Sometimes the right word makes all the difference. But sometimes using the wrong word can make an even bigger difference.
Most people have at least one set of words they struggle with. (Regular readers know I've goofed up "who" and "whom" for years.)
So for fun, I sent a test I made to 100 people and many of them passed it on to friends and family. (Scientifically-valid methodology? Nope. But interesting.)
Since there were a lot of word pairs involved, I decided to publish the entire list in four weekly installments. (This is the second in the series; the first list of words people often get wrong is here.)
But just so you know: Out of just over 400 people, only 17 got all of them right. And 48 got all of the following right.
See how many you know:
Eminent and imminent
Eminent means famous, respected, famous, noteworthy. (Although "eminent domain" refers to the government's right to take over private property for public good--like taking over a farmer's land in order to build a highway. Which might not be so respected a practice.)
Imminent means something--whether good or bad--is about to happen.
Which means an eminent scholar's tenure might be imminent, but not eminent. After all, he's already famous and respected.
Envelop and envelope
An envelope contains a letter. That makes it a noun. And it does wrap up, cover, or completely surround the letter. But still: Envelope is a noun.
Envelop (put the emphasis on the "vel" when you say it) is a verb.
What makes it even more confusing is verb tense: The Golden Gate Bridge can be enveloped in fog.
Easy way out? Unless you're in the military, use verbs like surround, cover, and obscure instead of envelop. That way everything else can just be an envelope.
Envy and jealousy
While they are often used interchangeably, these words have very different meanings.
Envy means a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck; you want what someone else has.
Jealousy means feeling protective in regards to "possessions" (including people you think you "possess"). In short, being jealous means you're worried someone else will take what you see as yours.
If I want what you have, I'm envious. If I think you want what I have, I'm jealous.
So you can definitely envy Mark Cuban's success, but you really can't be jealous of his success...because he's not trying to take it from you. It's already his.
Expedient and expeditious
While these two words are also often used interchangeably, they also have very different meanings.
Expedient means helpful or convenient, often in a less than positive way. While it may be expedient for me to use an automated tool (and maybe also expeditious), it can also be expedient for me to decide not to speak up during a meeting and share my reservations, especially if remaining silent benefits me.
That's why "politically expedient" is an often-used term.
Expeditious means quick, fast, efficient. No value judgment is implied; whatever is done is done fast.
Which is why, unless you want to sound high-brow, you might just want to say "fast."
Farther and further
Farther refers to actual distance: "California is farther from Virginia than Missouri." Further involves a figurative distance: "We will take our partnership no further."
So, as we say in the South (and by "we," I maybe just mean me), "I can't trust you any farther than I can throw you," or, "I ain't gonna trust you no further."
Figuratively and literally
With respect to everyone under the age of, oh, 30, literally shouldn't be used to add emphasis: If you "literally died," you wouldn't be telling me about it. You'd be dead.
Literally means something that actually happened.
Figuratively means metaphorically. If you walk away, turn off the light, close the door, and refuse to tell me your plans...then you've figuratively left me in the dark. (And literally, too.)
But then again, literally is so often used to express strong feelings without being, um, literally true...that maybe it's OK.
After all, I say "ain't."
Incredible and incredulous
I received an email from a PR rep touting a company's "incredulous achievement." (The company was also "disrupting an entire industry"...but that's a discussion for another day.)
Unfortunately, incredulous describes how someone feels when they can't believe what they see, hear, etc. (Which maybe means the PR rep was using "incredulous" correctly, since I didn't believe the achievement was all that great.)
Incredible means something is difficult to believe because it's extraordinary or exceptional.
Think of it this way: Incredible describes something. Incredulous describes how you feel when something supposedly incredible doesn't seem genuine or real.
Tell me, two minutes into my pitch, that you want to fund my company and I might be incredulous.
Show me the check and hey: That's incredible!
Loath and loathe
Because expressing strong feelings seems to be all the fashion, loathe pops up a lot.
And so does loath. You can't loath a terrible boss, because that would mean you're reluctant or unwilling.
