Ten Learning Ideas for the Holidays (and Beyond…)

Ten Learning Ideas for the Holidays (and Beyond…)

By Joanne Foster, Ed.D.


Parents may be pondering how to foster their kids’ productivity over school break—not so much as to pester them, but just enough so as to give them additional incentive to keep learning. Here are ten suggestions to help encourage both doing and thinking:

1. Read – an excellent way to acquire insights

2. Reflect and record – take note of any creative and off-the wall ideas; goals; hopes and dreams; things to investigate (What’s striking? Confusing or disturbing? Thought-provoking?)

3. Online discovery – see what kinds of programs, courses, extra-curricular activities, enrichment might be available in the days or weeks to come (but be prudent)

4. Exercise – a strong body fuels a strong mind

5. Focus on interests, passions – this might include hobbies, areas of strength or weakness, or curiosities you may not have time to explore when otherwise busy

6. Bolster inquiry skills –read up on how to develop better questioning techniques—not just queries geared to “yes” or “no” answers (Knowing how to ask good questions can generate more thoughtful responses.)

7. Get ahead – determine what will be on tap for the next semester at school, and get a jump on it

8. Review feedback already received – see what constructive messages were conveyed last semester, be open-minded and think about how to apply them next time around

9. Become more attuned to what’s happening in the world – the best learning is that which is relevant (tied in to meaningful experience), so make an effort to draw connections between what you’re learning and what’s occurring around you, then network and talk to people (family and friends) to broaden your understandings

10. Allow time for relaxation and recreation—it’s important to feel refreshed

Creativity: A Slow, Messy, Painful Slog, Followed by an AHA! (and More Work)

Creativity is mysterious, but it’s a lot more accessible than most people realize. The hard part about it isn’t the magic, but rather the fact that it’s built on and emerges from a whole lot of hard work.

Mark Changizi is a theoretical neurobiologist, who describes himself as ‘struggling with creativity both as a scientist trying to remain creative, and as a scientist trying to understand creativity.’ He writes a delightful blog for The Creativity Post on all manner of creativity topics.

In his most recent post, ‘The Provably Non-Incremental Nature of Creativity,’ he writes about the slow, painful, messy slogging that’s required to get to the beautiful magical AHA! moment: ‘Discoveries can be dressed up well, but the way we go about finding our ideas is almost always an embarrassing display of buffoonery.’

His analysis is both discouraging–creative breakthroughs take a lot of work over a lot of time, and require a tedious painful detailed muddling-through process–and totally encouraging–creativity is accessible to anyone willing to put in the work. He writes, ‘There’s no recipe for discovery… I’ve been able to prove that for some discoveries it is intrinsically impossible to know how close one is to reaching the end. For these puzzles, sudden breakthroughs—aha moments—are in fact logically required rather than due to some quirk of human psychology.’


Are video games the learning tools they’re cracked up to be?

Yes, and no. That seems to be the consensus from this thoughtful discussion about the educational value of video games from some leading experts: