Book on Educational Neuroscience
Programming the Brain: Educational Neuroscience Perspective
Pedagogical Practices and Learning Skills for
Enhanced Learning and Metacognition

An educator with a background in engineering and education, Dr. Chandana Watagodakumbura has dedicated his life to understanding what makes individuals learn better. Now, he shares his findings in the inspiring Programming the Brain: Educational Neuroscience Perspective, a deeply insightful and intellectually stimulating look at how humans learn and the ways we can create a more enhanced approach to education.

In order to fully grow as a human being, it is essential to remain a lifelong student—an individual who passionately and consciously pursues education. But how do we deeply take control of our lives in order to enhance daily learning? What is there to learn about the neurological makeup of our brains that can help us achieve optimal growth?

Dr. Chandana Watagodakumbura uses his extensive experience as an educator to help us tackle these large concepts in tangible, easy-to-follow ways. With a focus on metacognition and neuroscience, Programming the Brain: Educational Neuroscience Perspective helps students and educators alike develop skills that can transcend disciplines and all areas of life. It is possible to achieve deep, meaningful growth throughout your life.  

Programming the Brain: Educational Neuroscience Perspective - Pedagogical Practices and Learning Skills for Enhanced Learning and Metacognition

Independent Reviews for the Book

Kirkus Book Reviews - June 2017
"Watagodakumbura (Educational Neuroscience/Central Queensland University; Education from a Deeper and Multidisciplinary Perspective, 2013) argues that advances in education haven’t kept pace with advances in neuroscience.

The author builds on the subject of his first book by taking the latest research on neurology and learning and extending it a bold step further—to teaching. He opens with the notion that all human brains are unique and malleable, to the extent that every person has his or her own unique way of learning, and that we continue to learn new things throughout our lives. Education, he argues, works counter to such neurological individuality by forcing students to conform to rigid teaching and testing structures, which may turn off even the most gifted students. Part I sets the stage for his thesis with a meticulously detailed primer on how brain anatomy relates to cognition and learning. Part II surveys modern educational techniques through the lens of neuroscience. These sections offer academic rigor and complex sentence structures that may confuse some readers who lack a formal science background. Yet, by the end of Part II, the author’s prose become clearer as he makes an impassioned plea for the acceptance of neurodiversity in education. From there, Part III brings to bear the latest neuroscience research on existing educational practices. Teachers who are interested in deepening their knowledge of alternative educational methods may therefore benefit from skimming the first two parts and reading the third more carefully. Overall, though, Watagodakumbura makes a convincing case that everyone is wired differently for learning, and children who are taught in ways that allow for this fact will blossom intellectually. The book raises intriguing questions about what it truly means to be different in an educational system that demands conformity.

A sometimes-difficult but thoroughly researched work that offers a fresh angle on improving education."


Self-Publishing Review (SPR) - Barbara Scott - February 2017
"Educational neuroscience is a relatively new field, and one that is expertly explored in Programming the Brain: Pedagogical Practices and Study Skills for Enhanced Learning and Metacognition. A PhD engineer and academic who teaches computer science at Australia’s Central Queensland University, Dr. Chandana Watagodakumbar's premise, intelligently and comprehensively set forth, is that just as computers are programmed to “learn” in a specific way, the principles of neuroscience can offer a useful modality for teaching humans.

Programming the Brain comprises an introduction to neuroscience and its implications for how we access knowledge; an examination of learning related concepts widely employed in schools; and a survey of these generally accepted teaching and study practices in comparison to types of education arising when principles of neuroscience are brought into the picture. Noting that “we see a physical growth of brain structures…due to learning,” Watagodakumbara examines the possibilities for teaching based around natural brain functions, which allow people to learn and adapt “on the fly,” as distinct from the currently accepted pedagogical approach that calls for explicit knowledge force-fed within a rigidly set time frame.

Utilizing terminology from three disciplines—computer technology, neuroscience and academia—Watagodakumbara begins his treatise by describing the physical structure of the brain and what happens when humans learn. He stresses the importance of memory in learning - mere grasping of facts is insufficient without memory that allows for regurgitating facts when tested, or intuitively evincing them in real life situations. One significant factor in the neuroscientific approach that is lacking in standard approaches is the inclusion of emotional parameters, in addition to the purely intellectual, which is core to the author's emphasis.

The book addresses both average and gifted learners, stating that the latter often lose out in the current system, forced to narrow their creative focus instead of being rewarded for their broader scope of learning abilities. The larger message is that educators need to “slow down to take a deep breath,” reducing the emphasis on “fast learning” aimed at narrow employability specializations, and instead consider the integrative learning possibilities inherent within educational neuroscience - possibilities that can promote balanced emotions and greater general awareness. This reset offers the promise of education that is less specifically achievement-oriented and time-driven, and more fulfilling.

Watagodakumbara is passionate about his subject matter, couching it at times in language akin to a personal mission. In the view of the author, educational neuroscience is to standard educational models as organically-grown food is to fast food. The book is at times heady and technical, but given Watagodakumbara's passion for the subject, he is ultimately persuasive about his thesis.

That said, more could have been done to gear this book to the layman. It would have been helpful to include more illustrative graphs and diagrams (there are a handful) for those new to these concepts, which would serve to break up the compact, almost encyclopedic material. The third part of the book is somewhat repetitive as well (though the author freely admits this in his introduction), as it necessarily recapitulates earlier sections to develop the final thesis. Nonetheless, the overall result is a statement of innovative, potentially groundbreaking theories that are both logical and valuable.

A comprehensive work of scholarship, Programming the Brain should be of considerable interest to open-minded, future-thinking learners and educators."

4 Stars 

CreateSpace (Publisher) Editor - Joel - December 2016
In this ambitious manuscript, you conduct a thorough examination of the process of learning, in a context of cognition and metacognition, through the lens of neuroscience and neuroplasticity. The book reads like an advanced college-level textbook or a doctoral thesis and is recommended for those with a working knowledge of neurobiology and a background in pedagogical techniques. Certainly no one can fault you for lack of thoroughness; you approach the subject from multiple angles and include exhaustive research from sources dating back as far as 1890. The book does justice to its thesis.

The manuscript has a very scholarly tone, and it maintains this tone consistently. Your goal is the conveyance of information, and you do so efficiently and effectively. The information is very densely packed, and the factual material comes fast and steadily.

Your documentation of sources was meticulous, and with more than two hundred references in your bibliography, no one can say you didn’t do your homework.

You have quite an achievement here, particularly because you’re coming at neuroscience from a tangential discipline. You make many good points and offer readers a great deal to think about when it comes to thinking.

Good luck in your revision, and I wish you all the best for this manuscript and future books.

I was intrigued by Dr. Chandana Watagodakumbura’s suggestions in Programming the Brain. The book itself is excellently laid out, opening with an explanation of the structure of the human brain and how those structures may relate to learning. Anyone without a background in neuroscience will want to take this part of the book slowly, as the author gives very technical descriptions that might be lost on someone who is only casually interested in the subject. Pop science this is not. However, with some patience and a handy reference like Wikipedia, even a layperson can get a great deal out of the first section.
The real meat of the book comes in the latter section, when the author explains how this knowledge would be best applied. This is probably the section that will be of most interest to people picking up the book, whether they are educators looking for another way to teach or simply someone, like me, who is interested in theories of education. Overall, his reasoning is sound, though he relies very heavily on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which, while that is a strong basis that the author builds on skillfully, is not something that everyone agrees with."
"In short, while this book is one laypeople may struggle somewhat to get through, I think it may prove to be anywhere from informative to invaluable to educators."

"The brain is considered by many to be the most amazing organ within the human body. It controls both voluntary and involuntary functions. It also allows people to obtain, process, and use knowledge about various topics with which is it presented. In the book Programming the Brain: Educational Neuroscience Perspective – Pedagogical Practices and Study Skills for Enhanced Learning and Metacognition, by Chandana Watagodakumbura, the topic of both the physical make-up of the brain, as well how it obtains, process, uses, and retains information, are discussed. Geared toward an audience of educators, Programming the Brain presents how different parts of the brain function, how information is learned, retained, and used and how the two work together to accomplish this. Studies and theories, such as Bloom’s Taxonomy, studies by Karl Jung and others, are also added into this book to explain why the author’s theories and research have come to the conclusion of how to best teach information so that it is both understandable and retainable."

"Programming the Brain is definitely a book that is geared toward an academic audience. The layout, referral to research, and text present this book as one that would be used in a pre- or post-graduate college course or for continuing education classes and/or workshops for teachers. A lot of information and research is laid out in this book with references dating back to the 1950s through the 2010s. While this book contains a lot of information, as well as suggestions for how to best utilize the parts of the brain, along with teaching methods to obtain optimal learning and recall, the span of sources seems too broad."

"Overall, this book earns a solid 3 stars because the information is correct and relevant..."


Book on Education
For a Sustainable Development of the Neurodiverse Society
Education from a Deeper and Multidisciplinary Perspective
A Futuristic View

Have you ever conjectured deeply on the goals of education in general? What could be the ideal education an individual can receive? Will education only have a focus on an employment or career path, or will character or humanistic development that results in a deeper perception of reality be part of it? Do we have a better form of education than what we have currently perceived? In this book, the author attempts to answer the above questions identifying some of the less obvious limitations of our current pedagogical and social practices. In what he terms as authentic education, the author presents a deeper and multidisciplinary approach to education in which learners are uniquely identified and characterised based on their psychological and neurological traits in order for them to be sent through individualised learning plans spanning the whole life. In an integrated approach to education and human development, individual differences are given special attention and accommodations are made for all-round humanistic development enhancing creativity and wisdom in day-to-day life operations. Better educated human beings in this way would become better decision makers or problem solvers and more empathic and content personalities. Such an authentic education system has the promise of providing solutions to some of our long-standing social problems.
Independent Reviews for the Book
Australian Universities' Review(AUR) - Dennis Bryant, September 2015

"If you have ever concluded that the fabric of higher education is sagging, perhaps even irreparably sagging, then you will be buoyed by this book because it provides a vision for repairing the damage through a reorientation process. On first glance, you might think that Watagodakumbura’s vision relies too heavily on humanistic philosophy, but that is not the case. While he uses humanistic philosophy, Watagodakumbura’s contribution is to align (he prefers the term ‘synthesise’) a range of earlier research into a single vision, driven of course by humanistic philosophy."

"He aligns Bloom’s taxonomy; the Myers-Briggs type indicator; Maslow’s Theory of Self-Actualisation; as well as Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration and the concept of Psychoneurotics. To these, he adds Kolb’s theories of cerebral cortex functions, especially 
in terms of left hemisphere brain functions (which Wotagodakumbura terms ‘Auditory Sequential learning style’) versus right hemisphere brain functions (which he terms ‘Visual Spatial learning style’). All in all, it is a breath-taking undertaking that should revitalise your ideas on what positive advancements could come to pass in higher education’s teaching and learning."

"I recommend his book because it does provide inspiration at a time when academics are being measured for their perspiration and not their contribution of aspiration to students. It is timely."

San Francisco Book Reviewer - Brett Peterson, May 2015
Star Rating: 4 out of 5

"/Education from.. / by Chandana Watagodakumbura is the plea of an Australian academic for education to shift from the industrial, mass-produced experience familiar to most people in Western countries to something more authentic, personal, and real. The book .. moves on to chart an alternative approach based on individualized education that is learner-centric, rather than teacher-centric, that recognizes and builds upon each students' individual proclivities and neurology, and that leads toward self-actualization rather than economic maximization."