But you can loathe the heck out of him for the way he treats you, since loathe indicate intense dislike or disgust for someone or something.
So loathe your boss all you want. They probably deserve your scorn.
And don't be loath to look for another job. Because you deserve to be happy.
Can you shape how others perceive you? Do you ever wish you could control what people thought of you? Or maybe you just wanna communicate in a more confident way? Well, you don’t need any magical powers to make it happen — just good old-fashioned psychology tricks!
TIMESTAMPS: Jump to the bit you want
- If you want to learn if someone has been looking at you, try yawning. No, it’s not some secret code, but if someone is looking at you and you happen to yawn, they won’t be able to help but yawn themselves.
- The food serves as a great distraction and can actually relieve tension since you’ll start to care more about the food than what you’re talking about.
- When there’s silence, the other person is more likely to talk and will probably say more than they would if you were to interject.
- A sure way to stand out from the crowd is to use the “serial position effect.” This is based on the idea that people tend to remember the first and last parts of things and not as much of the middle.
- If you’re in a new relationship or starting a friendship with someone, instead of going to the movies or out to eat, try doing an activity together that can get your blood pumping.
- While you’re talking and getting to know each other, try to point out something you both have in common. Maybe you grew up in the same town or you both have the same alma mater.
- When you meet someone for the first time at a party or work event, say their name right after they introduce themselves.
- Instead of asking the person point blank if they can help, pose a false dilemma.
- Even if you aren’t sure of something, that doesn’t mean you should question what you say. Try leaving out the word “I think” when you talk to your friends and family.
- For people to pay attention to what you’re saying, keep direct eye contact with them while you’re talking.
Researchers have found that roughly 40 percent of hiring managers spend less than 60 seconds reviewing a resume, and 25 percent spend less than 30 seconds on each resume
What is the one thing that could ruin your chances of getting hired before a hiring manager even has a chance to interview you?
That one thing is a resume that doesn't convey your best self.
Remember: You only have one chance to make a first impression. And that's especially true when it comes to your resume. Researchers have found that roughly 40 percent of hiring managers spend less than 60 seconds reviewing a resume, and 25 percent spend less than 30 seconds on each resume.
If you think your resume could use a tune-up, here are some ways to keep it looking fresh and up to date.
Update your email address.
According to career expert Alexandra Levit, the chairman of DeVry University's Career Advisory Board, it may be your own email address that is damaging your job prospects.
If you're using an AOL or Hotmail email address, Levit says, you are signaling to employers that you might not care too much about the application process, or take it that seriously. These outdated accounts will have hiring managers thinking you are not up to speed, and that you exercise outdated practices in the professional setting.
Choose an email account that shows you can keep up with the times. Levit explains that when Google's G Suite was launched in 2006, a new email gold standard came onto the scene. Today, a Gmail account (or even an Outlook account) is an acceptable account to have and put down on your resume.
Show your online presence.
Potential employers want to know that you are social media savvy.
Include links to your website, blog, or social media accounts--just make sure the content on these sites make you look professional and not like a full-time party animal. After all, a recent study by the Society For Human Resource Management found that 84 percent of employers recruit via social media. Plus, 43 percent of employers screen job candidates through social networks and search engines.
Is your resume difficult to read because it lacks structure or is a hot mess? Organize your resume in ways that make sense to the reader and make sure all professional experiences that you list are relevant and recent. There are lots of resume templates available online for free--they're just a click away.
Polish your content and keep it in check.
Make your resume shine with words that show variety and an understanding of the position you're applying for. Then, make sure your messaging is consistent across your entire online presence, from social media to your LinkedIn.
The job application process is hard enough as it is. But if you give your resume the time and attention it deserves, you'll be greatly improving your chances of landing the job of your dreams.
This new LinkedIn study reveals the top 8 job interview questions (and how great candidates answer them)
While some job interviewers take great pleasure in asking unusual interview questions, or asking brainteaser questions -- even though science shows that asking brainteasers is a waste of time -- most interviews follow a fairly similar pattern. The interviewer asks at least a few of the most often-asked behavioral interview questions. Or asks a few interview questions intended to reveal what a candidate has really accomplished.
