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By C.J. Westerberg
In the New York Times' Education section, there was the obligatory article on how to keep your mind nimble as you grow older, which ranked in the top ten most-read.
At least editor Barbara Strauch spared us from the crossword puzzle and Sudoku curriculum, and instead of making us do things we really hate, she suggested we try things from a different perspective. Sounds like the ole' debating team trick: pick a side you are on and then be forced to argue the opposing team's point-of-view. Got it:
"Educators say that, for adults, one way to nudge nuerons in the right direction is to challenge the very assumptions they have worked so hard to accumulate . . . adult learners should 'jiggle their synapses a bit' by confronting thoughts that are contrary to their own . . . "
"Teaching new facts should not be the focus of adult education, she says. Instead, continued brain development and a richer form of learning may require that you 'bump up against people and ideas' that are different."
"...If you always hang around with those you agree with and read things that agree with what you already know, you're not going to wrestle with your established brain connections."
Wrapped within an "Adult Learning Nueroscience" framework, Strauch suggests studying a new foreign language or taking a new route home from work - anything that takes you out of your comfort zone.
Here are five from The Daily Riff:
1) For the quickest infliction of discomfort creating the ultimate life-changing experience, we would recommend watching Keith Olbermann if you are an avid Bill O'Reilly fan, or vice-versa, for an entire year. No wimping out here.
2) If you are a coffee drinker, drink tea, or vice-versa. Better yet, if you are a Portland, Oregon Starbucks drinker, go to a South Carolina tea party.
3) Talk to Senator Joe Lieberman or Senator Arlen Specter. Ask him about an issue and then ask the same question six months later.
4) Watch the movie UP again - the amazing animated comedy by Disney/Pixar about a 78 year-old man whose neurons were quickly re-arranged by an 8 year old stow-away boy. The best movie of the year in this genre and one of the best overall. If you missed, you can view trailer here. (Note: TDR has no relationship here - ad or otherwise).
5) Listen & watch this 2 minute music mash-up below. Using clips from the movie UP, Pogo, an emerging musical artist from Perth, Australia, knows how to fire up our synapses for a good time, by creating an entirely new riffing piece of pure joy.
*6* If you got this far, your brain connections are good to go.....
Here is the link to the full The New York Times article. We also thank Barbara Strauch for being a good sport and do look forward to her upcoming book.
Previously published by The Daily Riff
This is Pogo's music mash-up: