June 27, 2020
BRILLIANT!

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This 15-minute talk by Prem Rawat, from his recent series of Lockdown talks, is absolutely brilliant. If you're wondering why the world is having such a hard time these days -- and what the simplest solution for its troubles might be -- here's the medicine.

PS: It doesn't matter what "path" you walk or what religion you practice, peace is peace for everyone. Just like water is water for everyone, no matter what their seeming differences might be.

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:01 PM | Comments (0)

June 26, 2020
Why Don't More People Share Their Best Practices with Each Other?

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If you are a member of a team, business, school, or volunteer organization, there's a good chance you want whatever project you are working on to succeed. Yes? Towards that end, you work hard, think hard, generate ideas, go to meetings, fight fires, and (hopefully) learn from your mistakes. If you are like most people, you sometimes get together with your team and talk about ways to increase your odds of success.

Still, there's a good chance you may be overlooking one of the simplest, most effective ways to make progress -- and that is the sharing of best practices.

"Best practices", a much written about topic in the business literature, is really nothing more than a two-word euphemism for "what works" -- the efforts you and your colleagues make that are already contributing to your success. The good stuff.

Curiously, however, "best practices" are rarely shared in most organizations and, even when they are, they are not shared effectively. Why? There are ten main reasons.

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TEN REASONS WHY BEST PRACTICES ARE NOT SHARED

1.Command and Control: The leaders of most enterprises, even if they won't admit it, aren't really committed to people sharing their ideas with each other. It sounds strange, but it's true. Why does this phenomenon exist? Because ideas, freely shared, often end up "rocking the boat." Old ways of doing things get challenged. The status quo gets confronted. New possibilities need to be considered, evaluated, and funded. Or not funded. More emails abound. More opinions. More disagreements. More meetings. Cranky-inducing stuff.

2. No Clear, Compelling Vision of Success: If people, working on same project, aren't on the same page about WHY they are working together and WHY they get out of bed in the morning, it is unlikely that they will be motivated enough to go beyond the "same old, same old" syndrome. Without a clear, compelling vision to motivate them beyond the call of duty, many people end up just going through the motions. Rote takes precedence. Old habits rule. Mediocrity prevails.

3. No Sense of Interdependence:
People will not take the time to share their insights, ideas, and best practices with each other if there is no recognition of the need to collaborate. If teamwork is not a clearly articulated (and reinforced) organizational value, there will be very little chance that the people doing the work are going to make the effort to connect with each other.

4. Lack of Trust and Appreciation: People may recognize the need to collaborate with each other, but they may not like or trust each other. It takes effort to reach out to other people -- especially people who are different than you. Sometimes, it's a risk, especially for introverts. Plus, if people are working in remote locations, in different time zones, the degree of difficulty increases. Without trust and a genuine appreciation for the perspective of others, best practices will rarely, if ever, be shared.

5. No Clarity About What a Best Practice Is: If you ask me to bring a tuna fish sandwich to a meeting, I can do that. But if you ask me to bring a "best practice", who knows what you'll get. If you want best practices to be shared in your organization, be very clear about what you are asking people to communicate.

6. No Intention. No Agreement. No Buy-In: It's fine to generically request people to share their best practices, but unless your request is understood, honored, and owned. it's just fairy dust. People are busy. People are maxed. You asking them to do one more thing will likely be met with head nods at best. So, if you want to make this best practice sharing thing real, you will need to make the effort to build a case for it and give people a chance to commit to it from an authentic place.

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7. Fear of Judgment: Some people have a truckload of best practices to share, but they are sometimes concerned that other people may not think their best practices are so hot. Or, if they've done something they think is truly innovative, they may be concerned that others will judge them for not asking permission or going one bridge too far. The result? They clam up and keep things to themselves.

8. The Perception of Lack of Time:
Face it. We live in an ADD world. Even the fact that you have read this far is astounding. If a person thinks they have no time, there is very little chance they are going to say YES to a "best practice sharing process" that will take some time -- even if the process, itself, will yield ideas that will save them time and radically increase their odds of success.

9. Lame Listening: The sharing of best practices requires two things: someone to speak and someone to listen. Most of us, of course, would rather speak than listen. If you and your team are committed to sharing what you are learning with each other, make sure that listening -- real listening -- is baked into the process.

10. No Platform: Sharing best practices with other people requires some kind of communication method or platform. If your team does not have a reliable way to share what they are learning, it's doubtful they will. What platform might work best for your team? Group skype calls? One-on-one phone calls? Monthly meetings? Email? A Facebook Group? An end-of-the-year conference? A blog?

What other obstacles would you add to the above list? But more importantly, what can YOU do in the next seven days to jump start the process of the team you work most closely with sharing their best practices with each other?

Idea Champions
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Micro-Learning for Innovators

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June 23, 2020
What Is School For?

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June 17, 2020
The School I Want to Begin

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Now that I am officially an amateur in the field of education (six months working in an Islamic school, father of two, and a dropout from a poetry Masters program at Brown University), I am now extremely semi-clear about what kind of school I would start if I started a school in this lifetime or the next.