Or asks just one question that sparks a great conversation.
Regardless: Job interviews, at least in terms of questions asked, are fairly predictable. Which means preparing for an interview is fairly easy -- both for the job candidate and for the interviewer.
And that's why LinkedIn just announced a new set of tools designed to help job candidates prepare for interviews, identifying eight of the most common interview questions and rolling out (in the weeks to come) a set of "expert-approved sample interview answers so you can see how you might approach the top interview questions."
Which is great, but those sample answers will only be available to Premium members.
So if you're not a Premium member and want a framework to help you answer what LinkedIn says are the most common interview questions -- or you're an interviewer who wants a feel for what a great answer might be -- here's a handy guide.
The following are LinkedIn's most commonly asked interview questions, along with my take on the best way to answer them. (And if you want more interview questions and answers, check out the post this is based on, and one of my most-read posts of all time, 27 Most Common Interview Questions and Answers.)
1. "Tell me about yourself."
As the interviewer, there's a lot you should already know: The candidate's résumé and cover letter should tell you plenty, and LinkedIn and Twitter and Facebook and Google can tell you more.
The goal of an interview is to determine whether the candidate will be outstanding in the job, and that means evaluating the skills and attitude required for that job. Does she need to be an empathetic leader? Ask about that. Does she need to take your company public? Ask about that.
If you're the candidate, talk about why you took certain jobs. Explain why you left. Explain why you chose a certain school. Share why you decided to go to grad school. Discuss why you spent two years with Teach for America, and what you got out of the experience.
When you answer this question, connect the dots on your résumé so the interviewer understands not just what you've done but also why.
And if you're the interviewer, take time to explore the "why?" behind the what.
2. "What is your greatest strength?"
This is a lazy question: A candidate's résumé and experience should make their strengths readily apparent.
Even so, if you're asked, provide a sharp, on-point answer. Be clear and precise. If you're a great problem solver, don't just say that: Provide a few examples, pertinent to the opening, that prove you're a great problem solver. If you're an emotionally intelligent leader, don't just say that: Provide a few examples that prove you know how to answer the unasked question.
In short, don't just claim to have certain attributes -- prove you have those attributes.
And if you're the interviewer, ask for examples that prove the attributes claimed. If I say I'm incredibly creative, ask me for specifics. Genuinely creative people will have plenty.
3. "What is your greatest weakness?"
Every candidate knows how to answer this question: Pick a theoretical weakness and magically transform a shortcoming into a strength.
For example: "My biggest weakness is getting so absorbed in my work that I lose all track of time. Every day I look up and realize everyone has gone home! I know I should be more aware of the clock, but when I love what I'm doing I just can't think of anything else."
So your "biggest weakness" is that you'll put in more hours than everyone else? Great ...
A better approach is to choose an actual weakness, but one you're working to improve. Share what you're doing to overcome that weakness. No one is perfect, but showing you're willing to honestly self-assess and then seek ways to improve comes pretty darned close.
Which is exactly what an interviewer should be looking for.
4. "Why should we hire you?"
Another lazy question: Since candidates can't compare themselves with people they are competing with but don't know, all they can do is describe their incredible passion and desire and commitment and ... well, basically beg for the job.
Which means, as an interviewer, you learn nothing of substance -- and definitely nothing you didn't already know.
Here's a better question: "What do you feel I need to know that we haven't discussed?" Or even "If you could get a do-over on one of my questions, how would you answer it now?"
Rarely do candidates come to the end of an interview feeling they've done their best. Maybe the conversation went in an unexpected direction. Maybe the interviewer focused on one aspect of their skills and totally ignored other key attributes. Or maybe candidates started the interview nervous and hesitant, and now wish they could go back and better describe their qualifications and experience.
Plus, think of it this way: Your goal as an interviewer is to learn as much as you possibly can about every candidate, so don't you want to give them the chance to ensure you do?
Just make sure to turn this part of the interview into a conversation, not a soliloquy. Don't just passively listen and then say, "Thanks. We'll be in touch." Ask follow-up questions. Ask for examples.
