Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Happiness Advantage – We Do Make Our Own Day!

It is amazing to me how often I am reminded that we each make our own day!

As a parent, I have often pointed out to our three daughters while they were growing up that they in fact “made their own day”.  I wanted them to know that, at least from my perspective, we do “make our own days” – that the attitudes we hold are our own.  And that they are a choice.   I would make the point that they could choose to have a good day or a not so good day. that they were, to a very large extent, in charge of their own day.  I  would of course encourage them to choose to frame their world with a ‘positive frame.”  I am all for choosing to have good days.

Shawn Acher in his book, The Happiness Advantage , (2010) makes the point that we can influence ourselves to be more positive and more productive in our lives both at work and at home.  He doesn’t preach in the book.  He shares scientific findings.  I like that!

Here are some important scientific findings he presents in the book (pages 76 -78): 

More important than believing in your own abilities is believing that you can improve these abilities. Few people have proven this theory more convincingly than Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck whose studies show that whether or not someone believes their intelligence is changeable directly affects their achievement.  Dweck found that people can be split into two categories:  Those with a “fixed mindset” believe that their capabilities are already set, while those with a “growth mindset” believe that they can enhance their basic qualities through effort.   A growth mindset is not dismissive of innate ability; it merely recognizes, as Dweck explains, that “although people may differ in every which way – in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments – everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”  Her research has shown that people with fixed mindsets miss choice opportunities for improvement and consistently underperform, while those with “growth mindsets” watch their abilities move ever upward.


Once we realize how much our reality depends on how we view it, it comes as less of a surprise that our external circumstances predict only about 10 percent of our total happiness.  This is why Sonja Lyubomirsky, a leader in the scientific study of well-being, has written that she prefers the phrase “creation or construction of happiness” to the more popular “pursuit,” since “research shows that it’s in our power to fashion it for ourselves.”   As all these mindset studies have shown, this is true for positive outcomes and success in any other domain.  By changing the way we perceive ourselves and our work, we can dramatically improve our results.

Shawn Archer provides a clear picture of how we do, in fact: Make our own day. The book is loaded with great information.  He shares the Seven Principals of Positive Psychology that fuel success and performance at he has taught at Harvard’s famed Happiness Course and to companies worldwide.

It is an important topic and a terrific book.     






The convergence of globalization and technology will eventually touch everyone


We school leaders know that some of our students are tech savvy and we know that many of our students are without access and opportunity for adequate technology experience.  We also know that the adult world our students will enter will be full of technology.    Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum, the authors of, That Used To Be Us, 2011 p. 54 make the point: “The convergence of globalization and technology will eventually touch everyone.  These forces are far larger than any individual.  They are ferocious, impersonal, and inescapable.”

The role of schools cannot be denied.   As we intentionally create learning environments and expectations for today and tomorrow’s students, technology must be thoroughly integrated into our learning environments.  Technology can support efforts to engage students in critical thinking, research, collaboration, thinking interdependently, problem analysis, problem/solution efforts, and much, much more.

Many of our students can see the need for more technology to be integrated into school learning.  As reported in the Tech Journal “Technology skills are essential to a successful future, according to students surveyed in the second annual 21st-Century Classroom Report, a nationwide survey of more than 1,000 high school students, faculty and IT staff. Ninety-four percent of students said learning and mastering technology skills will improve their educational and career opportunities, and 97 percent of faculty agreed.

Despite those results, just 39 percent of students say their high schools are meeting their technology expectations.  Additionally, 86 percent of students note that they use more technology outside the classroom than inside.”

It is pretty clear that the convergence of globalization and technology will eventually touch everyone.  The term “everyone” is referring to everyone around the globe.  American schools have to get good at both ‘letting go of the past’ (minimal technology) and ’embracing the future’ (investing in learning opportunities that match the current and future learning challenges).  Our children and their futures are worth it.

