Reflections of a Summer of Learning

Guest post by Dana Watts 

For the past 7 years, I have closely protected my time with my children over the summer. Being an expat and international teacher, our school year is generally packed full from the first day of school until the last. Let me start by saying that I generally jump at the chance to learn anything and everything new, but the summertime has always been sacred. I have carefully guarded our summers for our family and have not let my professional life creep into that precious time.

This summer was a complete deviation from the past 7 years. Due to my emerging yet somewhat undefined new career, I spent a week at the University of Kentucky with my doctoral cohort and have just completed a week of training with Apple Distinguished Educators from Europe, India and the UAE. Normally I return to India refreshed and filled with energy from a stateside summer. That will not be the end of my summer story this year. Over the next three days, I will travel from Cork to Dublin to Toronto to Buffalo to DC. I will rest for four days before I return to India with three kids and a dog. I haven't seen my husband in almost 5 weeks. Refreshed would not be the adjective I would use to describe my mental state at the moment.

That being said, my mind is full of some amazing things I truly hope to bring to fruition over the next few months. This summer, I learned a ridiculous amount about myself as a learner and how I learn. I react under pressure but become inspired at the last moment. There are times when I am incredibly quiet because the ideas in my head are bubbling over. At times they pour out of my mind and sound like nonsense to everyone around me. (I worry about those moments but they are what they are.) I need time to be inspired, but when that moment comes, I sprint because I want to reach the finish line before I see another one in the distance. I may have some serious ADHD issues, but I embrace that about myself. I know I can be really excited about something but the second a better idea comes around, I will follow the new path.

This troubles me, not because I am worried about myself, but I wonder where we allow students to become inspired and have time for ideas to bubble over in our schools? We impose more deadlines and restrictions instead of less. The more restraints you place on kids, the harder they have to work to fit into your vision of learning. I will more schools thought about the different ways they personally learn, and gave students the room to fly. In both of the incredible learning experiences I had this summer, they share one common denominator: my inspiration and clarity came at the end of the learning instead of the start. I hope my colleagues keep this in mind as they begin another year of inspiring students. Learning cannot be pre described. Please allow room for your kids to fly.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Apple, Amazon, and Uber are moving in on health care. Will it help?

Big tech is making its opening moves into the health care scene, but its focus on tech-savvy millennials may miss the mark.

Apple COO Jeff Williams discusses Apple Watch Series 4 during an event on September 12, 2018, in Cupertino, California. The watch lets users take electrocardiogram readings. (Photo: NOAH BERGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google have been busy investing in health care companies, developing new apps, and hiring health professionals for new business ventures.
  • Their current focus appears to be on tech-savvy millennials, but the bulk of health care expenditures goes to the elderly.
  • Big tech should look to integrating its most promising health care devise, the smartphone, more thoroughly into health care.
Keep reading Show less

The culprit of increased depression among teens? Smartphones, new research suggests.

A new study, led by psychologist Jean Twenge, points to the screen as the problem.

A teenager eyes her smartphone as people enjoy a warm day on the day of silence, one day prior to the presidential elections, when candidates and political parties are not allowed to voice their political meaning on April 14, 2018 in Kotor, Montenegro. Citizens from Montenegro, the youngest NATO member, will vote for a new president on Sunday 15 2018. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
Surprising Science
  • In a new study, adolescents and young adults are experiencing increased rates of depression and suicide attempts.
  • The data cover the years 2005–2017, tracking perfectly with the introduction of the iPhone and widespread dissemination of smartphones.
  • Interestingly, the highest increase in depressive incidents was among individuals in the top income bracket.
Keep reading Show less

The colossal problem with universal basic income

Here's why universal basic income will hurt the 99%, and make the 1% even richer.

  • Universal basic income is a band-aid solution that will not solve wealth inequality, says Rushkoff.
  • Funneling money to the 99% perpetuates their roles as consumers, pumping money straight back up to the 1% at the top of the pyramid.
  • Rushkoff suggests universal basic assets instead, so that the people at the bottom of the pyramid can own some means of production and participate in the profits of mega-rich companies.
Keep reading Show less