And, of course, if you're asked this question, use it as a chance to highlight things you haven't been able to touch on.
5. "Why do you want to work here?"
Many candidates try to flip this question and talk about how they'll benefit the company; they want to work at (company's name) because they can help the company achieve its goals.
But that's a given.
Great candidates talk about how the position is a perfect fit for what they hope to accomplish, both short-term and long-term. They talk about cultural fit.
In short, they can describe how their goals align with the company's goals.
But still: This is a tough question for even the best candidate to answer without sounding like a kiss-up. So if you're the interviewer, consider asking other questions. Like "Describe your dream job." Or "Why do you want to leave your current job?" Or "What kind of work environment do you prefer?"
Skills matter, but fit is just as important, especially over the long term.
6. "Tell me about a time you showed leadership."
This question is too broad. A better approach is to ask about a recent leadership challenge the candidate faced. Or a time the candidate disagreed with a decision, and what he or she then did. Or a time the candidate assumed, without being asked, an informal leadership role.
But if you're asked this question, say, "The best way for me to answer that is to give you a few examples of leadership challenges I've faced," and then share situations in which you dealt with a problem, motivated a team, or worked through a crisis.
Explain what you did -- that will give the interviewer a great sense of how you lead.
And, of course, it lets you highlight a few of your successes.
And if the candidate talks about roles rather than actions, dig deeper. Find out what they did. After all, you aren't hiring, say, an engineering manager -- you're hiring a doer of important things that need to get done.
7. "Tell me about a time you were successful on a team."
Here's an interview question that definitely requires an answer relevant to the job. If a candidate says he was part of a team that improved throughput by 18 percent in six months, but he's interviewing for a leadership role in human resources, that answer is interesting but may be irrelevant.
Great candidates can share team achievements that let the interviewer imagine their being a successful part of her team.
But that can be hard to determine by asking this question. So try something different. Ask "Tell me about a time a co-worker got mad at you. What did you do?" That will give you a sense of how the candidate deals with interpersonal conflicts. Or ask "Tell me about the last time you disagreed with a team decision. How did you handle that?" That will tell you whether the candidate can embrace and support a direction he or she doesn't necessarily agree with.
Think about your team. Think about the role the perfect candidate will play on that team.
Then focus on asking specific questions that reveal whether the candidate has the attributes you need -- not generic questions that rarely reveal anything.
8. "What would your co-workers say about you?"
I hate this question. It's a total throwaway. What do you expect candidates to say? "I'm difficult to work with"?
But I did ask it once, and got an answer I really liked.
"I think people would say that what you see is what you get," the candidate said. "If I say I will do something, I do it. If I say I will help, I help. I'm not sure that everyone likes me, but they all know they can count on what I say, and how hard I work."
Can't beat that.
My family & I flew back to California after nine months of being in Guam, and boy are our arms tired! OK, our entire bodies are tired, and our brains — we’re suffering from jet lag and feeling tired during the day.
This isn’t necessarily a problem — jet lag is to be expected, after all — but tiredness can affect everything in your life. I find myself less able to do work, more overwhelmed when I’m behind on email and messages, less able to keep up with healthy habits, more likely to eat junk food, and in worse moods.
Being tired can have such huge effects on us. And many people are tired much of the time, from being overworked and underslept.
So what can we do? Well, there are the usual methods of trying to get better sleep, like better sleep hygiene, setting a consistent bedtime and wake time, and so forth. These are highly recommended.
But what do you do today, when you’re still tired? What can you do tomorrow if you’re tired then too?
Here’s how I try to practice in the middle of the tiredness, which is sometimes unavoidable.
Generations of athletes, from youth leagues to professional sports, were taught to stretch before practice and games to improve performance and prevent injury. The routine typically went something like this: Stand on one leg, hold your heel to your hiney, and count to 10.
Then, about 20 years ago, studies began to suggest that stretching could actually worsen performance and increase injury risk, creating widespread confusion that persists today. The problem is that many of those studies looked at stretching in a vacuum, says David Behm, author of The Science and Physiology of Flexibility and Stretching. The kind of stretching that was most often assessed in research was almost always static, and typically not preceded by any warm-up nor followed by any dynamic movements prior to diving into the actual sports.
