED-Ed: The maker of TED Talks now provides carefully curated educational videos or ”lessons worth sharing.” Topics range from Literature and Language, to Mathematics, to Science and Technology.

WatchKnowLearn: This site has indexed over 33,000 educational videos from YouTube and placed them into a directory of over 3,000 categories. The videos are available without registration or fees to teachers in the classroom and to students at home 24/7.

YouTube EDU: A curated collection of educational videos from sources ranging from Sesame Street to Harvard. Created by YouTube itself.

YouTube for Schools: Containing a large collection of educational materials, this newish service also gives teachers and administrators the ability to filter out everything but their own selections from YouTube. In other words, you can separate the wheat from the chaff. Get more details here.

Art & Visual Culture (Web Resources)

Art Babble: Sometimes called the ”YouTube of the Arts, the site offers high definition video of art that ranges from classical to contemporary. It has partnered with many major museums and arts institutions.

ArtThink: Created by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, this site offers theme-based activities in visual arts, language arts, history and social studies. The site lets students investigate artists’ work, lives, and their historical context.

Google Art Project: A new tool that gives you access to more than 1,000 works of art appearing in 17 great museums across the world. Using Google’s Street View technology, you can now tour collections at 184 museums world wide, including the MoMA and Met in New York City, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, the Van Gogh Museum, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

SmartHistory: Now folded into the Khan Academy, Smarthistory provides an extensive collection of audio and video introductions to works of art found in standard art history survey texts. You can find a complete collection of their videos on YouTube.

Virtual Tour of the Sistine Chapel: Thanks to Villanova University, you can take an amazing virtual, panoramic tour of the Sistine Chapel. Using buttons in the lower left screen, you can move around the room and zoom in on the paintings, including those on the ceiling.

Geography (Web Resources)

National Geographic: Provides facts, photos, videos, and more about countries around the world — something NatGeo knows a lot about.

World Atlas: An educational resource for world maps, atlases, and in-depth geography information. Provides teachers and students free maps of Europe, Asia, the U.S., Canada, Florida, the Caribbean Islands and much more.

History & Politics  (Web Resources)

50States.com: Offers copious information about the fifty United States of America.

A Biography of America: This video series for high school and college students presents American history as a living narrative rather than a collection of facts and dates. Produced by WGBH Boston in cooperation with the Library of Congress and the National Archives and Records Administration.

A Crash Course in World History: Best-selling author John Green gives you a playful and highly visual crash course in world history, taking you from the beginning of human civilization 15,000 years ago through to our modern age. The videos are animated and fun. We have a few more details here.

Abraham Lincoln at the Crossroads: An educational game for advanced middle- and high-school students. Learn about Lincoln’s leadership by exploring the political choices he made.

Ancient Web: This site positions itself as the best online destination for information and resources related to the Ancient world. It includes educational videos, images and maps.

Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government: A primer on American government for grades K-2.

Bridging World History: Created by Learner.org, this site offers multimedia materials designed to help learners discover world history. The material is organized into 26 thematic units, which include videos and an audio glossary.

Democracy Web: The site features an interactive world map and an online study guide for teachers. Designed for use with upper secondary- and lower college-level students, this resource provides an overview of the principles of democracy and their origins, as well as an examination of how a variety of contemporary political systems function.

Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History: The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is a nonprofit devoted to the improvement of history education. The GLI web site features video/audio with experts discussing various topics in American history. Don’t miss their iTunesU collection with talks including: Famous Americans, American Presidents, The U.S. Constitution, The American Civil War, The Great Depression and World War II, Women in American History, Lincoln and the Civil War, and Slavery and Anti Slavery.

Google Cultural Institute: Google has built a robust, umbrella Cultural Institute to house 42 new online historical exhibitions. Each exhibit features, in Google’s words, “a narrative which links the archive material together to unlock the different perspectives, nuances and tales behind these events.” Topics currently covered include the Life and Times of Nelson Mandela, the Fall of the Iron Curtain, the Spanish Civil War, the Life of Anne Frank, D-Day, and Apartheid in South Africa. The Cultural Institute also gives you access to super high resolution images of The Dead Sea Scrolls.

Google Historical Voyages and Events: This site is dedicated to the explorers, voyages, events, and historical backgrounds of countries throughout the world, and uses Google technology to bring this history back to life.

History and Politics Out Loud: A searchable archive of politically significant audio materials for scholars, teachers, and students. It is a component of “Historical Voices,” funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities in partnership with Michigan State University.

History Matters: Designed for high school and college students and teachers, History Matters serves as a gateway to web resources and offers other useful materials for learning and teaching U.S. history.

iCivics: Founded by Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, iCivics prepares young Americans to become knowledgeable and engaged 21st century citizens by offering free and innovative educational materials. iCivics has produced 16 educational video games as well as vibrant teaching materials that have been used in classrooms in all 50 states.

Liberty’s Kids: An animated educational historical television series originally broadcast on PBS Kids. Teaches 7 to 14 year olds about the founding of the United States.

The Living Room Candidate: An archive of presidential campaign commercials from 1952 to the present, organized by year, type, and issue, with teacher resources and playlists created by experts.

Teachinghistory.orgThis site is designed to help K–12 history teachers access resources and materials to improve U.S. history education in the classroom. Provides lesson plans and best practices. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education and the Center for History and New Media.

The Internet History Sourcebooks: This site features collections of public domain and copy-permitted historical texts presented cleanly for educational use. Hosted by Fordham University, this resource is broken down into sub-areas: Ancient HistoryMedievalModernByzantine StudiesAfrican StudiesEast Asian StudiesGlobal StudiesIndiaIslamicJewishLesbian and GayScience, and Women’s Studies.

What So Proudly We Hail: An educational resource about what it means to be an American, inspired by the anthology of the same title. Through a series of online conversations about classic American texts, award-winning teacher-scholars Amy A. Kass and Leon R. Kass seek to educate both hearts and minds about American ideals, American identity and national character, and the virtues and aspirations of our civic life.

World History for Us All: A powerful, innovative curriculum for teaching world history in middle and high schools. The site offers a wealth of teaching units, lesson plans, and resources. Ideal for anyone thinking about how to teach world history to students.

World Wonders Project: Created by Google, this valuable resource lets students virtually discover some of the most famous sites on earth — for example, the ruins of Pompeii, Stonehenge, Versailles and more. It also lets you visit the Great Barrier Reef and Shackleton’s Expedition in Antarctica. The project offers an innovative way to teach history and geography to students of primary and secondary schools. Teachers can download related guides for using these resources.

Visualizing Emancipation: A map of slavery’s end during the American Civil War. It finds patterns in the collapse of southern slavery, mapping the interactions between federal policies, armies in the field, and the actions of enslaved men and women on countless farms and city blocks.

Literature (Web Resources)

Download 20 Popular High School Books Available as Free eBooks & Audio Books: Gives you access to classic texts  frequently taught in the classroom. Includes works by Mark Twain, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald and more.

A Crash Course in English Literature: A new video series by best-selling kids author John Green covers Shakespeare and will eventually get to  Fitzgerald, Salinger, and Emily Dickinson.

Folger Shakespeare Library: Offers a world of online resources for teachers — from lesson plans to study guides to videos — for teaching Shakespeare on the K-12 levels.

Google Lit Trips: This site provides free downloadable files that mark the journeys of characters from famous literature on the surface of Google Earth. We offer more details here.

International Children’s Digital Library: Provides free access to high-quality digital books from around the world. Offers books for kids 3-5, 6-9, and 10-13. Start browsing the library here.

Lit2Go’s Audio Books: The University of South Florida provides an extensive collection of free audio books along with materials to help K-12 teachers present literature in the classroom. Find more information on our blog here.

Poetry Archive: Search the Poetry Foundation’s archive of over 10000 poems. Searchable by poet, title, first lines and more.

Shakespeare’s Plays: If you’re looking for Shakespeare’s plays on the web, MIT has you covered. They offer the Web’s first edition of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare. If you’re looking for a nice collection for the iPhone/iPad, Oxford has you covered. They offer the first complete collection of Shakespeare’s plays, from the First Folio of 1623, in their original spelling and orthography.

Shakespeare’s Plays AnimatedThe Animated Shakespeare brings to life 12 famous Shakespeare plays. Leon Garfield, a well-known British children’s author, wrote the scripts, mainly using Shakespearian language. And some talented Russian artists did the animation. You can find free copies of Shakespeare’s plays in our collections of Free Audio Books & Free eBooks.

Invitation to World Literature: A multimedia course for students, teachers, and lovers of literature. The course moves from ancient to modern literature, and is taught by David Damrosch at Harvard. Find more details here.

Mathematics  (Web Resources)

AAA Math: Features a comprehensive set of interactive arithmetic lessons. Unlimited practice is available on each topic which allows thorough mastery of the concepts. You can sort by grade level. K-8.

Against All Odds: Inside Statistics: This resource shows students the relevance of statistics in real-world settings. Video series for high school and college classrooms.

Algebra: In Simplest Terms: A step-by-step look at algebra concepts. This instructional video series for high school classrooms is produced by the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications and Chedd-Angier.

Calculus Lifesaver: Adrian Banner, a lecturer at Princeton, has put together a lecture series (in video) that will help you master calculus, a subject that has traditionally frustrated many students. The 24 lectures are available on iTunes. It’s worth noting that Banner has used the lectures to develop a handy book, The Calculus Lifesaver: All the Tools You Need to Excel at Calculus.

IXL:  Site features thousands of exercises designed to help young students (K-8) practice math. Features practice questions, step-by-step explanations, engaging awards and certificates, easy-to-read progress reports, and more.

Khan Academy Math: You can dive into the Khan Academy’s math tutorials using the following links: Arithmetic and Pre-Algebra, Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Probability,  Statistics, Precalculus, CalculusDifferential Equations, Linear Algebra, Applied Math, Brain Teasers, and Vi Hart Animations.

Math for All: Learn math activities to do at home in this video series for families with K-3 students.

NRICH: The Nrich Math Project (based at Cambridge University) offers mathematics resources for children, parents and teachers to enrich learning. It provides resources for students of all ages.

TutPup Math: Helps young children gain confidence and mastery of basic educational skills. Its math section comes recommended by our readers.

Wolfram MathWorld: Bills itself as the web’s most extensive mathematical resource.  Designed for more advanced students, this collection is provided as a free service by Wolfram Research, makers of Mathematica. Topics covered include: AlgebraApplied MathematicsCalculus and AnalysisDiscrete Mathematics, Foundations of MathematicsGeometryHistory and TerminologyNumber TheoryProbability and StatisticsRecreational Mathematics, and Topology.

Music (Web Resources)

A Child’s Introduction to Jazz: In 1961, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, the jazz saxophonist best known for his work on Miles Davis’ epic album Kind of Blue, narrated a children’s introduction to jazz music. Features music by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Coleman Hawkins, Thelonious Monk and Cannonball himself.

Bach’s Complete Organ Works: They were recorded by Dr. James Kibbie (University of Michigan) on original baroque organs in Leipzig, Germany. Start with a collection of Favorite Masterworks, or get the complete works.

Bach’s Goldberg Variations: You can download and share the newly-released recording by Kimiko Ishizaka, performed on a Bösendorfer 290 Imperial piano in Berlin. You can do pretty much whatever you want with the recording because it’s released under a Creative Commons Zero license, which automatically puts things in the public domain.

Classics for Kids: Introduces elementary and middle school children to classical music in a fun and entertaining way. The site gives you access to famous pieces of classical music online and also related lessons plans and activity sheets.

Exploring the World of Music: Learn the essentials of music theory and how music expresses culture in this instructional video series for high school classrooms.

K-12 Resources for Music Educators: Valuable resources for music educators and music students at all educational levels. Carefully researched and commercial free.

The Alan Lomax Sound Archive: This huge treasure trove contains folk songs collected by the legendary folklorist Alan Lomax from the 1940s to the 1990s, as well as interviews recorded by Lomax.  The collection has been digitized and made available online for free listening. Gives you access to 17,000 songs. More details here.

The World Music Archive: Run by the BBC, this archive allows you to sample the musical traditions of more than 40 countries. India, Corsica, China, Cuba, Iran, Brazil, Mozambique, Turkey — they’re all represented in this eclectic collection of indigenous music.

Philosophy (Web Resources)

Philosophy for Kids: Dedicated to helping adults conduct philosophical discussion with elementary school children, this site uses well known picture books to raise philosophical questions — for example Harold and the Purple CrayonHarry the Dirty DogThe Cat in the Hat, various Frog and Toad stories and much more. The site is run by Tom Wartenberg at Mount Holyoke.

Philosophy for Kids!: This site given the same name as the one above is run by Gary Matthews, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. It also uses children’s stories to introduce students to philosophical questions.