"The author has assembled an excellent introduction and case for his alternative educational ideal. For anyone frustrated by the current educational system, this text will be very encouraging." 


"That said, for those interested in education reform, /Education from.. / is well worth the read. It is more of a manifesto than an academic overview of the field, but as such it succeeds very well. The work inspires, provokes moral thought, and grapples with intriguing and pertinent questions that, all too often, are entirely absent from public debate concerning the value and purpose of education as a whole. In an era when the very idea of a liberal arts education is under very close scrutiny, /Education from.. / provides a welcome analysis of education as a process for the heart and soul rather than (but not in exclusion of) one primarily for the wallet."


"Students and instructors in sociology and philosophy of education courses will find this work an excellent starting point for discussion, as will students beginning instructional design courses in graduate school. The work will be especially of interest to educational psychology students, those holding or seeking public office, and .. involved in international educational development; .. the work leads readers to ponder questions pertinent to a wide variety of professions and areas.. It is an excellent introduction to the core ideas behind education reform .."

Clarion Book Review - Thomas H. Brennan, August 2014

“An examination of pedagogical philosophies offers insights for teachers and policymakers.”
“In chapter 1 the author discusses his concept of authentic education, a system “essentially viewed from a multidisciplinary perspective,” and criticizes the present state of education as grade oriented rather than focused on students understanding and mastering the content.”


”The next three chapters are excellent summaries of some of the more influential educational theories of the mid to late twentieth century. Chapter 2 examines the psychological aspects of education with an emphasis on Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences and Abraham Maslow’s theory of self-actualization. Chapter 3 tackles pedagogical viewpoints—Benjamin Bloom’s taxonomy and the constructivist theories” “Chapter 4 discusses the physiological and psychological aspects of education and the insights gained from computer science, primarily the comparison of human and artificial intelligences.”


“In the second half of the book, the author presents his case for authentic education in different situations, particularly gifted education and special-needs programs, and he criticizes some present educational practices. Although the author’s experience is primarily with the Australian school system, his observations could apply equally to the United States.”
“The author advocates a shift in perspective. He notes, for example, that “we need a unifying approach to education with a common goal, rather than compartmentalising through special programmes; that is, everyone needs to engage in a lifelong process of reaching a higher level of human development.” He suggests that “what we need is a more integrated, value-added solution to our pedagogical issues so that we are more motivated and inclined to implement with a matter of urgency.” “


“While his analysis might interest general readers, this book is intended for educational professionals in leadership roles with a background in contemporary learning theory.”

Blueink Book Review, August 2014

“Chandana Watagodakumbura, an engineer with training in higher education, is concerned about a problem that has plagued educators for time immemorial: that children who are labeled as “gifted” all too often do not become high achievers; rather, they are routinely left behind by the educational system.”

“Watagodakumbura’s prose is dense and theoretical, but delivered with the passion of a frustrated parent wanting the best for a bright child who he feels has been ignored. As a result, his “Authentic Education” has a ring of sincerity that other theory-laden books about gifted children do not.”


“this book can easily be recommended for the author’s novel and passionate approach to identifying gifted students, arguments which will surely fuel debate on the subject.”

Kirkus Book Review, August 2014

“A high-minded pedagogical treatise on the need and methodologies for imparting a deeper, authentic education that takes into account natural aptitudes and neurological diversity.”

“Debut author Watagodakumbura, an academic from Melbourne, Australia, with degrees in engineering and education, draws on writings of psychologists Kazimierz Dabrowski and Abraham Maslow, as well as others, in critiquing traditional one-size-fits-all educational practices that fail miserably to maximize human potential. A central problem, the author says, is that traditional "sage on the stage" education favors students who tend to do most of their learning using the left hemisphere of the brain. These analytical, left-hemisphere types, constituting at least two-thirds of humanity by some estimates, are neurologically biased to learn best with auditory, sequential inputs, i.e., the unadorned lecture format that serves knowledge cold. They also tend to be extroverts and implementers, but their learning may lack depth and too often involves little more than short-term memorization and factual regurgitation on exams. Not so for the smaller group of right-hemisphere thinkers, a category that seems to include a disproportionate share of gifted and high-potential individuals. These slower, more introverted, deeper thinkers do best with visual and spatial inputs, and they exhibit integrative, synthesizing big-picture abilities. They suffer in—and may be stunted for life by—left-hemisphere educational systems and jobs.” 


“Author calls for early identification of a student’s learning style on this right-left hemisphere spectrum. ". For all students, he says, an education that fires up both hemispheres leads not just to better academic performance, but better, more content and empathetic people.”


“And the author’s proposal for top-down government imposition of this authentic education framework seems beyond the pale. Hemispheric food for thought, intellectually titillating if not always savory.”
 

Invited Blog on "Author Inspirations" - September 2015
"I would like to question our approach in the presence of emerging findings from the disciplines of neuroscience, psychology, neurology and pedagogy (or from the emerging collective discipline/term of educational neuroscience). We have identified predominant learning preferences in individuals such as visual-spatial and auditory-sequential abilities (as referred to by Linda Silverman). In the theory of multiple intelligences (as put forth by Howard Gardner), a number of different abilities individuals can possess, such as verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal etc. are identified. Neurologically, individuals can demonstrate different degrees of overexitabilities (as referred to by Kazimierz Dabrowski) such as intellectual, emotional, imaginational, psychomotor and sensual overexitabilities.

Learning is identified as making connections between one’s existing knowledge-base and the new knowledge he or she gets exposed to. When learners make these connections, the neural networks in the learner's brain grow denser. Most importantly these neural networks continue to grow so long as you use them effectively (as initially presented by Donald Hebb), and further, they can grow throughout one’s lifespan. Human consciousness (As mainly presented by Gerald Edelman and Giulio Tononi) grows when neural networks in the hemispheric cortices develop and with that we achieve human development, so to speak. Through this higher level of consciousness, learners are believed to develop wisdom as a higher form of creativity, integrating knowledge from multiple domains. Consequently, developing wisdom in our individuals, by helping them to create neural connections among different parts of the brain, should be our ultimate goal in the education system we use; this is what we are capable of achieving biologically or from the point of view of neuroscience, as human beings."
My Journal Publications that Subsequently Lead to Writing Books

Validity, Lasting Outcomes and Fairness of Learner Assessment from the Perspective of Educational Neuroscience - March 2017 (Link)
International Journal of Education, Macrothink Institute, Nevada, USA 9(1), 67-90

When setting up assessments, additional viewpoints that need to be considered by viewing from the standpoint of educational neuroscience are discussed in this article. Learner assessment performed in any teaching-learning environment should produce valid and lasting outcomes. The validity of assessment indicates that the results generated represent the learner characteristics reliably using any strengths and weaknesses. The lasting feature of assessment entails that the results are associated with learner characteristics rather the environmental factors. When learner characteristics are identified in this manner, appropriate measures can be taken to improve on any weaknesses identified while at the same time relying or staying motivated on the strengths. It is imperative that educators make use of the findings from the emerging field of educational neuroscience to design and construct assessment producing valid and lasting outcomes. In educational neuroscience, how the human brain and related structures engage in learning processes is studied. By incorporating this useful information into teaching-learning processes, learners can be put on a path to creating useful, lasting memories, across disciplinary boundaries, to lead them to higher levels of human development yielding wisdom and consciousness. When assessments produce valid and lasting outcomes, they essentially become fair for all types of learners including the gifted learners who demonstrate right cerebral hemisphere oriented visual-spatial characteristics that include higher sensitivities such as emotional sensitivity. 

Principles of Curriculum Design and Construction Based on the Concepts of Educational Neuroscience - March 2017
Journal of Education and Learning, Canada Centre of Science and Education, Canada, 6(3), 54-69

With the emergence of a wealth of research-based information in the field of educational neuroscience, educators are now able to make more evidence-based decisions in the important area of curriculum design and construction. By viewing from the perspective of educational neuroscience, we can give a more meaningful and lasting purpose of leading to human development with enhanced consciousness or wisdom as the goal of a curriculum. We can better decide on the essential contents of a curriculum that is carried out within a limited time, using the emerging and validating information. Knowledge of educational neuroscience can also be used effectively for instructional design or conveying important messages to learners in the learning support material provided. Further, educators can be better directed in forming appropriate assessment so that learners are prepared for active and deep engagements in the teaching-learning process developing the skills of independence and discovery learning. Educational practitioners, as well as policy-makers, can also promote inclusive practices by directing, designing and constructing a curriculum appropriately especially taking into consideration the characteristics of right cerebral hemispheric oriented visual-spatial or gifted learners. Overall, education professionals can be benefited immensely to take more informed decisions in the process of curriculum design and construction by embracing emerging educational neuroscience principles.

Reviewing the Purpose of Education and Challenges Faced in Implementing Sound Pedagogical Practices in the Presence of Emerging Evidence from Neuroscience - November  2015
World Journal of Education, SCIEDU Press, Canada, 5(6), 23-36

The field of neuroscience has been evolving constantly and at a rapid pace in the recent past. Consequently, neuroscientists have put forth a wealth of knowledge in relation learning and education in general. In this context, how can we as educators benefit from the emerging evidence from neuroscience so that we can take a significant step forward in improving our pedagogical practices? We can take a deeper and reflective look at our existing pedagogical knowledge base and engage in implementing necessary changes in such a way that we can guide our learners to reach their full potential. By reaching full potential, we mean enhancing creativity and wisdom in our day to day life operations, thus developing more empathic and content personalities devoid of psychological disorders. In the presence of emerging evidence, we can be better organised and take more educated decisions in planning our curricular, assessment and content delivery methods to achieve enhanced learning. We certainly face some challenges, especially in changing from some practices that were used widely and for a prolonged time. However, taking this courageous step forward would help us to be more sustainable in our educational systems as well as society at large. In this regard, this paper discusses some emerging neuroscience-based concepts relevant to learning and education in general, the significance of these concepts and some suggestions on how they can be incorporated in our pedagogical practices.

Some Useful Pedagogical Practices: Educational Neuroscience Perspective - November 2015
Journal of Studies in Education, Macrothink Institute, Nevada, USA 5(4), 191-221

We have reviewed the goals of education by approaching them from the direction of educational neuroscience; through education, we have to achieve the transfer of learning in order to produce individuals who are better problem solvers and decision makers. To achieve this goal, learners will have to transform what they have learned explicitly into implicit memories and vice versa by attaching sense and meaning, ideally across multiple domain areas. Further, through education, we enhance learner consciousness and/or wisdom that give abilities to spontaneously recall retained memories readily, whenever necessary. Some pedagogical practices that are useful in achieving the above goals are identified. When new contents are presented to learners, high-level, generalised concepts need to be emphasised; concepts are likely to penetrate through multiple domain areas and last longer in memory, thus helping learners to attach sense and meaning better. In order to reach out to multiple brain regions, inducing creativity, we need to get frontal lobes involved essentially, with an appropriate pace and form of presentation. The important task of motivating learners can be done by presenting learners with educational neuroscience facts that can be enlightening; even difficult content can be mastered by simply paying attention fully and through elaborate rehearsal; human brains have the feature of neural plasticity, and neural networks can grow throughout the lifespan through effective learning. When setting assessment, we should focus on open-ended, novel and conceptual/generalised questions so that learners use their frontal lobes, engaging in a higher-order, divergent and/or inductive thinking process to provide answers.

