Have you ever lost your train of thought in the middle of a story or explanation?

Sometimes referred to as a “brain fart,” it’s like your brain was recalibrating, and the world, as you thought you knew it, disappeared. If you’re lucky, someone was actively listening, and helped you regain your thought path.

In Adam Grant’s latest book, Think Again, he argues that in a rapidly changing world of knowledge, we need to rethink as much as we think.

“What was I saying (i.e. thinking)?” might be a good time to try, “On second thought…”

The differences between stubborn, pig-headed…


Setting goals is often ineffective. Are you still doing your New Year’s resolution? Kudos if you are.

Most of us regularly fail to meet our goals.

You say, “I want to be healthier.” You want to quit smoking, or drinking so much or eating unhealthily. Kinda vague.

To get clearer, you say, “My goal is to lose weight.” You want a body you’re comfortable to walk around in. If you focus on the output of “weight loss,” you fail to focus on the daily input actions of how, what and when you eat.

Typical goals we set involve eating well…


Childhood house, and me when I had a huge moustache and a little more hair.

I don’t remember when I learned to walk. I don’t remember when I learned to talk. I don’t remember when I learned to read. I doubt you do either.

I do remember what it felt like to not have time to get back into the house, and to feel my pants getting warm, then quickly turn cold. The musty wet concrete, the crunching of pea gravel, the sense of my awareness of a world outside of me, and me inside of it, created synaptic connections that persist. …


Photo By Craig F. Walker / The Denver Post

What is my mark? How do I know how I’m doing if I don’t have a mark?

Grading is a fundamental challenge of schooling. It’s held out as both carrot and stick. We measure what’s easily quantifiable and reduce it to a number, where the substance of what was supposedly learned is nowhere to be seen.

The sorting hat mechanism of grades, meant to separate those who “can” from those who “can’t” is full of false assumptions, the greatest being that the numbers alone tell us something about a person’s future potential or success.

Typically, all students are given the…


It’s report card time again.

And not just for the students.

This is my first year in a new school in my 29th year of teaching. I’m teaching multimedia courses where the students are learning to make short films, take photographs, create web pages and other digital media. A dynamic classroom environment to say the least.

I created a Google form with two questions for my students to answer for their report card on me:

  1. What am I doing “right” as a teacher and fellow human?
  2. Where can I improve as a teacher and fellow human?

I assured them that…


In the past, psychology focused on what’s wrong with people in the same way that traditional education focuses on the idea of what’s missing in students. Today, the field of positive psychology also looks at the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive, what Martin Seligman calls “optimal human functioning.”

In education, we have been so focused on trying to make people into something we are not even sure of, rather than helping them become more of who they already are.

What would happen if we balanced our gaze from what needs “fixing” to what needs drawing out or…


There was a time I thought of “reading” as little more than decoding printed words and sentences: “The large dog suddenly bit the young girl!” Simple words, but you probably had a picture in your head of a particular kind of dog in a particular setting, something your brain created from your lived experiences.

The ability to read and write print texts was synonymous with literacy and being literate. I grew up in a household with a set of encyclopedias and other than the odd filmstrip or film in school, all of my learning was consumed through print. …


I don’t think anyone would argue that all people are the same. Sure we’re made of the same DNA, we all smell, get hungry, angry, laugh and spend most of our lives trying to discover who we are and why we exist.

Neuroscientist David Eagleman explains how our brains are widely different, resulting from an interaction of genetics and environment creating different brain trajectories, leaving us with brains as similar and different as our fingerprints.

Schools were developed to create similar workers and citizens. Individuality or “standing out,” was, and often still is, viewed as being rebellious. As parents, we…


Rather than using tests as a measurement of the end of a cycle of learning, we need to use them more as part of the learning process.

Tests are a major part of school life and have been used as the predominant measure of student learning. When I refer to “tests” here, I’m thinking of written tests completed by students individually.

http://www.e-bas.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/correcting-gst-mistakes.jpg

The belief that all students should be given the same assessment tool is based on several assumptions:

· we assume a test accurately measures what it purports to measure, hence the marks are “valid” and can be used for…


We collect data on our students to track their performance and achievement, yet what do we know about the long term impacts of our constructs of achievement on individual students? What does this performance and achievement have to do with life beyond school walls, now and in the future?

Every year, the goal placed on teachers is to successfully get students out of their classes and on to the next grade or course. Grade 12 teachers work especially hard to make sure students finally get out of the school.

This get-it-done mindset becomes the focused goal.

Short-Term-Goal Student: Teacher, what…

Barry J. Dyck

professional learner, university instructor

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