Thursday, November 28, 2013

Blurring the Lines Between Work and Play

We've posted before about social scientist Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi's thoughts on flow, a state of being where one is challenged and engaged because they're in the process of solving a tough problem, without being overwhelmed by the task of doing so. Czikszentmihalyi has said that most often people reach a state of flow at work, and Daniel Pink points out that in a study, those who were denied that feeling of flow in their work, after two days, began to show signs of generalized anxiety disorder. That's a pretty compelling finding.

Czikszentmihalyi goes further. Pink reveals that thirty years ago, the social scientist wrote, "There is no good reason to believe any longer that only irrelevant 'play' can be enjoyed, while the serious business of life must be borne as a burdensome cross. Once we realize that the boundaries between work and play are artificial, we can take matters in hand and begin the difficult task of making life more livable." (Qtd. in Drive, 128)

Pink also quotes Czikszentmihalyi on how children "work" and "play":

"A little kid's life bursts with autotelic experiences. Children careen from one flow moment to another, animated by a sense of joy, equipped with a mindset of possibility, and working with the dedication of a West Point cadet. They use their brains and their bodies to probe and draw feedback from the environment in an endless pursuit of mastery.

Then--at some point in their lives--they don't. What happens?

'You start to get ashamed that what you're doing is childish,' Csikszentmihalyi explained.

What a mistake. Perhaps you and I--and all other adults in charge of things--are the ones who are immature. . . . Left to their own devices . . . children seek out flow with the inevitability of a natural law. So should we all." (128)

We need to make school a place where students are in a state of flow and where they feel like the boundaries of work and play are blurred!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Superfoods on Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Muffins

Talia Schabes in the Health and Environment team is getting us ready to enjoy some superfoods this Thanksgiving. Here's her family's recipe for pumpkin muffins. Thanks, Talia!

Wholesome pumpkin muffins

1.5 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 raw sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cloves
1/2 cup oil
16 oz pumpkin purée

Topping mixture
1 tsp cinnamon
1tsp raw sugar
1 tsp chia seeds
1 tsp flax seeds
1 tsp hemp seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Fill muffin liners
Top muffins with mixture
Bake for 15-20 minutes

Click here for a link to pumpkin's nutritional facts!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

More from "Drive": Performance Goals vs. Learning Goals

Look at what Daniel Pink has to say about mastery in Drive:

If you believe intelligence is a fixed quantity, then every educational and professional encounter becomes a measure of how much you have. If you believe intelligence is something you can increase, then the same encounters become opportunities for growth. In one view, intelligence is something you demonstrate; in the other, it's something you develop.

The two self-theories lead down two very different paths -- one that heads toward mastery and one that doesn't. For instance, consider goals. [Carol] Dweck [a psychology professor at Stanford University] says they come in two varieties -- performance goals and learning goals. Getting an A in French class is a performance goal. Being able to speak French is a learning goal. "Both goals are entirely normal and pretty much universal," Dweck says, "and both can fuel achievement." But only one leads to mastery. In several studies, Dweck found that giving children a performance goal (say, getting a high mark on a test) was effective for relatively straightforward problems but often inhibited children's ability to apply the concepts to new situations. For example, in one study, Dweck and a colleague asked junior high students to learn a new set of scientific principles, giving half of the students a performance goal and half a learning goal. After both groups demonstrated they had grasped the material, researchers asked the students to apply their knowledge to a new set of problems, related but not identical to what they'd just studied. Students with learning goals scored significantly higher than on these novel challenges. They also worked longer and tried more solutions. As Dweck writes, "With a learning goal, students don't have to feel that they're good at something in order to hang in and keep trying. After all, their goal is to learn, not to prove they're smart." (119-120)

Now consider this blog post on how project-based learning leads to mastery:

How Project-Based Learning Develops Drive and Mastery