Reflecting on Learner Assessments and Their Validity in the Presence of Emerging Evidence from Neuroscience - May 2015
Higher Education Studies, Canada Centre of Science and Education, Canada 5(3), 58-65

We can now get purposefully directed in the way we assess our learners in light of the emergence of evidence from the field of neuroscience. Why higher-order learning or abstract concepts need to be the focus in assessment is elaborated using the knowledge of semantic and episodic memories. With most of our learning identified to be implicit, why we should make use of the constructivist theory in assessing learners becomes quite evident. Why we need to deviate from setting assessment on the basis of veridical decision making and the need incline towards adaptive decision making become evident when we understand that most of our life decisions are adaptive in nature and human beings naturally possess creative instincts. When assessments are used to direct learners to use the frontal lobes, the organ of civilisation, more, the requirement of more carefully designing the timing component of assessment arises. After all, it is important to understand that enhancing learner consciousness and wisdom is key when we understand the prime goal of education is to enhance the human development of learners so as to enable them to be better problem solvers.

Identifying Sound Pedagogical Practices Based on Findings from Neuroscience - May 201 5
International Journal of Education, Macrothink Institute, Nevada, USA 7(2), 146-159

We have identified goals of education by viewing them from the point of neuroscience;  through education, we have to produce individuals who are better problem solvers and decision makers. To achieve this goal, learners will have to transform what they have learned explicitly into implicit memories and vice versa. Further, through education, we enhance learner consciousness and wisdom. Some pedagogical practices that are useful in achieving the above goals are presented. When new contents are presented in a teaching-learning environment, high-level concepts need to be highlighted; the concepts are likely to penetrate through multiple domain areas thus helping learners to form better neural networks of knowledge. In order to reach out to multiple brain regions, we need to get the appropriately; as the frontal lobe connects to many brain regions, the processing occurs relatively slowly. The important task of motivating learners can be done by presenting learners with neuroscience-based facts about learning; even difficult content can be mastered by simply paying attention elaborately; human brains have the feature of plasticity and through learning, neural networks can grow throughout the lifespan. Taking into consideration the phenomenon of binocular rivalry - human brains can concentrate only on one thing at a time fully- we should encourage learners to engage in the discussion in a teaching-learning session fully. When setting assessment, we should focus on open-ended, novel conceptual questions so that learners use their frontal lobes connecting many other regions as well.

Improvements to Student Learning Through Multidisciplinary Perspectives Reviewed from the Dimensions of Analytical Psychology - July 2014
International Journal of Education, Macrothink Institute, Nevada, USA 6(3)

In this paper, we look at some previously presented improvements to student learning through multidisciplinary perspectives (Watagodakumbura, 2012, 2013a, 2013b) from the viewpoints of analytical psychology. Diverse psychological and neurological student characteristics presented are evaluated from the viewpoints of psychological types presented in analytical psychology. Deep or higher-order learning is paralleled with the phenomenon of enhancing conscious sphere in which contents from the unconscious are brought to consciousness. Feeling and intuition psychological types are inferred to play an important role in this regard. Further, feeling and intuition conscious functions are identified to involve significantly when abstract concepts are learned and hence take relatively a longer time. The process of enhancing the conscious sphere directs individuals towards higher levels of human development. Developing creative instincts of learners through higher levels of human development is inferred to be achieved only by allowing learners to undergo a complete, balanced learning cycle in which all conscious functions of sensing, thinking, feeling and intuition are given due attention. That is, both dominant and inferior functions play important roles.

Benefits of Authentic Education with Multidisciplinary Perspectives from the Viewpoints of Analytical Psychology - May 2014
Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal (ASSRJ), Society for Science and Education, UK, 1(3), 175-194

The authentic education system highlighted in this paper provides a unique learning experience to individual learners, specifically by addressing their psychological and neurological needs; assessment of learners are done through generic attributes that have more validity and relates to intrinsic learner characteristics, lasting throughout the life span. The psychological types or conscious functions defined in analytical psychology provide additional insights into learner classification and identifying appropriate generic attributes. In the authentic education system described, learners are encouraged to pursue higher-order learning sending them through a complete learning cycle; this engages learners deeply to the task and provides a lasting experience, enabling individuals to reach their full potential. Learners are encouraged to pursue an individuation process as described in analytical psychology towards a higher level of human development; that is the shadow, or the inferior functions are directly addressed enabling the path towards the concept of the self. Through authentic education, we get to value human resources much more than related economic aspects, making a significant difference to our current approaches and focus; it has the promise to effect a significant positive social change towards a sustainable development. In this regard, the viewpoints from analytical psychology as a framework for human development provide additional justifications.

Authentic Education, the Deeper and Multidisciplinary Perspective of Education, from the Viewpoint of Analytical Psychology - May 2014
World Journal of Education, SCIEDU Press, Canada, 4(3), 19-28

In this paper, the authentic education system defined with multidisciplinary perspectives is viewed from an additional perspective of analytical psychology. Analytical psychology provides insights into human development and is becoming more and more popular among practising psychologist in the recent past. In addition to human development frameworks already used in defining the mentioned authentic education system, the new viewpoint from analytical psychology further justifies and validates the concepts and features presented in describing the system. The main concepts of analytical psychology such as conscious/unconscious, psychological types, the shadow, the self and archetypes are used in elaborating further on the concepts and features of the authentic education system with multidisciplinary perspectives. Consequently, much broader perspectives of the authentic education system discussed are highlighted in this paper

The Need to Address Psychological and Neurological Characteristics of Learners in the Mainstream Education System - February 2014
Journal of Studies in Education, Macrothink Institute, Nevada, USA 4(1)

Individual learners can be characterised based on their psychological and neurological characteristics, such as visual-spatial and auditory-sequential learners, extroverts and introverts or multiple intelligences. These differences go a long way in how successfully individuals learn and engage in their careers. However, our contemporary educations systems do not give due attention to these differences in satisfying individual requirements. For example, the issues related to high sensitivities of gifted and creative individuals being inadequately addressed in the mainstream education system are extensively highlighted in the literature. Due to lack of support from the education and social systems, individuals fall behind in the process of self-actualisation. According to researchers, it appears that we focus mainly on instructing the learners’ left hemisphere of the brain, paying little attention to the right hemisphere. In this paper, the author highlights the need to make learners use both hemispheres of the brain through appropriate instructions and methodologies, despite some having preferences to using one half. Addressing psychological and neurological needs of the learners while accommodating them to use both brain hemispheres would put individuals into a self-actualising path that develops creativity and wisdom. In essence, as general educators, we develop awareness into the concept of neurodiversity.

Improving from our Current Practices in Education in the Presence of Inputs from Multiple Disciplines - December 2013
International Journal of Technology and Inclusive Education (IJTIE), Infonomics Society, UK, 2(2), 167-175

In this paper, we discuss some of the limitations of our common practices as educational practitioners. We may not address the needs of a neurodiverse society. Instead, we may incorrectly assume idealistic individuals to exist. There are some areas related to assessment that we can improve on following some reflections. We may fail to thoroughly understand the concepts of higher-order learning and put them into practice. The time factor in learning processes may not get the significance it deserves leading to sub-optimal environments. The need to address learner motivation levels may get neglected without understanding the serious consequences. We may allow non-educational bodies to dictate terms on our curricular, sacrificing important pedagogical and human principles. The socio-economic conditions may unnecessarily impact learners much more than individual neurological and psychological characteristics. We present these limitations and suggest how an authentic learning experience can be achieved by overcoming them. 


The Need for a Deeper Perspective of Education to Make Way for an Authentic Learning Experience - November 2013
Journal of Education and Learning, Canada Centre of Science and Education, Canada, 2(4), 31-39

This paper discusses some of the limitations of our common practices as educational practitioners. We may not pay attention to the needs of a neurodiverse society. Instead, we may incorrectly assume the existence of idealistic individuals in our learning environments. There are some areas related to assessment that we can improve on, following some reflections. We may continue to be didactic in our delivery despite its inherent deficiencies. A balance between theoretical concepts and practical work may not be achieved. We may fail to thoroughly understand the concepts of higher-order learning and put them into practice appropriately. The time factor in learning processes may not get the significance it deserves leading to sub-optimal environments. The need to address learner motivation levels may get neglected without understanding the serious consequences. We may allow non-educational bodies to dictate terms on our curricular, sacrificing important pedagogical and human principles. The socio-economic conditions may unnecessarily impact learners much more than individual neurological and psychological characteristics. We present these limitations and suggest how an authentic learning experience can be achieved by overcoming them.

Authentic Learning Experience: Subtle But Useful Ways to Provide It In Practice - July 2013
Contemporary Issues in Education Research, Clute Institute for Academic Research, Colorado, USA, 6(3), 299–304

Authentic learning is conceptualised as an individualised experience learners undergo fulfilling their unique psychological as well as neurological needs. It provides a deep, more lasting experience and ideally assessed through generic attributes that are related to individual learners’ intrinsic characteristics, spanning throughout the life. Question-based lecture delivery, as author identified, is a promising methodology to engage the learner in an authentic learning experience. By forming the lecture as a series of questions, it essentially has a dialectic approach to teaching. Further, this methodology provides a good pace for concept delivery allowing learners to engage in constructing meaning. Additionally, it allows aligning teaching to assessment tasks more appropriately, improving the liability of assessment. Another practice that helps authentic learning, as highlighted in this paper, is only elaborating the most important concepts or material related to a study area, within the limited time available, and thereby, in the assessment as well. This contrasts with the notion that teacher has to mention every single fact in the study area in front of the learners, possibly directing learners to strategic approaches to learning. The time factor in relation to assessment components is also an important issue, as some learners may be disadvantaged if time is not allocated with careful thought. The significance of generalised, or higher-order, learning in an authentic learning framework is presented, as the knowledge gained through this way is likely to last longer in learners’ memory and at the same time, more useful to them in a generic way, or in day-to-day situations. Such practices also inherently motivate learners to engage in a deep learning process.

Authentic Education: Visualising Education in a Deeper Perspective - May 2013
World Journal of Education, SCIEDU Press, Canada, 3(3), 1–10

 Authentic education is presented in this paper from a multidisciplinary perspective; it is viewed and discussed mainly from the perspectives of psychology, pedagogy, neuroscience and machine learning. It addresses the individual psychological and neurological differences and guides individuals to reach higher levels of human developments. Especially, high emotional, intellectual and imaginational sensitivities are accepted as enriching a neurodiverse society, rather than constraining it. Further, the learners undergo a deep learning and critical thinking process in a manner that is natural to human brain functioning as a parallel processor, as opposed to a robotic machine that operates sequentially at high speed. As studies in neuroscience reveal, when learning takes place deeply, dendrites within the human brain are capable of growing into denser networks giving a physical meaning to our learning. Authentic education unifies different perspectives from multiple disciplinary areas into a useful measure that can be implemented in educational practice. In this way, we visualise education in a deeper sense that is not seen usually in a contemporary society and pave the way for a significant positive social change.

