Shooting for the Stars

On Monday, 14 Year-old Ahmed Mohamed, brought his homemade clock to school to show his engineering teacher. By the end of the day he ended up being taken away in handcuffs (read more here). What should have been an opportunity to encourage Ahmed’s aspirations in engineering turned into suspicion by educators and a police accusation of a hoax bomb.

Although it is widely understood that schools must ensure the safety of all stakeholders, how can we as educators create spaces where students like Ahmed may grow as an engineer or inventor? How do we make inventing commonplace so that when a homemade clock shows up our first thought isn’t bomb? Instead our first thought could be “Wow! Another cool kid-powered invention!”

At Cal Farley’s we have begun to build those inventor spaces into our daily lives.  Designing, programing, and building are skills we actively encourage and promote on our campus.  We believe that a whole community can become a learning lab, a concept we call Community As Lab.   To support this effort we have created hands-on learning laboratories where youth have dedicated spaces for tinkering, designing and making.  We believe that these activities stimulate learning by providing real world application for principles learned in the classroom.

Thankfully for Ahmed there was an outpouring of support from all over the world encouraging him to continue doing what he is doing.  Do you know any youth like Ahmed?  Here’s how to get them and your school involved…

How to become involved:
Create a maker space in your school.
Find a community makerspace, like these in Dallas and Milwaukee, or check out TechShop, a chain of maker spaces located across the United States.
Look for a Maker Faire near you and take a  young maker to visit and actively participate in the event.

Books I recommend:
Design. Make, Play: Growing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators by Margaret Honey and David E. Kanter
Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager

I leave you with this video from Community As Lab’s recent rocket launch.  We truly do want our kids to shoot for the stars.

Self-defeating Patterns of Behavior

Have you ever noticed how ‘other people’ (not you of course) do things and say things that quite obviously makes things worse for themselves instead of better. They appear to have a genuine lack of awareness that these behaviors are counter-productive and self-defeating.

The short clip below involving a dog protecting his bone is a perfect representation of the blindness of self-defeating behavior and the self-inflicted pain it can cause. Like the dog protecting its bone, our children are protecting themselves in ways that without any understanding to others looking on appears to be counter-productive and self-harming.

In our work with youth we understand that behavior has meaning and purpose and is needs based. We view their sometimes outrageous behaviors as their best attempt to meet one of the basic needs for safety, belonging, achievement, power, purpose or adventure. With this understanding in mind, we incorporate therapeutic interventions so that the youth in our care gain insight into their self-defeating patterns of behavior and think about and incorporate healthy ways to express their emotions to get their needs met. Some of the interventions we utilize at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch include Life Space Crisis Intervention and The Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics.

Crazy dog bites its own leg!.mp4

Consequences – Part 2: Natural Consequences

Natural consequences are outcomes that happen as a result of behavior that are not planned or controlled by others.  For example, if a young person is mean to others he may find that he is not invited to join in when others get together.  An adult did not plan or control this consequence, but he or she may observe it and choose to allow it to happen.  That adult then may be able to discuss what happened with the young person who was left out and help him or her learn predict such natural consequences in future interactions.  Use of natural consequences allows an attentive adult to teach young people the connection between their choices and what happens to them.

Consequences – Part 2: Natural Consequences

Consequences – Part 1: Consequences Happen – Tascosa Project

Behavioral principles have been prominent for forty years in programs for youth. Parenting programs also include healthy doses of behavioral intervention strategies. There is great value in understanding the uses of behavioral approaches in our work – at the same time, there are significant limitations. One drawback of the infusion of behavioral initiative in our work is the perceiving meaning of the word “consequence” itself. You won’t find “punishment” as a synonym for “consequence” in Thesaurus. Yet, they have become synonymous in our work and that has been detrimental to our understanding of the purpose and power of what consequences are and how consequences can be used as vehicles to help us as professionals achieve the meaningful learning, growth and change in behavior of our youth in our care.

This is the first of a three-part series on using “consequences” in our work. These brief presentations are intended to provide a starting point for learning, dialogue and training on an important and pervasive topic throughout services and professional disciplines.

Consequences – Part 1: Consequences Happen

Really? Only 10% of your brain?

It is unfortunate that people still claim that we only use 10% of our brain.  However, it is likely that the claim will persist as the 2014 movie LUCY has Morgan Freeman reinforcing the claim.  While it may be true that some people only reach a small fraction of their potential, it only confuses the understanding of the brain to claim we only use 10%.  This entertaining video (4min) does a nice job of challenging the claim.

Do I Only Use 10% of My Brain?

The Divided Brain 2.0

Misinformation regarding the brain is in no short supply.  The most common misinformation is likely regarding the hemispheres of the brain.  This stems from the popularity of the topic in the 70’s and 80’s driven by the first split brain operations.  In this RSA animation, Iain McGilchrist revisits the divided brain with newer insight debunking the most commonly heard myths.  However, what he brings to the table is a new understanding that may prove more interesting than what is most frequently presented.

RSA Animate – The Divided Brain

A Pep Talk from Kid President

kid president1

This  video was shown at the closing of the 2014 Allambi Ignite Conference held in New South Wales, Australia.  It was a nice element to include in the closing of an excellent conference.  You just can’t have too much Kid President!    

For the Heroes

Superhero kid

This video was shared by Simon Walsh at the opening of the 2014 Ignite Conference in New South Wales.  It was the beginning of an excellent conference.  Indeed, it will be sad when Kid President grows up.  

Beware Neuro-bunk

As new brain research is published, the media and many marketers are quick to “run with the data” and often far exceed the true meaning of the research.  In this 2012 TED talk, neuroscientist Molly Crockett explains the limits of interpreting neuroscientific data, and why we should all be aware of them.

Molly Crockett: Beware neuro-bunk

 

 

Drive

A beautifully animated talk by Daniel Pink the author of Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us.

RSA Animate – Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us