If what I describe below sounds interesting to you and you want to either teach, organize, fund raise or attend, let me know. But please do not send me your resume or CV. I don't care if you have a resume or a CV. I am not a big fan of paperwork and one of the cool things about the school I will be starting is there will be no paperwork. Also, there will be no boredom, no behavior problems, no grades, no tests, no tenured teachers, no angry parents, no unnecessary meetings, no bullying, and no overcooked spinach.

At least that's the plan. We will, I am guessing, have some plans, though I realize that "Man plans and God laughs." So... there will be a healthy dose of laughter after we recognize just how lame our so-called planning process is.

Here are my school's key principles -- and when I use the word "my", I am really referring to "our" though I don't yet know who the "our" is, but have every confidence in the world (and the next) that the "our" will manifest as I continue writing this series of blog posts over the next few weeks, months, or lifetimes.

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1. INTRINSIC MOTIVATION: Only students and teachers who want to learn will end up in our school. Our selection process will be a simple way to determine if our potential students and teachers are truly inspired to learn and teach. If they are not inspired to learn and teach, that's the end of the selection process. And we won't care, all that much, about what these fine folks want to learn or teach. Everything will be fair game.

That being said, we will accept a small number of students, each year, who have absolutely no interest in learning anything at all -- young people sadly lacking in any kind of apparent intrinsic motivation. Our "non-school within a school" will have only one purpose and that will be to discover why these kids have no desire to learn and how we can spark their unapparent non-desire to learn. Then, having learned more about this esoteric science, we will share what we learn with other schools, helping them learn how to awaken the joy of learning in the next generation of (apparent) unmovers and unshakers.

2. SELF ORGANIZING:
Students will go to the "classes" they are most inspired to go to on any given day. Their schedule will be self-organizing. "Follow your bliss" will be one of our mottos (t-shirts available online at our to-be-created virtual store, the profits of which will be given to charities our students will select or create on their own).

Our extraordinary teachers (heartfelt, wise, collaborative, and highly dedicated) will be standing by -- completely relaxed and way beyond the metrics of which kids (and how many) sign up for their class. (We'll figure out what this really means after one of our non-meetings).

In other words, my still-to-be created school will be an educational banquet. Students will fill their plates with whatever food for thought is nourishing to them, no matter what the well-meaning bureaucrats in our nearest state or federally funded "office of education" have concluded, years ago, that somebody else's children need to learn.

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If we run out of teachers in any particular field of learning our students want to explore, we'll find more teachers with passion and wisdom in that particular field. "Supply and demand education", you might call it. If no students wants to learn algebra, we won't teach algebra. And no student will be coerced into learning about boron, bauxite, or the square root of 197.

3. STUDENTS WILL CO-CREATE THEIR OWN CURRICULUM: On the first day of "school", our "students" will "sit down" with our "teachers" and co-create the curriculum for that particular term or semester -- a curriculum, like life, that will organically unfold, based on student interest, time, space, and the ability of our highly awakened crew of educators to adapt and adjust to the inner-directed mojo of students on fire with fascination.

"We teach what you want to learn" our motto will be, not "you learn what we want to teach."

4. STUDENTS WILL TEACH, TEACHERS WILL LEARN: As part of our pedagogy, students will have plenty of chances to learn cool things on their own and become the teachers of others, including our so-called teachers (whose salaries will be way higher than the salaries of teachers anywhere else). Everybody will learn from each other.

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If a student turns out to develop expertise in a particular field of knowledge, but is not a good "imparter" of that knowledge, one of our teachers will ask that student if he/she/it/they/us/them would be interested in learning more about the art of communicating knowledge and wisdom. If they do, one of our teachers will meet with that student one-on-one or in small groups and explore the art and science of teaching/learning/imparting/transmitting/evoking. Whoo hoo!

Get the picture? Real-time, real-life learning.

5. HOMEWORK: Sorry, there will be no homework. We don't like that word. Though we understand the purpose of homework and the origins of its existence, homework -- like governments, corporations, tax forms, elevator music, shopping malls, algebra, political conventions, and most commercially available ketchup -- has become a mere shadow of what it was intended to be back in the day. No homework. Ever. None.

Will our students continue learning after they leave the grounds on which our buildings stand? Of course they will! Not because they have been told to do their homework, but because they want to do their homework, or better yet, because they have given themselves the homework they are inspired to do.

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6. TRUST: All of the above will work out because we will trust our students and they will trust us. We will assume the best in them and they will assume the best in us, because our staff's default condition will be infused with a massive commitment to seeing the goodness and potential in every student, no matter how much of that potential has been crusted over with fear, doubt, stress, impatience, funky parenting, or a lack of self-esteem.

7. CLASSROOMS will be designed by our students in alliance with their teachers. We'll have a bunch of raw materials, on campus, for them to select from. Students will create their own learning spaces which will probably look nothing at all like a modern-day classroom and that is fine with us.