Benefiting From Authentic Education To A Sustainable Social Development - March 2013
Journal of International Education Research, The Clute Institute, Colorado, USA, 9(2), 171–176

Authentic education provides a unique learning experience to individual learners, specifically by addressing their psychological and neurological needs. The assessment of learners is done through generic attributes that have more validity and relates to intrinsic learner characteristics that could last throughout the life span of the learner. Authentic education looks at the general term education more broadly and deeply, and from multiple perspectives. As the individual learners are identified uniquely through authentic education, it embraces diversity within the human species more broadly and meaningfully. Learners are encouraged to pursue higher-order learning sending them through a complete learning cycle; this engages learners deeply to the task and provides a lasting experience, enabling individuals to reach their full potential. Authentic education aims at providing personal development for individuals broadly, not merely a career development, while still paving a better way to map individual preferences to more suitable career paths. Through authentic education, we get to value human resources much more than related economic aspects, making a significant difference to our current approaches and focus; it has the promise to effect a significant positive social change towards a sustainable development. The purpose of this study is to discuss conceptualising authentic education, multiple perspectives, better educational outcomes, learners embracing diversity, higher order learning, individual characteristics to related career paths, holistic personal development, social change valuing human resources, and consistent and predictable social development.

Improving Student Learning through Multidisciplinary Perspectives - December 2012
Journal of Teaching and Education, International Journal of Arts & Sciences, Rhode Island, USA, (5), 261–267

This paper looks at improving student learning mainly focusing on important practices related pedagogy, psychology and neuroscience. The author highlights the need that we, as educators, pay attention to learners’ individual psychological and neurological characteristics when we develop curricular and present them to learners. For example, we may identify whether the preferred learning style for learners is visual spatial or auditory sequential. Similarly, we may identify whether the learners exhibit overexcitabilities, such as emotional, imaginational and intellectual. Differentiation of these psychological and neurological characteristics enable us be inclusive in our practices; for example, we will be able to meet the needs of highly sensitive gifted learners in the mainstream education system, instead of requiring special programs. We cannot expect the presence of idealistic learners possessing extreme visual spatial and auditory sequential skills at the same time. From a pedagogical point of view, we need to stress on higher-order learning by having assessment targeting higher-order learning. One of the important aspects when targeting higher-order learning is the timing aspect; that is how much time we spend on elaborating the most important concepts in the subject area as well as the time allocated for assessment, considering that human brain is a parallel processor, not a sequential operator such as a machine, or robot. Another important aspect when targeting higher-order learning is the fact that we are more focused on generalised concepts that can permeate through many areas rather than more specific concepts restricted to a single area. Such emphasis will naturally motivate learners more to better engage in learning as the concepts learned will be useful to them in a more generic sense, or on a day to day life situations. We also highlight the need of having a balance between theory and practice as a way for improved student learning.
My Conference Publications that Subsequently Lead to Writing Books
Overcoming the Limitations of Current Practices in Education To Make the Way for an Authentic Learning Experience - June 2013
Proceedings of the Canada International Conference on Education (CICE-2013), Toronto, Canada, 328–334

In this paper, we discuss some of the limitations of our common practices as educational practitioners. We may not address the needs of a neurodiverse society. Instead, we may incorrectly assume idealistic individuals to exist. There are some areas related to assessment that we can improve on following some reflections. We may fail to thoroughly understand the concepts of higher-order learning and put them into practice. The time factor in learning processes may not get the significance it deserves leading to sub-optimal environments. The need to address learner motivation levels may get neglected without understanding the serious consequences. We may allow non-educational bodies to dictate terms on our curricular, sacrificing important pedagogical and human principles. The socio-economic conditions may unnecessarily impact learners much more than individual neurological and psychological characteristics. We present these limitations and suggest how an authentic learning experience can be achieved by overcoming them.

Subtle But Important Pedagogical Practices Yielding Authentic Learning Experience - January 2013
Proceedings of the Clute Institute International Academic Conference, Hawaii, USA, 346–351

Authentic learning is conceptualised as an individualised experience learners undergo fulfilling their unique psychological as well as neurological needs. It provides a deep, more lasting experience and ideally assessed through generic attributes that are related to individual learners’ intrinsic characteristics, spanning throughout the life. Question-based lecture delivery, as author identified, is a promising methodology to engage learners in an authentic learning experience. By forming the lecture as a series of questions, it essentially has a dialectic approach to teaching. Further, this methodology provides a good pace for concept delivery allowing learners to engage in constructing meaning. Additionally, it allows aligning teaching to assessment tasks more appropriately, improving the reliability of assessment. Another practice that helps authentic learning, as highlighted in this paper, is only elaborating the most important concepts or material related to a study area, within the limited time available, and thereby, in the assessment as well. This contrasts with the notion that teacher has to mention every single fact in the study area in front of the learners, possibly directing learners to strategic approaches to learning. The time factor in relation to assessment components is also an important issue, as some learners may be disadvantaged if time is not allocated with careful thought. The significance of generalised, or higher-order, learning in an authentic learning framework is presented, as the knowledge gained through this way is likely to last longer in learners’ memory and at the same time, more useful to them in a generic way, or in day-to-day situations. Such practices also inherently motivate learners to engage in a deep learning process. Use of practical work only in support of enhancing understanding of an abstract theory presented, but not otherwise, is also highlighted in promoting authentic learning experience.

Benefits of Authentic Education - January 2013
Proceedings of the Clute Institute International Academic Conference, Maui, Hawaii, USA, 199–203

Authentic education provides a unique learning experience to individual learners, specifically by addressing their psychological and neurological needs; assessment of learners are done through generic attributes that have more validity and relates to intrinsic learner characteristics, lasting throughout the life span. Authentic education looks at the general term education more broadly and deeply, and from multiple perspectives. As the individual learners are identified uniquely through authentic education, it embraces diversity within the human species more broadly and meaningfully. Learners are encouraged to pursue higher-order learning sending them through a complete learning cycle; this engages learners deeply to the task and provides a lasting experience, enabling individuals to reach their full potential. Authentic education aims at providing personal development for individuals broadly, not merely a career development, while still paving a better way to map individual preferences to more suitable career paths. Through authentic education, we get to value human resources much more than related economic aspects, making a significant difference to our current approaches and focus; it has the promise to effect a significant positive social change towards a sustainable development.

My News Paper Articles  at the Initial Stages of My Work on
Education/Educational Neuroscience
Assessment Fostering Creativity and Open-Minded Thinking in Higher Education - May 2006
Daily News newspaper Sri Lanka

The aim of this article is to reflect on the purpose of assessment in higher education based on contemporary pedagogical principles and to discuss means of putting them into practice. As students, in general, focus on the assessment as means of aligning their learning process, it is important that the educators, construct them so that students are able to develop their potentials to the maximum, and face a rapidly changing socio-economic and technological environment with confidence.

Fostering Creative Human Beings 21st Century Challenge - February 2006
Daily News newspaper Sri Lanka

Teaching and assessment should be so structured to guide students to indulge themselves into a deep learning activity as opposed to that of a surface learning or strategic learning activity.
This principle should apply to every student, irrespective of his/her background, gender, culture, ability level etc., so that at the end of the course each student is a better practitioner of deep learning, minimising at the same time any possible involvement in surface learning and the like.
It is important to stress on the fact that the comparison as a better practitioner of deep learning, minimising at the same time any possible involvement in surface learning as a better practitioner of deep learning is made with respect to the state where he/she started the course, rather than with another student.


How is sleep
related to creativity?
My Discussion Leads in Researchgate
Can we learn in a world without disciplinary boundaries?
Our brain seems to receive information from many disciplinary areas in the very same way. We have separated these pieces of information into different disciplines artificially in our minds. Imagine for a while that we don’t have those disciplinary boundaries drawn in our heads, and we deal with all the information reaching our brain purely on its merit. That is, disciplines such as mathematics, biology, economics, sociology, computer science, etc. don’t exist and we receive all types of information with an open mind and equal level of enthusiasm followed by linking them to our existing more integrated knowledge networks. In this setup, our brains become purely generic information processors without letting our perceptions to filter some information out as they do not belong to our area of study or profession. Having a highly receptive brain programmed in this manner appears to be the best way to learn in an integrated, lifelong manner, enhancing our consciousness and wisdom. Thematic and integrated curricula are some relevant notions that are being tried. Interestingly, some parts of the world have gone one step further experimenting more elaborately.  

Can we achieve higher levels of emotional intelligence through metacognitive practices?
It appears that the path to higher levels of emotional intelligence is possible only via metacognitive practices (thinking about thinking, learning about learning, developing self-awareness through self-reflection). That is, well-developed cognitive functions or broader, integrated learning without disciplinary boundaries would help individuals to develop self-awareness and enhance emotional intelligence. In other words, through extensive learning, we develop the essential knowledge required to be empathic, tolerant and resilient. Consequently, emotional intelligence is a phenomenon that can be developed and enhanced over time if an appropriate environment prevails. Especially individuals who demonstrate emotional overexcitability or a higher level of sensitivity should benefit from metacognitive practices to monitor and control their emotions. The bottom line is that extensive learning enhancing cognitive functions of diverse domains appears to be the only route to higher levels of true emotional intelligence.

How does the integration of knowledge lead to the development of the mind or higher levels of consciousness and wisdom?
Our brains receive information/knowledge from diverse domain disciplinary areas. Imagine we make our brains open or receptive to all these pieces of information/knowledge and integrate them create a knowledge network of a unified whole. Having such an integrated knowledge network is the key to the development of mind or enhancing consciousness/wisdom. When diverse pieces of knowledge from diverse disciplinary areas are integrated, it helps us to refine our knowledge network, leaving out the incorrect and unnecessary pieces to form a more consistent and efficient neural network. That is, through the process of integration, we tend to self-validate the pieces of knowledge we store against other pieces we hold and retain only those pieces that are validated and accurate. The process of developing this integrated knowledge network or the mind should start as early as possible in an individual’s life. Consequently, any new learning undertaken should be integrated into the existing knowledge network resoundingly. It contrasts from having separated or isolated knowledge networks, possibly from different disciplinary areas without the process of integration. Leonardo Da Vinci has famously said that “everything is connected to everything else”. Imagine the level of consciousness/wisdom he had or the level of development of his mind!

How do we relate consciousness, wisdom and deep learning?
Enhancing consciousness or wisdom can be used synonymously with deep learning; there is a degree to which one can achieve them depending on elaborative rehearsal one engages in – the higher the time of elaborative rehearsal one engages in, the greater the degree of achievement. Ideally, elaborative rehearsal should be performed utilising information from multiple domains.  The outcome of all of these is to create highly connected neural networks that will enable the learner to recall retained memories readily and spontaneously (or in a creative manner) when the circumstances require and proper priming is available.

Why do we need to focus on generalised/ high-level concepts for creating lasting memories?
Findings from neuroscience reveal that in teaching-learning environments and assessments, we, educators, need essentially to focus on generalised/ high-level concepts to create lasting memories within learners. These generalised/ high-level concepts are stored as semantic memories that are retained longer as opposed to episodic memories (more specific details relating to time and space) that are forgotten easily. This phenomenon also adheres to the higher-order learning highlighted in Bloom’s taxonomy.

How can we evaluate learners appropriately when most of our learning is implicit?
Neuroscientists have revealed that the most of our learning is implicit. In light of this revelation, we as educators have to help learners to make their implicit learning explicit by appropriate instructional strategies. Further, by conducting an assessment with open-ended questions, mainly as recognition tests, learners’ implicit learning can be appropriately evaluated; that is, we are assessing learners’ higher-order thinking/learning.

