Mixed Signals: Normal isn't working

We're not normal.

No. 25 – 1st of October, 2021

We're not normal.

From the outside, our life looks the same as those around us. Other than me being a single male parent to 3 kids, which is mostly an invisible detail.

Yet we are different. For children, being in the care system means you aren't the same. And being a carer means you aren't a parent.

Every so often, I feel the pull towards normal.

Then I remember. Normal isn't working so well for everyone else.

Our tech is making us sick. We hide from the natural world. And (of most interest to me), we seem to have an education system that makes things worse.

When I feel that pull, I remember... we don't want normal. We want better.

On with the links...

01. Selfie-medicated.

It's now clear that even Facebook is worried about the mental health of the young users of its Instagram app.

+ The thinking on this seems to constantly swing, but I'm with Cal Newport who opens this episode of his podcast by saying... we can be fairly certain social media is hurting teenagers, because they've been telling us so for some time now.

+ Meanwhile, in China, "online gamers under the age of 18 will only be allowed to play for an hour on Fridays, weekends and holidays."

02. Walk this way.

I keep returning to walking as a superpower. Treating it as a meditative practice makes a lot of sense, which explains why a 'savouring walk' (where you savour things in life you are grateful for) can work wonders:

Those walks are some of the sweetest memories I have of that period, and I have continued them since, inadvertently preparing for my Camino. Almost at the moment I began the journey, my gratitude began to bubble up—for my family, faith, friends, and work, but also for a cool drink of water, taking off my shoes, and a soft pillow at night.

+ Research (including work done here in my hometown, Cardiff) is helping us understand how nature-powered conversations can support our kids in our increasingly frantic lives:

Everything from work to school to technology is vying for our attention. But fortunately, the antidote to all those distractions is right outside your door.

03. Testing the system.

Sal Kahn (of Khan Academy) gives an example of building a house... you've laid the foundations and an inspector assesses them. They give you a score of 75%. Instead of fixing the 25% that's not right, you move onto building the first floor. And the process repeats. That's why we need to teach for mastery, not test scores.

+ Seth Godin is a marketing legend. So it gives me great pleasure to see him say we need to reimagine the curriculum. And he's spot on too, for example:

Art–expressing yourself with passion and consistency and a point of view. Not because it’s your job, but because you can and because it matters. Appreciating the art that has come before and creating your own, in whatever form that takes.

+ Find something to write about by looking for ideas that don't make sense.

+ Can we get kids to improve their reading by turning on the subtitles?

+ How about a uniform policy that treats kids like human beings?