Actually, we have no idea what our student's concept of a classroom will be. If our students have a need for materials or furniture that is not already available onsite, we will brainstorm, with them, creative ways of getting those materials and, in the process, students will learn what brainstorming is and how to open up their minds and how to listen to others with different points of view and what the creative process is really all about,

Maybe our students will learn more about what it takes to manifest a couch, rug, bookcase, or pinball machine than what they will eventually learn in the room they have invented to learn in.

TOPICS TO BE COVERED IN FUTURE BLOG POSTS

- No grades, no tests
- Storytelling from the heart
- Parents as educational partners
- How to unlearn
- Diversity of thinking
- The gamification of education
- Food for the body, food for thought
- Physical education
- Metaphysical education
- Community service
- Emotional intelligence
- Learning to learn
- Free play
- The inner life
- Real alumni relations
- The great wisdom traditions
- The art of manifestation
- Becoming stewards of the planet
- Values and standards of excellence
- Gardening
- Field trips
- Vision quests
- Learning from experience
- Awakening the muse
- What's Finland got to do with it?
- Community building
- Finding peace within
- Human beings, not human doings
- Rilke, Hafiz, Rumi, and Kabir
- Pausing and reflecting
- Less is more
- Optimal use of iPads and technology
- The power of positive feedback
- The subconscious mind
- Rudolf Steiner and Maria Montesouri
- Sudbury School
- Summerhill
- Unschooling
- John Holt
- Tolstoy and Einstein on education
- Free Schools
- John Taylor Gatto
- Other educational savants I know nothing about
- Improv theater
- Who was Soupy Sales?
- The relationship between AHA and HAHA
- Creative expression for everyone
- The art (and science) of listening
- Music!
- The Peace Education Program (PEP)
- Parent teacher conferences reinvented
- Presence
- Being in the moment
- Gratitude
- Silence

PS: After working with Al Siraat over the past two and a half years, I am under no illusions about how difficult it is to start and sustain a school. It is very difficult. Very. My hat and head is off to the Founders of Al Siraat, their Senior Leadership Team, teachers, staff, team leaders, students, and parents. My hat and head are also off to all the teachers on the planet, Principals, school administrators, curriculum creators, thought leaders, and anyone doing their best to raise the bar for education on this third rock from the sun. Teachers, by the way, almost everywhere, are supremely underpaid and under-valued. Theirs is not an easy job. Yes, they get summer vacations off, but what they need to do every day to plan, teach, guide, adapt, respond, flow, recover, intervene, manage, focus, referee, collaborate, listen, learn, and attempt to captivate the attention of way too many kids going through way too many changes is mind-blowing.

"Where is the book in which the teacher can read about what teaching is? The children themselves are this book. We should not learn to teach out of any book other than the one lying open before us and consisting of the children themselves." - Rudolf Steiner

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90 quotes on education and learning
My business website
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My book on storytelling
The back story of my time at Al Siraat
I am 72. So what?

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:56 AM | Comments (2)

June 15, 2020
Art in the Age of the Coronavirus

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Let me guess: Somewhere, deep inside, you have artistic sensibilities. Over the years, you have tried your hand at painting or drawing or sculpture or writing or dancing or music or cooking or sewing or who knows how many other forms of creative expression. Every time you dove in, you loved it. And other people benefited from it, too!

Of course, like most of us, you never seemed to have enough TIME to dive in fully. But NOW, during these crazy days of lockdown, semi-isolation, and quarantine, you have PLENTY OF TIME. Way more than ever. Yes, you do. This is one of the silver linings of Covid-19. TIME! Time to immerse in creative projects that you usually think you do not have.

All you need to do is something and say YES -- a way to express yourself and, perhaps, share it with others. Ball's in your court.

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25 INSPIRING QUOTES FROM AWESOME ARTISTS

1." If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint." -- Edward Hopper

2. "The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel." -- Piet Mondrian

3. "The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery." -- Francis Bacon

4. "Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing." - Georgia O'Keeffe

5. "The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity." - Alberto Giacometti

6. "Every good painter paints what he is." - Jackson Pollock

7. "Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." - Edgar Degas

8. "I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality. - Frida Kahlo

9. "What moves men of genius, or rather what inspires their work, is not new ideas, but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough." - Eugene Delacroix

10. "If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing." - Marc Chagall

11. "A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art." - Paul Cezanne

12. "Doubt tempers belief with sanity." -Barbara Krueger

13. "Have no fear of perfection, you'll never reach it." - Salvador Dali

14. "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." - Michelangelo

15. "One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself." - Leonardo da Vinci

16. "Painting doesn't freeze time. It circulates and recycles time like a wheel that turns. Those who were first might well be last. Painting is a very slow art. It doesn't travel with the speed of light. That's why dead painters shine so bright." - Marlene Dumas

17. "An artist never really finishes his work; he merely abandons it." - Paul Valery

18. "An artist is not paid for his labor, but for his vision." - James McNeill Whistler

19. "Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." - Vincent Van Gogh

20. "An artist's failures are as valuable as his successes. By misjudging one thing he conforms something else, even if at the time he does not know what that something else is." - Bridget Riley

22. "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child." - Pablo Picasso

23. "The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless." - Jean-Jacques Rousseau

24. "The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable." - Robert Henri

25. "I invent nothing, I rediscover." - Auguste Rodin

Photo: Andrian Valeanu, Unsplash
Digital Art: Evelyne Pouget

Quotes on beginning
25 ways to free up your creativity

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2020
Tuning Into the WHY and PURPOSE of Being the Leader of a Team

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If you are the leader of a team in your school, business, or organization, you have your work cut out for you. Leading a team is a task that will take time, focus, resilience, patience, adaptability, and a good sense of humor. Towards that end, check out quotes below and choose one that most resonates with you. Then, contemplate it's meaning. How does it relate to your challenge of leading a team?

