Friday, September 19, 2014


Recently I've had several questions about the importance of imagination, some from unenlightened adults who accuse children of "lying" when using their imagination (That happened to me as a child when I made the colossal error of telling some adults about my imaginary friend: Little John Deerfoot.)  In Out of Our Minds, the author explained the function of imagination this way:

"Imagination, the primary gift of human consciousness, is the ability to bring to mind things that are not present to our senses. Creativity is applied imagination, putting your imagination to work. Innovation is applied creativity, putting new ideas into practice. Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value."

Imagination can be honed or suppressed . . . honing it takes practice, which can begin very early in life as children "pretend" play . . .

(Robinson, Ken, Sir, PhD. Out of Our Minds. P 141-143, 151. NY:Capstone Publishing Ltd, 2001, 2011)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Power of "No"

The power of “no” is poorly understood. It's so poorly understood that I've written an article about it. There is a difference between the ability to use "no" powerfully and a negative mindset. Negativity is an ongoing attitude. NO is a moment of clear choice. It announces, however indirectly, something affirmative about you. Wielded wisely, “no” is an instrument of integrity and a shield against exploitation. It often takes courage to say. It is hard to receive. But setting limits sets us free. If you feel you can’t say no at least to some things, some of the time, then you are not being loved—you are being controlled. No is a shield. Therein lies its power. The ability to say no makes your yes much more meaningful. (Sills, Judith, PhD. “The Power of NO!” P 53-61. Psychology Today, November/December 2013)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I'm sometimes asked, "What impact does my mindset really have on my body?" The implication is the old Western belief that the brain and the body were quite separate entities that periodically impacted each other. Author Dweck has pointed out that this does not appear to be the case, that mindset (as mentioned yesterday) has a huge impact on the body. Recently I ran across a statement in Super Brain that speaks to the ability of your mindset to influence your body:

"If you want to know what your thoughts were like in the past, look at your body today. If you want to know what your body will be like in the future, look at your thoughts today. Neuroplasticity is better than mind over matter. It’s mind turning into matter as your thoughts create new neural growth." (Tanzi, Rudolph E., PhD, and Deepak Chopra, MD. Super Brain. P 22-23. NY:Random House Inc., 2012)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


People sometimes say: "You keep talking about mindset; what's so big about mindset?"  Typically I reply: "Everything starts and ends in the brain." According to Dr. Dweck, there are two clear types of mindsets and the way in which you lead your life is profoundly impacted by the mindset you adopt for yourself. A fixed mindset (a belief that your qualities are set in stone creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over); A growth mindset (a belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. It’s not that anyone can become anything but that one’s individual potential is unknowable and that it is impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training). The fixed mindset makes you concerned with how you’ll be judged; the growth mindset makes you concerned with improving. You can change your mindset. (Dweck, Carol S., PhD. Mindset. Mindset. P 6-13. NY:Ballantine Books, 2006.)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tactile Illusions

Most people are familiar with and often enjoy visual illusions. The kinesthetic sensory system has its own type of illusions. One type is known as tactile illusions. They relate to the sense of touch. I recall my mother (who loved to wear hats), removing her chapeau at the end of the day and then briefly touching her head with her hand. When I asked her the reason she touched her head she laughed and said, “For a moment it felt as if the hat was still on my head.” Some of you may have experienced a similar illusions. Here's another: Hold one hand in a pan of very cold water and place the other hand in a pan of quite hot water (not hot enough to get burned!). Hold them in this position for at least a minute or two. Now remove both hands and immediately submerge them in lukewarm water. If you’ve done this experiment, you likely found that the lukewarm water felt hot to the hand you had submerged in cold water while the lukewarm water felt cold to the hand you previously immersed in hot water. A tactile illusion.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Brain and Homework

Have you be hearing about the movement to "ban homework" for students? I've been advocating that for 20 years! Gaithersburg Elementary School in Rockville, Maryland, is one example of a school that eliminated the traditional concept of homework in 2012. The policy is still in place and working fine, Principal Stephanie Brant told TODAY Parents. The school simply asks that students read 30 minutes each night. Brandt explained: “We felt like with the shift to the Common Core curriculum, and our knowledge of how our students need to think differently… we wanted their time to be spent in meaningful ways." Couple that with Haim Genoit's belief that "play is the work of children," along with the belief that learning a concept in school should not require 100 additional problems in the evening to fix it into the brain, children might just be starting to "get a life!" I certainly hope so. My work with students has shown that the brain will learn--with hours of homework every night, however, what many brains are learning is to "hate school!" It's way past time to change that . . .

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wagon-Wheel Illusion

Most of you likely have observed the wagon-wheel illusion in real life. It is an optical illusion in which a wheel with spokes appears to rotate differently from its actual rotation. If you’ve not observed this, I like the example and explanation provided at the link below. Reportedly, the illusion was first noted during the playback of old movie films in which the wheels of a forward-moving vehicle appear to slow down or even roll backwards. Some have noticed this in recordings of helicopter rotors and aircraft propellers. The effect is said to be a result of temporal aliasing. It can also often be seen when a rotating wheel is illuminated by flickering light. These forms of the effect are known as stroboscopic; the original smooth rotation of the wheel is visible only intermittently.