How can we enhance consciousness (as defined by neuroscientists) in the classroom environment?   
The phenomenon of consciousness being well researched and explained by neuroscientists now, it is the time that we, educators, start applying the related concepts in the classroom, giving serious consideration to them. It will help us to guide our learners to become better problem solvers and decision makers by seeing the reality as is, through enhanced wisdom. Further, learners will be able to recall retained memories spontaneously and readily when day-to-day life circumstances require.

How can we make gifted and sensitive individuals more resilient in facing social vulnerabilities?
Individuals with emotional (and other) overexcitable characteristics or sensitivities appear to possess higher capacities for learning and forming lasting memories. Usually, individuals identified as gifted demonstrate such characteristics and capacities. However, due to these overexcitable and sensitivity characteristics, these individuals are very susceptible to everyday social situations. As means of facing these vulnerable situations more resiliently, gifted and sensitive individuals should be directed to a human development path through extensive learning across multiple disciplines, following metacognitive practices. Such a broad learning and educational experience appear to be the best way to make these individuals more emotionally intelligent, tolerant and resilient to social situations they otherwise do not have control. Even though learning across multiple disciplines is not the norm of contemporary social context, it is likely to provide gifted and sensitive individuals with a meaningful purpose in life so that they can see and understand the reality better and avoid any negative psychological conditions such as existential depression. A critical understanding they need to develop is extensive learning in the above manner may not give them financial wealth necessarily, but it is likely to make them content and empathic personalities with better psychological health and deeper perceivers of reality.   

Will discovery-directed learning lead to independent (lifelong) learning?
Ideal learning appears to take place through learner discovery. Whether it is a facilitator directed or independent learning, learners should be encouraged and directed to play an active role in identifying new relationships or connections among new information/knowledge presented and their existing knowledge bases. To determine or create these new relationships or connections, learners have to be bold and diligent at the same time. They have to be bold to make connections or relationships independently using their own knowledge bases. These relationships or connections are most likely to be hypotheses that can be proved right or wrong as learners get exposed to more evidence or knowledge. That is the reason that learners have to be diligent about the relationships or connections they make. These relationships will have to be reasonable, realistic and should be done with care. When learners are encouraged to identify personalised relationships or connections, they get the joy of creating or constructing knowledge (as in the constructivist theory of learning) and the available freedom to do so. In other words, learners will enjoy the control they have on their learning, resulting in the formation of lasting memories and an effective learning exercise. This discovery directed learning can be contrasted from rote learning exercises in which learners are required to memorise what the facilitator said in its exact form merely. Rote learning activities are likely to demoralise or demotivate learners without having the control on their learning. When discovery directed learning is practised for a prolonged period learners will develop independent learning skills that can be used throughout the lifespan.

What is the Impact of Big Data on scientific method and science education?
In the traditional scientific method, a hypothesis is followed by extensive and tedious experiments that were used for proving the theory. In science education, in fact, we pay more emphasis on the procedural experimental part rather than on the creative task of identifying a reasonable hypothesis. This non-creative focus has notably discouraged learners embarking on science education, especially when better options are available (Example 1, Example 2). In the presence of emerging Big Data concepts and technologies, it appears that the traditional scientific method is challenged (Example 1). Large volumes of diverse data flowing around us, especially in electronic formats, can be integrated and used for the purpose of proving hypotheses rather than relying heavily on experimental methods. In other words, in many cases, we do not have to collect data by conducting experiments as various forms of related data are available in accessible and searchable formats. Think about the validity of a hypothesis if one or two other individuals from some other corners of the world come up with similar hypotheses independent of each other. Consequently, the focus of science education should be shifted to the creative task of identifying useful hypotheses or ideas ahead of conducting experimental procedures, soon to be a thing of the past. It is likely to attract the interest of novelty-seeking human beings on once mundane science education. 

Do we need an ideal reference model for learning and education as the starting point of metacognitive practices?
Metacognition is about thinking about thinking or learning about learning, and it makes up a vital component of learning. Consequently, it is about a self-assessment on thinking or learning. For us to perform this self-assessment, we necessarily need a reference model of learning and education for the purpose of comparison. When we compare our thinking or learning with the ideal reference model, we get to know where we stand and what adjustments are needed for improvement. In effect, the starting point of engaging in metacognitive practices is to have a fundamental understanding of what learning and education are in a deeper and true sense. Ideally, the meaning of learning and education should have a lasting value such as achieving higher levels of human development with enhanced consciousness or wisdom.

Can we extend meditative mindfulness (metacognitive) practices to all types of learning?
In meditative activities, we make our body and mind relaxed and free from stress. That is we make ourselves free from emotionally disturbing thoughts. In mindfulness practices, we try to focus our attention on something we are interested. Consequently, in meditative mindfulness, we make our body and mind relaxed so that we can concentrate on something we are interested in thinking or learning. The stress-free body and mind enable better focus on the matter being learnt or processed. Usually, meditative mindfulness practices are used by some religious practitioners to self-reflect on their body, feelings and mind (or thoughts). Consequently, meditative mindfulness is often used as a metacognitive practice that helps us monitor and control our thinking. It appears that meditative mindfulness and related metacognitive practices can be utilised as essential tools for in-depth and enhanced learning of any content. We make use of highly relaxed body and mind to pay highly focused attention to what we learn. Also, as our body and mind are in a relaxed state, we are more likely to pay attention longer, resulting in enhanced learning in which we identify more relationships among our pieces of knowledge. Further, we can reflect on the learning process itself to develop self-awareness on our merits and demerits.

 Can we Extend the integrated operations of the business process approach to human operations and development?
 
Managing businesses using the business process approach ahead of a functional approach has become a very successful business management method in the recent past. In that, the fundamental difference is that in the business process approach, work across different functional units or departments is integrated for unified operation whereas, in the functional approach, such integration is minimal. Lack of integrated work or synergy among associated functional units is a recipe failure or disaster. A value similar to the integrated operations in business organisations can be achieved in human activities as well. In human activities, we integrate knowledge from diverse domain or disciplinary areas stored as neural networks of knowledge. This phenomenon is referred to as enhancing consciousness by neuroscientists, and in fact, is considered to be the highest point of human development. Through enhanced consciousness, human beings develop the wisdom to become better decision-makers and problem-solvers. Consequently, it is the time that our education systems focus on helping learners to develop integrated knowledge networks across multiple disciplinary areas. We should keep away from pushing individuals on narrow specialisation paths that only create knowledge silos of much less usefulness.

Traditionally, science and technology are hard-science (as opposed to soft-science) disciplines where facts and routine procedures are the norms. We usually have a deep-seated notion that scientific discoveries are a result of extensive, laborious searches scientists perform in a monotonic and routine manner, similar to digging in a gold mine. Contrary to this view, true scientific discoveries are, in fact, human creations. They start with the most important step of creating a hypothesis, which is all about identifying relationships among existing knowledge bases, as that happens in elaborate rehearsal or learning. These hypotheses will then be proved with some laborious procedures so that everyone gets affirmed of the original notion. The problem with contemporary science and technology education, in general, appears to be that we emphasise on how to use an already proven concept routinely as using a recipe. We expect learners to rote-memorise the concept and use it in specific applications we present to them. We neither get to reflect on how the mind or thoughts of the scientist who introduced the concept worked nor how to use the concept in ways unique to individual learners. There is no surprise that the novelty-seeking and creative human brain tends to keep away from such monotonic, machine-like routine work if learners have a choice (Example 1, Example 2). To reinvigorate science and technology disciplines in education, we need a change of focus in the way we teach them. We need to take learners in a process that mimics the thought process of the scientist who presented the concept or notion enabling learners to engage in creative activities. In this way, we approach science and technology in a manner that they are creations of beings with a mind or in the first-person perspective instead of the third-person viewpoint. Further, we need to relate the fundamental concepts in science and technology to as many real life concepts or scenarios as possible to highlight the fact that these concepts are part of our daily life rather than isolated and buried in the particular discipline itself.  

It appears that the path to higher levels of emotional intelligence is possible only via metacognitive practices (thinking about thinking, learning about learning, developing self-awareness through self-reflection). That is, well-developed cognitive functions or broader, integrated learning without disciplinary boundaries would help individuals to develop self-awareness and enhance emotional intelligence. In other words, through extensive learning, we develop the essential knowledge required to be empathic, tolerant and resilient. Consequently, emotional intelligence is a phenomenon that can be developed and enhanced over time if an appropriate environment prevails. Especially individuals who demonstrate emotional overexcitability or a higher level of sensitivity should benefit from metacognitive practices to monitor and control their emotions. The bottom line is that extensive learning enhancing cognitive functions of diverse domains appears to be the only route to higher levels of true emotional intelligence   

Through multidisciplinary integrated learning, we are in with a chance to enhance consciousness or wisdom. When we use metacognitive practices (thinking about thinking, learning about learning or developing self-awareness through self-reflection) along with enhanced learning, we will be en route to higher levels of human development. At higher levels of human development, our well-developed and integrated cognitive networks or functions appear monitor and control our emotions appropriately. As a consequence of our well-monitored and controlled emotions, we seem to use our cognitive resources for highly purposeful activities. The result is a well inter-controlled cognition-emotion interface that makes us better decision-makers and problem-solvers. Highly evolved individuals at higher levels of human development appear to demonstrate well-controlled emotions by means of empathy, tolerance and resilience.

In the recent past, businesses, in general, have recognised the value of large volumes of data (BIG DATA) flowing around us in electronic formats. The key to making them useful is to integrate them in all appropriate ways to create meaningful inferences, especially for getting business insights. However, the concept of integrating diverse pieces of information is not penetrated into human development space as yet. The human brain, in fact, has a much better capacity than some powerful parallel computing systems to integrate all sorts of information reaching it to enable us to take wiser decisions. To develop this ability of enhanced consciousness or wisdom through extensive learning, we need to be open to as many pieces of information as we receive, irrespective of artificial disciplinary boundaries that separate them, and be brave in processing or linking them in numerous ways to create meaningful ideas. We should avoid closing our senses to the information outside our discipline of work or study.  

The term "research" implicitly carries the meaning of creating new ideas or identifying novel relationships among pieces of information or knowledge. Such new ideas or connections one makes can be useful widely in some situations while not in some others. Essentially, the identification of a useful research hypothesis or hunch in a creative manner, based on one’s experience or perceptions, would be the most important component of a research activity. It is more important than carrying out routine procedures, albeit with proper planning and judgement, to validate (or invalidate) the hypothesis or hunch. In higher-order learning, when learners are presented or encountered with new information or knowledge, they essentially connect them to their existing knowledge bases appropriately (this phenomenon is referred to as making sense in education/learning terminology). This process of identifying right existing knowledge bases to connect the newly encountered knowledge is an individualised or idiosyncratic creative process. Different individuals would possess different knowledge bases, and thus, how one makes connections or identify relationships is essentially an individualised process. This is the reason why we say that learning is subjective, as opposed to being objective. Now we can see the relationship between a research activity and higher-order learning. They both require the engagement in creative activities per se. In a research activity, researchers must perceive a useful research hypothesis or hunch, while in higher-order learning, learners will have to identify appropriate connections or relationships among existing and new knowledge.
We may have seen that the term “research” being used in many different contexts. Generally, it carries an implicit meaning of creating something new or some useful new idea. The online dictionary says “diligent and systematic inquiry or investigation into a subject in order to discover or revise facts, theories, applications, etc.” There is an important question we may ask here – on what do we really inquire or investigate? Is it any arbitrary question whether it is of any use or not, merely to carry out a standard research procedure? In science and technology disciplines, it necessarily carries that an initial research hypothesis (or a hunch) is presented, followed by verification through laborious experimental procedures to prove that the hypothesis is either correct or incorrect. In other words, the experimental procedures are usually carried out to collect required data to support the hypothesis negatively or positively. In some instances, the term research is used in a more casual way when an answer to a question is determined through a “research survey” where responses or preferences from individuals are merely collected. In an even more casual circumstance, some use the term “research” for searching on the Internet or Web using a search engine such as Google to find out an answer to a straightforward question. Under these situations, what would be an essential component of a truly research activity per se? It looks like having an initial hunch or an intuitive idea as a hypothesis, perceived through one’s experiences or feelings, is an essential component of a research phenomenon. Then, this hypothesis can be verified (positively or negatively) through the provision of appropriate data (possibly collected by conducting experiments or surveys), either by the individual forming the hypothesis or even someone else. In this era of electronic information/data deluge, some even argue that certain hypothesis can be supported by not necessarily carrying out experiments, but by integrating already existing and accessible electronic forms of data/information. The bottom line, as it appears, is that a creative researcher per se needs to identify or come up with a perceived intuitive hunch or hypothesis as the critical component.   

