Is failure always bad?

Is failure always a bad thing? I think we all know the answer to that. However, whether consciously or unconsciously, the fear of failure might be telling us a lot about who we are and how we can turn that fear into a constructive element in our lives. If you are in the mood for an introspective discussion, watch author Elizabeth Gilbert (“Eat, Pray, Love”) talk about what failure has done for her.

Do a tell back of the main points in Gilbert’s presentation.

Are there elements in Gilbert’s presentation that relate to your life?

Do you have successes and failures that have marked your life?

How have your successes and failures defined your path? In other words, where might you be today if things were different?

Do you have an activity that you love more than anything that transcends the need to succeed or the fear of failure?

Are you a “multipotentialite”? Wait? What

Is it possible that we don’t have one true calling? That we have more than one talent? One gift? That is the question that Emilie Wapnick asks her TED audience. She is a self proclaimed “multipotentialite” which is to say, she has many potential careers and gifts.

I must say I got a little emotional watching this talk. I too am someone who is constantly looking for my one true thing only to feel disappointed in myself when I get interested in something new. It is a very freeing concept that my students loved to talk about…

Pre discussion

  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • If it changed, why did it change?
  • Why is it ok for children to have many career paths, but adults must chose one?

The Video

Watch the video and gather some of the main themes and points.

Post Video Discussion

First do a Tell Back.

  • Do you see yourself in Emilie’s concept of mulitipotentialite?
  • What are the advantages of exploring all our interests?
  • What are the multipotentialite’s “super powers”?
  • How are those skills relevant in today’s job market?

Have a good discussion!

Are you good with conflict?

Even though I know how to stand up for myself, it is not my favorite thing to do. It will inevitably cause awkwardness perhaps even anger. I might be perceived and agressive or unreasonable.

Yet, we all have to deal with conflicting view points at some time or another. Perhaps some have to deal with it every day. Heck , some make a career of it.

That’s why I like this article from Thrive Global (Ariana Huffington‘s wellness publication). In it there are practical tips on how to deal with relationship conflict. The article is nicely organized, well supported and each part succinct. It makes for a great Tell Back article and probably a few anecdotes.

Pre discussion

  • How are you with conflict? Are you more a fighter or lover?
  • Do you have any moments (perhaps not too personal) where you have had to stand up for yourself?

The Article: 9 Ways do Deal with Relationship Conflict

  • Take each of the 9 points and pull out the main recommendation
  • Are there any recommendations that you disagree with?
  • Are there any that you see yourself adopting?
  • Is there a pattern or something that each recommendation has in common?

What is your definition of success?

Success is a looming goal that can drive us, but also plague us. In Alain de Botton TED talk, he exposes his struggle with success and some of the elements that may shape our choices.

Pre discussion

  • How do you define success?
  • Who do you know that you consider successful?

The Video: TED A Kinder, Gentler, Philosophy of Success by Alain de Botton 

  • Divide the presentation into 5 min segments and do a Tell Back
    • First 5 min: What is snobbery according to Botton?
    • 5-10 min: What is meritocracy? How might it be destructive?
    • 10-15 min: What can literary tragedy teach us? Why does nature attract us?
  • If you have time, I would suggest doing a Mind Map of the main elements that contribute to our notion of success. Perhaps group them according to those that are good and bad.

Do you see what I see?

Do you like independent films? Here are a couple short, and thought provoking, animations that you can use to elicit action verbs. Then, if your students have an artsy side, there is an opportunity to talk about the symbolism in the videos. In my experience, this sort of thing can either prompt a great philosophical discussion or fall flat. It really depends on the people you are working with.

Pre discussion

  • What is an independant film?
  • What makes indie films different from mainstream cinema?
  • What freedoms to indie film makers have?
  • What constraints do they have?
  • Can you think of an indie film you watched? What was it about?

Film 1: ECIRAVA

  • Pretend you have to describe this video to someone who can see, make a list of all the actions in this video?
  • What is the problem (s) in this story?
  • What is the difference between one side of mirror and the other?
  • Which side do you think the man is likely to be happier?

Film 2: SOAR

  • Again, describe the actions in this video as if you were sitting next to someone who couldn’t see it.
  • What is the problem (s) in this video?
  • What does the main character do to overcome the problems?
  • What are some of the emotions you can identify throughout the video?

That’s all for this post…if any of you try this lesson, let me know how it goes.

Bye for now…Mel

Would you eat the marshmallow?

TED features Joachim de Posada’s presentation of the famous “marshmallow” test done children. It is a test that claims to predict the success of those children through their ability to delay gratification.

I won’t go into great detail about the test because the video only last about 5 min. I will say this, although this test makes me feel a little uncomfortable, I think it makes an interesting discussion.

Pre discussion

  • Do you consider yourself a patient person?
  • What things or events in your life have you had to wait for?
  • What stories or anecdotes from your life show how you are patient or impatient?

The video: Don’t eat the marshmallow by Joachim de Posada TED

  • How did the video of the children make you feel?
  • How did the children act around the marshmallow?
  • If it were you, would you have eaten it? Why?
  • Why do you think it is important to be able to delay gratification?
  • What do you think Posada means by “we are eating more marshmallows that we produce?”
  • Do you agree?

Which “Friends” character are you?

I know, I know, pretty cheesy. But if there is one thing I learnt from teaching overseas, the television series Friends is everywhere. So if you need a relaxing frivolous lesson, here it is.

Pre discussion

  • Which Friends character do you relate to most?
  • Which is your least favorite and why?

The Quiz: Which Friends character are you?

If you have multiple students I suggest you do this quiz in pairs. Of course you will need a computer, tablet or smart phone…

  • What personal characteristics can you associate with each character?
  • Which ones describe you best?
  • Why do you think this series was so popular?

How exactly does gender work?

It is an age old discussion. What are the differences between men and women? Biologist Karissa Sanbonmatsu presents some of the new discoveries from epigenetics and research in DNA that explain the differences between men and women from a biological perspective. This is a science based lesson plan with tons of scientific vocabulary to describe how DNA works to create gender differences.

Sanbonmatsu, a transgender scientist, also talks about the challenges she faced in her scientific community given her struggle with her own identity. This content is layered and complex. On one hand the objective is to help science-based students become more verbal with DNA related vocabulary–an important corner stone topic for biologists. But beyond that, the speaker pulls in the social challenges of the “old boys club” that exists in the scientific community.

Pre discussion

  • What are some of the theories you have heard about the differences between men and women?
  • Do you think there are differences?

The Video: The Biology of Gender

There are really two aspects in this video mashed up together. 1) Sanbonmatsu shares the science of gender. 2) Sanbonmatsu talks about the reactions of her scientific community, thus the social issues surrounding transgenderism in various communities.

I would first untangle each aspect.

  • What does the latest research tell us about gender?
  • What is the behaviour of our DNA?
  • How is Sanbonmatsu contributing to a society of tolerance inclusion?
  • Why does Sanbonmatsu expose the scientific community as being especially hard on her choices?
  • Do you think there are other social circles where transgenderism is more difficult?
  • What about less difficult?

I leave you with that for the weekend…have a good one.

Mel