Philosophy for Children:  A non-profit organization affiliated with the University of Washington Department of Philosophy, the Northwest Center for Philosophy for Children provides lesson plans for using children’s literature to introduce philosophy, activities for engaging children in philosophy, and tips for successful pre-college philosophy sessions.

Science  (Web Resources)

100,000 Stars: An interactive visualization of—you guessed it—more than 100,000 stars. 100,000 Stars was created by Google using data from NASA and the European Space Agency. Before you experience the map, you will need to download the Chrome browser. We have more on it here.

Ask an Astronomer: In video format, scientists answer questions about the universe. For example, where is the center of the universe? What happens when galaxies collide?

Atlas of the UniverseContains maps of the universe zooming out from the nearest stars to the entire visible universe.

BioED Online: An online educational resource for educators, students, and parents. Dedicated to biology, the site offers access to streaming video presentations and a slide library that features, among other things, exciting lesson plans and activities.

Bugscope: Lets K–12 students view bugs under a scanning electron microscope over the web. From the University of Illinois.

BuiltByKids: Encourages next generation of makers to tackle the do-it-yourself projects of their dreams. Engineering very 101.

CELLS Alive!: Brings together 30 years of computer-enhanced images of living cells and organisms for education and medical research.

Chemistry Activities for Kids: Features chemistry demonstrations, crafts, and projects that are suitable for kids. Some activities require adult supervision. Assembled by Anne Marie Helmenstine, About.com Guide to Chemistry.

Digital Universe Atlas: Developed by the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium, with support from NASA, this digital atlas makes available the most complete and accurate 3D atlas of the Universe from the local solar neighborhood out to the edge of the observable Universe. Download it for free!

Dynamic Periodic Table: An interactive Web 2.0 periodic table with dynamic layouts showing names, electrons, oxidation, trend visualization, orbitals, and isotopes.

Impact Earth!: An interactive tool that lets anyone calculate the damage a comet or asteroid would cause if it happened to collide with our planet. You can customize the size and speed of the incoming object, among other items.

Khan Academy Science: You can explore the Khan Academy’s science and technology lessons using the following hotlinks: BiologyChemistryCosmology and AstronomyHealthcare and MedicineOrganic ChemistryPhysicsLeBron AsksMIT+K12Projects.

NASA for Students: America’s space agency provides educational media for different age groups. See Grades K-4Grades 5-8, and Grades 9-12.

Eyes on the Solar System: A 3-D environment lets you explore the cosmos from your computer, hop on an asteroid, fly with NASA’s Voyager spacecraft, see the entire solar system moving in real time. Created by NASA.

NASA Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth: Brings together all images and videos of the Earth taken by NASA astronauts from space.

NASA Photo Archive: NASA curated a big archive of historical images into Flickr Commons, giving users access to more than a half century of NASA’s photographic history. The images are divided into three neat sets – “Launch and Takeoff,” “Building NASA” and “Center Namesakes” – and they’re all copyright-free, meaning that you can share and use these images however you like.

NIH Science: The National Institutes of Health provides a collection of educational resources for science teachers. The material is divided by topic and grade level: High SchoolMiddle School and Elementary School.

Paleontology Portal: This site is a resource for anyone interested in paleontology, from the student in the classroom, to the interested amateur scouting for fossils, to the professional in the lab. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the site was produced by the University of California Museum of Paleontology, the Paleontological Society, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, and the United States Geological Survey.

Physics to Go: A collection of websites where you can learn physics on your own, through games, webcasts, and online exhibits and activities. Features a collection of more than 950 websites with physics images, activites, and info. Produced by the American Physical Society.

Robotics: Created by the University of Southern California, this web site is designed to help K-12 teachers and other educators in developing or improving courses that use robotics as a tool for teaching STEM topics or robotics itself. Robotics is a great way to get kids excited about science, technology, engineering, and math.

Royal Institution Christmas Lectures: Back in 1825, Michael Faraday, the venerated English scientist, established The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures for Children, hoping to get a younger generation interested in science, and the tradition has carried on ever since. You can watch the lectures presented by famous scientists online, including Richard Dawkins and Carl Sagan.

Science Kids: Provides educational resources for teachers and parents to help make science fun and engaging for kids. Features fun activities, facts, projects and experiments that promote a desire amongst kids to learn more about science and technology.

Science News for Kids: Helps kids (middle school and above) stay up-to-date on scientific trends. Provides crisp, concise coverage of all fields of science daily.

TeachEngineering.org: A searchable, web-based digital library collection populated with standards-based engineering curricula for use by K-12 teachers and engineering faculty to make applied science and math (engineering) come alive in K-12 settings.

The Habitable Planet: A Systems Approach to Environmental Science - A multimedia course for high school teachers and adult learners interested in studying environmental science. The Web site provides access to course content and activities developed by leading scientists and researchers in the field. Jointly created by Harvard and the Smithsonian.

The Known Universe: This video takes viewers from the Himalayas through our atmosphere and the inky black of space to the afterglow of the Big Bang. The film is made with the Digital Universe Atlas (download it here) that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History.

Try Science: A science education resource for children, parents and educators, featuring information for kids on science, science museums, and science fair project ideas. Created by a partnership with IBM, the New York Hall of Science, the Association of Science-Technology Centers, and science centers worldwide.

Understanding Evolution: Created for K-12 teachers, this online resource provides a one-stop, comprehensive resource on evolution. This site is a collaborative project of the University of California Museum of Paleontology and the National Center for Science Education.

USGS Science Resources: Assembled by the U.S. Geological Survey, this site brings together lots of resources that will teach students about Biology, Geography, Geology, Water, and more. The site is divided into a K-6 section and a grades 7-12 section.

Technology (Web Resources)

Codecademy: This venture gives students the ability to take free computer science lessons online. Teaches everything from HTML basics to Python in a “user active” style. We have more details here.

Google Code University: This Google site provides course content and tutorials for Computer Science (CS) students and educators on current computing technologies and paradigms. It covers HTML, CSS, and Javascript from the Ground Up, Python and more.

Computer Science Courses from Great Universities: The more advanced student can watch lectures from computer science courses presented at great universities.

Khan Academy Technology: Find lessons in DrawingProgramming BasicsAnimation, and User Interaction.

Educational Apps (Mostly for iPhone/iPad)

Aesop’s Fables Interactive Book: The Library of Congress has released a free app for use on iPhones, iPads and Android platforms. This innovative reading experience has been adapted from the 1919 book The Aesop for Children, and includes outstanding drawings by Milo Winter, a noted illustrator.

American Museum of Natural History: Cosmic Discoveries: Take a ride with the Museum’s astrophysicists through our Solar System, the Milky Way Galaxy, and beyond. Cosmic Discoveries is the first app to collect nearly 1,000 stunning astronomic images.

Babbel: Supported by the European Regional Development Fund, the Babbel apps are available for 11 languages, and contain 2,000-3,000 vocabulary words per language. All words are accompanied by images and pronounced for you by native speakers.

BrainPop Featured Movie: This well-respected app presents a different animated movie every day covering subjects related to historical and current events, and then lets youngsters test their new knowledge with an interactive quiz.

3D Brain: Discover how each brain region functions, what happens when the brain is injured, and how it is involved in mental illness. Each detailed structure comes with information on functions, disorders, brain damage, case studies, and links to modern research. Use your touch screen to rotate and zoom around 29 interactive structures.

Color Uncovered: Beautiful app teaches you the basics of color science using smart, interactive optical illusions.

Dictionary.com: Pretty simple, but handy. A good dictionary in your pocket.

Earthlapse: Turn your iPad or iPhone into a window aboard the International Space Station. Experience stunning views of planet Earth captured by NASA astronauts. Touch the views and control the planet with your finger.

EduCreations: This app will turn your iPad into a whiteboard where you can do screencasting.

Evernote: A handy app for taking notes.

Exoplanet: This app offers a comprehensive visual database of all known exoplanets (planets orbiting other stars) discovered so far. It is frequently updated as new discoveries are confirmed.

Flashcards+: Designed at Harvard University, Flashcards+ is an optimized way to learn and retain new information. The highly-rated app allows you to easily create and study flashcards without the hassle of having to buy and write on actual note cards.

Fotopedia UNESCO World Heritage Site: Drawing on 20,000 curated photos, this free iPhone/iPad app lets you visit (at least virtually) 890 UNESCO World Heritage sites. In a matter of minutes, you can move from Notre Dame in Paris, to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, to Machu Picchu in Peru, to the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. Fotopedia offers a number of other great apps related to foreign travel here.

Gene Screen: A fun way to learn how recessive genetic traits and diseases are inherited and why certain diseases are more prevalent in different populations. Gene Screen also provides information on some recessive genetic diseases and genetic screening programs.

Google Sky Map: Sky Map enables users to identify stars and planets by pointing their devices towards these objects in the sky. Users can zoom in and out, and switch various layers such as constellations, planets, grids, and deep sky objects. Users can also determine the locations of planets and stars relative to their own current locations.

iTunesU: The iTunes U app gives you access to complete courses from leading universities and other schools — plus the world’s largest digital catalog of free education content — right on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. You can find many of these courses on our list 550 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Khan Academy: This new app for the iPhone and iPad gives users access to nearly 3,500 videos covering K-12 math, science topics such as biology, chemistry, physics, and the humanities.

Letterpress:  The highly rated app lets young students find words, steal tiles, and color the board!

Louvre Museum: From the most important museum in Paris, this app provides a virtual tour of the Louvre’s galleries and lets users check out the works of everyone from DaVinci to Michelangelo. The app gets you up close and personal with paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and even the French Crown Jewels.

Molecules: An app for viewing three-dimensional renderings of molecules and manipulating them using your fingers. You can rotate the molecules by moving your finger across the display, zoom in or out by using two-finger pinch gestures, or pan the molecule by moving two fingers across the screen at once.

Mindsnacks Spanish Lessons: Award winning app teaches students the language skills they need: getting directions, ordering food, meeting new friends, shopping, relaxing. The introductory level is free, although more advanced levels require paying for the app.

Moon: The perfect resource to help students learn about the moon.

Moon Globe: This free app puts the moon in your pocket with 3D graphics and touch screen navigation.

Museum of Modern Art: The MoMA lets you take a close look at art by Abstract Expressionists, including Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, David Smith, Willem de Kooning and many others.

NASA: Discover a wealth of great space travel information on this free app. The NASA App collects, customizes and delivers an extensive selection of dynamically updated information, images and videos from various online NASA sources in a convenient mobile package. Available for Android, iPhone and iPad.

Official SAT Question of the Day: Created the College Board, this app gives you a new official SAT question every day. It also gives you a statistical analysis of your performance.

Periodic Table of Elements in HD: Created by Merck, this chemistry app has received lots of praise.

Planets: A 3D guide to the solar system for aspiring astronomers. Downloaded over 8 million times, the app lets kids locate planets with a flat view of sky in 2D, or a planetarium style view of the sky in 3D.

Poetry from the Poetry Foundation: From William Shakespeare to César Vallejo to Heather McHugh, the Poetry Foundation’s app turns your phone into a mobile poetry library.

Project Noah: A great tool to explore and document wildlife and a platform to harness the power of citizen scientists everywhere. Available for Apple devices and the Android.

Quick Graph: A powerful, high quality, graphic calculator that takes full advantage of the multitouch display and the powerful graphic capabilities of the iPad and iPhone, in both 2D and 3D.

Science 360: The Science360 for iPad app, created by The National Science Foundation, provides easy access to engaging science and engineering images and video from around the globe and a news feed featuring breaking news from NSF-funded institutions.

Shakespeare: A nice app that puts the complete works of Shakespeare on your iPhone. As you will see, the app comes with some handy functionality: you can search the text by keyword and also increase/decrease the fonts. Plus the app automatically remembers the last page you read.

Sight Words List: Sight Words, also known as the Dolch List, are an integral part of learning how to read. The Dolch Word list contains 315 words that are broken down into appropriate age groups. Ideal for kids 1 – 5 years old.

Spacecraft 3D: NASA’s Spacecraft 3D is an augmented reality application that lets you learn about and interact with a variety of spacecraft that are used to explore our solar system, study Earth, and observe the universe.

SparkNotes: SparkNotes — the publisher of popular literary study guides — offers a free iPhone app that features 50 pre-installed study guides. And it also gives you access to hundreds of study guides available for viewing online.

Stanza: Another good app for downloading free e-books on the iPhone. Once you download the app, navigate to the “Online Catalog” section and then focus on the “Project Gutenberg” materials, which contain a long list of free classics.

StreetMuseum: This free iPhone app from the Museum of London overlays 400 years of historic images on today’s city streets.

TED: TEDTalks need no introduction. They’re perhaps the most popular video lectures on the web, featuring talks by “the world’s leading thinkers and doers.” Now you can access these talks on your mobile phone too.