The term research carries the implicit meaning that a new idea or relationship among knowledge bases is created. The essential component of a research activity appears to be creatively forming an initial hypothesis or hunch, relying on the researcher’s perceptions, intuition and experience. The hypothesis then would be validated (or invalidated) through experimental procedures or integration of available data to complete the research activity fully. In innovation, on the other hand, what appears to happen is that a validated research result or idea is used for a real-life application (to provide a new service or manufacture a new product). In other words, it can be the process of commercialisation of a research idea. Further, the person or the group that engage in the process of innovation should not always include the researcher who put forth the idea or research result. Finally, if the person or the group that involve(s) in the process of innovation sets up his/her/their own enterprise to proceed with the innovation, this phenomenon is referred to as entrepreneurship. When considering these actions, it appears that the tasks of research are more right cerebral hemispheric oriented, creative activities while the phenomena of innovation and entrepreneurship are left cerebral hemispheric engagements requiring sequencing and planning.

In research, especially when perceiving or identifying a hypothesis or hunch, researchers involved will engage in creating new ideas or forming new neural networks of knowledge. For such higher-order creative activities, the right cerebral hemisphere is likely to be involved mainly. The procedures of proving (or disproving) the hypothesis or hunch through experimental activities or otherwise appear to utilise the left cerebral hemispheric abilities such as sequencing/ordering. In the phenomenon of management, it appears that making judgements based on existing knowledge networks including sequencing or ordering information takes place. Further, in many cases, making use of authority, which lacks in emotional/sensitivity representations, seems to be the norm. Consequently, tasks of management rely heavily on the left cerebral hemispheric characteristics that lack in highly creative involvements. However, in a contemporary world, skills of different types or levels of management are highly sought after, mainly to succeed in a business world that focuses on economic developments (as opposed to human development). Finally, the phenomenon of leadership appears to be mainly a task of inspiring others by setting an example. In order to set an example, a leader will essentially have to have creative or novel ideas as in the case of identifying a research hypothesis. But, in addition to perceiving a hypothesis, a leader will have to persist with it courageously, despite opposition and challenges at times, collecting and absorbing more data, until the hunch is proved (or disproved), partially or entirely. The latter part of enduring with one's hunch appears to better handled or managed when features of the left cerebral hemisphere are utilised, in addition to the right cerebral hemispheric once used in creative activities involved in leadership.     
  
 The phenomenon of creativity appears to be associated with identifying novel, possibly very unusual (outside the box), relationships among different neural networks of knowledge held or get introduced while engaging in a relatively open-minded/divergent/inductive thinking process. The outcomes of this creative process can sometimes be highly significant and useful, while on other occasions, they may not be directly or immediately useful. Notably, the highly significant and useful creative outcomes appear to result in from right cerebral hemispheric involvements (the so-called “Big C” creativity – as opposed to “little c” creativity). On the other hand, in critical thinking, it appears a judgement or decision is made taking a number of inputs or dimensions into consideration. The higher the number of inputs or dimensions considered for making the decision or judgement, more critical the results become. For example, if a decision is made considering only economic and technical feasibilities, it is a less critical decision compared to a one taken after taking into account economic, technical and ethical perspectives. Like in a creative thinking process, one must approach with an open mind (in a creative manner) in order to identify all or a higher number of contributing dimensions or inputs towards a making a decision/judgement, following a critical thinking approach. One reason why one would not pursue a critical thinking engagement to a higher level, in a decision-making process, is the lack of awareness of the existence of other dimensions/inputs (possibly through bias or egocentrism) that contribute to the outcome. When a decision is made taking into consideration all or most of the possible inputs or dimensions, it becomes a highly critical, objective or optimal outcome (as opposed to a subjective one). However, the higher the number of dimensions or inputs taken into account, the higher the level of difficulty/time consumption of the decision-making process. Consequently, a critical thinking process appears to rely to some extent on left cerebral hemispheric characteristics of organising contents in order, as well. Further, creative outputs seem to result in more spontaneously while critical thinking activities seem to be more purposeful.

Educationists define wisdom as an enhanced form of creativity that integrates knowledge from diverse or multiple domain areas. As such, for enhancing wisdom, one must be receptive or open to information/knowledge from diverse domains, as an essential requirement. Through enhanced wisdom, individuals can become better decision-makers in day-to-day and professional lives. In a contemporary world, our education and social systems appear to promote and reward learning within the silos of disciplinary boundaries. Expertise in a narrow specialisation or one-sided development is encouraged despite the available neuroscientific facts to reveal that it constrains learning and human development into higher levels. Since many are implicitly directed toward economic gains, they appear to pursue paths of narrow specialisations, ahead of overall wellbeing based on broader lifelong learning. Consequently, those who follow this narrow specialisation path seem to inadvertently close their sensing receptors to information/knowledge from outside the discipline of specialisation, thus limiting one’s opportunity for human development with enhanced wisdom. Being open-minded and receptive to information/knowledge, devoid of egocentrism and bias, appear to put one on a path to developing enhanced wisdom. Further, the phenomenon of wisdom relates very closely to the phenomenon of consciousness (integration of neural networks of knowledge that are differentiated in many brain regions) as defined by neuroscientists. 

What is the Relationship between “Educational Neuroscience” and “Human Development”?
Educational neuroscience is an emerging field that helps in understanding how our brain and related neural structures essentially play the key role in learning and education. Due to the brain associated phenomena of neuroplasticity and synaptogenesis, learning in a deeper sense results in physical changes to the brain structures. Consequently, information/knowledge emerging from educational neuroscience gives learners and teachers/facilitators alike, a direction or guide on how to engage in learning-teaching processes in evidence-based and more meaningful manner. It is as if having an understanding of educational neuroscience is seeing the world with an additional set of eyes to sense an additional perspective. It is about human nature and how humans learn based on the physiological characteristics of the brain. How can we not familiar with these characteristics if we are to learn/teach in a deeper sense? Human development, on the other hand, is about how humans can progress to become individuals with enhanced wisdom (a higher form of creativity) and consciousness. With enhanced wisdom and consciousness, they become better decision-makers in both their day-to-day and professional lives. Human development is an extension to what we usually study in the field of developmental psychology. In the latter, we focus more on basic healthy development in individuals such as during childhood, while in the former, we extend the idea to develop human beings into individuals with enhanced wisdom and consciousness in a lifelong manner (Humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote a book titled “Farther Reaches of Human Nature” to describe human development aspects). Consequently, we see the overlapping area of the two fields educational neuroscience and human development: the human nature or human aspects we take into consideration. How successful can we be in learning-teaching if we disregard this aspect? In essence, educational neuroscience guides us towards achieving human development to species-wide higher levels possible.    




Neuroscience research reveals how mindfulness practices can help (in addition to helping in enhanced learning and wisdom) in managing inflammation and expression of diseases such as asthma, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease (possibly by having an impact on the immunity system).


I just completed reading an excellent book on educational reforms (08/04/2017) - just could not believe that the topic area has evolved so much to a level that makes it possible for direct implementation. It uses neuroscience and human development perspectives as the basis for reforms and discusses attention regulation (AR), emotion regulation (ER), cognitive regulation (CR), creativity, critical thinking, mindfulness and compassionate training practices, self-authorship, the essential need for a change in educational systems and how to manage the dramatic change involved and most importantly how individual learner development leads to peace in the world. A must read for those who are in educational decision-making/policy planning positions.

This is why we need a paradigm change in the way we provide education or program human brains. We need to encourage and enhance creativity/wisdom/consciousness/mindfulness in our learners instead of stifling them, relying on the phenomenon of neuroplasticity. The phenomena of neuroplasticity and synaptogenesis point towards infinite capacities of the human brain; these capacities need to be developed with purposeful and well-directed activities.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-13/artificial-intelligence-coming-sooner-than-you-think-experts-say/8440358

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-13/doctor-suicides-prompt-calls-for-overhaul/8443842
This is an area where we earnestly see the need for mindfulness/compassion training practices in which we develop resiliency (converting stressful situations to something positive) skills of individuals. In some Universities of the world, they have already started such practices, especially for students who follow highly demanding courses such as medicine. It would help us to proactively take measures to stop tragedies like this taking place,
https://lnkd.in/gk3VzW9
https://lnkd.in/gQWkfUH

Antibiotics overuse could result in common illness becoming life threatening
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-17/common-disease-could-be-deadly-in-post-antibiotic-era-expert/8445572
Isn't it timely that we develop our immune systems through natural but purposeful means in order to keep away from diseases? As neuroscience research reveals mindfulness and compassion training practices allow us to overcome stressful conditions and develop resilience. Such practices have proven to improve our overall health and wellbeing.
https://www.centerhealthyminds.org/news/mind-over-matter-mapping-the-two-way-street-of-the-brain-and-immune-system
http://ccare.stanford.edu/education/about-compassion-cultivation-training-cct/benefits/

A very interesting discussion on the value of credentials, the prestige of the institute and University degrees on the whole, especially when the focus is on narrow specialisation! The question is: "how can we reform the education systems for future needs of the world?"
How can we value/rate credentials, University degrees and prestige of the institute, especially when strict specialisation is the focus?


