Archive | May, 2012

Rethinking Education

Welcome to the more than sound podcast. Traditional classroom models have been shown to inhibit learning and disengage today’s students from the joy of education. For his audio series Wired To Connect, Daniel Goleman sat down with George Lucas to investigate project-based curricula that utilize high technology to excite and motivate students. This episode of the podcast features an excerpt from their conversation, titled Rethinking Education: Educating Hearts and Minds.

 

George Lucas:   I’m a very big believer in entry points, which is how we used Young Indiana Jones and now Star Wars. We have a museum show, Science and Star Wars, which was developed by the Boston Museum, which allows students who are excited about Star Wars to say this actually applies to the real world and applies to all those classes I go to and I can relate to these things.  You get something they are interested in and then you broaden it out and say this actually relates to all these other things.  I think it is a very powerful tool and we are trying to push more of these programs where there is entertainment value or game value so that there are other ways that students can be engaged into the academic setting.

 

Daniel Goleman:  We know that there is some research that looks at the strongest teachable moments in the classroom, when everyone is inspired, focused and energized and it seems that you are creating and analog of that, in which you are focused on the student and what is energizing to the student and capitalizing on that. The story of Indiana Jones or Star Wars and then unpack it in terms of the lessons embodied in that.  What would be an example of how you would get to a philosopher from a moment in Star Wars?

 

GL:            Well, in that particular book what they’ve done is gotten a lot of philosophy professors around the country who are Star Wars fans and one will do an article about stoicism and Yoda and why he is stoic and explain stoicism and how that reflects in his character.  There is an unlimited supply of philosophical ideas in Star Wars.  The people who have done that book have done philosophy and South Park, philosophy in all kinds of popular culture to try to bring a rather esoteric academic subject into the everyday world so that younger people can see that it relates to their world.  The philosophy isn’t just from some person who lived thousands of years ago, but is actually a real issue.  It’s trying to bridge the gap between the academic world and contemporary culture and trying to put them together.  I have other strong feelings about communication skills and the fact that we should treat painting and music as communication as well as as an art form.  You can teach it as an art form, but it is also a very big communication device.  Music is the primary communication that not only all babies understand but animals understand it also.  Even though they teach you how to read music and play an instrument, they don’t really focus for every student on issues like what does a minor chord make you feel like?  How do the elements of music communicate feelings and ideas?  You can use music to aid people in pursuing a particular idea.  What kind of a drum beat do you use?  What kind of tonality do you use?  More and more kids are beginning to speak in multi media not just the written word.  With cinema, the basic grammar isn’t taught. Screen direction is like understanding punctuation.  More people are communicating in other forms.  Painting and graphics:  the whole world of advertising comes down to graphics.  What does red mean?  What does blue mean?  How does a diagonal make you feel?  If you are trying to convince someone to do this or that, what do you use?  What kind of design do you use to express that idea?  Most people experience graphics as communication.  They experience it in everyday life more often than in a museum; in a magazine or on a sign when they are driving down the street.

DG:            This reminds me of the theory of Howard Gardner, the Harvard educator who talks about multiple intelligences and how people can be good at the usual academic intelligences, like math and verbal abilities, but also how there is a spatial intelligence, a musical ability, a visual modality.  It seems to me you’re really talking about educating people within those domains of ability.

 

GL:            What I’m saying is that there is more than one form of communication and the written word, or verbal communication has so dominated that we have lost sight of the fact that these other forms of communication that we have now relegated to the esoteric world of art, are much more than that.  They are necessary forms of communication that you must learn, just like you must learn how to construct a sentence, and learn grammar, and use a capital letter.  You must learn the same things in graphics and in cinema and in music and part of it is how it works.  Mathematics is the least emotional form of communication:  it’s mostly logical.  The word is logical, but can be used in emotional ways.  Graphics, which gets to be much more emotional and unconscious, is something that works on a different system than when you are reading words.  Cinema is graphics and motion.  Motion relates to dance and other forms of movement.  How do you communicate using motion?  And then with music you communicate with sound and how do you get people to understand certain ideas using sound.  Music is the most emotional form of communication.  There is hardly any intellectualism in real music.  It is all emotional.  But it is communicating very important ideas and feelings to you, but in ways that math which is not emotional and is very precise doesn’t.  The wonder of it is that music and math are the same thing.  So when you make a circle that goes from the least emotional to the most emotional,  you end up with a circle right back where  the most and the least emotional, the most intellectual and the least intellectual are actually the same thing  It is a kind of duality of opposites.  That’s why it is so wonderful but I do think they should teach communication in toto, not in these little bracketed things where you go to art class to learn about perspective, you go to the music school to learn about notes, chords, and phrases, and you go to the math class to learn about being precise and explaining theory, or the English to do this or that:  it should be more integrated into one class where you are learning to express yourself and communicate ideas to another human being, whether they are completely emotional or completely intellectual or somewhere in between.

Courage In Schools

Welcome to the More Than Sound Podcast.

This episode features an excerpt from the  Bridging Hearts and Minds of Youth conference, developed by University of California San Diego’s Center For Mindfulness, along with Stressed Teens. The conference was held in San Diego, in February of 2012, and this excerpt comes from Pamela Siegel and Chip Wood’s keynote, Courage In Schools: Connecting Hearts And Minds In The Adult Community.

Better Parents, Better Spouses, Better People

Welcome to the more than sound podcast. Daniel Goleman’s audio series, Wired To Connect, features is a collection of in depth conversations with some of the worlds leading thinkers. This episode of the podcast features an excerpt from Better Parents, Better Spouses, Better People, an insightful exploration in which Goleman and Dr. Daniel Siegel explain how our relationships shape our emotional habits- and the brain itself.