1. "He who has a why to live can bear almost any how." -- Nietzsche

2. "The person without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder." -- Thomas Carlyle

3. "Purpose is what inspires you to get up in the morning." -- Betsy Smith

4. "Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure." -- Paulo Coelho

5. "There's no better exercise for the human heart than reaching down and lifting someone up." -- John Holmes

6. "The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for." - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

7. "If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path." -- Brene Brown

8. "You can have anything you want if you want it badly enough. You can be anything you want to be, do anything you set out to accomplish if you hold to that desire with singleness of purpose." -- Abraham Lincoln

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9. "Above all, be of single aim; have a legitimate and useful purpose, and devote yourself unreservedly to it." -- James Allen

10. "To the person who does not know where he wants to go there is no favorable wind." -- Seneca

11. "Nothing is more likely to help a person overcome or endure troubles than the consciousness of having a task in life." -- Victor Frankl

12. "The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving." -- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

13. "True happiness is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose." -- Helen Keller

14. "It is not enough to be busy. Ants are busy. What are you busy about?" -- Henry David Thoreau

15. "Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart." -- Rumi

16. "If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures. Sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

17. "Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile." -- Albert Einstein

18. "If you prepare yourself at every point as well as you can, you will grasp the opportunity for broader experience when it appears." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

19. "What am I living for and what am I dying for are the same question." -- Margaret Atwood

20. "The question isn't who's going to let me; it's who is going to stop me." -- Ayn Rand

21. "I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve." -- Albert Schweitzer

22. "What power there is in our service when our actions line up with our mission, skills, and joy." -- Mary Anne Radmacher

23. "A hero is someone who has given his life to something bigger than himself or something other than himself." -- Joseph Campbell

24. "We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." -- Mother Teresa

25. "Instead of asking yourself 'Do I have time for this?' what if you tried a different question: 'Is this a priority?'" -- Savannah Ivanitski

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:35 PM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2020
GETTING THE MONKEY OFF YOUR BACK: Asking the Right Question

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"There are no right answers to wrong questions." -- Ursula Le Guin

Effective team leaders sometimes suffer from the "monkey on the back syndrome" -- taking on other people's problems when, in fact, they need to be helping those other people solve their own problems.

One way to do this can be as simple as asking the right question at the right time. This gives the "problem dumper" a chance to step back, reflect, and think differently about their challenge -- a creative pause that increases the likelihood of them solving their own problem or, at the very least, taking responsibility for it instead of expecting you to be the savior.

Knowing what kind of question to ask a person in distress is an art, but it can be easily learned. What follows is a menu of questions for you to consider selecting from whenever anyone approaches you with a problem, frustration, or complaint and the expectation that it is YOUR job to save the day.

-- "Can you tell me more about the situation?"
-- "What have you already done to address this problem?"
-- "How can you phrase your challenge as a How Can I question?"
-- "What have you already tried that's worked? What hasn't worked?"
-- "Sounds like you have some choices before you. Which feels right?"
-- "Who, on your team, might you invite to brainstorm this with you?"
-- "Imagine your problem gets solved. What does success look like?"
-- "What's the simplest way to proceed?"
-- "What obstacles are in your way and how can you resolve them?"
-- "Imagine you knew the answer to your question. What would it be?"
-- "What are your instincts telling you about how to proceed?"
-- "What support, if any, do you need from me?"
-- "What is your next step and when will you take it?"

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15 quotes on asking the right question
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:31 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2020
SIMON SINEK: Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

THE BEAUTY OF FEEDBACK: It's Not a Weapon. It's a Mirror.

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I want you to imagine, for a moment, that I am your manager and, while passing you in the hallway on the way to yet another meeting I catch your eye, take a step towards you and, in a halting voice, say "Umm... uh... hi... I'm wondering if you have some time later today for me... er... to share a bit of feedback with you."

How are you feeling right now?

I'm guessing not so good -- especially since the word, "feedback", in most organizations, has become synonymous with, "I'm just about to chop your head off."

I'm not exactly sure what the origins of this phenomenon are, but if I were to hazard a guess I would think it has something to do with the fact that most people don't know how to give feedback and, on the other side of the coin, our amygdala (the danger sensing part of our brain) is gearing up to protect itself from perceived harm.

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Too bad.

And why it's too bad is because feedback is probably the simplest, fastest, most efficient way for a person to learn, grow, and get better results.

