Fostering Joy, At School And At Work

Menlo Innovations is a great place to work. The software company in Ann Arbor, MI, has such a sunny atmosphere that even the delivery guy takes notice: “I don’t know what you do,” he told Menlo employees, “but whatever it is, I want to work here.” Rich Sheridan, Menlo Innovations’s CEO, has written a book about what it is the
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Wednesday Write #44: A Writer’s Time

Note to Brilliant readers: On January 27, 2015, my book Brilliant: The Science of How We Get Smarter will be published. Each Wednesday between now and then I’ll be posting on my blog about the writing and publishing process—a kind of behind-the-scenes look at the journey of a book from manuscript to publication. The posts are numbered starting with #52
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The Key To Innovation: Making Smart Analogies

Note to Brilliant readers: Earlier today I gave a talk at the Sandbox Summit, a fantastic annual conference that brings together all kinds of people interested in kids, technology and learning. As the closing keynote speaker, I was asked to talk about the 2014 Summit’s theme, “Innovation By Design.” Here’s an edited and condensed version of what I said to
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A Closer Look At Those Students Who Do Have Excessive Homework

Yesterday on the Brilliant Blog, I wrote about a report from the Brookings Institution that found that, despite hyperventilating media coverage of the subject, the number of students spending hour upon hour on their homework is actually quite small. American students have an average of one hour of homework a night, the study found, and surveyed parents were more likely
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Dressing To Be Different: A Tricky Business

What would happen if you wore red Converse sneakers to your next business meeting? Francesca Gino is a professor at Harvard Business School who’s interested in how nonconformism is received in professional settings. To get a first-hand feel for her subject, she wore red Converse sneakers to teach a one-day seminar. What was the reaction? It varied. Participants in the
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Can Brain Training Really Make You Smarter?

In this Sunday’s New York Times Book Review, I review “Smarter,” by Dan Hurley—a book about the science of brain training. Here’s how my review starts off: “Feel the burn!” That was Jane Fonda in 1982, exhorting the viewers of her first-of-its-kind workout video to engage in an exotic pursuit called exercise. In her striped leotard and legwarmers, Fonda led
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Excessive Homework Is The Complaint Of Only A Few

My children are five and eight, in preschool and second grade. Their school doesn’t begin assigning homework until third grade, so homework isn’t something we’ve had to deal with—yet. But we have many friends with older children who passionately lament how much time and energy and emotion is consumed in their households by homework. When everyone you know is talking
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Happier Workers Are More Productive Workers

Could giving workers a 10-minute video of comedy sketches make them happier? How about giving them fruit, chocolate, and bottled drinks? These were the blandishments offered by Andrew J. Oswald, a professor at the University of Warwick in Britain, and his colleagues. In a working paper they have just put online, Oswald et al. report that these small mood-boosters did
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Use Car Time As Music-Appreciation Time

Maybe this is obvious, but I still love the idea. Case Western Reserve University music educator Lisa Huisman Koops studied the way that time spent in the car can become a moment for families to appreciate music together. As reported on the website Phys.Org: “Koops recruited five families with nine children combined who were enrolled in her early childhood music
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Making Learning Easier And Making It Harder: Both Are Necessary

I was listening to a report on NPR’s “Morning Edition” the other day when I heard an exchange that was both amusing and thought-provoking. The report, by national correspondent Tovia Smith, was about the growing number of schools that are trying to instill “grit”—perseverance in the face of adversity—in their students. Smith focused on one such school: “Tom Hoerr leads
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