 

Daniel Goleman: Mindsight means what?

Daniel Siegel: Mindsight is a term I had to invent because in English we didn’t seem to have a word that embraced the idea of insight into your own mind and empathy for understanding another person’s mind. We just didn’t have one word so when I was writing a book called The Developing Mind I invented this word mindsight, meaning you see the mind.

DG: You know in my model of emotional intelligence there are four domains. The first and the fundamental is self-awareness, which is mindsight into your own mind. The second is using that to manage your emotional world or inner world well. The third is empathy or in your terms ­– mindsight for someone else. Then the fourth is putting that all together in effective relationships. So it’s interesting to me to see that we’re talking about the same territory here from slightly different angles.

DS: Absolutely, yeah. And I think the words we can find like the ones you’re talking about those four points or mindsight would embrace this incredibly important process that some families are’nt aware that is important for them to develop and the really exciting thing is that its never too late to develop mindsight. I work with people as old as in their nineties and they can learn this skill of mindsight.

DG: Well, what does it look like? Can you give an example of someone learning it?

DS: Sure. Well, this one particular person is a woman in her nineties who grew up in a home where no one really recognized her emotions they never addressed them. They didn’t have what’s called mental language or language that talked about the mind.

DG: When you say mental language, what kind of words are those?

DS: Well, for example: thoughts, feelings, attitudes, intentions. What are you believing? What are your hopes? What are your dreams? Those are all words, language that reflect the mind. So mental language means, does a family actually talk about the mind. A term I use is reflective dialogs. Do they get into a dialog with their children that reflects on the internal nature of our lives?

DG: Dan, what would such a dialog sound like?

DS: Well, it would be something like this, this ninety-year-old woman, let’s talk about her. If she had had this as a child, this is what it would have been like and this is actually what I said to her in our sessions. It would have been something like: You’re really hoping to be in the school play and I hope that your audition works out. She comes home, she’s very sad because she didn’t make it in the audition.

DG: This is something that happened to her?

DS: This is actually something that happened to her and a family with mindsight would say, “You’re really sad. How did the audition go?” And she would say, “Oh, I didn’t get it.” And they could say, “That’s really disappointing because you were really hoping to get the part and you didn’t get it and let’s talk about what you can do next time or let’s do something with your sadness.” Instead in her family, she would come home sad and she would be punished for not being more upbeat. She would be given chores to do because she was crying and they would say, “Stop crying.” So, everything was focused on behavior.

Now what’s interesting is that what we do as parents to focus the mind of our child on certain things like behavior verses mind plus behavior can determine the kind of perception that a child develops. So in her case, when I saw her for the first time in therapy as a ninety-one-year-old, She really didn’t have much vocabulary of the mind. She was a really good person focused on behaviors, had accomplished certain behavioral things had raised her children and interacts with her grandchildren about their behaviors so its not like she’s just not social but she’s only focused on the behavioral side of reality, the physical side of reality not the mental side of reality. So that’s what teaching her required was that in our sessions together I needed to talk to her about her mind and what’s interesting is we’re then entering the whole world of subjective experience, which raises lots of fascinating points of view about what’s the relationship between one’s inner world and what’s going on in the outer world. How’s the mind related to the brain? All these things, which actually came up in our sessions, and I can tell you by the end of the year of therapy, she had developed an awareness of her body that she didn’t have before. That is the subjective sensations inside. She developed a vocabulary of mental language to actually put words to her inner world which is actually a fundamental part of something called mindfulness. This ability to label and describe in words the inner life of your own mind. She really developed this at ninety-one-years of age.

DG: That’s astounding at ninety-one.

Teaching Mindfulness to Urban & At-Risk Adolescents

Welcome to the More Than Sound podcast.

This episode features an excerpt from the  Bridging Hearts and Minds of Youth conference, developed by University of California San Diego’s Center For Mindfulness, along with Stressed Teens. The conference was held in San Diego, in February of 2012. Chris McKenna is speaking in this excerpt from his and Sam Himelstein’s breakout session, Teaching Mindfulness to Urban & At-Risk Adolescents.

Bridging Hearts And Minds Conference, Panel Discussion

Welcome to the More Than Sound Podcast.

This episode features an excerpt from the  Bridging Hearts and Minds of Youth conference, developed by University of California San Diego’s Center For Mindfulness, along with Stressed Teens. The conference was held in San Diego, in February of 2012. Rick Hanson is speaking in this excerpt from a panel discussion with conference presenters Susan Kaiser-Greenland, Amishi Jha, Pamela Seigle, and Chip Wood.

Sex, Drugs, Facebook, And Ice Cream

Welcome to the More Than Sound Podcast.

This episode features an excerpt from the  Bridging Hearts and Minds of Youth conference, developed by University of California San Diego’s Center For Mindfulness, along with Stressed Teens. The conference was held in San Diego, in February of 2012, and this excerpt comes from  Joe Klein’s breakout session, Sex, Drugs, Facebook, and Ice Cream.

Integrating Mindfulness Into The K5 Classroom

Welcome to the More Than Sound Podcast.

This episode features an excerpt from the  Bridging Hearts and Minds of Youth conference, developed by University of California San Diego’s Center For Mindfulness, along with Stressed Teens. The conference was held in San Diego, in February of 2012, and this excerpt comes from Megan Cowan’s breakout session, Integrating Mindfulness Into The K5 Classroom: Lessons Learned From Teaching Over 13,000 Students.