The Elementals: Introduces children to the different elements of the periodic table. Highly rated and free.

Today in History: Lists notable events in history and when important people were born/died. Includes over 100,000 events.

USA Presidents: A flash card app that teaches you cool facts about the historical line of American presidents.

Yours, Vincent The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh: Provided by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, this application uses the artist’s own letters to explore the life and times of the great painter. Includes videos and images of Van Gogh paintings.

Note: The popular blog BoingBoing hosts a podcast called Apps for Kids. You might want to pay a visit.

YouTube Channels

American Museum of Natural History: This channel features the excellent “Known Universe” video, which gives you a six-minute journey from Mt. Everest to the farthest reaches of the observable universe.

Bad Astronomy: Bad Astronomy is all about astronomy, space, and science. The videos are created by Phil Plait, an astronomer, writer, and sometimes TV-science-show host.

HooplaKidz: This channel is dedicated to animated nursery rhymes and stories designed to entertain and educate children between the ages of 2 and 8.

Edutopia: Offers inspiration and information for what works in education. Edutopia is run by The George Lucas Educational Foundation.

Khan Academy: This channel features thousands of videos that will teach students the ins and outs of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, statistics, finance, physics, economics and more.

Minute Physics: Cool science videos that are all about getting people into learning physics.

NASA Television: NASA’s mission is to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research. This channel helps explore fundamental questions about our place in the universe.

Numberphile: Videos about numbers – it’s that simple. Videos by Brady Haran.

Periodic Videos: Your ultimate channel for all things chemistry. A video about each element on the periodic table.

Sick Science: Videos and cool science experiments from Steve Spangler and SteveSpanglerScience.com

SpaceLab: Can plants survive beyond Earth? Can proteins observed in space reveal the mysteries of life? These questions and more get answered by SpaceLab, a YouTube channel created by Google and Lenovo, in cooperation with Space Adventures, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

YouTube EDU: YouTube hosts a section dedicated to academic videos. It’s a little bit of a mixed bag, but it features some quality videos.

Test Prep (Web Resources)

Khan Academy TutorialsSAT MathGMATCAHSEECalifornia Standards TestCompetition MathIIT JEESingapore Math.

Official SAT Question of the Day: Created the College Board, the iPhone/iPad app gives you a new official SAT question every day. It also gives you a statistical analysis of your performance.

SAT Practice: The College Board (the makers of the SAT exam) also hosts free practice exercises on its web site.

General Reference (Web Resources)

Bartleby.com: Gives you access to free online classics of reference, literature and nonfiction, including Strunk & White’s Elements of Style, The World Factbook, The Oxford Shakespeare, and The King James Bible.

Convert-me.com: Provides instant conversions for thousands of various units and measurements, both common (e.g., U.S. and metric) and quite exotic, such as ancient Greek and Roman measurements.

Dynamic Periodic Table: An interactive Web 2.0 periodic table with dynamic layouts showing names, electrons, oxidation, trend visualization, orbitals, and isotopes.

Encyclopedia Smithsonian: The Smithsonian provides a set of handy online resources across many disciplines. From Art & Design to Science & Technology.

Eric Weisstein’s World of Science: Contains encyclopedias of astronomyscientific biographychemistry, and physics. This resource has been assembled over more than a decade by internet encyclopedist Eric W. Weisstein with assistance from the internet community.

Interactive Timelines: This site allows people to create interactive timelines, which they can share anywhere on the web.

Learning Is for Everyone: This non-profit has created a valuable collection of web resources.

Unz.org: This right-leaning archive gives users access to American periodicals going back to 1821. The archive also has a collection of free books and videos & film. We have more on the archive here.

World Atlas: An educational resource for world maps, atlases, and in-depth geography information. Provides teachers and students free maps of Europe, the U.S., Canada, Florida, the Caribbean Islands and much more.

Teacher and Parent Resources

20 Great Online Resources for Elementary Teachers: Just what the title says.

Classroom Earth: Helps teachers integrate environmental education into their classrooms. A program of NEEF, the National Environmental Education Foundation.

Climate Classroom: A National Wildlife Federation initiative that focuses on creating age- and developmentally appropriate curricula and projects that educate youth about the causes of and remedies for global warming. The NWF also offers a great number of lesson plans.

Curriki: The site hosts an online community for creating and sharing curricula and teaching best practices. Currently the site offers over 46,000 free K-12 lessons, units, assessments, and multimedia learning resources across all subject areas, and the platform enables educators to build their own curriculum by assembling Curriki resources, as well as their own, into collections.

Edutopia: Run by The George Lucas Educational Foundation, Edutopia empowers teachers, administrators, and parents with innovative solutions and resources to better education. You can access materials by grade level: K-23-56-8 and 9-12. Edutopia also offers a series of helpful guides, including Mobile Devices for Learning: What You Need to Know and A Parent’s Guide to 21st-Century Learning.

EDSITEment: A free high quality K-12 educational resource from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The collection has over 450 lessons plans in the humanities written by scholars and teachers covering the fields of history, literature, art and culture, and foreign languages. The site curates links to other educational sites on the web as well.

Google Earth for Science Teachers: Includes a downloadable poster and 25 page manual. By Dr. Eric Fermann of Eastchester High School in Eastchester, New York and Steve Kluge of Fox Lane High School.

Learner.org: Run by The Annenberg Foundation, Learner.org provides multimedia resources for teachers, including video series designed to help teachers improve their instruction in specific areas. Explore the collection here.

National Science Foundation Classroom Resources: A diverse collection of lessons and web resources for classroom teachers, their students, and students’ families. Covers Astronomy & SpacePhysicsBiology and much more.

PBS Teachers: PBS Teachers serves up educational resources, lesson plans, and activities for the K-12 classroom.

Share My Lesson: A site where educators can come together to create and share their very best teaching resources. Developed by teachers for teachers, the free platform gives access to high-quality teaching resources and provides an online community where teachers can collaborate with, encourage and inspire each other.

Teaching Channel: Teaching Channel is a video showcase—on the Internet and TV—of inspiring and effective teaching practices in America’s schools. The video library offers educators a wide range of subjects for grades K-12. The videos also include information on alignment with Common Core State Standards and ancillary material for teachers to use in their own classrooms.

Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: Annenberg’s Learner.org provides lessons appropriate for K-12 teachers of foreign languages.

Introducing the new BIO-OPTIC ORGANIZED KNOWLEDGE device, trade named BOOK.

28 03 2013

Introducing the new BIO-OPTIC ORGANIZED KNOWLEDGE device, trade named BOOK.

BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on!!!

It’s so easy to use, even a child can operate it. Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere—even sitting in an armchair by the fire — yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc.


BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. The pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence. Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufactures to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increase in information density; for now, BOOKS with more information simply use more pages.

Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet. BOOK may be taken up at any time and used merely by opening it.

BOOK never crashes or requires rebooting, though like other display devices it can become unusable i dropped overboard. The “browse” feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish. Many come with an “index” feature, which pin-points the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval. An optional “BOOKmark” accessory allows you to open BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session — even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single BOOKmark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers. Conversely, numerous BOOKmarkers can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once. The number i limited only by the number of pages in the BOOK.

You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with an optional programming tool, the PORTABLE ERASABLE NIB CRYPTIC INTERCOMMUNICATIONAL LANGUAGE STYLUS (PENCILS).

Portable, durable, and affordable, BOOK is being hailed as a precursor of a new entertainment wave. Also, BOOK’s appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform and investors are reportedly flocking. Look for a flood of new titles soon!!!

The Visual-Spatial Learner: by Linda Kreger Silverman

21 03 2013

Many teachers try very hard to accommodate the various learning styles of their students, but this can be an overwhelming task, as some of the learning styles inventories and models are quite complicated. As a former classroom teacher myself, I know that there are a limited number of hours in the day, and even the most dedicated teacher cannot plan for all the different learning styles and intelligences of his or her students. Take heart! There?s an easier solution.

The visual-spatial learner model is based on the newest discoveries in brain research about the different functions of the hemispheres. The left hemisphere is sequential, analytical, and time-oriented. The right hemisphere perceives the whole, synthesizes, and apprehends movement in space. We only have two hemispheres, and we are doing an excellent job teaching one of them.
We need only become more aware of how to reach the other, and we will have happier students, learning more effectively. I?d like to share with you how the visual-spatial learner idea originated. Around 1980, I began to notice that some highly gifted children took the top off the IQ test with their phenomenal abilities to solve items presented to them visually or items requiring excellent abilities to visualize. These children were also adept at spatial tasks, such as orientation problems. Soon I discovered that not only were the highest scorers outperforming others on the visual-spatial tasks, but so were the lowest scorers. The main difference between the two groups was that highly gifted children also excelled at the auditory-sequential items, whereas children who were brighter than their IQ scores had marked auditory and sequential weaknesses. It was from these clinical observations and my attempt to understand both the strengths and weaknesses that the concept of the ?visual-spatial learner? was born.

Visual-spatial learners are individuals who think in pictures rather than in words. They have a different brain organization than auditory-sequential learners. They learn better visually than auditorally. They learn all-at-once, and when the light bulb goes on, the learning is permanent. They do not learn from repetition and drill. They are whole-part learners who need to see the big picture first before they learn the details. They are non-sequential, which means that they do not learn in the step-by-step manner in which most teachers teach. They arrive at correct solutions without taking steps, so ?show your work? may be impossible for them. They may have difficulty with easy tasks, but show amazing ability with difficult, complex tasks. They are systems thinkers who can orchestrate large amounts of information from different domains, but they often miss the details. They tend to be organizationally impaired and unconscious about time. They are often gifted creatively, technologically, mathematically or emotionally.

Parents can tell if they have one of these children by the endless amount of time they spend doing advanced puzzles, constructing with LEGOs, etc., completing mazes, counting everything, playing Tetris on the computer, playing chess, building with any materials at hand, designing scientific experiments, programming your computer, or taking everything in the house apart to see how it operates. They also are very creative, dramatic, artistic and musical.

Here are the basic distinctions between the visual-spatial and auditory-sequential learner:


Thinks primarily in words

Has auditory strengths

Relates well to time

Is a step-by-step learner

Learns by trial and error

Progresses sequentially from easy to difficult material

Is an analytical thinker

Attends well to details

Follows oral directions

Does well at arithmetic

Learns phonics easily

Can sound out spelling words

Can write quickly and neatly

Is well-organized

Can show steps of work easily

Excels at rote memorization

Is comfortable with one right answer

May need some repetition to reinforce

Learns well from instruction

Learns in spite of emotional reactions

Develops fairly evenly

Usually maintains high grades

Learns languages in class



Thinks primarily in pictures

Has visual strengths

Relates well to space

Is a whole-part learner

Learns concepts all at once

Is a good synthesizer

Sees the big picture; may miss details

Is better at math reasoning than computation

Learns whole words easily

Must visualize words to spell them

Prefers keyboarding to writing

Creates unique methods of organization

Arrives at correct solutions intuitively

Learns best by seeing relationships

Has good long-term visual memory

Learns concepts permanently; is turned off by drill and repetition

Develops own methods of problem solving

Is very sensitive to teachers? attitudes

Generates unusual solutions to problems

Develops quite asynchronously

May have very uneven grades

Masters other languages through immersion

At the

Gifted Development Center, we have been exploring the visual-spatial learner phenomenon for over 2 decades. We have developed strategies for working effectively with these children, guidance for parents on living with visual-spatial learners, and techniques to help visual-spatial students learn successfully through their strengths.
This information is now available in Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner (Denver: DeLeon Publishing, 2002) and Raising Topsy-Turvy Kids: Successfully Parenting Your Visual-Spatial Child (Denver: DeLeon Publishing, 2004).Over a period of nine years, a multi-disciplinary team created the Visual-Spatial Identifier?a simple, 15-item checklist to help parents and teachers find these children. There are two forms of the Identifier: a self-rating questionnaire and an observer form, which is completed by parents or teachers. The Visual-Spatial Identifier has been translated into Spanish. With the help of two grants from the Morris S. Smith Foundation, the two instruments have been validated on 750 fourth, fifth and sixth graders. In this research, one-third of the school population emerged as strongly visual-spatial. An additional 30% showed a slight preference for the visual-spatial learning style. Only 23% were strongly auditory-sequential. This suggests that a substantial percentage of the school population would learn better using visual-spatial methods.

Please visit our websites, www.visualspatial.org and www.gifteddevelopment.com, for more information about visual-spatial learners. Or call the GiftedDevelopmentCenter (1-888-GIFTED1) or Visual-Spatial Resource (1-888-VSR-3744) to order a copy of Upside-Down Brilliance, Raising Topsy-Turvy Kids, the Visual-Spatial Identifier, or articles about visual-spatial learners. We also offer presentations for groups and phone consultations for parents.