A Sputnik* Moment

Many Americans are unaware of the young minds around the globe who are competing and will complete with American graduates.  As Americans and as educators – globalization and technology expertise can not be taken lightly! 

1  Zhejiang University  

2  University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

3  Tsinghua University

4  St. Petersburg State University

5  Nizhny Novgorod State University

6  Saratov State University

7  Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg

8  Donetsk National University

9  Jagiellonian University in Krakow

10 Moscow State University

11 Ural State University

12 University of Waterloo

13 Carnegie Mellon University

13 Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

13 Lviv National University

13 Nanyang Technological University 

13 National Taiwan University

13 Peking University

13 Shanghai Jiao Tong University

13 Sharif University of Technology

13 St. Petersburg State University of IT, Mechanics and Optics

13 Taurida V.I. Vernadsky National University

13 The Chinese University of Hong Kong

13 Universidad de Buenos Aires – FCEN

13 University of Warsaw 

13 Zhongshan (Sun Yat-sen) University

27 Belarusian State University

27 Fudan University

27 Harbin Institute of Technology

27 Kazakh-British Technical University

27 Kyoto University

27 Massachusetts Institute of Technology

27 Novosibirsk State University

27 Perm State University

27 South Ural State University

27 Taras Shevchenko Kiev National University

27 Tianjin University

27 Universidade Federal de Pernambuco

27 University of Electronic Science and Technology of China

27 University of Helsinki

27 University of Tokyo

42 Beijing Jiaotong University

42 East China Normal University

42 Indian Institute of Technology – Delhi

42 International Institute of Information Technology – Hyderabad

42 Moscow Institute of Physics & Technology

42 Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú

42 Princeton University

42 Seoul National University

42 Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich – VIS

42 Universidad Nacional de Córdoba – FaMAF

42 Universidade Federal do Paraná

42 Universidade de São Paulo – Escola Politécnica

42 Universidade de São Paulo – Instituto de Matemática e Estatística

42 University of Alberta

42 University of Stellenbosch

 42 University of Wroclaw

42 Wuhan University

These are the rankings for the top colleges from around the world that competed in the international Battle of the Brains.

From 2,070 universities in 88 countries, the top one hundred and three teams of students competed for bragging rights and prizes at The 35th Annual ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest World Finals sponsored by IBM on May 30, 2011, in Orlando Florida, USA, and hosted by IBM.

The contest pits teams of three university students against eight or more complex, real-world problems, with a grueling five-hour deadline. Huddled around a single computer, competitors race against the clock in a battle of logic, strategy and mental endurance.

Teammates collaborate to rank the difficulty of the problems, deduce the requirements, design test beds, and build software systems that solve the problems under the intense scrutiny of expert judges. For a well-versed computer science student, some of the problems require precision only. Others require a knowledge and understanding of advanced algorithms. Still others are simply too hard to solve – except, of course, for the world’s brightest problem-solvers.

Judging is relentlessly strict. The students are given a problem statement – not a requirements document. They are given an example of test data, but they do not have access to the judges’ test data and acceptance criteria. Each incorrect solution submitted is assessed a time penalty. The team that solves the most problems in the fewest attempts in the least cumulative time is declared the winner.

To learn more about the ICPC, please visit or . Visit the ICPC podcast series at for insights from past contestants and current IBM executives. 

* Sputnik was the first artificial satellite to be put in earth’s orbit.  On October 4, 1957 the Russian’s successfully place Sputnik in orbit.  I was 9 and I still remember it. Sputnik woke up America!!! 




We must invest in education, infrastructure, and research and development, as well as open our society more widely to talented immigrants


The authors of: That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind In The World Is Invented And How We Can Come Back, Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum (pages 9 and 10) have framed the time we Americans live in.  They see possibility.  They have hope.  They acknowledge we have serious work to do.  They have a focus.  What follows are some of their thoughts.

