Trends: Beyond the Pale Thinking

May 7th, 2012

From the publisher’s desk…Education for the insides; our heads are in the clouds, and toxic success. What was once good is now bad. What was bad is now good.

Time Magazine ran a special double issue in March 2012 presenting 10 ideas that are changing your life, ideas that were once considered beyond the pale. (March 12, 2012). In case you missed it, here are a few we loved, plus one we added to the hopper: big out of the box ideas that are relevant, grounded, and right now thinking to cut through the noise.

Context: The Pale was a demarcation line in Ireland dividing Irish from English ruled lands under English dominion, where no Irish could pass beyond. It led to the phrase ‘beyond the pale’, which meant unacceptable behavior. It was also a Fiona album title (Pale September), a song (Whiter Shade of Pale) by Procol Harum, and a Rudyard Kipling (1888) story, to name a few uses. But what is unacceptable behavior anymore? What was once conventionally unaccepted has become in some cases cause for celebration, for what was once beyond the pale is thinking that travels right into celebratory appreciation. We suggest it comes from progressive awareness.

School That Teaches Inner Person Stuff

Poor kids need more help behaviorally. Or math and science is most important to a person’s value to their society and culture. How about education that focuses on developing advanced behavioral skills and emotional coping abilities? We think it should be in every school – public or private, and not just for high-risk populations of students. How effective is knowing calculus if you can’t navigate your way through complicated social relationships or people with bad attitudes? The idea that only high-risk children should have development programs for social and emotional coping skills is antiquated and wrong. Our friend Frances Hesselbein, who is President and CEO of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute (formerly Peter Drucker Institute), publishes a wonderful monthly leadership newsletter (subscribe here: Leadership Tip of the Day) and included a profile on Educare, which inspired us to pass along the idea that we have to educate the inner workings and being of kids equally to skills and knowledge of subjects.

Educare is a year-round schools serving at-risk children from birth to 5 years, Educare is a research-based program that prepares young, at-risk children for school: developing strong social skills, including self-confidence, persistence and methods to manage frustration, abilities that predict later success in academics and in life. Partners include philanthropists, Head Start and Early Head Start providers, and school officials dedicated to narrowing the achievement gap for children in their communities.”

Times Contributions:

“Your Head Is In The Cloud”

According to writer Annie Murphy Paul, Betsy Sparrow of Columbia University conducted research that identified three new truths about how we process information as a result of the digital age. First, when we don’t know something, our initial impulse is to think where is the nearest answer on the Web, rather than the actual answer. Second, if we expect to go back and locate an answer later on, we won’t remember it as well. And finally, because we now learn to recall or remember where the information may be found online, as opposed to within our brain storage files, we may be forming a memory, but not necessarily a stored factual bit of knowing.

Okay, but we would argue that as long as the digital frontier remains open, just because knowledge is stored external to us doesn’t mean we don’t process it or use it in the same way as if it were not. Our new skills of mass input distinction becomes pretty important.

We would also argue that faster input recognition and processing comes from the cloud relationship, too, and so maybe, we’re better off having the cloud as part of our data storage: we’re able to do more with what God (or the universe depending upon your leanings) gave us. (Annie Murphy Paul, Times Magazine, March 12, 2012, pages 64-65.)

Success is Toxic to Your Health, or “High-Status Stress”

This one was interesting. The idea by Judith Warner is that our success-oriented cultures in profit-centered, capitalistic society induces more stress and therefore precipitates worse health and wellbeing than it should. Of course it does. This is a no brainer. Any external values we place on sustaining materialistic things is a stressor to our body and our emotional wellbeing. What matters is how we perceive it and what meaning do we give it.

According to Warner, “As you near the top, life stress increases so dramatically that its toxic effects essentially cancel out many positive aspects of succeeding.” (Times Magazine, March 12, 2012, page 78).  Whether it is having authority over others, the small details of success (right clothes, right haircut, right house, college for the kids), or a physical body that can sustain the big, hairy jobs we think we have to take on—the higher we climb, the more we look outside ourselves for success quotients, the harder it is on us. (Judith Warner, Times Magazine, March 12, 2012, page 78).

We think it has a lot to do with people still trying to live up to prior societal expectations while living in current and evolving times, rather than just being and doing what is internally right for them.

What do you think?

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