by Inyan Kara & L. Portnoy

Few things are truly vital to human life, breathing is one such thing. The average adult takes approximately 20,000 breaths each day and in doing so inhales and exhales an extraordinary number of molecules. So many molecules that each day every one of us inhales molecules “from the breaths of every person who has ever lived” says Bill Bryson. It’s an interesting juxtaposition then, that society has ground to a halt and our very livelihoods now rest on the fate of a virus that rides on our collective breaths but is itself not alive.

As society waits impatiently for new signs of life, there is a growing divide between those who aim to restore the comfortable rhythm of status quo and others still who seek a new cadence. A stark divide between the dire circumstances we face as a society where one in four is unemployed and an opportunity to redefine our economy and our entire existence. In the face of uncertainty a new metric for success has emerged, one that is for benefit instead of for profit. …

…while staying (relatively) sane during a global pandemic

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Links to each of tools are embedded within this article and free for use at home with your children

When the first schools closed in response to the pandemic, my immediate response was to create a sense of structure for my children and establish a feeling of safety and consistency during crisis. I spent a weekend and pulled together a plan that was flexible but still structured to create a semblance of footing during uncertainty. There were so many questions we needed to address.

How could we help our children feel supported while still doing the work we need to do each day to keep our own jobs?

How could we use this experience to empower our children and help them become more autonomous and independent learners?

This article was originally published in the Washington Post on October 8, 2019:

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Fauquier High School is a large public school in Warrenton, Va. With its multiple buildings, it feels more like a college campus than a high school. The layout makes it difficult for the school community to connect. In 2017, school officials went in search of a solution that would help students and staff feel a greater sense of community.

One educator drew inspiration from an unusual place: the school’s front lobby and hallways.

George Murphy is a science educator at Fauquier and realized that while he couldn’t change the structure of the buildings, he could work with students to design a space that builds community. He noticed the bare walls along the main lobby where school faculty members and students gathered each morning and saw a blank template ripe for innovation. …

Design Thinking: A Thought Experiment to Address Politics, Addiction, and Climate Change

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In the past few months the fires in Australia have destroyed the lives of 25 people, over a billion animals, and have decimated over 25.5 million acres of land including over a thousand homes*. As a society we seem wholly unable to solve or even come together to think about climate change, how an unpopular president is elected as leader of the free world, or how the overmedication of Americans has contributed to the opioid crisis despite a generously funded war on drugs. Perhaps the reason we cannot get our arms around each issue is because we fail to think in a certain way. …

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“The most promising way educators or policy makers might implement deep change requires little more than harnessing the innate capacity of each individual.”

Amidst the constant buzz of disruption, innovation, and the “future of (fill in the blank)” there’s a large and untapped resource with the potential to revolutionize the way we do education. It’s something that comes prepackaged in each of us at birth and something that gives us the upper hand on the oft feared role of AI in our future.

While humans are thankfully quite distinct from technology, we do have some tricks up our sleeves. Or perhaps in our skulls. …

Lean in, practice mindfulness, and don’t forget to be radical! Catch phrases like these are powerful calls to action that often provide solid strategies for those seeking self improvement. And while there’s nothing wrong with catch phrases or their longer cousin the adage, when presented as a ‘short statement expressing a general truth’ they often shackle us rather than set us free.

Here are the five adages that I implore of you to please ditch this year with suggestions for what could possibly replace them:

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Wolfgang Riebe quote via Happy Starfish
  1. Practice makes perfect.

This nugget of ‘wisdom’ suggests that if only we tried hard enough we would actually achieve perfection. There are at least two issues with this frame: one, that there is some singularly agreed upon vision of perfection for which we all aspire, and two, that if only you tried harder you would get there. …

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Parenting is often an exercise in futility. A child asks for one thing and is at once aggravated that you have dared provide said thing. Case in point: a cup of water is only acceptable when it is presented in the appropriate cup. This is not news.

But the reverse is often true, when grown ups have unambiguous expectations (much like said cup of water) that once met are in fact disappointing or not exactly what said grown up had envisioned. Stay with me…

Exhibit A: Last night I was reading a chapter of Percy Jackson to my 7-year-old son. It was the most exciting part of the chapter where the young hero is battling the minotaur in an effort to not only save his life but the life of his beloved mother. …

Of Merriam-Webster’s seven definitions for the word engage, six include cunning attempts or calls to action while one suggests effortful and sustained action. The definitions alone bring to mind images of battlefields, exam rooms, or trust falls, just the hodgepodge of actions we attribute to the word, but are such elaborate physical activities required for one to be engaged?

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Barbaric Yawp L.A. Street Art cc Mark Robinson

From education to advertising, medicine to human resources, engagement is operationalized distinctly as a term, a tool, and a way to measure sustained action. …


Dr. Lindsay Portnoy

Intellectually curious. I follow my ideas. Cognitive scientist, author, educator, activist.

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