Behm began playing competitive sports at the age of 6. He was drafted to the Canadian Football League, but was cut after one game for — as he says — not being fast enough. He later became an amateur provincial champion in both tennis and squash, and now he studies exercise science at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He says his own research and experience has convinced him that stretching still has value.
“I am 62 years old and still playing tennis, squash, and hockey against youngsters who are 30 to 40 years younger,” he says. “I am not as fast or strong as I used to be, but I ensure that I do both static and dynamic stretching before I play and I have not had a musculotendinous injury in decades.”
David Behm discusses the intricate biomechanics of stretching, and different approaches for general flexibility vs. a good pregame stretch.
In a review of hundreds of studies, Behm and his colleagues found that static stretching combined with an initial warm-up and some dynamic stretching — which involves actively moving muscles through their range of motion, as in walking lunges or torso twists — followed by sport-specific activities, such as swinging a baseball bat, can improve performance and reduce injury risk. Of the reliable studies in the review that looked specifically at injuries, there was “a 54% risk reduction in acute muscle injuries associated with stretching,” the researchers wrote in 2016 in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.
Stretching anywhere from about 20 seconds to four minutes softens muscle tissue and temporarily lengthens muscles up to about 5%, says Markus Tilp, a professor in the Institute of Sports Science at Austria’s University of Graz. That allows for greater range of motion in the joints , though the effect is temporary, says Tilp. After six weeks of stretching five times per week, this increased range of motion tends to lock in, but not because the muscles are permanently lengthened, Tilp and colleagues found in a 2014 study. Rather, somewhere in the signaling system from nerve endings to the brain, people adapt to tolerate a stretch that would once have hurt.
“We have receptors in our muscles, tendons, and ligaments that assess the length or position of a tissue and transfer this signal to the brain,” says Tilp. “Stretching seems to alter this sensation.”
It’s unclear if the adaptation occurs in the nerves or in the brain, but the most recent study by Tilp and colleagues, detailed in March in the Journal of Musculoskeletal and Neuronal Interactions, suggests it happens “at the brain level and how the signals are processed,” he says.
Stretching can also be useful for people who might otherwise be inactive. A 2016 study in the International Journal of Health Sciences found that after a 10-week stretching program, a group of 50 inactive people averaging 60 years old experienced improved balance, which the researchers say would reduce the number of falls, which are a leading cause of debilitation among the elderly. Another study, albeit a small one, in the Journal of Exercise, Sports & Orthopedics, showed that after a year on a static stretching program, people in the study ages 67 to 80 were more flexible, and their major muscles were stronger by 10 to 17%.
Even static stretching that was once viewed as questionable is considered okay if done in the right way. Static stretching, in combination with a warm-up routine and followed by sport-specific dynamic stretches, has benefits, some of which are mental and even social, says Anthony Blazevich, who leads the Center for Exercise and Sports Science Research at Edith Cowan University in Australia.
“Stretching time allows for kids and athletes to check their muscles to look for tightness or soreness,” Blazevich says. “It also gives the team time to talk, bond, or listen to coach instructions.”
Research has even suggested that stretching makes athletes feel more prepared to perform, regardless of whether it actually prepares their bodies. “It’s also useful to stretch after sessions,” says Blazevich, who worked with Behm on the large 2016 review of stretching studies. “Research indicates that this stretching is associated with a reduction in future injury.”
There are limits to the power of stretching, however. Blazevich led another study last year to test a variety of stretching routines on serious athletes — young men who played competitive team sports. On different days, the men took different approaches to static and dynamic stretching, as part of long warm-up periods, before testing their abilities to sprint, jump, and change direction.
“Participants felt they were more likely to perform well when stretching was performed as part of the warm-up, irrespective of stretch type,” Blazevich and his colleagues wrote in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. “However, no effect of muscle stretching was observed on flexibility and physical function compared with no stretching.”
What’s the best way to pull the latest science into a routine? Behm suggests thinking of stretching in two ways. First, it should be a daily activity.