Metaphorically speaking, feedback is a mirror.

If you're about to give a speech to a thousand people, no one would fault you for taking a moment to check yourself in a mirror to see if your hair was out of place or you had a piece of spinach stuck between your teeth. That's not vanity. That's common sense. The mirror, quite simply, helps you see yourself in order to make a useful adjustment or two.

The mirror is not judging you. It is not criticizing you. Nor is it ridiculing, shaming, dissing, mocking, humiliating, trashing, bad-vibing or demonstrating its superiority over you. Nope. All it's doing is helping you see yourself clearly in the moment. Then, YOU get to decide if you want to brush your hair or remove that piece of spinach from between your teeth.

What might you need to do differently in order to be more open to the feedback of others? How might you improve your own feedback-giving skills?

25 quotes on feedback
Why offer positive feedback
The hardest part is knowing how to begin
Positive feedback from people learning how to give feedback
Photo #1: Taylor Smith, Unsplash
Photo #2: Mihai Surdu, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:48 AM | Comments (0)

June 09, 2020
WISE CHOICES: On Being a Team Leader With Very Little Time

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There are three things I've learned, about Team Leaders, in the past 33 years of working with these organizations.

1. They want their teams to become more high performing
2. The time they have to play their role is limited
3. They have choices about which team building efforts to focus on

Towards that end (assuming you have three minutes), take a look at the many choices you have to increase the long-term effectiveness and well-being of your team. Then pick at least ONE to focus on this week.

YOUR CHOICES

-- Listen more deeply to each team member's needs and perspectives
-- Actively observe team members on the job to see how they're doing
-- Notice when team members are doing something well
-- Give more positive feedback soon after your notice a success
-- Notice "room for improvement" moments, then give feedback

-- Facilitate more productive and enjoyable meetings
-- Have more frequent team meetings
-- Help team members frame compelling "How can I?" questions
-- Facilitate more idea generation sessions
-- Establish and reinforce team agreements

-- Help each person understand their roles and responsibilities
-- Create opportunities for your team to share best practices
-- Tell stories that spark insight and inspiration
-- Coach and mentor
-- Clarify your team's processes (i.e. how things get done)

-- Identify your team's key "How can we?" questions
-- Establish and reinforce Standards of Excellence
-- Have more casual, one-on-one conversations
-- Secure more support from Senior Leadership
-- Empower team members to solve their own problems

-- Build more rapport and trust
-- Increase team alignment (i.e. get everyone on the same page)
-- Work with your team to create an inspiring Team Mission Statement
-- Use Teamwork Cards to spark self-awareness and insight

-- Meet with a coach to continue building your team leadership skills
-- Get feedback from your team
-- Start your meetings by acknowledging forward progress made
-- Facilitate debrief sessions (i.e. what your team learned from an experience, mistake, or "failure")

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Go beyond the team leader overload syndrome
On being an effective team leader
Communicate your responsibilities to your team
Illustration: gapingvoid

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:19 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2020
Often, the Hardest Part of Giving Feedback is Knowing How to Begin

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Sometimes, when we have feedback to give someone, the hardest part is knowing how to begin. The good news? There's a thousand ways to do so. The not-so-good news? Most people don't have a "go-to" way to begin and, because they don't, they procrastinate or don't set enough context which increases the odds of the receiver of feedback feeling uncomfortable or defensive. Below are some sample ways to segue into a feedback conversation. Find the one you like the most and experiment with it. Or, if none of these work, create your own.

"I loved what happened earlier today when you..... Mind if I sit down with you for a few minutes and let you know how powerful moment that was for me?"

"I wonder if you have a few minutes now to chat. I'd like to share something that's been on my mind recently."

"I learned something powerful from you yesterday when you ... Got a few minutes for me to let you know how cool that moment was?"

"When might you have five minutes today or tomorrow to talk with me? I'd like to clear the air about something that happened between us that's been troubling me."

"You, my friend, are amazing. Mind if I take a few moments now to let you know what I mean by that?"

"Is this a good time for the two of us to talk? I have some feedback that might be useful to you."

"Earlier today I noticed something in your interaction with X that caught my attention. Do you have a few minutes now to explore that moment with me?"

"I saw you do something today that really impressed me. Gotta a few minutes now for me to let you know what that was?"

"Yesterday, at our staff meeting, I noticed something that made me uncomfortable. Mind if I share my perspective with you for a few minutes?"

Why offer praise and positive feedback
25 quotes on feedback
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June 06, 2020
TEAM LEADERS: Why Offer Praise and Positive Feedback

If you are a team leader and are looking a simple way to help your team become more high performing, make more effort to offer praise and positive feedback. This three-minute video is a good way to get your arms around the phenomenon. NOTE: Organizational psychologists recommend a 6:1 ratio of positive feedback to negative/corrective feedback.