? Copyright 1999 held by Linda Kreger Silverman. From Silverman, L.K. (2003, Winter). The visual-spatial learner: An introduction. SoundviewSchool Dolphin News, pp 6-7.


Guidelines for Teaching Visual-Spatial Learners (VSLs)

                                                                                                  by Linda Kreger Silverman

1. Present ideas visually on the chalkboard or on overheads. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Use rich, visual imagery in lectures.

2. Teach the student to visualize spelling words, math problems, etc. An effective method of teaching spelling is to write the word in large, colored print and present it to the student at arm’s length, slightly above eye level. Have her close her eyes, visualize the word, then create a silly picture of the word in her mind. Then have her spell it backwards (this demonstrates visualization), then forwards, then write it once.

3. Use inductive (discovery) techniques as often as possible. This capitalizes on the visual-spatial learner’s pattern-finding strength.

4. Teach the student to translate what he or she hears into images, and record those images using webbing, mind-mapping techniques, or pictorial notes.

5. Incorporate spatial exercises, visual imagery, reading material that is rich in fantasy, and visualization activities into the curriculum. Spatial conceptualization has the ability to go beyond linear thinking because it deals more readily with immense complexities and the interrelations of systems.

6. To accommodate introverts, allow the student to observe others before attempting activities. Stretch wait time after questions and have all students write answers before discussing. Develop a signal system during class discussions that allows introverts to participate.

7. Avoid drill, repetition, and rote memorization; use more abstract conceptual approaches and fewer, more difficult problems.

8. Teach to the student’s strengths. Help the student learn to use these strengths to compensate for weaknesses. Visualization and imagination are the visual-spatial learner’s most powerful tools and should be used frequently.

9. Allow the student to use a computer for assignments, and, in some subjects, for instruction. Teach the student how to use a keyboard effectively.

10. Give untimed power tests. Students with severe processing lags can apply to take their college board examinations untimed if the disability is documented through IQ and achievement testing within three years of the exams, and if teachers have provided extended time for tests.

11. Give more weight to the content of papers than to format. These students often suffer from deficits in mechanics: spelling, punctuation, paragraphing, etc.

12. Allow the student to construct, draw or otherwise create visual representations of a concept as a substitute for some written assignments.

13. If a bright student struggles with easy, sequential tasks, see if he can handle more advanced, complex work. Acceleration is more beneficial for such a student than remediation.

14. Expose VSLs to role models of successful adults who learn in a similar manner. Many of the most celebrated physicists were visual-spatial learners. Biographical sketches of famous visual-spatial learners can be found in The Spatial Child (Dixon, 1983), In the Mind?s Eye (West, 1991), and the spatial intelligence chapter in Frames of Mind (Gardner, 1983).

  15. Be emotionally supportive of the student. Visual-spatial learners are keenly aware of their teachers’ reactions to them, and their success in overcoming their difficulties appears directly related to their perception of the teacher’s empathy.

?Copyright 1998 held by Linda Kreger Silverman. From Silverman, L.K. (1998) Personality and learning styles of gifted children. In J. VanTassel-Baska (Ed). Excellence in educating gifted & talented learners (2nd ed., pp29-65). Denver: Love.

10 Ways to Make Some Motivation Today

11 01 2013

10 Ways to Make Some Motivation Today

by Craig Jarrow, the author of Time Management Ninja.

January 10, 2013

Do you need some motivation today?

Maybe a gentle nudge towards action?

Or perhaps a swift kick to get you moving?

Less Moping, More Making

When you can’t get yourself motivated, you need to breakthrough.

Sometimes, you just need to pick yourself up and get things going.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” - Walt Disney

Stop moping and start making your own motivation.

Here are 10 Ways to Make Some Motivation Today:

  1. Win Early – The early bird not only gets the worm, but has a spring in its step all day long. Get something done early, and you’ll get things done all day long.
  2. Change the Game – If you aren’t winning, you may need to change the game. Change the rules, even break them. Do things differently if you want different results.
  3. Celebrate the Small Wins – Big wins aren’t going to happen every day. Learn to celebrate the small progress. It’s these little victories that add up over the long-term.
  4. Believe in Yourself – Nothing generates motivation like confidence. Believe in yourself. No one is going to be your bigger fan than you. You are stronger and better than you think. Believe it.
  5. Prepare for Your Day – Being “ready” is motivating. When you are prepared for your day, you are excited to get it going. Take some time to prepare and you’ll be ready to charge into your day.
  6. Do Something You Enjoy – To kick up your motivation, do something you enjoy. Find a task that you enjoy doing and use that to get you started.
  7. Plan Your Dreams – When today has got you down, plan for tomorrow. It’s not about living in a daydream, but putting steps in place to get you to your dreams.
  8. Do Something Physical – If you want to pump up your motivation, then hit the gym. Or simply do something physical. Go for a jog or walk. Get your body moving, and it will stay that way. Exercise is a great motivator.
  9. Take Care of Loose Ends – Sometimes you are unmotivated because you are carrying around a mental load of undone tasks. Take care of the ones that are weighing on your brain so that you can move forward in your day.
  10. Connect With Someone Positive – Positive attitudes are contagious. Connect with other positive people. Multiple positive attitudes lead to exponential motivation as a group.

Motivate Yourself Today

You don’t have to mope through your day.

When life doesn’t provide inspiration, create your own.

Just a little action can inspire you to big things.

So, make your own motivation today.

Question: How do you motivate yourself?

Life Lessons at 90 years old

3 12 2012

Written by Regina Brett , 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio …

“To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I’ve ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it.

4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and
family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye But don’t worry; God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything which isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

20 When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, and wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t
save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, and then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will
this matter?’

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive but don’t forget.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d
grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need.

42. The best is yet to come…

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”


14 09 2012





10 Insights to Enhance the Joy of Learning

17 08 2012

by Scott Barry Kaufman

The essence of the joy of learning

Published on August 17, 2012 by Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D. in Beautiful Minds

#1: The joy of learning comes from the experiences of success

“A teacher should favor such teaching methods that enable the achievement of little intervening goals as a part of a greater learning process: smaller achievements function as catalysts towards greater overall goals. These small steps are important when it comes to the joy of learning.”

#2: Play provides a possibility to experience the joy of learning in the early school years

“Although a child does not consider play as a tool for learning, play itself represents important and meaningful activity. Even if play does not produce anything significant or concrete from an adult’s point of view, a child structures his/ her own environment through play. Thinking and action merge during play, and by means of play, a child takes over in terms of handling their social, cognitive and physical environment. Playing is the child’s way of seeking pleasure: why is this matter not tapped into more in teaching?”

#3: The joy of learning enjoys an environment of freedom

“Children’s free play should not be regarded only as side action that occurs when nothing important is happening and all the ‘real’ tasks are completed. Free play is relevant to a child and can be considered free, typical and valued child activity without any demands from adults or attempts to subordinate it as an instrument. A free student is inquisitive and creative.”

#4: The joy of learning does not like to hurry

“As the joy of learning is often connected with finishing a task or solving a problem, hurry does nothing to enhance the achievement of these goals. The activity itself can act as a significant source of pleasure and joy.”

#5: The joy of learning springs up in situations in which a task and can act or converge

“The balance between a learner’s abilities and the task is crucial to the joy of learning. A learner has to consider the task meaningful to him/herself because true commitment to the task does not occur without considering the task valuable. One also has to feel able to manage the task. The feeling of capability provides a learner with courage and represents the meaning of the joy of learning as daring to meet challenges.”

#6: A student naturally strives for the joy of learning

“A student wants to learn. One adds one’s energy in order to attain positive experiences and with these experiences gains positive emotions in a pleasant situation.”

#7: The joy of learning is often a common joy, too

“The company of other students and friends and a teacher’s genuine interest are premises for experiencing the joy of learning.”

#8: The joy of learning does not include listening to prolonged speeches

“A student should be at the centre of the learning situation. If a teacher alone is active and talks considerably, the student’s role is just to listen, get tired and bored with the lack of action and doing.”

#9: The joy of learning is based on a student’s abilities

“The students’ opportunities to participate in the decision-making of their own learning and to be allowed to make choices that support their learning, strengths, and success, strengthen the joy of learning.”

#10: The joy of learning is context bound

The joy of learning appears differently in every teacher’s classroom. There are many ways to establish a learning environment that enables students to experience the joy of learning… the most important thing is for every teacher to consider the joy of learning or lack of it in his/her classroom and to think of ways to provide his/her own group with opportunities to experience joy.”

Should you be in to Brainwashing?

11 08 2012

This month, we’ll focus on how to get off to a fresh start…by brainwashing others. Whether you work with adults or younger students directly, this month’s issue may change your approach forever. You’ll learn why you should be in the business of brainwashing. Here’s what the research tells us…

The Research

Brainwashing is the altering of beliefs, knowledge or attitudes in the mind of another. The first of your two questions is, “Should I do brainwashing?” The answer is an emphatic, “Yes!” Second, “Why?” Humans live their lives and take actions based on their narratives. Our own narrative is the aggregate of our daily routines, habits and predictive decisions, actions, values and conversations we engage in. Humans are remarkably true to their own “story”. At school, the story that students create and identify with is especially important.

For example, research tells us that one of the single greatest factors contributing to student achievement (ranking in the top 3) is the student’s prediction (their likely path) of how they’ll do in school (Hattie, JA, 2009). This factor tells us that a student’s belief about their academic future is critical. This speaks to their optimism and hopes as well as their belief in their own capacity to learn and grow. Some students think they’re “stuck” at their present cognitive level. This “fixed mindset” is deadly. In addition, a separate factor – the student’s attitude, is also a moderately robust predictive factor, too (Blackwell, L.S., Trzesniewski, K.H., & Dweck, C.S., 2007). Taken together, these two factors can form either a significant asset or serious liability.

Teachers may think of a student as “sharp” or “slow” and these beliefs are typically counterproductive. Labeling students as either bright or “not showing much promise” changes outcomes (Rosenthal, R., & Jacobson, L., 1992). Teachers tend to favor those who show “more promise” and spend less time with the less promising individuals. In fact, the research shows that NOT labeling students to begin with is better, and it’s a powerful factor in student achievement (Hattie, JA, 2009).

These actions can be a liability when teachers or parents frequently make use of ability-related labels (“You’re smart” or “You’re a little slow”), or describe students as maintaining stable academic levels of performance over periods of time. This can implicitly convey maladaptive and lowered expectations of ability to children (Heyman, GD, 2008). Our prediction of our future does, indeed, change our beliefs and actions (Chang, 2001).

The strength of these two factors suggests that you can gain enormous “return on effort” by altering them. In other words, by altering a student’s prediction and attitude about how they’ll do in your class, your chances are high that their changed attitude will change how they achieve. While struggling teachers often notice or complain about student “attitudes”, one of the things that strong teachers do is to purposefully alter student perceptions of themselves.

Practical Applications

Our second question is, “How can I effectively change the minds of others?” First, be blunt! Tell your students explicitly, in plain English that “Your brain can change!” Let them know IQ is NOT fixed. Teach them that new learning can change the brain. Show them videos on people that overcame obstacles to change themselves (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3TQopnNXBU).

Focus on things that the student can alter, such as a strategy, attitude or effort. Labels can become an asset when teachers shift their thinking to that of a variable (not fixed) asset dependent. Author of Mindset, Carol Dweck, says that the way to talk to students is critical (2006). Check out this You Tube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTXrV0_3UjY.

She suggests that you say:

“You really studied for your English test, and your improvement shows it. You read the material over several times, outlined it, and tested yourself on it. That really worked!”

“I like the way you tried all kinds of strategies on that math problem until you finally got it.”

“It was a long, hard assignment, but you stuck to it and got it done. You stayed at your desk, kept up your concentration, and kept working. That’s great!”

“I like that you took on that challenging project for your science class. It will take a lot of work–doing the research, designing the machine, buying the parts, and building it. You’re going to learn a lot of great things.”

Starting today, you can begin to alter one of the single biggest achievement factors. You can stack the deck in your favor. You can alter what students think about themselves! You can do that by the way you talk about learning, the brain and change. It’s just as, or even more, important for the staff to know this about themselves. Ensure that every single staff (without exception) understands that the brain can change (but not if the teacher does not change). This year, let’s focus on changing brains with a HUGE attitude upgrade. A better attitude means you’ll see more student effort. That will make all of our jobs easier!

In closing, whether you teach kids, serve as an administrator or staff developer, or are a parent of your own kids, you have an obligation to influence others. But if their brain is the same, there’s no change in behavior or attitude. Changing attitudes is the kind of change that will provide the greatest return. What is your plan for positive brainwashing your students this year?

Your partner in learning,


Eric Jensen
CEO, Jensen Learning
Brain-Based Education

We encourage you to share our articles with others that are interested in improving education. All we ask in return is that you link our website - www.JensenLearning.com - as the source.