“If you want to be the ultimate weekend athletic warrior and participate every week without muscle and tendon injuries, you should stretch on a systematic basis,” Behm says. “Stretching to increase range of motion should be performed as a separate workout and not just before a workout or a sport. So instead of just lying or sitting down passively in the evening to watch the TV news, get down on the floor and static-stretch the major muscle groups for two to three repetitions of 30 seconds each.”
The key is to stretch until you feel tension, not pain or extreme discomfort, he says.
“To get even better results, massage the muscle tendon while you are stretching, as we have found that this tendon massage actually increases your range of motion more than just stretching alone,” Behm says. “If you are really keen you could also use a foam roller or roller massager to roll the muscle first and then stretch it.”
Second, it’s important to stretch immediately before playing sports or doing your workout, but incorporate a warm-up and a mix of static and dynamic stretching. The research is clear on the value of warming up. “You may hurt yourself if you stretch cold muscles,” says the Mayo Clinic’s guide to stretching.
Behm suggests a rough guide to pregame activities:
“This full warm-up will help to prevent muscle and tendon injuries and get your body prepared for action,” Behm says.
For people looking for a less time-consuming approach, Behm recommends that after a light warm-up, people should do short stretches of 10 seconds or less of all major muscle groups to check for tightness or injury, and to help with mental preparations for exercise. “Then continue with the more intense and sport-specific phase of the warm-up,” he says.
At the end of the day, the takeaway is that if it feels good, do it.
We all deal with stress on a daily basis — whether it’s the stress of being busy and overwhelmed at work, having to deal with personal crises, traffic, relationships, health, finances … stress can be a big part of our lives.
And stress has some strong effects: it makes us less happy, less effective, less open-hearted in our relationships, it tires us out, makes us less healthy, and can even create mental health issues if it rises to levels of anxiety.
So let’s look at how to let go of stress, whenever we notice it.
Why do we get stressed out, feel anxiety or feel overwhelmed?
Because we want the world to be calm, orderly, comfortable, and the world isn’t going along with those wishes. Things are out of control, not orderly, not simple, full of interruptions and unplanned events, health problems and accidents, and things never go as we planned or imagined.
But this is the way the world is — the stress comes not because the world is messy and chaotic, but because we desire it to be different than it is.
We have ideals for how other people should be, how we should be, how everything around us should be. These ideals aren’t a problem — the is that we are attached to these ideals. And this attachment causes us stress.
The good news is that we can let go of our attachment, and the world doesn’t need to change one iota. We can let go, and in doing so we let go of our stress.
How to Let Go of the Stress
Let’s say you’re experiencing a moment of stress right now.
Something isn’t going the way you’d like, things are chaotic or overwhelming, someone isn’t acting the way you’d like, you’re worried about something coming up.
The first practice is to drop into your body and notice how the stress feels, physically. Be present with the feeling — it’s not a problem to have stress in your body, it’s just a physical feeling. You can observe the physical sensation, just be with it. This can be your whole practice, and it only has to take a few moments.
The second practice is to notice the ideal, or your narrative about the situation. What’s causing this stress in your body? You have some ideal about how the world should be, how the other person should be, how you should be. And the world, the person, or you are not meeting that ideal. Notice that right now. Notice what you’re saying to yourself about it: “They shouldn’t act like that, I don’t like this, I’m such a screwup and not worthy of love.”
What do you say to yourself? Is this a familiar narrative? Notice that the ideal and the narrative are causing the effect of the stress, anxiety, fear, feeling of overwhelm. They aren’t serving you very well.
Also notice that they are completely fabricated by your mind. You created this ideal and the narrative. They are harming you, and you made up this dream. That’s nothing to beat yourself up about, but just to recognize. The good news: If you created it, you can let it go as well.
The third practice is to let go and just be. What would it be like to be in this moment without the ideal and the narrative? You’d be at peace. You’d be present in this moment. You’d be free. Perhaps more loving (to yourself or others).
