The Human Side of Business

New England clam chowder. Source: http://pdpho...I’ve had the good fortune of spending time with my older relatives. One commonality I’ve noticed is that when my relatives tell stories of  the past, their stories usually involve a kind person who touched their hearts and changed their worlds. Recently my 83 year old cousin spoke of a teacher he had when he was 9. This teacher took him under her wing and helped him learn the ins and outs of the English language. She also introduced him to his two favorite foods – lobster and fried chicken. My cousin kept in touch with his teacher over the years and even reached out to his teacher to invite her to his wedding. The kindness of my cousin’s teacher was never forgotten. 74 years later, the story is still being shared.

It seems kindness is not just an individual value, but a business value as well.

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Poetry: Music of the Soul

Colouring pencils Français : Crayons de couleu...As part of an end of the year project, my oldest son’s teacher embarked on a poetry lesson. In this intensive, active learning project, the kids learned about the different kinds of poems, wrote a half dozen poems, and celebrated the end of second grade with a poetry reading. By the way, did you know poems include acrostic, ballad, cinquain, and more? Fascinating.

The poetry reading was bittersweet in many ways. It marked the end of my son’s time at the school and served as a yardstick to demonstrate how much he had grown, learned, and developed.

Voltaire once said, “Poetry is the music of the soul, and, above all, of great and feeling souls.”

Each of my son’s poems showed different sides of him – playful, serious, fun, logical, sports-minded, and even profound. In particular, my son’s Color poem moved me. I was surprised by how such a young mind (8-years old) could be so introspective. The way my son was able to dig so deep and explore the figurative and affective aspects of nature caught me by surprise.

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Is Gaming the Future of Education?

Controlador de Video-Games

I started reading Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken and can’t wait to learn more about how gaming is being used for social good. Though I am only on Chapter 1 (yes, I could use more free time. LOL!), I recognize many of the “gamer” traits in my two boys. At just 8 and 5-years old, both kids enjoy playing video games. In fact, my 5-year old has been waking up extra early every day in order to get time alone with the Wii before his brother wakes up. At first, I was disappointed that my younger son felt pressured to exchange sleep for improving his game play. After all, I’d hate to think the Wii was so competitive and/or addicting that my Kindergartener would go to such great lengths to play. However, after chatting with him about why he woke up early, I was surprised (and happy) to learn my 5-year old’s efforts to get better at the Wii were not necessarily aimed at beating his older brother, but for self-improvement and the joy that comes with unlocking new achievements.

And, in case you think play is easy, it really isn’t. Playing games is hard work. McGonigal describes the video game experience as, “…always playing on the very edge of your skill level, always on the brink of falling off. When you do fall off, you feel the urge to climb back on. That’s because there’s virtually nothing as engaging as this state of working at the very limits of your ability – or what both game designers and psychologies call ‘flow.’”

BTW, “flow” is another way of describing the state of extreme happiness. To learn more, take a look at the field of positive psychology.

How Meditation Can Help Students Improve Grades, Boost Self-Esteem, and Curb Bad Behavior

Two Kids, boy and girl (Trysta), Watch the Par...

If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably seen my posts about how creativity gets stifled by stress. A relaxed mind is helpful in many ways. In fact, there is lots of chatter about the stress-busting benefits of meditation with school children. Studies have found meditation can help students improve grades, boost self-esteem, and even cut down on bad behavior. Makes sense right? Introducing quiet time should be beneficial. But, why so?

According to researchers, deliberate silence invites concentration and cuts down on stress. Conversely, noisy classrooms lower concentration and increase stress. Noisy classroom environments are also linked to lowered exam scores. A study by South Bank University and the Institute of Education in London found that test scores were cut by as much as a third if children Read more of this post

When it Comes to ‘Surprise and Delight’ Technology isn’t Always the Answer

Writing

Image by jjpacres via Flickr

Sometimes when it comes to surprise and delight, technology isn’t always the answer. I’ve spent the last 16 years in the digital realm building web sites and digital experiences. From time to time, I feel like I’ve hit technology overload. IPod, IPad, Droid, QR code…blah, blah, blah. Though we turn to technology for so many things, nothing can beat a human touch.

Case in point, I have a friend who sends hand written cards and photos. Whenever I receive a card, I am pleasantly surprised. It is always a happy experience. One day last week, I decided to pay the happy gesture forward. I knew that my sister was having a stressful week and decided to hand write a card and include some Read more of this post

A Creative Way to Get People to Read in the Park

Post Office Square in the Financial District, ...

Image via Wikipedia

Just the other day I stepped out to get a breath of fresh air at the Norman B. Leventhal Park (also known as the park at Post Office Square). What I love about this park is how they cater to park goers. The grounds, though small, are pristine. There are flowers everywhere, the lawn is manicured, the food carts are tasteful (as well as tasty), and they even put out waterproof mats that you can borrow to sit on the grass. How lovely of the park to think about all the folks out at lunch who might not want to sully their work clothes.

In the middle of a crazy day, the park is a respite for the mind and soul. Now, the park is intellect-friendly too. As I looked around the park during my last visit, I noticed Read more of this post

Creativity and Getting into Flow

Sparrow Paper Airplane

Image by bre pettis via Flickr

For Father’s Day, my husband and I went out for dinner. We invited the girls down the street watch our boys. When we came home, both boys were happier than you could imagine. For, after running around and playing outside, their sitters suggested they try their hand at making paper airplanes. After making a few “expected” airplanes, the four experimented with making the “coolest” airplanes possible. All of the airplanes (a half ream of paper worth) were proudly displayed on our coffee table when we returned home.

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Homework Wars: Why Limiting Homework is Not the Solution

"Teacher Appreciation" featured phot...

Image via Wikipedia

Ever since the invention of school, there have been debates over homework. Should we institute more homework or less homework? Or, should we ban homework all together?

In The New York Times article, New Recruit in the Homework Revolt: The Principal, parents, teachers and educational administrators sound off on the homework debate. After reading the article, one thing is clear. Limiting homework is not the solution. Why, you ask?

Parents, teachers and administrators are not aligned on the problem we are trying to solve by limiting homework. This misalignment only adds fuel to the fire.

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The Marshmallow Test as a Predictor of Future Financial Woes

Marshmallows

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In the 1970′s Dr. Walter Mischel of Stanford University conducted the famous marshmallow tests where he put 600 of 4-year olds into a room by themselves and told them they could have one marshmallow or cookie right away, or wait until he came back and have two marshmallows or cookies. This test of willpower, self-control and immediate gratification ended in 30% of the preschoolers eating the treats and some waiting as long as 20 minutes to double the number of treats. The interesting learning from this study is how 4-year olds performed on this test predicted patterns later in life. In short, children Read more of this post

Failure Leads to Innovation

There’s been quite a bit of talk lately in the innovation world about the importance of failure. In thinking about failure, I’m struck by the negative connotation. Though many of us consider failure a bad thing, sometimes there is an unintended consequence to failure. Namely, failure can lead to new thinking and innovation. I was reminded of the beauty of failure by my son.

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