PhD Lifestyle: Are Most Academics Lonely at Work?


There are clearly benefits of being part of an on-campus community. If you listen to PhD students talk, you might get the idea that poor supervision is the main problem, but survey after survey shows that PhD students everywhere think universities are doing a poor job of creating a sense of community.

So why are students reporting a lack of community? Some element is clearly missing – but what?

‘Community’ is defined in two ways: the first as a ‘being together’ in the same physical place, and the second as ‘feeling together’ – a sense of belonging that comes with working with people of like mind and heart.

Community is not just about being in the same place or having the same events to go to – it’s about that ‘feeling of fellowship’ that comes with sharing common interests and goals. The quickest way to achieve a sense of belonging, aside from perhaps religion, is shared work.

If you think about it, the structure of academic work does not give us many opportunities to work together on shared goals. Being an academic is nothing like my previous careers where I worked in large teams. On my research days at home it’s common for me not to speak to a soul.

Last week at a dinner party, someone said that being an academic is a bit like owning your own small business. This struck me as being very true. Being an academic is like managing a small shop that doesn’t get many customers each day. You set the performance targets. You decide if your ‘product lines’ (research, teaching) are profitable enough. You might have a few people in to help you during the busy times, but essentially you open and close the shop most days.

In fact, if I think too much about it, often my working life feels this way. No wonder many academics report feeling intensely lonely at times. Kate Bowles wrote beautifully about how academic work can make us feel estranged from the rest of the world. For many, the loneliness starts with the PhD itself. I’ve written before about how weird it feels that no one seems to care as much as you.

So what can we do about it?
Here are a few ideas on how to make the experience more communal:
1) Book Club Model: Simply make a regular meet up time for your group or department to have coffee, discuss the course content together and your reactions to it. The course content will launch on a Wednesday because I think this a good, midweek catch up day.

2) Blended Classroom Model: If you are a supervisor or researcher developer, consider using the course as part of your own workshop series and convene discussion sessions around it – either for students or supervisors. If I were doing this, I would take the opportunity to build my own content or activities around the course.

3) Virtual and Local Communities: Create your own Facebook group to connect people online to discuss themes and organise meetups, either as a ‘virtual community of interest’ (such as for people in African studies as an example) or a ‘local community of practice’ (for people in your location, meetups, etc.). A virtual community of interest would help you connect scholars in your discipline, the local community of practice could help you connect with and meet people in in your physical location.

4) Get Social on social networks with national and international peers.

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5 Science Videos That Make You Think About Ethics, Habitat and Climate Change


There’s an abundance of science videos on the internet, but not all equally amazing, so, offering an eclectic mix of cool science videos, Molly Michelson (Science Today producer) recommends 5 of her favorite clips.

1. WHERE’D YOU GET ALL THOSE DEAD ANIMALS?
2. THE ANIMATED LIFE OF A.R. WALLACE
3. TRADE OFFS FOR BIODIVERSITY
4. HOW OCEAN ACIDIFICATION AFFECTS BIODIVERSITY
5. IMPACTS OF NEW TECHNOLOGY ON SCIENCE

Learn here more about each video and why they are important to Science.
Okay, they aren’t TED Talks, but I hope you enjoy them as much as I did, especially the 2nd and 3rd videos.

Best regards,
Pedro Calado

Original Source – MindShift

3 Things Psychopaths Can Teach About Happiness


You’re a good person, or at least you’re trying to be. Me too. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn a thing or two from the bad guys, the really bad guys — psychopaths.

What We Can Learn From Psychopaths:

1) Focus On The Positive And “Just Do It”
What most people don’t know is that the famous Nike slogan “Just Do It” was actually inspired by the words of psychopath Gary Gilmore.
When Kevin used TMS to give himself a “psychopath makeover” he said he felt energized and confident. His foot “came off the brake.”
There are plenty of times where this type of drive can help us overcome fear, indecision and worry. Here’s Kevin:

Since going into this field, I focus on the positive a lot more. This is something that psychopaths do. People say, “I want to put in for a raise, but I’m really scared.” Why are you scared? You’re scared because you’re afraid that you’re not going to get it. You’re scared because you think that the boss is going to say “no.” You’re afraid of how embarrassing that would be, and how undervalued that would make you feel. Instead, focus on the fact that you might get it. If you think along those lines and act accordingly, you are more likely to get that thing you want.

2) Live In The Moment
Remember how similar psychopaths were to Buddhist meditators? While they’re not totally the same, both had increased rationality and kept cool under pressure.
Research shows meditation can help you get these good aspects without the psychopathic bad elements.

3) Be Able To Uncouple Behavior From Emotion
You don’t want to do this all the time, but there are plenty of moments where this can really help.
Why do you procrastinate? Research shows negative emotions are a huge part, and when you can separate emotions from action you stress less and accomplish more.