It explains why lifelong learning is important to our wellbeing. In a world of information deluge, we should prepare ourselves to be receptive to diverse information/knowledge reaching us, irrespective of disciplinary boundaries. Such preparation and learning focus will lead us towards enhancing wisdom and human development.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2017-05-03/dementia-and-what-you-can-do-to-cut-your-risk/8490676?section=health

Introversion is not something to be cured of as some understand it; take the positives associated with it. Everyone should develop an understanding into introversion/extroversion so that we can develop sustainable societies through a better, deeper understanding of human nature, oneself and fellow human beings.
http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/nightlife/would-you-consider-yourself-an-introvert/8468718

SEARCH INSIDE YOURSELF!
How true, to bring peace to this world! On many occasions, solutions to some of the most difficult problems are within yourself (especially within leaders if they look inside themselves). Practices such as mindfulness are in the forefront. They pave the way for developing qualities such as emotional intelligence, empathy, self-awareness/metacognition, resilience and wisdom, the fundamental characteristics leading to peace, individually as well as on the whole. If one of the top organisations such as GOOGLE recognised the importance, why shouldn't the others be keen to follow their way to success?
https://siyli.org/about

The interesting relationship between sleep problems/deprivation and mental illnesses/conditions (such as anxiety, depression and schizophrenia) is worth noticing. Once again, we are reminded of the significance of living a balanced life towards overall wellbeing. Especially, those highly sensitive/overexcitable individuals would become susceptible to sleep problems and their consequences. As neuroscience research reveals, mindfulness/metacognitive practices could go a long way in developing more relaxed minds devoid of anxieties/sensitivities leading to a good night's sleep.
https://theconversation.com/why-sleep-could-be-the-key-to-tackling-mental-illness-50102

GOOGLE engineer Meng Tan, the founder of Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI), presenting his roadmap to peace in the world through the development of emotional intelligence. How we achieve that is through mindfulness practices.
https://siyli.org/resources/meng-presents-at-dreamforce

Why is it so important for our overall wellbeing that we have a lifelong purpose (such as lifelong learning/human development) in our lives? Then the whole lifetime can be considered as a strategic project that we manage on our own (as opposed to managing short-term goals). Having a strategic purpose/plan such as lifelong learning would likely to take us away from mental illnesses and conditions such as dementia while maintaining a high level of productivity through the development of consciousness/wisdom and/or human development. Giving emphasis on a lifelong learning target at a very young age would appear to be highly beneficial.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-04/mental-illness-doesnt-discriminate-so-with-athletes-why-do-we/8495444

Do we have any benefits in sadness? 
The famous polish psychologist and psychiatrist Kazimierz Dabrowski observed that even personal tragedies help towards human development to higher levels. We see that if one can overcome significantly sorrowful /challenging conditions/environments he/she becomes more resilient, compassionate and understanding. Further, such experiences appear to make them more creative (as research shows) and better/balanced/optimal decision makers. However, it appears that the real challenge is to survive the period during which the individual undergoes the experiences of sorrowful/negative conditions.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-15/sadness-benefits-why-bad-moods-are-good-for-you/8527974

Book Review On "The Neuroscience of Learning and Development: Enhancing Creativity, Compassion, Critical Thinking, and Peace in Higher Education" by Marilee J. Bresciani Ludvik
https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3N855YV1AY5GU/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1620362848

“the commodity of higher education is not the course-by-course, credit-hour-accumulated degree; rather the commodity of higher education is the human process of learning and development that can be measured through direct evidence gathered in reflective learning portfolios.”
“The Neuroscience of Learning and Development” edited by Marilee J. Bresciani Ludvik highlights the critical perspective of holistic learner development through education, as concisely and impactfully portrayed by the above postulation. These viewpoints were duly affirmed and validated by presenting a wealth of recent neuroscience-based research findings. The phenomenon of “whole-person development" necessarily include enhancement of a number generic learner characteristics or skills such as critical thinking, creativity, attention regulation (AR), emotion regulation (ER), cognitive regulation (CR), self-awareness, metacognitive abilities, flexible-thinking, compassionate attitude, resilience and the like. As implied, developing such generic characteristics in a boundary-spanning manner is of more importance and useful than merely mastering a narrow domain-specific set of skills or knowledge. In short, it is about the overall well-being of the learner at the time as well as into the future that is the most important. In effect, appropriate and well-proven measures or practices are encouraged, both from educational professionals as well as learners, to reduce the anxiety and chronic stress levels of learners that impact negatively on learning, development and overall well-being. There is much overlap in meaning in the phenomena of learning, human development and well-being. Well-being relates to better cognitive functions, flexible thinking, enhanced memory, good sleep and weight balance, good physiological response to immune function, inflammatory processes, heart disease and the like. In other words, the significance of the integrative operation of essentially the cognitive and emotional domains is emphasised. The process of learning/human development is represented as a process of Integrative Inquiry (INIQ) in a deeper sense:

“combine (a) the knowledge gained from research, course learning, and book learning with (b) the wisdom gained from intuition, sensing, and the mindful experiencing of emotions with (c) the ability to embrace the unknown, be curious, and inquire into that we cannot yet see.”

As an insightful comparison, in a contemporary education system, parts (b) and (c) are likely to be the missing or less focused links while some selected parts of (a) are given prime attention. More specifically, evaluating implicit learning undergone while engaging in (a) and (b) would be difficult unless resorting to assessing learning portfolios, journal entries or answers to open-ended questions. After all, the brain is a structurally boundary spanning and highly interconnected organ. It has the dynamic feature of neuroplasticity that enables us to adapt to what we are interested, found useful and paying attention. Such an educational focus contrasts from widely practiced, contemporary systems in which learners are “trained” for a narrow skill set pertaining to a particular domain area, in a segmented manner, as opposed to an integrated manner, as if programming or configuring robots or machines to perform specific, routine tasks, stifling structurally inherent human creativity. If we pay attention only to the problems of our department or the organisation, then we will not be able to see beyond this constrained view in order to understand the real problems in the real world, let alone attempting to find solutions in a creative and compassionate manner. With enhanced AR, ER and CR abilities, we should be able to divert our focus to where it is needed the most.  In “The Neuroscience of Learning and Development”, the authors do justice to the needs of the current world by emphasising on the multidisciplinary perspectives of education. The essential role played by mindfulness and compassionate training practices in the important human development processes involving AR, ER and CR are quite correctly highlighted, irrespective of the area or discipline of study. Compassionate practices decrease the bias and inhuman treatments, resulting in happier and more productive citizens and workforce and better interpersonal relationships. Further, how such human developmental processes play a vital role in leadership training are presented to possibly direct our prospective leaders on the right path to guide our world. What the world needs is that leaders who are comfortable with uncertainty, complexity and unknown nature of problems we are facing as well as we are to face on an ongoing basis into the future. This is the reason why the authors have pinpointed the regulation of attention, emotions and cognition as of prime importance on an individual or grassroots level. Finally, the authors have provided guidance on how to effect a major transformation in the educational forefront as described by effectively and appropriately managing the process of this dramatic change. Yes, it is a complete paradigm change with a focus on the “whole person” development, with the emphasis on inherent human nature, human characteristics and human development. An invaluable feature of the transformed system is that, despite all the positive features, the new system is highly affordable to masses due to the fact that the new measures or practices used, for example, for developing AR, ER and CR, are not complicated to understand or carry out; an urge for a change from top-down is what is needed, and probably what is hard to assimilate.  

Hopefully, we would be able to see many in educational leadership/administration/policy-making positions around the world keen and courageous to embrace the described evidence-based, much-needed transformation to direct our individual societies to sustainability. We, along with the authors, need those responsible to suspend judgement of what we know to be true and prolong a state of inquiry with an open mind, even on matters we refused to pay attention before, to identify what is best for us, as a whole, and for our future generations.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3N855YV1AY5GU/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1620362848   

I completed reading the book "Search Inside Yourself" last week (11/06/2017). What an incredible experience! Few things are simply amazing. The book is about the emotional intelligence/ personal growth/ human development program conducted at one of the tech giants - GOOGLE for many years. Who would expect tech giants are to be serious about emotional intelligence/human development and the like? We would expect them to be a place for a set of nerds to work mostly with machines. Considering this general belief, it is wonderful to see that GOOGLE is giving much-needed leadership to overall or holistic human development aspect. This is lead by the GOOGLE engineer Chade-Meng Tan, who has identified that the path to world peace is developing each individual on a personal growth/human development route. Another wonder is that he has correctly put forth that mindfulness practices as the key to this goal, in an evidence-based manner. I like to see and recommend every adult (possibly teenagers) read this book in order to get guided on the personal growth/human development path.
http://siybook.com/


Book Review on "Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace) by Chade-Meng Tan"
https://www.amazon.com/review/R36F7D8MJUVPUB/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv
It is wonderful to see an engineer working for a tech giant, Chade-Meng Tan, leading the way for world peace through an initiative of the development of emotional intelligence/personal growth/human development. He rightly emphasises on the simple truth of individual development at grassroots is the key to world peace. It is uncustomary for someone working in the technology space to raise awareness on the need to develop emotional intelligence/human development of fellow workers as the path to higher productivity of individuals as well any organisation. Meng succeeds on this endeavours in no uncertain terms, relying on a wealth of research in the areas of neuroscience, mindfulness practices, empathy and compassion. His aim, or more accurately life purpose, is to spread the message he has developed and proven at GOOGLE to rest of the world – what a compassionate attitude!

As an educator/education professional, I see great value in Meng's approach to learners of all levels on their paths to lifelong learning. The presented self-regulation/self-awareness approaches (attention regulation (AR), emotion regulation (ER) and cognition regulation (CR)), revolving mainly on mindfulness practices, are the essential generic skills, irrespective of the domain or discipline of study, for any learner to be in possession for achieving enhanced learning/wisdom/consciousness. Also, with such practices, learners become resilient to adverse situations, which are unavoidable in many social environments, building empathic and compassionate attitudes. Investing time to develop resiliency through well-proven mind-training practices, despite our busy schedules, is analogously paying an insurance premium to cover for the unexpected or to safeguard us when the reality bites, destroying stereotyped expectations in an uncertain, ever-changing world. Further, developed skills in AR, ER and CR lead to enhanced creativity, critical thinking, interpersonal relationships, intrapersonal intelligence, and as a result, enhanced productivity at the workplace and community engagements.


Meng has successfully communicated an empowering message – “what we think, we become” based on the all-important concept of neuroplasticity; our abilities to learn or the capacities to regulate or cognitive and emotional activities are not fixed by genetics, but can be changed by the environmental factors. We no longer should argue about the "Nature vs. Nurture" debate as deterministically validating research has emerged. As Meng highlighted, the skill of mindfulness can be practised and enhanced to a level that one becomes conscious or aware of every time unit lived in a non-judgemental (relaxed and calm) way. It is the time when individuals learn implicitly/incidentally, the most common form of human learning (make no mistake or doubt – it is not the classroom learning), to create lasting memories that are widely used in a generic sense and situations. Further, mindfulness practices enable learners to develop in a “whole person” manner, integrating many operations of the brain including cognitive and emotional ones along with other neural networks of knowledge. Mindful integration of knowledge networks (in a non-judgemental (open-minded), relaxed and calm manner) is likely to make individuals receptive to all types of information/knowledge received without getting psychologically constrained by domain boundaries (or learn in an interdisciplinary manner), enabling them to see the reality as it is in an integrated and deeper manner. Having such a higher level of consciousness is referred to as possessing a healthy mind or, in Abraham Maslow’s words, a self-actualised mind; Kazimierz Dabrowski referred to it as reaching the highest human development levels - level five.


Meng has shown us the path to inner peace in individuals at grassroots in an evidence-based manner, which in turn should radiate as world peace in due course. The starting point of this journey is developing a self-awareness by "Search Inside Yourself", to understand one's strengths/weaknesses, likes/dislikes, the purpose of life and the like. This commendable work gives much-needed guidance to education policy-makers and other professionals in the same industry to take right decisions in educational reforms for the benefit and sustainability of our future generations. Highly recommended and a must read for every adult!

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-19/vincent-shin-australias-first-school-lawyer-on-family-violence/8613932
Some important lessons to be learned! How many of individuals in similar situations survive to be positively contributing social members? How many will be sieved out of the system? Can human potential be portrayed accurately in an examination or under time-limited examination conditions?

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-19/why-youre-about-to-pay-through-the-nose-for-power/8629090
Why is it so important that our leaders take decisions leading to sustainability! How can a decision that appears so convincing, albeit narrowly, becomes a disaster at another time? How can we improve our decision-making capacities? How can we be mindful in our decision-making using creativity and critical thinking to avoid pursuing vested interests?