Blackwell, L.S., Trzesniewski, K.H., & Dweck, C.S. (2007). Implicit theories of intelligence predict achievement across an adolescent transition: A longitudinal study and an intervention. Child Development, 78. 246-263.
Chang, EC, 2001. Optimism and Pessimism. Wash. DC: American Psychological Assn.
Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.
Hattie, JA, 2009). Visible Learning for Teachers. Routlege: London.
Heyman, GD (2008). Talking about Success: Implications for Achievement Motivation. Journal of Appl Dev Psychol. September ; 29(5): 361-370.
Rosenthal, R. (1991). Teacher expectancy effects: A brief update 25 years after the Pygmalion experiment. Journal of Research in Education, 1, 3-12.
Rosenthal, R., & Jacobson, L. (1992). Pygmalion in the classroom: Teacher expectation and pupils’ intellectual development (expanded ed.). New York: Irvington. Ross, J. L.
Rosenthal, R., & Jacobson, L. (1996). Teachers’ expectancies: Determinants of pupils’ IQ gains. Psychological Reports, 19, 115-118.

Peter Thiel used Chess concepts to become a billionaire

9 06 2012

Through notes from Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup class at Stanford University, we have a unique window into the mind of the venture capitalist and hedge fund manager. He’s fascinated with human nature, and integrates what he learned from his former career as a chess master into his lectures.

Chess is a contained universe: there are only 32 pieces on the board and 64 squares those pieces can occupy. But starting up a company takes much more than raw intellectual ability; it requires what Thiel calls “The Mechanics of Mafia,” or the understanding of complex human dynamics. Linking the two worlds is Thiel’s passion. Here are some of the chess concepts he highlighted in his class, thanks to notes from one of his former students, Blake Masters:

Know the relative value of your pieces.

In chess, the queen is the most valuable piece on the board. In the standard valuation system, it is given a 9, whereas the rook (5), bishop (3), knight (3), and pawn (1) are lower. In his lecture Value Systems, Thiel mentions Guy Kawasaki’s equation [from a deliberately provocative presentation about the merits of MBAs for startups – Yahoo! Eds] on how to assess the value of a company based on the types of people you have:

Pre-money valuation = ($1M x Number of Engineers) – ($500k x Number of MBAs).

So engineers are more valuable pieces than MBAs.

From his lecture If You Build It, Will They Come? Thiel points out that within any group, there is a wide range of talent. This goes for engineering as much as it goes for sales. “Engineering is transparent … It is fairly easy to evaluate how good someone is. Are they a good coder? An ubercoder? Things are different with sales. Sales isn’t very transparent at all. We are tempted to lump all salespeople in with vacuum cleaner salesmen, but really there is a whole set of gradations. There are amateurs, mediocrities, experts, masters, and even grandmasters.”

“But if you don’t believe that sales grandmasters exist, you haven’t met Elon [Musk]. He managed to get $500m in government grants for building rockets, which is SpaceX, and also for building electric cars, which is done by his other company, Tesla.”

The take-away lesson: Just like with chess pieces, people are not of equal value when it comes to your organization. You must be able to accurately assess their value. And within any field there are amateurs, mediocrities, experts, masters, and grandmasters.

Know how your pieces work best together.

In his lecture The Mechanics of Mafia Thiel discusses two personality types: “nerds” and “athletes.” “Engineers and STEM people tend to be highly intelligent, good at problem solving, and naturally non zero-sum. Athletes tend to be highly-motivated fighters; you only win if the other guy loses.” A company made up of only athletes will be biased toward competing. A company made up of only nerds will ignore the situations where you have to fight. “So you have to strike the right balance between nerds and athletes.”

The take-away lesson: You need some athletes to protect your nerds when it’s time to fight.

Know the phases of the game and have a plan.

In chess, there are three phases: the opening, the middle game and the end game.

From his lecture Value Systems Thiel notes: “People often talk about ‘first mover advantage.’ But focusing on that may be problematic; you might move first then fade away. The danger there is that you simply aren’t around to succeed, even if you do end up creating value. More important than being the first mover is the last mover. You have to be durable. In this one particular at least, business is like chess. Grandmaster Jose Raul Capablanca put it very well: to succeed ‘you must study the endgame before anything else.’”

From his lecture War and Peace: “A good intermediate lesson in chess is that even a bad plan is better than no plan at all. Having no plan is chaotic. And yet people default to no plan.”

Take away lesson: Moving first isn’t always an advantage. Think about poker. If you’re the last to bet, you have the most information. The endgame is where the most decisive moves are made. Study it and make sure you’re around at the right time to make your move. Have a plan.

Talent matters; there is more to success than luck.

In chess, talent clearly matters. In business and life, both talent and luck matter.

From his lecture You Are Not A Lottery Ticket, Thiel said that “when we know that someone successful is skilled, we tend to discount that or not talk about it. There’s always a large role for luck. No one is allowed to show how he actually controlled everything.”

In his lecture If You Build It, Will They Come? Thiel explained that “since the best people tend to make the best companies, the founders or one or two key senior people at any multimillion-dollar company should probably spend between 25 percent and 33 percent of their time identifying and attracting talent.”

Take away lesson: Some people hold more value and control more resources than you realize. Invest your time in finding those talented people for your organization.

Chess is a brutal mental game. So is life. Make your moves carefully.

According to chess grandmaster Danny King’s interview with 60 Minutes, “Chess is a really brutal game. I think because it’s so contained. It’s all going on in the head. And if you lose to your opponent, you feel stupid. You can call someone all the names under the sun, but if you call someone stupid, that’s the worst thing you can say to another human being. And that’s a bit what it feels like when you lose a game of chess. It’s all intellectual.”

Take away lesson: In the words of King: “You can’t take your moves back. Once you play your move you could be stepping into some horrible trap.”

© 2012 by Jonathan Wai

15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy

18 05 2012

Here is a list of 15 things which, if you give up on them, will make your life a lot easier and much, much happier. We hold on to so many things that cause us a great deal of pain, stress and suffering – and instead of letting them all go, instead of allowing ourselves to be stress free and happy – we cling on to them. Not anymore. Starting today we will give up on all those things that no longer serve us, and we will embrace change. Ready? Here we go:

1. Give up your need to always be right

There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong – wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It’s just not worth it. Whenever you feel the ‘urgent’ need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question: “Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?” Wayne Dyer. What difference will that make? Is your ego really that big?

2. Give up your need for control

Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street – just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel.

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” Lao Tzu

3. Give up on blame

Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life.

4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk

Oh my. How many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? Don’t believe everything that your mind is telling you – especially if it’s negative and self-defeating. You are better than that.

“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.” Eckhart Tolle

5. Give up your limiting beliefs

about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Spread your wings and fly!

“A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind” Elly Roselle

6. Give up complaining

Give up your constant need to complain about those many, many, maaany things – people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.

7. Give up the luxury of criticism

Give up your need to criticize things, events or people that are different than you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. We all want to be happy, we all want to love and be loved and we all want to be understood. We all want something, and something is wished by us all.

8. Give up your need to impress others

Stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not just to make others like you. It doesn’t work this way. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not, the moment you take off all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly.

9. Give up your resistance to change

Change is good. Change will help you move from A to B. Change will help you make improvements in your life and also the lives of those around you. Follow your bliss, embrace change – don’t resist it. “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” Joseph Campbell

10. Give up labels

Stop labeling those things, people or events that you don’t understand as being weird or different and try opening your mind, little by little. Minds only work when open. “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

11. Give up on your fears

Fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t exist – you created it. It’s all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall into place. “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

12. Give up your excuses

Send them packing and tell them they’re fired. You no longer need them. A lot of times we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses – excuses that 99.9% of the time are not even real.

13. Give up the past

I know, I know. It’s hard. Especially when the past looks so much better than the present and the future looks so frightening, but you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. The past you are now longing for – the past that you are now dreaming about – was ignored by you when it was present. Stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. After all life is a journey not a destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now.

14. Give up attachment

This is a concept that, for most of us is so hard to grasp and I have to tell you that it was for me too, (it still is) but it’s not something impossible. You get better and better at with time and practice. The moment you detach yourself from all things, (and that doesn’t mean you give up your love for them – because love and attachment have nothing to do with one another,  attachment comes from a place of fear, while love… well, real love is pure, kind, and self less, where there is love there can’t be fear, and because of that, attachment and love cannot coexist) you become so peaceful, so tolerant, so kind, and so serene. You will get to a place where you will be able to understand all things without even trying. A state beyond words.

15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations

Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need….and eventually they forget about themselves.  You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.

What’s going on with Mr. X?

8 05 2012

Mr. X, the Magician, (AKA Bob Bishop) has been busy performing his unique shows. Recently he has been busy performing at conventions, restaurants, parties, conferences and businesses.

He has been creating Magical Moments that leave a lasting impression!  If you are an event planner needing an illusionist or close-up magician for your conference, awards dinner or party, Mr. X is your best choice!

Take a look at my face book and get as many people as you can to Like it.

Our goal is to get 500 by May 25th!!

Look it up and see what you think.



Web page is http://www.odysseylearningadventures.com/

What happens when students don’t have good executive functioning skills?

3 05 2012

Executive Function Disorders

Published on DyslexiaHelp at the University of Michigan (http://dyslexiahelp.umich.edu)

 What happens when students don’t have good executive functioning skills?

Your friend Theresa stops over. She’s not on your to-do lists or your calendar, but you let her in nonetheless and consequently spend thirty minutes talking to her which stops you from completing your reading assignment.  Before she leaves you get an instant message from another friend to stop by on your way home from school tomorrow to pick up a pair of gloves you left there yesterday.  You acknowledge back “OK” while you’re still talking to Theresa.  You ask Theresa to repeat what she said and you forget about the reading assignment that was on your calendar to do in this time frame. And what was it that your mother told you to pick up? Milk? Your clothes from your room?  Oh well, she will tell you again so it doesn’t matter. Theresa leaves and you have long forgotten about the gloves. You decide to play a video game and wait for your Mom to come home to tell you what to do next. Executive function (in this student’s case-Mom) is what gets us down to business when we’d rather just hang out.

For this student “Mom” acts as the executive function command center. She commands the actions that provide organization, remembers the details, makes sure that projects start and finish on time, helps to sequentially go from one assignment or play date to the next, and remembers the details. When this student is left on her own, life may become chaotic, assignments may be slow to start or never start at all, deadlines may be consistently pushed back or never met at all, and important details missed or overlooked.  In today’s increasingly chaotic world, executive functions are essential to smoothly function and get tasks done.

Located in the frontal lobes of the brain, executive functions (EF) typically begin to develop in early childhood as the prefrontal cortex develops, then continue through adolescence into young adulthood.  Parallel to the gradual development of EF, parents, teachers, and others in a child’s environment gradually escalate their expectations for the child to exercise an increasing measure of self-management, ranging from the simple tasks of dressing and self-care gradually to more complex responsibilities, e.g., managing multiple courses of study in high school or driving a motor vehicle. Like the student above, sometimes parents intervene so much to help their adolescents stay organized and on task that EF impairments are masked until the teen moves away from home, possibly to attend college or begin a job. Then, when she enters a situation where parental scaffolding is unavailable, she may experience much difficulty.

A collage of cognitive activities, EF encompasses the ability to design actions towards a goal, handle information flexibly, realize the ramifications of behavior, and make reasonable inferences based upon limited information. They are detailed functions of logic, strategy, planning, problem solving, and reasoning. There is no planning for the future without good EF planning skills.

Impairment of any or all of these EF skills may be present in spite of strong intellectual skills and unaffected language capacity.  They are characterized by the following skills:

  • Difficulty with planning and organization
  • Trouble identifying what needs to be done
  • Problems determining the sequence of accomplishment
  • Difficulty carrying out the steps in an orderly way
  • Difficulty beginning tasks
  • Problems maintaining attention
  • Trouble evaluating how one is doing on a task
  • Difficulty taking feedback or suggestions

 Four subtypes of EF

According to Levine (1994), there are four subtypes of EF:

  • Material-spatial disorganization: This prevents students from dealing effectively with the equipment needed to be efficient in school. This is seen in such behaviors as losing things, creating messes among belongings, and not bringing home or returning assignments in a timely way.
  • Temporal-sequential disorganization: In this case, students display confusion about time and the sequencing of tasks, such as being late, procrastinating; or having trouble allocating time, estimating how long a task will take to complete, or knowing the order of steps needed to complete a task.
  • Transitional disorganization: This involves difficulty shifting gears smoothly and results in rushing from one activity to the next, having difficulty settling down to work, or being slow in preparing to leave home for school in the mornings.
  • Prospective retrieval disorganization: This involves the inability to remember to do something that had been planned in advance, such as forgetting the deadline of a project until the night before or failing to follow through on a promise to finish a task.

Ways to help students develop EF

First and most importantly, the student needs to understand how she thinks (metacognitive processes) and gain knowledge about strategies. In doing so, she will learn that there is more than one right way to accomplish a task, be able to identify her mistakes and what to do to correct them, and how to evaluate her progress.

Time management – The ability to manage time includes the following: estimating the amount of time a task will take to complete, setting and following a schedule, completion of tasks on schedule, and the ability to modify or change the schedule as needed.

There are several options for time management – but most of all it is important to find a system that a student will use.  Time management can be broken down into four divisions:

  1. Time estimation – how long will a task take
  2. Time schedules – generating an accurate and realistic time
  3. Completion of scheduled activities – ability to execute tasks within time allotment
  4. Alterations – ability to modify schedule

Establish routines

Time management can be facilitated by establishing routines throughout the day. Routines help to establish inner time clocks and can be facilitated initially by posting lists of sequential steps. It is important that the student be involved in developing the lists and discussing the time estimation of each sequence along with possible alterations that may need to occur, for example, on weekends.

It’s helpful to teach students the acronym CLASH to do daily:

Check your calendar or planner to see what is planned. This may include checking for assignments or tests for the next day to see if there is anything special to bring from home. If working, it may include checking for upcoming tasks and deadlines. It is helpful to make a plan utilizing a checklist before beginning tasks/assignments.  This checklist should include: estimating how long each task/assignment may take, setting priorities, collecting materials, setting a timer, doing the task, collecting next materials, resetting time, and placing the completed assignments in one’s backpack/briefcase.

List the items you need for the next day the night before:

  • On a piece of paper or in your cell phone, list all the things you will need for all of your classes/work the next day.
  • Make sure you remember to bring any special forms that have to be signed by your parents or may need your attention if at work.
  • Make sure that you bring home all the books/ materials you need to look over each night.
  • Make sure that you have your notebooks, folders, or binder that you brought home with you.
  • Recharge your cell phone so it works the next day.

Always gather the materials from you checklist (refer to checklist) and put them in your book bag/briefcase:

  • Gather everything that you need the night before and put the things in your book bag/ briefcase.
  • Refer to the materials checklist to help you stay organized!
  • Don’t wait until the morning, because you may be rushed and forget to check.

Set your book bag/ briefcase and planner (cell phone) by the door.

Have a list with you of what materials you need before each class/meeting and look at this list before you go:

  • At the beginning of the day, write a list on a sticky note of what you will need for each class/meeting and stick it on the inside of your locker or on your desk.  If you have a dry-erase board on your locker or desk then use that. Use this method only if you go to your locker between each of your classes.
  • As you take the materials for each class/meeting, pull off the sticky note or erase the item from the dry-erase board.


Students need to learn how to develop and use organizers. These external systems include calendars, to- do lists, daily logs, and checklists.  These can be in paper form or by cell phone, iPad, or other technology devices.  It may be best to initially start with both systems (paper and tech), depending on the age of the student, but in today’s world technology is often the preferable method for organizers and having two systems can be difficult to maintain.  It is important to initially assist students in developing their schedules.  They may especially need assistance in developing forethought to plan to start a task hours or sometimes even days before the task is due.  Also, developing a time estimation worksheet can help students visualize how many hours they have in a day and began to estimate how long certain tasks may take. A student with dyslexia who is aware of how many words she reads a minute may be able to estimate approximate reading times needed for longer assignments or for the time she would want to spend summarizing an article after reading it.

There are many ways that students can make use of the features available on their cell phones to benefit time management and study skills.  For example, online to-do lists such as Remember the Milk [1] can send text alerts (or IM or email) reminding students of an upcoming appointment, assignment, or project. (Unless the students have unlimited text messaging plans, it is important to discuss texting charges and how using these services can affect their cell phone bills.)

If the students’ phones are equipped with cameras (as most phones now are), they can use them to snap photos of the whiteboard/blackboard after class to make sure they don’t miss notes or an assignment. Photos may also serve as a helpful visual reminder of what needs to be done (i.e., create a photo series of packing up homework, lunch, and other typically forgotten items).

Students can use text messaging, such as Google SMS [2], to get definitions, facts, weather, and conversions sent directly to their phones. As with Google searches, if a student spells a word incorrectly, Google SMS will generally prompt with “Did you mean…?” and provide both the correct spelling and the related information.

Finally, many companies are capitalizing on powerful new cell phones and creating programs [3] for sending flashcards [4] and study materials [5] directly to your phone or iPod [6]. Students can browse flashcards created by others or create their own and study wherever they are. The use of color coding is an effective organizing strategy.  For example, a routine can be established in class (e.g., green for main idea, red for details in reading, blue for essential information in math word problems, etc.) that students can integrate into their own note-taking.

Prioritize and Be Flexible

Once events are scheduled, to-do lists established, and the time necessary to complete events are charted, the next step is to learn to prioritize. What is pressing vs. what could be moved forward to complete another day?  This skill helps to not drop tasks that may not get completed due to interruptions, such as a friend stopping over.  The ability to be flexible is an important skill to learn to manage.  Having other options for completing or rescheduling tasks if such events occur allows for preparation of the unexpected.


In Aldous Huxley’s book Island, trained myna birds fly around frequently squawking, “Here and now, here and now!”  The author wisely predicted the necessity of having reminders to pay attention, to stay in the moment. In today’s world there is much to absorb and a great deal of information to process every day. Each day calls to attention detailed facts and complex concepts, family members and friends, projects at work or at school, news items, planning meals, managing the instructions and assignments of several classes or work tasks.  It’s no wonder we are sometimes not aware of what is going on right in front of us!  Students with EF struggle to determine the most important information to pay attention to and then use that information as needed.  Developing appropriate levels of alertness for attending to a lecture, reading a text book, writing a report, or solving mathematical problems are essential and necessary skills.  Students who effectively control their alertness are able to concentrate without becoming mentally fatigued (especially when sitting still and/or listening for long periods of time) and to pay attention without feeling excessively “bored” or “tired.”

Here are some tips for increasing attention:

  • Get enough sleep at night – Getting adequate amounts of sleep enables a student to be fully awake and have the mental energy to learn and perform in school. Students who get adequate periods of true sleep fall and stay asleep at night with few, if any, problems.  Going to bed at the same time each night and establishing a bed-time routine, starting at dinner or just after dinner will assist in maintaining appropriate levels of alertness throughout the day.
  • Develop a state of alertness or readiness for action, similar to getting ready for a kickoff at a football game.  Help students do this through the acronym SET. Sit straight, Eyes on teacher, Think about words being said and place an external focus on others to listen to them.
  • Learn to develop internal attention – metacognition? How is it going? Am I on track?
  • Minimize any distractions such as outside noise, being hungry, thinking about what you need to do in the future.
  • Create a Picture and MAKE IT VISUAL!! Visual memories are more effective and are remembered longer!
    • Read the STOP signs and Read the Room
    • Space – Where is it? What are the parts to that space?
    • Time – What time is it now?  What usually happens at this time?  What is coming up?  The task/activity I am doing now, when does it need to be done by? How much time do I have?  How long will it take? What can reasonably be accomplished in this amount of time?  What is the usual sequence that I do in that amount of time? What is the pace of activity? Can I dilly-dally or do I need to rush?
    • Objects – What materials are in front of me?  What materials do I still need?  Anything I need to practice?
    • People – Who is around?  Who do I need? What are they doing?  What is their pace?  What is their mood?  What is coming up for them?
  • Using highlighters, and/or graphics can help to draw attention to important information.
  • Examine social relationships in the same way as a new learning situation. Talk aloud about what to attend to in social interactions, e.g., which are most important when forming friendships, dating relationships.
  • Take frequent breaks during the day and vary the length of work periods.  Use stretching and walking as ways to revitalize your body, getting the blood flowing more evenly throughout the body.  Use quiet time to rejuvenate mental energy.
  • Adjust seating.  Sitting in front of a classroom can facilitate attention and keep distractions from other students to a minimum.
  • Become aware of your periods of lower energy; keep a diary or a log of the times during the day when this occurs.  Plan on having a healthy energy snack in the afternoon.
  • Learn to use textbooks efficiently, for example: how to use the table of contents and the index, how to use the questions at the end of the chapter to guide reading, and how to preview text before reading a chapter (by skimming for key words, dates, and names, looking at pictures for clues to meaning, etc.).
  • Provide assistance when mental effort wanes. For example, work together with others as mental energy buddies, or provide jump-starts such as starting one or more math problems, reading the first passage of a text, etc.
  • Use special devices, e.g., calculators, word processors, or tape recorders that help stretch mental effort during periods of high output.
  • Use a word processing program to develop templates for later use, e.g., a template for getting my homework done, for solving a math word problem, for asking for help in class, etc. Learn to self-monitor your work by evaluating the quality of planning and performance throughout a task.
  • Practice making predictions while learning. For example, use prediction charts in reading to help organize predictions and maintain them for later reflection, use story starter activities in writing to contribute the rest of a story based on the beginning, use historical events in social studies to make predictions before learning the actual outcomes, or estimate answers to math problems and science experiments before doing the actual solving.
  • Self-monitoring after a task allows a student to think about the effectiveness of a strategy based on a particular outcome, for example thinking about how the amount of studying or planning relates to a high or low grade received on a test.


There are an abundance of terms used to describe memory, such as long term, short term, episodic, sensory, tactile, active, and verbal. It is important to have appropriate testing that will help to simplify and focus what type of memory difficulties a student may be experiencing. Students who experience difficulties with memory encounter extreme challenges with learning and with reading.  Sometimes what appears to be a memory problem may actually be a reduction in attention, poor planning, and other organizational challenges.

Memory can be like an office.  On the desk is immediate or active memory. This is the memory that allows a student to read an assignment and hold on to the information from one paragraph to another or to complete the multiple steps required for a math problem.   In the to do basket are short term memory items, these are items to do next, they are not in front currently, but they will need attention soon.  In the file cabinet is long term memory.  These are items that will need attention in the near future, but can be stored away for now.

To properly encode a memory, the first step is to pay attention. It is impossible to pay attention to everything so most of what is encountered every day is simply filtered out, and only a few stimuli pass into conscious awareness. What scientists aren’t sure about is whether stimuli are screened out during the sensory input stage or only after the brain processes its significance. What we do know is that paying attention to information may be the most important factor in how much of it is actually remembered.

Important information is gradually transferred from short-term memory into long-term memory. The more the information is repeated or used, the more likely it is to eventually end up in long-term memory, or to be “retained.” (That’s why studying helps people perform better on tests.) Unlike sensory and short-term memory, which are limited and decay rapidly, long-term memory can store unlimited amounts of information indefinitely.

People tend to more easily store material on subjects that they already know something about, since the information has more meaning to them and can be mentally connected to related information that is already stored in their long-term memory. That’s why someone who has an average memory may be able to remember a greater depth of information about one particular subject.

Here are some tips for increasing memory:

  • Explicitly and frequently connect reading material to a student’s lives and daily experiences.
  • Preview the highest priority points to glean from reading material, such as those likely to be discussed in class or asked about on a test.
  • Coach students to use strategies for storing information, such as mental imagery (like associating a top hat with President Lincoln), acronyms (like HOMES for the Great Lakes), acrostic elaboration (like “King Philips Court…” for Kingdom-Phylum-Class), and rhyming (like “i” before “e” except after “c”). Such strategies can be used to prompt students to retrieve information during presentations and interactions.
  • Provide extra instruction and practice regarding the multiple letter patterns (such as “k,””c,” “ck,” “ch,” “que”) that can be linked with a particular sound (like /k/).
  • Emphasize word families (like take, bake, rake, fake, etc.) to consolidate common letter patterns (such as –ake) and vary words with prefixes and suffixes (like taking, baking, raking, faking, etc.)
  • Nonsense words (such as “bik”) can bolster sound-symbol pairs in long-term memory because they have to be sounded out rather than identified as sight words; students can practice reading nonsense words or even develop their own.
  • Show students how to make a flowchart that breaks down a procedure into its component parts.
  • Ask students to explain the steps of a procedure orally and in writing.
  • Use acronyms or phrases to improve storage of procedural sequences, such as PEMDAS or “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” for the order of operations: Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication/Division, Add/Subtract.
  • All students need to understand how their memory works and identify their particular profiles of memory strengths and weaknesses (metamemory).
  • Information on any topic should be presented to students in a variety of formats including spatial, linguistic and sequential. For example, if students are presented with an outline, it may be given in the traditional sequential way as well as with using a strategy called “mind mapping”. Mind mapping is a spatial/configurational format while the traditional way in which students are instructed is a linear/sequential format.
  • Students who have difficulty with short-term memory registration and/or working memory may need directions repeated to them. As they get older, they will need to write directions down to help them remember them.
  • When students have difficulty remembering what they have read, they should be taught to paraphrase (recode information) as they read and to take notes in the margins, underline, highlight and/or make notes on a Post-It. If they made notes on a Post-It, they can place the Post-It on paper and have a summary of what they have read.
  • Note taking is an activity that may help students register information in memory as well as to consolidate it. Note taking is a skill that should be taught to all students. Students with handwriting problems may have a difficult time with this task, however, and may need alternative strategies.
  • Students who have working memory problems may need to use a calculator to solve multiple step math problems. Also when completing a writing assignment, they should use a “staging” procedure that allows them to focus on one aspect of writing at a time. With this procedure, they would first generate ideas, then organize them, and finally attend to spelling and mechanical and grammatical rules. Students should also write the topic and any key ideas they have down and refer to these when writing their assignment.
  • It may be helpful for students to review material right before going to sleep at night. Research has shown that information studied this way is better remembered. Any task that is performed after reviewing and prior to sleeping interferes with consolidation of information in memory.
  • All students would benefit from self-testing. They should identify the important information, formulate test questions, and then answer them. This is also a useful exercise to perform with a study buddy.
  • When students need to remember a series of steps or events, it may be helpful for them to draw diagrams or flow charts of the steps/events.
  • Paired associations as well as most other information is remembered better when it is rehearsed using multiple sensory modalities. For example, a student who is trying to remember basic math facts would walk a number line as they were saying the math facts.
  • Many students are very adept with computers and there are a number of software programs such as “Reading Blaster” and “Math Blaster” that can help a student retain basic skills.
  • Students should be taught the necessity of “overlearning” new information. Often they practice only until they are able to perform one error-free repetition of the material.
  • Students should be required to identify the particular memory strategies that they will use for specific situations. For example, they should be asked how they plan on remembering all of the states and their capitals in the United States.