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June 04, 2020
25 Quotes on Feedback

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1. "We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve." - Bill Gates

2. "I think it's very important to have a feedback loop, where you're constantly thinking about what you've done and how you could be doing it better." - Elon Musk

3. "Everything in my environment is offering me feedback, if I will only listen." - Sharon Weil

4. "True intuitive expertise is learned from prolonged experience with good feedback on mistakes." - Daniel Kahneman

5. "Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things." - Winston Churchill

6. "Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill." - Buddha

7. "The two words 'information' and 'communication' are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through." - Sydney J. Harris

8. "Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery." - Joyce Brothers

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9. "To acquire knowledge, one must study; but to acquire wisdom, one must observe." - Marilyn vos Savant

10. "Knowledge rests not upon truth alone, but upon error also." - Carl Jung

11. "To become more effective and fulfilled at work, people need a keen understanding of their impact on others and the extent to which they're achieving their goals in their working relationships. Direct feedback is the most efficient way for them to gather this information and learn from it." - Ed Batista

12. "In a growth mindset, challenges are exciting rather than threatening. So rather than thinking, oh, I'm going to reveal my weaknesses, you say, wow, here's a chance to grow." - Carol Dweck

13. "Average players want to be left alone. Good players want to be coached. Great players want to be told the truth." - Doc Rivers

14. "If you reject feedback, you also reject the choice of acting in a way that may bring you abundant success." - John Mattone

15. "Feedback is only valuable if the person giving it knows what they are talking about; feedback from an idiot is white noise that will damage you and from which you will learn nothing." - Phil Beadle

16. "Treat feedback as a gift rather than as a slap in the face." - Frank Sonnenberg

17. "There is a difference between judgment and feedback. Your critics use you as a mirror for their own hidden darkness. Your teachers hold up a mirror to yours." - Vironika Tugaleva

18. "Neither care too much nor too little about the feedback of others." - Miles Anthony Smith

19. "There is no failure. Only feedback." - Robert Allen

20. "It's not a proper feedback if it's given to flatter and/or belittle someone. True feedback should be given to empower someone perform better." - Assegid Habtewold

21. "The culture the leader creates impacts the feedback a leader receives." - Ron Edmondson

22. "In the best classrooms, grades are only one of many types of feedback provided to students." - Douglas Reeves

23. "Critics only make you stronger. You have to look at what they are saying as feedback. Sometimes the feedback helps, and other times, it's just noise that can be a distraction." - Robert Kiyosaki

24. "Don't solicit feedback on your product, idea or your business just for validation purposes. You want to tell the people who can help move your idea forward, but if you're just looking to your friend, co-worker, husband or wife for validation, be careful. It can stop a lot of multimillion-dollar ideas in their tracks in the beginning." - Sara Blakely

25. "When we make progress and get better at something, it is inherently motivating. In order for people to make progress, they have to get feedback and information on how they're doing." - Daniel Pink

TEN TIPS ON GIVING FEEDBACK

-- Give at least five times more positive feedback than negative.

-- Give feedback soon after the behavior you want to respond to.

-- Pick the moment when both of you are in the right frame of mind.

-- Keep it private. Feedback is not a spectator sport.

-- Prepare. Take the time to organize what you want to say.

-- Avoid generalities. Cite specific examples.

-- Focus on the issue or behavior, not the person.

-- Pay attention to body language. Adjust your feedback accordingly.

-- Keep it simple. Don't focus on too many things at once.

-- End on a positive note.

Idea Champions
Positive feedback from our clients

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June 03, 2020
No Trust, No Teamwork

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If you are a member of a team, there will be times when trust flies out the window. Your willingness to confidently rely on (and predict) that others will do the right thing in times of risk and uncertainty will shrivel. So be it. Such is life. But just because trust shrivels, doesn't mean it's gone. Smaller? Yes. Gone? Not necessarily. It can be restored. Indeed, it must be restored -- that is, IF you have any aspirations of enjoying your life, your work, and the possibility of making a difference in the world.

"You must trust and believe in people, or life becomes impossible." - Anton Chekhov

"Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest." - Seth Godin

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them." - Ernest Hemingway

"Trusting is hard. Knowing who to trust, even harder." - Maria Snyder

"He who does not trust enough will not be trusted." - Lao Tzu

"Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters." - Albert Einstein

"Trust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships." - Stephen R. Covey

"Remember teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability." - Patrick Lencioni

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"People follow leaders by choice. Without trust, at best you get compliance." - Jesse Lyn Stoner

"To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved." - George MacDonald

"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it." - Warren Buffett

"We are all mistaken sometimes. Sometimes we do wrong things, things that have bad consequences. But it does not mean we are evil, or that we cannot be trusted ever afterward." - Alison Croggon

"Never trust the advice of a man in difficulties." - Aesop

"Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work." - Warren Bennis

"The best proof of love is trust." - Joyce Brothers

"A king who trusts no man is weak." - Patricia Briggs

"Trust no friend without faults." - Doris Lessing

"Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts." - Rita Mae Brown

"People that have trust issues only need to look in the mirror. There they will meet the one person that will betray them the most."
- Shannon L. Alder

"It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them." - Confucius

"Those who trust us educate us." - George Eliot

"I'm suspicious of people who don't like dogs, but I trust a dog when it doesn't like a person." - Bill Murray

