Mixed Signals: Ideas that don't make sense

We like to think we're rational. We do everything for a reason. We balance up the pros and cons. Here's the truth... we're unpredictable, and completely irrational.

No. 22 – 23rd of May, 2021

We like to think we're rational.

We do everything for a reason. We balance up the pros and cons.

Here's the truth... we're unpredictable, and completely irrational.

There's so much we can learn (and have to learn) about human behaviour. It can be used to improve businesses, society, and (without doubt) education.

While testing out 'ideas that don't make sense' might seem like a gamble in business, they seem positively impossible in education. Much safer to stick with a system we know doesn't work, than risk finding something that actually might work.

A change is coming.

I'm finding it increasingly unlikely it will come from within education itself.

On with the links...


01. Rory's BS.

+ How did I miss this? Almost two years ago a podcast with Rory Sutherland (Vice Chairman of Ogilvy UK) was released in two parts.

Rory is, amongst other things, the founder of Ogilvy's Behavioural Science Practice. He talks extensively about getting the creative minds in ad agencies out into the rest of the world – reviewing the tax system, rethinking the congestion charge, etc.

(I would love to see them get a seat at the table regarding education.)

+ This was the nudge I needed to start reading Rory's latest book, Alchemy, the surprising power of ideas that don't make sense.

I see this book recommend everywhere. Loving it so far.

+ Talking of nudges... Nudgestock 2021 is less than a month away. Hosted by Rory, it's a day of talks explaining "why things like mindfulness, climate change and vaccine hesitancy are all just load of Behavioural Science".

+ What is Behavioural Science anyway, and how is it different from 'behaviour design'?

02. The art of distraction.

+ Rest is likely the book I recommend most.

So it was great to find this interview with the author, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. He talks about why 'active rest' is important, and why he wrote the book in the first place:

"When I was on sabbatical at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, I found that in three months I got an enormous amount of stuff done and did an awful lot of really serious thinking, which was a great luxury, but I also had what felt like an amazingly leisurely life."

+ Oliver Burkeman on how social media companies distract us:

"You don’t get dragged away against your will. You surrender willingly. It’s a relief to turn from the unpleasantness of a challenging work task, or a moment of boredom while caring for a child, to scroll through your phone instead."

03. School of thought.

+ An interesting comparison on schooling in the UK and Canada from the excellent Dr Elizabeth Gregory. A few years old, but has much changed?

“Mum in the UK its all about being the best but in Toronto it was all about doing your best.”

+ Mary Meredith on why not all misbehaviour communicates an unmet need, and why that isn't really the point.

(78% of permanent exclusions are for pupils who have Special Educational Needs, were classified as in need, or were eligible for free school meals. 11% were to pupils who had all three.)

+ Apple pushing hard on privacy.

+ Alexandra Zatarain, co-founder of Eight Sleep, on The Pomp Podcast. (I loved the positioning story behind becoming a 'sleep fitness' brand).

+ I usually get my TV recommendations from Twitter, but this one came from the film crew I passed on a dog walk last year. More great TV drama coming out of Wales (and a surprising amount of it coming directly from my village).


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