Apps for EF

Evernote [7]

Evernote – Free [7]

Remember everything! Forget writing on your hand or sticky notes. Use your iPhone or iPad to take a picture, record a note, send a PDF, or just jot a note.

Write Pad [8]

Write Pad – $9.99 [8]

Write Pad allows you a variety of options: handwriting recognition, write your note with your finger or a stylus, check spelling, executive shorthand, change of character recognition.  It is $9.99, but worth every cent for those who are not familiar with keyboarding or find type too difficult.

Notability [9]

Notability – $0.99 [10]

Notability is a note-taking app that allows you to type, insert a figure, and insert a web clip or a picture. It also allows you to record a teacher’s lecture.

Nudge [11]

Nudge – $0.99 [11]

Nudge is a quick note to remember something for tomorrow: bring pens to school, tie-dying bring in a white shirt. It is set, and until you shut it off, it nudges you.

CourseNotes [12]

CourseNotes – $4.99-$9.99 [12]

Students: CourseNotes color codes your notebooks and adds teachers. Take notes during your classes and organize them by class and subject. Review your notes later, and search through multiple classes and notes at once. Also, keep To-Do lists and track assignments by providing due dates.

iAnnotate [13]

iAnnotate – $9.99 [13]

Teachers: iAnnotate allows you to receive PDF files from your students or an article you are reading. It lets you take notes or highlight an important fact, and of course, lets you assist a student in corrections.  It is a fabulous app to keep your notes organized, with the ability to make corrections or add notes.

Websites for EF

All Kinds of Minds [14] The All Kinds of Minds website provides resources to help parents, educators, and clinicians understand why a child is struggling in school and how to help each child become a more successful learner. The Web site provides a free monthly newsletter, articles by Dr. Mel Levine and others, case studies, discussion groups, a Learning Base of strategies, and much more.

The Hallowell Center [15] This website describes the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health which specializes in the understanding and managing of attention deficits, worry/anxiety, and child and adult learning difficulties. The site offers informative articles and materials by Dr. Ned Hallowell.

HAPPYneuron [16] These brain games help you improve your memory and attention through award-winning, innovative and fun cognitive training exercises.

The Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation [17] This website is dedicated to helping you learn about Ennis William Cosby, about the foundation established in his memory, and about learning and learning differences. The site offers resources and information on how parents and teachers can help individuals with learning differences. Information is also available about the new video “Ennis’ Gift: A film about learning differences.”

Family Education [18] Parents find practical guidance, grade-specific information about their children’s school experience, strategies to get involved with their children’s learning, free email newsletters, and fun and entertaining family activities.

Kids Health [19] Created by The Nemours Foundation’s Center for Children’s Health Media, Kids Health provides families with accurate, up-to-date, and jargon-free health information they can use. Kids Health has separate areas for kids, teens, and parents – each with its own design, age-appropriate content, and tone. There are literally thousands of in-depth features, articles, animations, games, and resources – all original and all developed by experts in the health of children and teens.

Misunderstood Minds [20]  PBS has created a companion Web site to the Misunderstood Minds special on learning differences. Within the site are stories from the show and information and resources for parents.

Read•Write•Think [21]  Read•Write•Think is a partnership between the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and the MCI Foundation to provide educators and students with access to the highest quality practices and resources in reading and language arts instruction through free, Internet-based content.

PBS Parents [22] The PBS Parents Guides address important aspects of your child’s early years such as school readiness and social and emotional development. You can also find information about your children’s favorite PBS KIDS programs: schedules for your local area, educational activities related to the programs, and explanations of educational goals.

Schwab Learning [23] is a “parent’s guide to helping kids with learning difficulties” that emphasizes useful information and practical strategies for children in kindergarten through high school. With over 350 research based articles, resources, message boards, email newsletter and more, parents will find the guidance and support they need.


Cherkes-Julkowski, M., Sharp, S., & Stolzenberg, J. (1997). Rethinking Attention Deficit Disorders. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Brookline Books.

Dornbush, M. P., & Pruitt, S. K. (1995). Teaching the Tiger: A Handbook for Individuals Involved in the Education of Students with Attention Deficit Disorders, Tourette syndrome or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Duarte, California: Hope Press.

Fowler, M., Barkley, R., Reeve, R., & Zentall, S. (1992). CH.A.D.D. Educators Manual: An In-Depth Look at Attention Deficit Disorders from an Educational Perspective: A Project of the CH.A.D.D. National Education Committee. Plantation, Florida: CH.A.D.D.

Hammeken, P. A. (1995). Inclusion: 450 Strategies for Success – A practical guide for all educators who teach students with disabilities. Minnetonka, Minnesota: Peytral Publications.

Jensen, E. (1998). Teaching with the brain in mind. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Levine, M. D. (1994). Educational Care. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Educators Publishing Service.

Levine, M. D. (1998). Developmental Variation and Learning Disorders. (2 ed.). Cambridge, MA: Educators Publishing Service.

Markel, G., & Greenbaum, J. (1996). Performance Breakthroughs for Adolescents with Learning Disabilities or ADD. Champaign, IL: Research Press.

Parker, H. C. (1992). The ADD Hyperactivity Handbook for Schools: Effective Strategies for Identifying and Teaching ADD Students in Elementary and Secondary Schools. Plantation, Florida: Impact Publications.

Rief, S. F. (1993). How To Reach and Teach ADD/ADHD Children: Practical Techniques, Strategies, and Interventions for Helping Children with Attention Problems and Hyperactivity. West Nyack, New York: Center for Applied Research in Education.

Strichart, S.S., Mangrum, C.T., & Lannuzzi, P. (1998). Teaching Study Strategies to Students with Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorders, or Special Needs. (2ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Cooper, L. A., & Lang, J. M. (1996). Imagery and visual spatial representations. In E. L. Bjork & R. A. Bjork (eds), Handbook of perception and cognition. San Diego: Academic Press.

Gaddes, W. H., & Edgell, D. (1994). Learning disabilities and brain function: A neuropsychological approach. (3rd edition). New York: Springer-Verlag.

Kail, R. & Hall, L. (2001). Distinguishing short-term memory from working memory. Memory and Cognition, 29, 1-9.

Levine, M. D. (1998). Developmental variation and learning disorders. Cambridge and Toronto: Educators Publishing Services, Inc.

Links: [1] http://www.rememberthemilk.com/ [2] http://www.google.com/mobile/sms/#p=default [3] http://www.studystack.com/ [4] http://www.studycell.com/ [5] http://mobileprep.positivemotion.com/home/index.php [6] http://www.flashmybrain.com/index.php [7] http://www.evernote.com/ [8] http://www.phatware.com/ [9] http://www.gingerlabs.com/ [10] http://www.gingerlabs.com [11] http://simpletailor.net/nudge [12] http://www.coursenotesapp.com/index.php [13] http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/iannotate-pdf/id363998953?mt=8 [14] http://www.allkindsofminds.org [15] http://www.drhallowell.com [16] http://www.happy-neuron.com/brain-games/executive-function [17] http://www.hellofriend.org [18] http://www.familyeducation.com [19] http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/ [20] http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/misunderstoodminds/index.html [21] http://www.readwritethink.org/ [22] http://www.pbs.org/parents/ [23] http://www.schwablearning.org SchwabLearning.org

16 Reasons why it’s so Important to Follow your Dreams

1 05 2012

16 Reasons Why It’s So Important To Follow Your Dreams

A Dream, a vision, a goal, a desire, these are all things most of us know we need when we are working towards success but have somewhere along the line, forgotten why it is so important we follow them through.


So I have created this list….. Well, lets call it a reminder of why it is so important to follow your dreams.


The 16 Reasons Why It Is So Important To Follow Your Dreams


1. The secret of living is giving, if you follow your dreams then you will have something worth sharing with others, hope, inspiration and a meaning to live, and that to me, is a great contribution.

2. Chasing your dreams will develop your courage. Courage is your fuel to achieve amazing success in life, follow your dreams and exercise courage. In sure enough time you will be unstoppable.

3. There is a reason why as kids we loved magic and dreams. Stop chasing your dreams and you will forget how it feels to live hopeful and young.

4. Great dreamers grow to be independent, learning that they can make a difference all by themselves.

5. Dreams can distract you from the negative events in life. You will weigh up what is more important, your dreams or the drama. Drama seems obsolete when you are passionate about following your dreams.

6. It gives you something to share and inspire your kids with, you have led by example that anything is possible when you put your mind to it.

7. Through accomplishing your dreams you will come to appreciate the experience of failure and know that failure is just part of success and that it wasn’t really all that bad as it was all worth it in the end.

8. Regret is a terrible thing, and a dream is powerful enough to bring you regret if you don’t take the chance to at least follow it.

9. Because you are never too old to dream. Age means nothing when we know what we want.

10. You become an interesting person, you show others you have meaning, direction and purpose.

11. The unknown of following your dreams may spark a little fear, this is okay though because a little fear is known to make you feel more alive.

12. It is fun proving the world wrong, so why would you follow the status quo?

13. The more you chase and accomplish your dreams the more the lines of the boundaries that the world puts in front of us fade, as we learn that any and everything is possible.

14. When you accomplish your dream, you are the first to see it happen. You can share your accomplishments with the rest of the world but you where there in the front row on a single chair to experience the magic that unfolded.

15. Your dreams have no limits, you are the creator of your dreams, big or small. When this is understood, you are able to design a way to favour you plan and accomplish your end goal.

16. A dream is strong enough to define you, once accomplished you prove to others they have no say in who you can and can’t be.

‘I’m a Fraud’: Gifted and talented with insecurity

29 04 2012

This article is from http://highability.org/435/gifted-and-talented-but-with-insecurity-and-low-self-esteem/

Even people with exceptional talents can feel insecure and struggle with low or unhealthy self-esteem.

Meryl Streep, for example, has said, “I have varying degrees of confidence and self-loathing….

“You can have a perfectly horrible day where you doubt your talent… Or that you’re boring and they’re going to find out that you don’t know what you’re doing.”

This is not an isolated feeling or an issue for only a few talented people.

Over the many years of researching creative people and reading many interviews with high ability people, I have seen quotes like Streep’s showing up often.

Actor Shia LaBeouf thinks it is a common issue:

“Most actors on most days don’t think they’re worthy. I have no idea where this insecurity comes from, but it’s a God-sized hole. If I knew, I’d fill it, and I’d be on my way.”

From post Shia LaBeouf on fame and meaning and insecurity

LaBeouf, by the way, was accepted to Yale University but declined, saying that he is “getting the kind of education you don’t get at school.”

A British newspaper article says Helen Mirren “has talked of how insecure she has felt nearly all her life.”

And she said “I still get insecure.”

[From Helen Mirren: off the wall, by Lucy Cavendish, The Telegraph telegraph.co.uk 20 Jan 2008]

Mirren also said in her memoir that she “went to a shrink once. When I was about twenty-three I was very unhappy and, yes, self-obsessed and insecure.”

From post Helen Mirren on miserable self obsession.