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"I believe in trusting. Trust begets trust. Suspicion is foetid and only stinks. He who trusts has never yet lost in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

"Trust is like a vase. Once it's broken, though you can fix it, the vase will never be same again." - Walter Anderson

"Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful." - Friedrich Nietzsche

"Trust in what you love, continue to do it, and it will take you where you need to go." - Natalie Goldberg

"I don't trust anyone who doesn't laugh." - Maya Angelou

"When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines instinct with boldness and effort, it is ready to climb." - Patanjali

"Love cannot live where there is no trust." - Edith Hamilton

"Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do." - Benjamin Spock

"I trust no one, not even myself." - Joseph Stalin

"Trust is not the same as faith. A friend is someone you trust. Putting faith in anyone is a mistake." - Christopher Hitchens

"Trust is earned when actions meet words." - Chris Butler

"Trust is not simply a matter of truthfulness, or even constancy. It is also a matter of amity and goodwill. We trust those who have our best interests at heart, and mistrust those who seem deaf to our concerns." - Gary Hamel

"I believe in trusting men, not only once but twice -- in giving a failure another chance." - James Cash Penney

"I would rather trust a woman's instinct than a man's reason." - Stanley Baldwin

"The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say I And that's not because they have trained themselves not to say I. They don't think I. They think we. They think team. They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don't sidestep it, but we gets the credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done." - Peter Drucker

"I'm not upset that you lied to me. I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you." - Friedrich Nietzsche

"Trust is built with consistency." - Lincoln Chafee

"The inability to open up to hope is what blocks trust, and blocked trust is the reason for blighted dreams." - Elizabeth Gilbert

"Either we're a team or we aren't. Either you trust me or you don't."
- Ally Carte

"There's never a reason to trust someone. If there's a reason, then it's not trust." - Gerald Morris

"Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

FOR YOUR REFLECTION:

1. How much do you trust yourself?
2. Who is the person you trust the most in your life?
3. What are the attributes of the person you trust the most?
4. How trustworthy are you?
5. When people lose trust in you, do you know why?
6. Who, in your life are you not trusting these days?
7. Do you know why you are not trusting this person?
8. Are you (and that person) committed to restoring trust?
9. What's the level of trust on whatever teams you are on?
10. If you are a team leader, how much do team members trust you?
11. What do you need to do to regain the trust of others?
12. What is the simplest thing you can do to be more trustworthy?

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:27 AM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2020
90 Quotes on Education & Learning

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1. "Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each." - Plato

2. "The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, 'The children are now working as if I did not exist.'" - Maria Montessori

3. "Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all." - Aristotle

4. "Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." - Mahatma Gandhi

5. "I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn." - Albert Einstein

6. "Teaching is only demonstrating that it is possible. Learning is making it possible for yourself." - Paulo Coelho

7. "The highest result of education is tolerance." - Helen Keller

8. "Education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil's soul." - Muriel Spark

9. "Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught." - Oscar Wilde

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10. "A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron." - Horace Mann

11."Only that education deserves emphatically to be termed cultivation of mind which teaches young people how to begin to think." - Mary Wollstonecraft

12. "They know enough who know how to learn." - Henry Adams

13. "Nine-tenths of education is encouragement." - Anatole France

14. "Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners." - John Holt

15. "I don't want revenge on the Taliban, I want education for sons and daughters of the Taliban." - Malala Yousafzai

16. "Real education should educate us out of self into something far finer -- into a selflessness which links us with all humanity." - Nancy Astor

17. "Learning starts with failure; the first failure is the beginning of education." - John Hersey

18. "Computers can do all the left hemisphere processing better and faster than the human brain. So what's left for the human brain is global thinking, creative thinking, intuitive-problem solving, seeing the whole picture. All of that cannot be done by the computer. And yet the school system goes on, churning out reading, writing, and arithmatic, spelling, grammar." - Betty Edwards

19. "When you take the free will out of education, that turns it into schooling." - John Taylor Gatto

20. "We discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being." - Maria Montessori

21. "For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them." - Aristotle

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22. "It is what we know already that often prevents us from learning." - Claude Bernard

23. "If you don't feel safe as a child, you cannot learn." - Lady Gaga

24. "The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change." - Carl Rogers

25. "A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary." - Thomas Carruthers

26. "The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding." - Leonardo da Vinci

27. "Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is." - Isaac Asimov

28. "The only thing better than education is more education." - Agnes Benedict

29. "I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework." - Lily Tomlin

30. "Education is not the piling on of learning, information, data, facts, skills, or abilities -- that's training or instruction -- but is rather making visible what is hidden as a seed." - Thomas Moore

31. "Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance." - Will Durant

32. "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young." - Henry Ford

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33. "Education is learning what you didn't know you didn't know." - George Boas

34. "The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values." - William Burroughs

35. "The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see." - Alexandra K. Trenfor

36. "We want the education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one's own feet." - Swami Vivekananda

37. "The difference between school and life? In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson." - Tom Bodett