Best regards,
Pedro Calado

Original Source – TIME

Education For Our Generation


Futureal

I believe its safe to say our generation of youth in secondary schools experience a lack of understanding for respect, discipline, culture, literacy, direction, preparation and guidance. I’m sure people have their own ideas and beliefs within the education system, teaching is a personalised profession. You may choose to be the quiet high expectations type, or the loud assertive type, or just a get the job done to get a nice pay packet at the end of the week.

I can happily say, our current youth have not been brought up to work towards goals. Not to be overly one sided, I speak from a holistic perspective. Many students who attend school have an idea for occupation, or have a goal to work towards tertiary education…Great. I am talking about the other 60-70% of secondary school enrollments. I was laying out my classroom rules, one consequence being “official incident reporting’. Students were…

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10 Simple Ways to Become a Productivity Dynamo

Simples rules to simplify work, office and organizations

TIME

You’re only productive at work three days out of the week. How can you improve that?

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The Secret to Learning a Foreign Language as an Adult


TIME

Answer by David Bailey, CEO of Spotnight, on Quora.

I’ve learned several foreign languages as an adult. I was able to learn French to conversation fluency in 17 days using the following techniques. Note that I had previously learned Spanish to fluency so this was not my first foreign language.

In summer of 2005 I stayed with a French friend in a tiny village in the Beaujolais region of France. No one in the village spoke English and, since my friend knew I had an ambitious learning goal, she refused to speak to me in English as well.

I set up a routine where I did the same things every day.

In the mornings, I woke up and wrote out longhand the regular and irregular verb tables for 1.5-2 hours. I managed to get through an entire pad of paper in two weeks. I still believe that writing…

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A New Kind of School System


The Compulsive Explainer

I am taking a MOOC on Organizational Analysis – which is turning out to be quite good.

This part of the course is a Case Study – that of an experimental school that tried to implement Individual Guided Instruction in an inner city school – where most of the students (probably black) were from disadvantaged homes.

My own experience in Middle School and High School were extremely unpleasant. And I could see how this approach would be a big improvement. There are two lectures here:

A lecture where the instructor, from Stanford is shown in a corner of the screen. 

A lecture where the instructor is not shown. 

On my computer I could view the first lecture by clicking on the link on my blog – but not the second.

Let me know how it works for you.

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What 5 Things Can Make Sure You Never Stop Growing and Learning?


TIME

1) Keep Trying New Things

Having lots of hobbies is one of the secrets of the most creative people.

Via Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation:

Legendary innovators like Franklin, Snow, and Darwin all possess some common intellectual qualities— a certain quickness of mind, unbounded curiosity— but they also share one other defining attribute. They have a lot of hobbies…

Matt Cutts gives a great talk about how trying new things for 30 days not only helped him learn new skills but also changed him as a person.

2) Don’t Fear Failure

In Eric Ries’ acclaimed bestseller The Lean Startup he makes it clear that little bets, or “experiments”, are critical to moving a business forward in a safe fashion:

…if you cannot fail, you cannot learn.

Getting it wrong helps you get it right. Making mistakes is vital to improvement.

Via Where Good Ideas…

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8 Things I Learned from Travel


Life After Liquidity

Travel Cover

As I write this post I am sitting in the Caltrain, passing through various suburbs of the San Francisco Bay peninsula on my way to the city. It’s comforting to be surrounded by so many familiar sites once again.

My wife and I have had quite a journey: 17 countries, dozens of cities, and countless airports/train stations/bus stations. We’ve witnessed both staggeringly beautiful phenomena (Northern Lights in the Yukon Territories) and horrifying moments (a mob beating up some dude in the streets of Istanbul) along the way. Fortunately, my wife and I came out the other end of our trip completely safe and with a lifetime of memories.

I’ve delayed writing this post as long as I could; it’s been taking me a while to process what I’ve learned from this trip. The short answer is: a lot.

I may not be able to cover all the lessons I’ve learned…

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How To Teach a Introvert


ideas.ted.com

See all articles in the series

What should we do with the quiet kids? A conversation with Susan Cain on the future of classroom education.

Susan Cain sticks up for the introverts of the world. In the U.S., where one third to one half the population identifies as introverts, that means sticking up for a lot of people. Some of them might be data engineers overwhelmed by the noise of an open-floor-plan office. Others might be lawyers turning 30, whose friends shame them for not wanting a big birthday bash. But Cain particularly feels for one group of introverts: the quiet kids in a classroom.

Cain remembers a childhood full of moments when she was urged by teachers and peers to be more outgoing and social — when that simply wasn’t in her nature. Our most important institutions, like schools and workplaces, are designed for extroverts, says Cain in her TED Talk. [Watch: The power of…

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