Ask yourself what it would be like to not have the ideal and narrative. See if you can feel what it would be like, just for a moment. In that moment, you are free. You can relax, open your mind beyond your self-concern, and just be.
This is a state of openness that you can drop into in any moment. Just notice the sensations of this moment — the sensations of your body, of your surroundings. Notice the other people in your life, and their beautiful hearts. Notice how amazing it is to be alive right now, what a gift it is to have sight, hearing, taste, a body. What a privilege, what a joy!
You don’t have to be grateful and joyous in every moment, but this freedom of dropping ideal and narrative, and being at peace … it’s always available. Even in moments of chaos, you can be free, and even appreciate the beauty of the chaos.
Memories of middle school likely conjure up all sorts of thoughts and emotions. “Productive STEM learning” is probably low on the list. But on Tuesday, Lego is introducing a new coding and robotics set called Spike Prime that it hopes will break through with a notoriously distracted audience.
Lego has already dabbled in this world with its Lego Mindstorms line. But those kits can potentially intimidate at the 11- to 14-year-old level, both in complexity and design. Mindstorms tend toward a black and red color palette, with builds that lean heavily on cyberpunk sci-fi imagery. Think “robots with mohawks.” By contrast, the Spike Prime set aims for accessibility, opting for bright colors, friendly shapes, and drag-and-drop coding tools that gently nudge students towards learning.
“We worked so hard on making it appealing to everybody, because we know that everybody will need this kind of skill in the future,” says Marianne Nytoft Bach, director of Lego’s secondary school team.
Lego envisions students in the classroom working in pairs on creations that range from a break dancing robot to a weather forecaster to a grasshopper-like racing module; there are 33 lesson plans in all, each structured to last 45 minutes. (Because this is Lego, you’re naturally also welcome to go off-book.) The $330 kit contains a whopping 523 pieces—an expansion kit ups the total to 603—that are roughly color-coded to help guide the middle school audience through the process of sorting out which does what. A yellow centralized hub drives the action; all the wheels are blue, the sensors black, and so on. You can preorder today; it ships in August.
“We’re creating a toolkit. It’s not just about that one creation you see on the packaging. It really is about opening up this set to enable you to create inventions or make things,” says Siddarth Muthyala, senior concept lead on Spike Prime. “We’ve found the more colors we have, and the more elements you have in different colors, really tweaks your creativity. It really enables you to think outside the box, and think not just about color but the creation you’re making.”
Lego’s not the only company trying to entice young minds into engineering; if anything, Spike Prime is late to a party that LittleBits and others kicked off years ago. Osmo, Kano, and Sphero have all made huge strides in that space, with a variety of playful builds that give engineering lessons a tangible boost. In that sense, the significance of Spike Prime is adding yet another option to a category of product that has transformed the classroom already.
“There’s a lot of learning theory that says that experiential learning is powerful; it’s going to give kids that concrete experience to connect the more abstract, theoretical concepts to,” says Monica Cardella, director of the INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering at Purdue University. “Any time you’re able to combine the hands-on experience with a discussion that’s a little bit more abstract is going to benefit anybody who’s learning.”
But Lego also offers a well-rounded version of that vision. Its sets are broadly adaptable. It provides lesson plans that cover not just the creation of models but also how to incorporate them into math and language arts studies. Muthyala points to a lesson called “What Is This,” in which students construct a motor that moves a ring around. The goal isn’t just to build something simple and abstract; it’s for the students to use their imaginations to describe what they’ve made.
Other, less obvious benefits come into play as well. The worry with a lesson-driven kit like this isn’t that kids won’t be able to complete the task; it’s that they’ll be able to do so without challenging themselves. Making attempts that don’t work—and figuring out why they didn’t—is a crucial part of the learning process.
“With all the things that kids are learning through testing and troubleshooting, they’re developing a sense of confidence that it’s OK if it doesn’t work the first time,” says Cardella, “and a sense of grit, going through multiple cycles and iterations.”
But as anyone who has misstacked a brick in the past few decades knows, Lego products are forgiving of mistakes. In fact, with Spike Prime, mistakes are encouraged.