38. "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." - Andy McIntyre

39. "What we learn with pleasure we never forget." - Alfred Mercier

40. "That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way." - Doris Lessing

41. "You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over." - Richard Branson

42. "We need to give up the notion of a single ideal of the educated person and replace it with a multiplicity of models designed to accommodate the multiple capacities and interests of students." - Nel Noddings

43. "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." - Benjamin Franklin

44. "Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Willing is not enough. We must do." - Bruce Lee

45. "Don't just teach your children to read. Teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything." - George Carlin

46. "Be curious, not judgmental." - Walt Whitman

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47. "Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible." - Richard Feynman

48. "True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own." - Nikos Kazantzakis

49. "I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught." - Winston Churchill

50. "Everybody's a teacher if you listen." - Doris Roberts

51. "Being a student is easy. Learning requires actual work." - William Crawford

52. "Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon." - E.M. Forster

53. "I am still learning." - Michelangelo (at 87)

54. "Even the genius asks questions." - Tupac Shakur

55. "Never let formal education get in the way of your learning." - Mark Twain

56. "Children need to be taught how to think, not what to think." - Margaret Mead

57. "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." - John Wooden

58. "Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel." - Socrates

59. "The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn." - Gloria Steinem

60. "The paradox of education is precisely this: that as one begins to become conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated." - James Baldwin

61. "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." - Maimonides

62. "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." - Albert Einstein

63. "Some people will never learn anything, for this reason, because they understand everything too soon." - Alexander Pope

64. "No man who worships education has got the best out of education... Without a gentle contempt for education no man's education is complete." - G.K Chesterton

65. "An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't." - Anatole France

66. "If you become a teacher, by your pupils you'll be taught." - Oscar Hammerstein

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67. "He who laughs most, learns best." - John Cleese

68. "Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants." - John Gardner

69. "Not too soon and not too late; the secret of education lies in choosing the right time to do things." - Natalia Ginzburg

70. "The goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and discover, to create men who are capable of doing new things." - Jean Piaget

71. "It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows."- Epictetus

72. "Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master." - Leonardo da Vinci

73. "When a subject becomes totally obsolete we make it a required course." - Peter Drucker

74. "There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly." - Buckminster Fuller

75. "A child educated only at school is an uneducated child." - George Santayana

76. "Schooling is what happens inside the walls of the school, some of which is educational. Education happens everywhere, and it happens from the moment a child is born -- and some people say before -- until a person dies." - Sara Lawrence Lightfoot

77. "Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of becoming." - Goethe

78. "All I want is an education, and I am afraid of no one." - Malala Yousafzai

79. "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle

80. "You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself." - Galileo

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81. "When you want to teach children to think, you begin by treating them seriously when they are little, giving them responsibilities, talking to them candidly, providing privacy and solitude for them, and making them readers and thinkers of significant thoughts from the beginning. That's if you want to teach them to think." - Bertrand Russell

82. "The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without a teacher." - Elbert Hubbard

83. "Learning is finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, teachers." -
- Richard Bach

84. "Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality."- Dalai Lama

85. "When you wish to instruct, be brief; children's minds take in quickly what you say, learn its lesson, and retain it faithfully. Every word that is unnecessary only pours over the side of a brimming mind." - Cicero

86. "To know how to suggest is the art of teaching." - Henri Frederic Amiel

87. "Once she knows how to read there's only one thing you can teach her to believe in and that is herself." - Virginia Woolf

88. "Rewards and punishment is the lowest form of education." - Chuang Tzu

89. "The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of the mind for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards."
- Anatole France

90. "The teacher must adopt the role of facilitator not content provider." - Lev S. Vygotsky

What I'm learning these days
Photo #1: Aaron Burden, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:34 AM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2020
What I'm Learning in a K-12 School

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In the past two and a half years, I've spent a total of six months working in a very dynamic Islamic school in Australia. It's been the most rewarding work experience of my life. Here are 25 things I've learned so far:

1. Intrinsic motivation is the key
2. Awakening the thirst for learning is the essence of real education
3. Assuming the best in others changes the game
4. Less is more
5. The more students enjoy learning, the more they learn

6. You can capture attention without turning students into prisoners
7. A teacher's first responsibility is to have an uncluttered mind
8. Students need to be teachers. Teachers need to be students.
9. The classroom is not the only place where learning happens
10. Without trust, fuggedaboutit

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11. Education is not about information. It's about transformation.
12. Storytelling is a teacher's most powerful tool
13. Teaching is a calling, not a job
14. Allow a little more time and space. Or a lot more.
15. Most meetings under-deliver

16. Walking the talk is the real pilgrimage. The destination? Here!
17. Every moment is an opportunity to learn
18. Teachers and students both need more acknowledgment
19. Inside of every student is a genius. Find a way to find it.
20. Fear, anxiety, and busyness are the enemies of education

21. Teachers need to adapt to their student's learning styles
22. Less homework, more play
23. When school is fun, behavior problems fade away
24. Learn rhymes with yearn. Teach rhymes with reach.
25. Einstein on education

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90 quotes on education and learning
The back story
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32 Quotes on Mastery
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