Hilary Swank spent her childhood in a trailer park and has said, “I was a troubled kid. I felt like an outsider. I didn’t feel like I belonged, especially in the classroom. I just wish that I would have been more secure.”

Will Smith admits, “I still doubt myself every single day. What people believe is my self-confidence is actually my reaction to fear.”

[Also quoted in post The Self-Esteem Supercharger.]

John Lennon and self esteem

John Lennon once said, “Part of me suspects that I’m a loser, and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.”

[Also used in my post Elaine Aron on our emotional challenges.]

Writer Larry Kane commented about his bio Lennon Revealed: “People would be surprised at how insecure John Lennon was, and his lack of self esteem.

“Throughout his life, even during the height of Beatle mania, he had poor self esteem, even though he exuded confidence.”

Self esteem is positive self-regard, a realistic acknowledgment of our talents and value as a person.

Maybe it is the primary antidote we can have to insecurity.

Authentic esteem is not the superficial efforts over recent years to make all children in school feel they are “special” – with high [often bloated] self-esteem falsely nurtured by school administrators who say things like “We don’t want anyone to feel left out, so everyone wins a spelling bee award” or “The valedictorian will be chosen by lottery.”

Many gifted and talented people feel insecure

Psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, PhD [in his article: The Lowdown on High Self-Esteem] notes that people with inflated high self-esteem “think they make better impressions, have stronger friendships and better romantic lives.. but the data don’t support their self-flattering views.”

But many gifted and talented people suffer at times from a lack of healthy self esteem.

Another example: Nobel Prize laureate poet and writer Czeslaw Milosz confessed: “From early on writing for me has been a way to overcome my real or imagined worthlessness.”

Stephanie S. Tolan – co-author of the book Guiding the Gifted Child – finds that “Many gifted adults seem to know very little about their minds and how they differ from more ‘ordinary’ minds. The result of this lack of self-knowledge is often low, sometimes cripplingly low self esteem.”

[From her article Self-Knowledge, Self-Esteem and the Gifted Adult.]

Marilyn J. Sorensen, PhD, author of the book Breaking the Chain of Low Self-Esteem, says “People with low self-esteem generally find themselves at one of the extremes of achievement, either as an overachiever or as an underachiever.

“Some take the road of continually channeling their energies into attempts to receive recognition, approval, and affirmation, and become highly successful in their careers and educational endeavors; they are driven; they are ‘overachievers.’ Others slink back in fear, never realizing their skills or talents.”

Pursuing healthy esteem

So how to counteract and change unhealthy self esteem?

A start is to honestly recognize your abilities and accomplishments, without qualifying or deflating them, as in “Oh, anyone could do that.”

Another effective approach is the cognitive therapy strategy of getting aware of demeaning statements – especially automatic thoughts – you make about yourself (or accept from others), such as “I’m no good at doing that…” – then arguing the logic, validity, merits and faults of the statement, such as: “Well, maybe I am not as skilled as whoever.. but I have been told my work is good and I can get better if I choose to work at it.”

Overcoming impostor feelings

Also related to insecurity is the reaction that a number of talented actors and other people talk about: feeling oneself to be an “impostor.”

Research into this impostor phenomenon or syndrome began with the work of psychotherapists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, who found many women with notable achievements also had high levels of self-doubt which could not be equated with self-esteem, anxiety, or other traits, and seemed to involve a deep sense of inauthenticity and an inability to internalize their successes.

They often had the belief they were “fooling” other people, were “faking it” or getting by from having the right contacts or just being “lucky.” Many held a belief they would be exposed as frauds or fakes.

[From my article Gifted Women: Identity and Expression.]

Not just lack of confidence

Dr. Valerie Young has written about the topic for years, and explains “The Impostor Syndrome goes beyond lack of confidence.

“Everyone experiences bouts of self-doubt from time to time and especially when attempting something new.

“But for impostors self-doubt is chronic. You can feel self-doubt without experiencing shame at performing poorly as impostor do.

“It’s also possible to doubt your abilities without believing that you ultimately succeeded because of some sleight of hand or that you are fooling others.

“A person could have normal jitters before, say getting up to give their first speech, do well, and then draw from this experience to feel more confident about the next time.

“The impostor doesn’t think this way.

“Because no matter how well you did or how loud the applause, you always think you could have done better or that you just had a ‘good audience’ with no real bump in confidence.”

She includes a number of quotes in her book that exemplify impostor feelings and thinking, such as these:

Meryl Streep: “You think, ‘Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie?’ And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?”

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”  Award-winning author Maya Angelou.

“Somewhere, deep inside, you don’t believe what they say. You think it’s a matter of time before you stumble and ‘they’ discover the truth.” Former CEO of Girls, Inc. Joyce Roché

“At any time I still expect that the no-talent police will come and arrest me.” Mike Myers

From book: The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It, by Dr. Valerie Young.

Our mindset

She notes that “Twenty years of well documented research by leading expert in motivation and personality psychology Carol Dweck and author of my new favorite book Mindset, confirms what I’ve been saying for years.

“Namely that for better or for worse, your perceptions of what it takes to be competent, has a powerful impact on how you measure yourself and therefore how you approach achievement itself.”

Dr. Young adds, “This kind of chronic self-doubt robs you of your successes and ultimately your own happiness and fulfillment.”

She has developed an ebook program to deal with the Impostor Syndrome titled How to Feel As Bright and Capable As Everyone Seems to Think You Are.

Beating ourselves up by comparisons with idols and icons

Creativity coach and psychologist Eric Maisel thinks “It is a poignant feature of our species that we can contemplate intellectual work that we can’t quite accomplish…

“It is also natural that we will experience emotional pain when we recognize that the work that we would love to do, whether it is physics at the highest level or constitutional law at the highest level or psychological fiction at the highest level or biological research at the highest level is, if not completely unavailable to us, just unavailable enough to make it doubtful that we can proceed and just unavailable enough to make our efforts feel like torture.”

[Photo: Elodie Ghedin, Parasitologist/Virologist and a 2011 MacArthur Fellow.]

He asks, “How many smart people end up torturing themselves to the point of institutionalization over the fact that they can’t turn out poetry as brilliant as the poetry produced by their idols, can’t solve that mathematical problem that has thwarted all the biggest brains…?

“You can torture yourself in this fashion and threaten your mental health or you can surrender to nature’s ways.”

From his post The Smart Gap – How to deal with painful shortfalls in brainpower, by Eric Maisel, Ph.D.

One of his books: Mastering Creative Anxiety: 24 Lessons for Writers, Painters, Musicians, and Actors from America’s Foremost Creativity Coach.

Also read more about his program Infinite Meaning: The Breakthrough of Noimetic Psychology Course Overview: “You can’t find the meaning of life – it never was lost! Meaning never was something to be found in a philosophy, a religion, a belief system, or a way of life. Rather, meaning is a psychological experience. And because it is a psychological experience, you can create it.”

More resources:

Self concept / self esteem articles

Related posts:

Exceptional, gifted adults without enough positive self-regard.

Being Creative and Self-critical.

The Top 10 Reasons Why You! Will Never Be Successful

19 04 2012

The Top 10 Reasons Why You! Will Never Be Successful

In an ideal world every man, woman and child would be programmed for Success, the truth of the matter is that Success is a lot harder than you think. Success takes alot of Passion, Drive, Focus, Risk Taking etc… to get there and alot of people are just not up for that kind of work.

These are 10 of the most common reasons people end up failing, not just in business, but what they want to be successful at in life also. Read on and see how you can improve on your road to Success.

1. Because You Procrastinate- Yes this is one of the more common reasons for most people to never excel in fulfilling their chosen field or business. Instead of taking advantage of every waking moment you make excuses on why you can put it off until tomorrow or put the “grunt” work off until later, which is usually the most important of your daily task. Many will complain about why they’re not successful, but continue to put unimportant events ahead of what really should be a priority to anyone trying to better their situation or build a successful business and the answer is right in front of you and the sad thing is most know it, but fail to do anything about it.

2. Because You Blame What You Lack as your Reasons for Failure- Nine times out of ten if you ask any person or entrepreneur why they have failed in finishing or accomplishing a goal their sentence will begin with Because I don’t…. Depending on what field of business they’re in many of us could guess how that sentence will end. The sad reality is that most of us lack one thing or another and many of our predecessors have overcome many obstacles and proven time and time again that where you live, your financial status, your race, location, height, and/or belief has no take on whether or not you will be successful and it is ultimately up to you.

3. Because your idea isn’t as Brilliant and Unique as you think- I know this doesn’t come as a a suprise to most of you especially if you have ever started a business or had an idea that you thought was just revolutionary or unique with no competition, but once you do a little research or decide to launch you see ten other businesses doing the same thing. As I’m sure you have heard this before, but it is obvious most need to hear it again a successful business begins with a great execution and a failure is well… lack there of. Most ideas have been thought of or tried and tested, but many failed because of their execution and how it was brought about. There are many reasons why the same businesses fail while others succeed timing has a lot to do with it, capital, the person or entrepreneur, knowledge on the subject and much more.


4. Because some of your Best Ideas are just Memory or Were Never Brought to Life- I definitely think this is one of the biggest reasons most are never successful. Many of our best ideas that would have spread virally or been a necessity in life were never brought past the brainstorming process or seemed like one of them unobtainable goals, because most of the time the brilliant ideas are the hardest to accomplish or will have you facing the most obstacles to see them come to life. I read an article about how almost everyday people think of at least two million dollar ideas on their way to work during a 5day workweek, but over 90% never put any of them into action pass the the thought phase and without reasonable doubt I agree.


5. Because you’re not patient- Many of us fall into this category and I was once a very impatient person (still am at times) when it came to seeing results with a new venture or goal I wanted to attain. I think the above title is why many of us fall victim to all of these get rich quick schemes we see in our email inbox everyday or on late night TV infomercials. In reality there is no quick-legal ways to get rich or becoming successful anything that is worth attaining will take time to acquire. Many of us abandon a business before we give it time to get over the first years slump or automatically mark it as a failure before it has time to reach its full potential.


6. Because there is always somebody working harder than you- This article goes back to the first reason on procrastinating and reinforces that you’re not taking advantage of every waking moment. Every moment you sleep or take off for a break or make time for anything other than the goal you want to accomplish or the business you want to be number one there is always another team of people or a person working toward the same goal. I think every time you decide to tackle an objective or start a new business that you want to succeed in that you should keep in mind…there is always be somebody putting in harder work and longer hours than you. Remember the number one spot or your accomplished goals wouldn’t feel so good if you were the only one going for it, because it wouldn’t be worth attaining.


7. Because you wait on Luck or Opportunity (Meal Ticket) to be given to us- In most instances opportunity is not given to you it is created and you’re lucky if you are prepared. That is why it is important to always be prepared for the unthinkable, because opportunities usually arise when you least expect it and that is why in most cases we’re not prepared and that is what we call bad luck. You can’t wait fo rANYTHING to come to you or for somebody to hand it to you. If you want financing for your business go out and get it, if you want to relocate to another city go do it, if you want to be a millionaire before 25 get to work today not tomorrow anything is attainable with hard work and being persistent no matter how small or large the obstacles to success may seem.


8. Because the odds are against you- In most cases people want to be successful from starting a business whether it is online or offline. The reality is over 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years and out of all businesses started 85% fail within the first five years as you can see the odds are not in your favor to succeed. Many people who have weight loss goals will most likely not meet them considering that more than 65% of the United States population is either overweight or obese and it was up more than 16% from the year before. Your chances of being a millionaire are not as bad when compared to the other odds, because the average American has a 1 in 13 chance of becoming a millionaire and more than 741,666 become new millionaires every month. Will you be next months millionaire??


9. Because life is too short- This reason basically takes into mind all of the above reasons for reaching success, tried and failed and taking time for granted for when opportunity is presented to you. You should take advantage of every SOUND opportunity that is presented to you, make use of every free second you have available, read up on any topic relevant to any goals you want to accomplish, make no excuses for tasks or goals not completed, and realise that you have nobody to blame, but yourself for any failures that you have or goals that you didn’t accomplish within your lifetime.


10. Because you will NOT make a change today- Even though this article stated in the beginning that “you will never be successful unless you make a change today” most of us will read it in its entirety and actually agree with its content, but will still go back to our same habits of procrastinating, blaming what we lack, putting together half-thought out ideas with poor execution, never bringing our greatest ideas pass the brainstorming process, being impatient and not persistent, letting someone work harder than you for that number one spot, waiting on our meal ticket, still understanding the odds are against you, but not working harder to overcome them, not taking advantage of all our time on this earth to see our dreams and goals manifest into something greater than we could ever imagine.


It is still in your hands whether or not you will become successful and defeat these odds. Just don’t become a victim to one of these common mistakes and reasons for not being successful within your lifetime.

Article By: Cream BMP


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