In the last decade especially, we have spent so much of our time and energy–and the next generations money–fighting terrorism and indulging ourselves with tax cuts and she credit that we now have no reserves. We are driving now without a bumper, without a spare tire, and with the gas gauge nearing empty.

Our sense of urgency also derives from the fact that our political system is not properly framing, let alone addressing, our ultimate challenge. Our goal should not be merely to solve America’s debt and deficit problems. That is far too narrow period coping with these problems is important–indeed necessary and urgent–but it is only a means to an end. The goal is for America to remain a great country.

This means that while reducing our deficits, we must also invest in education, infrastructure, and research and development, as well as open our society more widely to talented immigrants and fix the regulations that govern our economy. Immigration, education, and sensible regulation are traditional ingredients of America’s formula for greatness. They are more vital than ever if we hope to realize the full potential of the American people in the coming decades, to generate the resources to sustain our prosperity and to remain the global leader that we have been and that the world needs us to be. We, the authors of this book, don’t want simply to restore American solvency. We want to maintain American greatness.  We are not green-eyeshade guys. We’re Fourth of July guys.

As citizens we need to be willing to see the value of the country being clearly focused. Investing in education, infrastructure, and research and development, as well as opening our society more widely to talented immigrants are all potential political challenges.  Now is the time for citizens to demand that their politicians not fight but work together.  We need people who are willing to have “Thought Through” rather than “Fought Through” the challenges Friedman and Mandelbaum are laying out for us.

Employees Wanted . . . that can combine software, art, math, creativity, writing, gaming, education, composing, and marketing

Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum the authors of That Used To Be Us,( 2011 p.70 -71) make the case for how fast and dramatically the world of work can change.  They explain that it is clear “that a multi-billion-dollar come-out-of-nowhere “apps”  industry is upon us. Apple released the iPhone in June 2007 and the iPad in April 2010. Aditionally, we have Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Marketplace, BackBerry’s App World and more opportunities for apps to be used.

In 2011 a report produced by Forrester Research estimated that the revenue generated through the sales of smart phone and tablet applications will reach $38 billion annually by 2015. Think of that: an industry that did not exist in 2006 will be generating $38 billion in revenues within a decade, with a slew of new online stores.

The potential for individuals today to globalize their talents, hobbies, and passions into applications with a worldwide market is without precedent in history and unbounded in potential.

That’s the good news. It also leads to this reality: the emerging apps industry will be looking for a special kind of talent. People who can combine their software skills with art, math, creativity, writing, gaming, education, composing and marketing will be the employees or the creators who will capture this market. In other words, it requires combining the skills of MIT, MTV these skills, and Madison Avenue. These skills, in turn, require all lot more training and creativity and just writing software code.”

As a citizen of America, an educator, and a grandparent, I am hopeful that we are getting the message: the future will embrace people who have many skills and abilities and can combine software skills with art, math, creativity, writing, gaming, education, composing and marketing have a future waiting.  Are our families, communities and schools helping students to combine and integrate their learning in practical and potentially productive ways that will help them to meet the demands of the future?  I think we all have to help each embrace the future!  Oor children and grand children are worth it.

Helping young people grow!

If you are not part of a BENEVOLENT CONSPIRACY maybe now is the time to be part of one!  Clifton Taulbert in his book: Eight Habits of the Heart Embracing the Values that Build StrongFamilies and Communities page 29 explains that: “. . . he (Mr. Powell the school janitor) was part of the benevolent conspiracy that existed among the adults to make our educational experience memorable.”  

Who can you give your support to help them grow, thrive and reach their potential?  Who can you talk with and listen to?  Who can your encourage?  Who can you spend time with? Are you ready to start the conspiracy, his or her behalf today?

We can all be part of many benevolent conspiracies!  Our children ad grand children are obvious ‘targets’ for such conspiracies.  So are the the neighbor kids and the children of our friends.  And certainally the kids we teach (should we be lucky enough to be a teacher). 

It does take a village to raise a child!