Why a great education means engaging with controversy

Jonathan Zimmerman explains why teachers should invite, not censor, tough classroom debates.

  • During times of war or national crisis in the U.S., school boards and officials are much more wary about allowing teachers and kids to say what they think.
  • If our teachers avoid controversial questions in the classroom, kids won't get the experience they need to know how to engage with difficult questions and with criticism.
  • Jonathan Zimmerman argues that controversial issues should be taught in schools as they naturally arise. Otherwise kids will learn from TV news what politics looks like – which is more often a rant than a healthy debate.
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Lateral thinking: How to workshop innovative ideas

Don't underestimate the power of play when it comes to problem-solving.

  • As we get older, the work we consistently do builds "rivers of thinking." These give us a rich knowledge of a certain kind of area.
  • The problem with this, however, is that as those patterns get deeper, we get locked into them. When this happens it becomes a challenge to think differently — to break from the past and generate new ideas.
  • How do we get out of this rut? One way is to bring play and game mechanics into workshops. When we approach problem-solving from a perspective of fun, we lose our fear of failure, allowing us to think boldly and overcome built patterns.

Not reaching your potential? Don’t overthink it, study suggests

When thinking about your shortcomings, it pays to be kind.

  • A recent study explored how people feel about the discrepancies they perceive between who they are now, who they aspire to be, and who they think they ought to be.
  • The researchers specifically explored how rumination mediates our negative feelings about these discrepancies.
  • Rumination only seemed to mediate our negative feelings about perceived discrepancies between our actual selves and ideal selves.
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Think Again Podcast's 200th episode! Robert MacFarlane (writer) – deep time rising

The wonder and the ethics of deep time. The "wood-wide-web". The claustrophobia of the Anthropocene. In our 200th episode, UNDERLAND author Robert MacFarlane takes us on a journey deep into the Earth and ourselves.

Think Again Podcasts
  • "We think of ourselves as this surface species. Of builders. But we are a species of burrowers and borers. And we are leaving warrens behind us that dwarf any ant's nest…"
  • "That handprint on the cave wall is testimony to that urge to move into darkness in search of meaning—in search of different orders of time."
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Big Think Edge
  • Organization expert Carson Tate suggests taking a good hard look at all the things you assume you "should" do and questioning why those things are so important.
  • By seeing beyond the veneer of our "shoulds," we can better understand when it's best to say, "Yes," and when it benefits us to say, "No."
  • In this lesson, Tate explores a powerful method for evaluating every "should" that comes your way.
Big Think Edge
  • The world is becoming more analytical. Given the deluge of data available and the rapid pace of change across all facets of our lives, good decision-making – that is, the ability to be analytical in your approach to making choices – is critical.
  • In this lesson, Economist Lawrence Summers explores why deciding wisely is essential to leading a good life.
  • By the end of it, you'll have a deeper understanding of what Summers believes to be the single greatest pitfall to analytical thinking – and its antidote.