Posts Tagged ‘Brain Science’


FOOTBALL: Another American Dilemma Unfolding

September 16, 2012

As we move into the 21st century, advancements in research and brain science are challenging many 20th century “realities and truths” in our society.

Most of you know I feel strongly about how that impacts our education system.  When I say education is an issue today in America, I  am not referring to the inclination of one of our political parties to underfund education or use education budgets to make up deficits or support a favorite war cause where those same uneducated become disposable human resources.   And I do not mean more funding to support the early 20th century educational system that was designed to complement an industrial age that no longer exists and which we continue to hold up as our model.

Instead, I am focusing on a larger issue and mean we need funding for the thought-leaders in education who understand the rapidly emerging societal, business, and labor changes of the 21st century.  We need open minds, a review of new emerging world theories and practices, experimentation, and careful evaluation of results; followed by funding to support and retrofit our own outdated educational system top to bottom to meet the needs before us for the next 75-100 years.

But education aside, that same research and brain science calling for educational reform is also challenging our infatuation with high school, college, and pro sports and changes needed therein. A strong relationship between impact sports and brain damage is emerging.  Unfortunately it meets head on with “winning is everything”.  It seems that without a world war to feed our patriotism as it did in the first half of the 20th century, we have turned our carefully-honed “winning” instincts to business and sports. Winning became everything; workers and players became dispensable.

And today, the Wally Hilgenburg story in the Strib brings home that unfolding dilemma where emerging understanding of our brains is on a course to intersect with that “winning is everything” American culture.   And we as a country need to take this seriously!

[Disclosure:  I like football; however, I am not passionate about it.  All sports are trumped, for me, by meaningful conversations and interaction-which by definition exclude cheering, cursing, hollering- with family and friends, or occasionally even work. In those instances, sports/entertainment  take a second seat.  Generally, I am happy for “our team” if they win—but I neither despair nor mourn if they do not]

And so with a view of sports as entertainment, it may be easier, I guess, for me to recognize the dilemma before us as a nation.   What do we choose when dollars are limited – investment in sports programs or educational systems?  When entertainment pleasure is gained through sacrifice of human beings; is the personal gratification worth it?

I don’t pretend to know the answers; I only ask that we don’t just sweep this under the rug.  It could be YOUR child that is impacted; it could be YOUR mother or father that is injured.  I only ask that we weigh American culture and history against that of the Romans and the gladiators and intelligently move forward to ensure that above all else, we value the quality of human life and continue to make adjustments to protect it, as we learn how revered entertainment practices may endanger it.




February 1, 2012

Once upon a time in another life, the San Francisco Sales team at CMG had a new client that was interested in using the services of the CMG Meetings Division to assist with their annual sales meeting in Hawaii.  So off I went to Cupertino to experience the culture shock of my introduction to Apple Computer.

They were dressed in jeans, t-shirts, and shorts; they carried backpacks-not Hartman briefcases; they met in glass-walled conference rooms; all those with name badges numbered under 400 were millionaires including the receptionist and the mail boy; and they rolled out the beer kegs at noon on Fridays as a thank you to all employees for working hard all week.  And most unsettling, they challenged their vendors to play the game their way or don’t come calling.

Believe me, in the corporate world three decades ago, this was NOT the norm! Nor did I easily give up my formal corporate uniform…until they told me I wouldn’t be let in the door if I arrived one more time “all suited up”.

Many had heard of this fledging company that was doing something no one quite understood with computers (and crazy commercials) so I often was asked about them when I returned to Minneapolis.  My comments usually included some description of a west coast CULT – with a mission “to save the world” and if that was not silly enough, they were going to do so  by targeting K-12 kids as they put their “apples” in every school around the nation.   And so they did.

To see the headline “iRead, iWrite, iLearn” in today’s Strib should not have been a surprise.  To revolutionize “publishing space” by reinventing textbooks as they announced their three new products designed to uproot the traditional learning experience deserves a hearty round of applause. I was only surprised that the Star Tribune positioned it as “Apple’s venture into education”-as if they have not done this before!

And this time around, I expect it will be much more than a publishing revolution – the results it drives may well be the impetus needed for all of us to understand that it is time to take the leap and quit teaching to meet the needs of the industrial revolution of the 20th century.  It is time to throw out how schools supported industry and look towards rethinking what are education goals of today and how new knowledge uncovered in the last two decades has changed our understanding of how the brain works and how we learn.   Apply technology; create interactive tools, and engage our students in dialogues.  We’ll be surprised about what they will learn….and what we can learn from them!