How pelicans got their beaks

Pelican

You can’t force creativity, but you can remove the roadblocks.

At the risk of sounding like an old fart (because, after all, I am one): I believe I have noticed a decrease in the ability of incoming students to think outside the pigeon hole. I don’t think students are any less intelligent, but I do think it is one of the unintended side effects of “No Child Left Untested” foisted on the American public in a well-intentioned but misguided attempt to improve public education.

I don’t want to trot down that side path right now. Regardless of the cause, I am sure I see students struggling to think creatively. You might struggle as well.

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Old ties, new media

phone

I just got off the phone with an old friend I haven’t talked with for probably 40 years. I still hear my friend from then in his voice. The call came to my phone, but I really had no idea what the actual connection was (turns out it came through Facebook Messenger).

Old ties are important, and relatively rare in American culture. Continue reading “Old ties, new media”

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End of your rope?

End of rope

This is not a post about religion, but it is a post inspired by religion, I suppose. Continue reading “End of your rope?”

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The power of objects to evoke

kid-balloon

As I write this, I am in my disabled daughter’s bedroom looking at some of the balloons that float over her bed. She has no volitional control over her body–can’t sit up, can’t roll over, can’t communicate. She has never even been able to do something like blink once for yes and twice for no. We see evidence that she hears and understands what goes on around her, though–for instance, now that she is 13, if I come in and say something like, “How’s Daddy’s baby today?” she will roll her eyes like any 13-year-old would. Since she has no volitional control, it suggests to me that eye-rolling is simply a teen-aged reflex.

She follows things with her eyes, and that’s one reason for the balloons. They can float in her field of vision and provide some entertainment and diversion for what must be a very isolated experience, even though they are starting to lose their helium and dangle just above her headboard now.

As I watch those balloons, I am suddenly transported to a Nash automobile in 1959.

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Have you ever really met him/her?

Faceless ladies

Among several famous Will Rogers sayings is this one: “I never met a man I didn’t like.” It is a joke almost as old as the original publication of that line in 1927: “Yeah, but he never met So-and-so” (fill in the name of whoever you are claiming even Will Rogers wouldn’t like).

The opposite old saying is this: “Familiarity breeds contempt.”

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What’s your base?

egg-450

Is there something in you that you keep coming back to? What does that tell you about yourself?

I haven’t written anything here for awhile. In fact, I haven’t written much of anything at all for awhile. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been creating–I have been experimenting quite a bit with Facebook Live and other video. I’ve been getting my creative muscles flexed–but I still come back to writing and speaking over and over again. It’s just who I am.

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Why people only post kitten pictures and videos

Cute kitten!

If you express any kind of serious opinion about anything on Facebook, you bring out the trolls and the disagreements.

This is ironic, since Facebook tends to only show you posts that you have shown an interest in. Maybe Facebook with its unlimited post lengths draws people who are more into argument. In other words, maybe some people see the posts they see because Facebook has figured out they like to argue.

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Bonus: insight into breakthrough thinking

head-rendering from brain MRI

As I read this article on Surprisingly Simple Ways You Can Trick Your Brain Into Focusing, it strikes me how much of this has to do with effective communication strategies! I guess it really is the basic operating system!

Read the whole thing, but I can tell you that the gist of it is this:

  1. Don’t multitask.
  2. Take notes. But don’t try to write down everything you hear. Distill it and summarize.
  3. Consider other points of view.
  4. Take breaks.
  5. Narrow your focus and go deeper.

But get the details from the article. In the meantime, consider getting a copy of Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. (affiliate link)

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Is selection bias limiting your story?

Hidden Subway Entrance

How do you know what you don’t know?

It can be one of the hardest tasks to get students to go beyond their own opinions, especially those in the traditional college age range. I speak from two-fold experience: 1) When I was that age, I pretty much knew everything. Over the years, I have realized that I still don’t know what I don’t know, but I can tell that there is a lot within that area of the mental map labeled “There be dragons here.” 2) I’ve worked with thousands of college students at this point in my life (rough estimate: about 7,000). Bonus experience: I have four kids over the age of 25. Most have gone from thinking Dad was just stupid to thinking that maybe he know something worthwhile.

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