“The prototyping that the students can do removes the fear of failure,” says Bach. “They try out something that they created, that they are emotionally attached to, and if it doesn’t work they can try again. They can do that with the Lego bricks, because that’s the way Lego is built.”
Familiarity with the Lego brand itself may also help win over some STEM converts. In the same way that Kano uses a Harry Potter wand to get kids excited about coding, Lego can leverage generations of goodwill toward bricks to get them interested in Spike Prime. Then again, as a classroom product, it’s not like they’ll have much choice.
Most important of all, Lego Spike Prime gives educators yet another resource to win students over to STEM, one that’s adaptable, colorful, and most of all fun. That’s a foundation you can build on.
“I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.” ~Byron Katie
A loved one has been going through a hard time, dealing with tiredness, stress, and loneliness, and my heart goes out to them as it does anyone going through such struggles.
They can break your heart, these difficult emotions.
But beyond compassion, what I tried to help her with is a fairly simple method for dealing with these difficulties mindfully. I offer it to you all as well, as something to practice and test out.
Here’s the method, to practice if you’re feeling stress, frustration, loneliness, sadness, tiredness:
Obviously some of these might take some practice. But it’s worth it, because while you might not be able to get rid of tiredness (some rest would help there), you can let go of the thoughts about the tiredness that are causing you to be unhappy. You might not be able to get rid of the loneliness, but you can let go of the downward spiral of thoughts and emotions that make the situation worse.
And just maybe, you can find some incredible love for your experience in this moment. Yes, you feel tired, but you can love the tiredness, and everything else in this moment, without needing anything to change.
Do you want to ruin their careers? This is how you ruin them.
One of the reasons we don't hire teenagers to run businesses is that we want adults. Adults should be independent, but a new survey shows that parents are continuing to parent their adult children way too far into adulthood. USA Today reports that the survey found:
Not to sound like a crabby old lady, but my parents had no clue what my deadlines were in school or in work. Sure, they knew when finals' week was but otherwise, I was 100 percent responsible for my own schedule in college and ever after.
Now, as a parent, I understand the temptation. Seeing your child fail is painful and if you can just prevent that, then all will be well with the world. But, failure is good--and the sooner they fail the better. If your child flunks a class in 9th grade because she forgot she had a test, she'll be able to make it up and go on with life. If she has you hovering over her, reminding her of all deadlines and holding her hand to get things done, when she finally does fail, it will be spectacular.
With the recent college admissions scandal--where parents cheated for their students and sometimes the student had no clue--we're hearing a lot more about Snow Plow Parents rather than Helicopter Parents. These parents don't just hover--they push everything out the way for their little darlings.
The New York Times shared some experience from Psychologist Madeline Levine that include these examples of failure at college due to snow plow parents:
I understand food aversions but ensuring that your child never sees sauce on food will not help her in life. Learning how to handle something you don't like on your plate will. (I'm not even arguing she has to learn to eat sauce--although that would be great--but what on earth is going to happen when this child goes to a business dinner and gets presented with pasta with red sauce?)
The survey also found that 16 percent of parents helped their adult children "write all or part of a job or internship application." This is only going to lead to your child getting a job that they aren't qualified for. Thankfully, 84 percent of parents don't do that. Be in the majority.
This isn't to say that adults don't ever have people proofread or give feedback. Of course, they do! Heck, that's why we have editors. But giving feedback is different than doing the writing for someone.
Businesses want to hire fully functional adults. If you are a snow plow parent, put your plow in park and hand your child a shovel. They need to learn how to be an adult.
This is not to say I'm a perfect example, of course. As part of full disclosure, I had difficulty finding a job after I finished graduate school. (Perhaps, in retrospect, a master's degree in political science wasn't the most marketable of degrees.) Because of this, my parents paid my rent for a few months while I searched for a job. (I had a scholarship and a stipend that paid my way in graduate school.) Finally, my parents said, "this is your last check. You can either get a job or move home." I had a temp job by the end of the week and have not relied on them financially since.
A bit of tough love and an apartment in a somewhat sketchy area of town can be wonders for helping your children reach adulthood. Let them give it a try.