Page 3 of 51« First...234...Last »

How to make our brains grow

John's reflections Leave a comment

For a long time, I have believed that we learn the most from the tasks we struggle with, as opposed to those that might come easier to us. Of late, I have been reading about the importance of “growth mindsets” on learning. And, I have come to believe that teaching young people mindsets toward learning—character and grit when faced with difficult tasks, for example—may be far more critical to success than the actual subject matters we teach.  It makes intuitive sense to me that we expand our mental capabilities by challenging our brains with difficult tasks. If, as researchers seem to believe, the brain is like a muscle, we make it stronger by … Continue reading

Language learning and systems thinking

John's reflections Leave a comment

I’ve been reading a lot this week about language study and what some researchers and writers are discovering about its effect on the brain. (In a previous blog entry, I mentioned William Alexander’s Flirting with French, which has some surprising, medically-supported conclusions about how his brain changed after a year of intensive study.) As I continue to explore, and to reflect on my own experience, I am increasingly convinced that there are some enormous benefits of foreign language mastery for one’s mind and character.   Of course, I should admit to having something of a bias that comes from my interest in the subject matter. For many years, I have enjoyed studying language, particularly French and Spanish, … Continue reading

Learning a new language: why we should bother!

John's reflections Leave a comment

I find myself beginning this week’s post with the same reference as last week’s, to Simon Kuper’s piece about language learning, entitled “Learning another language? Don’t bother”.  By way of recap, the writer states that native speakers of English have little reason to learn other languages, since the rest of the world is now mastering English, at least at conversational levels. And technology, in the form of applications that translate instantly (and even speak for us!), will be there to help us navigate world travel. Kuper concludes that, for English-speaking people today, the costs of language study probably outweigh the benefits.   The author opines that the only useful level of linguistic … Continue reading

Struggling to learn a language, growth mindsets, and another opening to systems thinking

John's reflections 1 Comment

Last week, I referred to a Financial Times opinion piece by Simon Kuper about language learning, entitled “Learning another language? Don’t bother”. The article makes the point that, for native speakers of English in today’s world, there is little reason to learn a second language. With the rest of the world mastering English at acceptable levels, and with the advancement of smartphone apps that translate on the spot, the writer opines that the costs of language study probably outweigh the benefits. Reading the article made me curious enough to purchase one of the books cited therein, William Alexander’s memoir Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Nearly Broke My … Continue reading

Systems thinking, liberal arts education, and learning language

John's reflections Leave a comment

Systems thinking seems to be crossing my path these days. Or, is it perhaps my current mindset that causes me to process everything I see or read with an eye toward this concept? In any case, in the past week, I have come across three unconnected items that got me thinking again about the value of a varied, liberal arts education, one that encourages broad systems approaches:  On my last transatlantic flight, I watched a TED talk by Bran Ferren called “To create for the ages, lets combine art and engineering”. In Fast Company, I read the following article about tech company CEOs who look for employees with liberal arts degrees … Continue reading

Page 3 of 51« First...234...Last »