How do we recognise exemplary (compassionate) human attitude and behaviour? Once becomes conscious of limitations/adversities within our environment, take action to overcome them and for common good within one's capacities.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-22/meet-the-doctor-hitting-big-tobacco-where-it-hurts-investors/8638328

How can we define mind? How can we develop healthy minds? What is the significance of the integrated operation of the brain towards developing healthy and high-performing minds?
An interesting development at GOOGLE. It has a program called GOOGLE Talks on Emotional Intelligence/Healthy Minds/Empathy/Compassion/Personal Growth/Optimal Performance/Productivity etc. (The tech giant invites leading researchers in related areas to talk to their employees to direct them to personal growth leading to productivity) 
Daniel Siegel on "Mindsight - The New Science of Personal Transformation"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gr4Od7kqDT8

Why we need to manage emotions (both positive and negative ones) optimally at the workplace and how we can do it. The role of prefrontal cortex (PFC) in the integrated operation of the brain
An interesting development at GOOGLE. It has a program called GOOGLE Talks on Emotional Intelligence/Healthy Minds/Empathy/Compassion/Personal Growth/Optimal Performance/Productivity etc. (The tech giant invites leading researchers in related areas to talk to their employees to direct them to personal growth leading to productivity) 
David Rock on "Your Brain at Work"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeJSXfXep4M

( Why does EQ value more than IQ (which is valued only at a threshold level)? Why do graduate study entry scores (such as GRE scores) only measure success in the first year of graduate school, but not career/life success (This appears to be true for almost all other academic examination barriers - getting through the barrier only means an entry to the next level, but not candidate's potential in life or career)? Why high internal standards and motivation to continuously work towards them are more important in career/life success more than anything else?)
An interesting development at GOOGLE. It has a program called GOOGLE Talks on Emotional Intelligence/Healthy Minds/Empathy/Compassion/Personal Growth/Optimal Performance/Productivity etc. (The tech giant invites leading researchers in related areas to talk to their employees to direct them to personal growth leading to productivity)  
Daniel Goleman on Emotional Intelligence:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hoo_dIOP8k

Why does empathy play a significant role in human species evolution and survival? Since empathic processes involve modeling and projecting other persons' perspectives, they appear to be highly creative processes. Can we infer that creative individuals are more empathic and vice versa? Further, the neuroscientific definition of empathy explains why it is an essential trait of anyone in a leadership role. Otherwise, those leaders will be very ineffective in their roles. What is the neuroscientific difference between normal human beings and sociopaths/psychopaths?
An interesting development at GOOGLE. It has a program called GOOGLE Talks on Emotional Intelligence/Healthy Minds/Empathy/Compassion/Personal Growth/Optimal Performance/Productivity etc. (The tech giant invites leading researchers in related areas to talk to their employees to direct them to personal growth leading to productivity) 

Thomas Lewis on "The Neuroscience of Empathy"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-T2GsG0l1E

 How can we find the relationships between clinical psychological/psychotherapeutic practices and traditional mindfulness practices so that both fields can grow and extend in their perspectives? How would mindfulness practices help in achieving attention, emotion and cognitive regulation? How would self-concept (especially experiential fluid version as opposed to analytic fixed version) and language help in the cognitive control of emotions? 
An interesting development at GOOGLE. It has a program called GOOGLE Talks on Emotional Intelligence/Healthy Minds/Empathy/Compassion/Personal Growth/Optimal Performance/Productivity etc. (The tech giant invites leading researchers in related areas to talk to their employees to direct them to personal growth leading to productivity)  

Philippe Goldin on "Cognitive Neuroscience of Mindfulness Meditation"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf6Q0G1iHBI

Neuroscientific explanations of emotions related concepts such as emotional awareness, self-awareness, self-regulation, psychological flexibility and well-being, motivation, mindfulness, empathy, compassion, cognitive reappraisal and the like. Further, why neuroscientists and researchers are very keen on studying empathy and compassion (empathy + desire to act on it) as significant phenomena for human species survival
An interesting development at GOOGLE. It has a program called GOOGLE Talks on Emotional Intelligence/Healthy Minds/Empathy/Compassion/Personal Growth/Optimal Performance/Productivity etc. (The tech giant invites leading researchers in related areas to talk to their employees to direct them to personal growth leading to productivity) 

Philippe Goldin on "Neuroscience of Emotions"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tShDYA3NFVs

(Mindfulness as raising awareness on the present moment non-judgmentally. It is about paying full attention(firing all cylinders) on an object in one's working memory. Since you do it non-judgementally, without an urgency to rush through (that is very much time insensitive manner), your mind is calm and relaxed (all senses, thoughts, emotions/feelings, actions/behaviours etc. are in harmony/synchrony), possibly helping to form new neural networks of knowledge, forming as many connections as possible in a coherent, meaningful manner. That is, one is able to identify new relationships with a flexible/open mind (being creative and insightful without being hampered by stereotypes) among pieces of knowledge held in working memory. Consequently, it should help creating lasting (long-term) memories. Further, a characterising ability of mindfulness practices is the development of self-awareness or self-knowledge. With this self-knowledge, one not only understands oneself better but also, using it as a reference, he/she tends to understand others better (possible more empathically).)

An interesting development at GOOGLE. It has a program called GOOGLE Talks on Emotional Intelligence/Healthy Minds/Empathy/Compassion/Personal Growth/Optimal Performance/Productivity etc. (The tech giant invites leading researchers in related areas to talk to their employees to direct them to personal growth leading to productivity) 

Jon Kabat-Zinn (Professor of Medicine who introduced mindfulness practices to mainstream medicine) on "Mindfulness Meditation"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nwwKbM_vJc

Ice addiction treatment demand surging, but alcohol still Australia's biggest problem
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-28/surge-in-treatment-for-drug-ice-australia/8657212
Isn't this a concerning trend that shouldn't be neglected? Are we heading away from social sustainability?

"Afraid to Have Children": Climate scientists reveal their fears for the future (This could only be one concern for to be parents!)
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-27/climate-scientists-speak-of-their-worst-fears/8631368

In mindfulness practices, one pays attention to the present moment (or on the object held in working memory) fully and non-judgementally. The practitioner's mind is in a state of calmness and relaxation or senses, thoughts, emotions/feelings, actions/behaviours, etc. are in harmony/synchrony. There is no urgency to rush through the mindfulness state or process (that is the practitioner is mostly insensitive to time/time domain). Such a blissful moment of being with a fully open/flexible mind is the ideal environment to generate/create new ideas/insights connecting as many neural networks of knowledge as possible spontaneously in a meaningful and coherent manner. In other words, when truly new ideas or insights spring into one’s mind spontaneously, he/she is essentially in the state of mindfulness. Possibly the phenomenon of wisdom is the function of incorporating the notions of empathy, compassion, ethicality and the like essentially into one's creative ideas or insights, giving them a wider social applicability and approval. That is, compared to creativity, wisdom has a multidisciplinary perspective crossing domain boundaries.

Mindfulness in legal practice - is it possible and is it necessary?. The need of mindful political leaders with empathy and wisdom to meet contemporary challenges. Are our societies suffering from empathy deficits (similar to budget deficits)? Is empathy a naive luxury?
An interesting development at GOOGLE. It has a program called GOOGLE Talks on Emotional Intelligence/Healthy Minds/Empathy/Compassion/Personal Growth/Optimal Performance/Productivity etc. (The tech giant invites leading researchers in related areas to talk to their employees to direct them to personal growth leading to productivity) 

Charlie Halpern on "Practicing Wisdom in the Obama Era"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39MA0j512n4

The link between contemplative practices and science. How can empathy be trained and what are the benefits? Better capacities of immunity/healing for practitioners of empathy - realisation of true human features!)
An interesting development at GOOGLE. It has a program called GOOGLE Talks on Emotional Intelligence/Healthy Minds/Empathy/Compassion/Personal Growth/Optimal Performance/Productivity etc. (The tech giant invites leading researchers in related areas to talk to their employees to direct them to personal growth leading to productivity) 

Richie Davidson on "Transform Your Mind, Change Your Brain"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tRdDqXgsJ0

How is the term "flow" defined (as in positive psychology) in contrast to boredom and stressful conditions? It is a state in which thinker/learners engrossed in the matter at hand even losing track of time and space. Why is this ability to get to this state important for excellence in terms of creativity, productivity, wisdom and the like? Further, it appears that it is an individually identified characteristic in which one needs to recognise one's state of flow on his/her own, ideally.
An interesting development at GOOGLE. It has a program called GOOGLE Talks on Emotional Intelligence/Healthy Minds/Empathy/Compassion/Personal Growth/Optimal Performance/Productivity etc. (The tech giant invites leading researchers in related areas to talk to their employees to direct them to personal growth leading to productivity) 
Daniel Goleman on "Focus: the Hidden Driver of Excellence"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9yRmpcXKjY

UBI (Universal Basic Income) should provide for basic needs of individuals. It would help us to move away from the jungle theory of survival of the fittest. and give a more human face to our operations. Consequently, individuals should be able to engage in more creative activities (even though not very lucrative), balancing life and work more efficiently to enhance overall wellbeing.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-04/universal-basic-income-money-for-nothing/8676834

Why is it important to have a purpose in life? How do mindfulness practices help in this regard?
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=205228&ecd=mnl_day_071017

It is essential that we emphasise on lifelong learning per se and mindfulness practices to avoid these consequences of dementia.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-11/brutal-dementia-statistics-show-australia-has-a-time-bomb/8696328

The relationships among happiness, inner conditions, outer conditions, mindfulness practices, neuroscience, wisdom, compassion (as the opposite of self-centeredness), loving kindness, well-being, Gamma waves in the brain and the like.
An interesting development at GOOGLE. It has a program called GOOGLE Talks on Emotional Intelligence/Healthy Minds/Empathy/Compassion/Personal Growth/Optimal Performance/Productivity etc. (The tech giant invites leading researchers in related areas to talk to their employees to direct them to personal growth leading to productivity) 
Matthieu Ricard (regarded as the happiest man in the world) on Change your Mind Change your Brain: The Inner Conditions for Authentic Happiness
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_30JzRGDHI

The relationship among Gamma brain waves (at higher frequencies between 25-100 MHz), peak concentration, high cognitive function, compassion, memory, learning, incredible information processing and retrieval capacity, self-control, happiness, calmness, meditation and the like.
http://www.omharmonics.com/blog/gamma-brain-waves/

The relationships among Gamma brain waves (which can go even to levels of 250Hz compared to an average of 10-30Hz), meditation and inspirations/creativity/consciousness/wisdom.)
http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1975608-gamma-waves-and-inspiration-how-is-your-brain-vibrating/

Gamma brain waves and its relationship to empathy and compassion. At high Gamma levels above 40Hz, it appears that we are able to synchronise (or harmonise or in harmony) our brain operations leading to a high level of consciousness. In contrast, at high beta levels such as in the range of 20-35Hz (as typically found in daily lives), the brain operations are not synchronous (not in harmony) leading to high stress/anxiety levels.
https://brain-trainer.com/blog/gamma/

An interesting trend analysis in housing affordability in the country that holds the world record for the highest number of quarters without an economic recession! It good and appropriate to see mainstream media openly discussing permanent renting options in Australia similar to many other advanced economies.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-17/home-ownership-in-australia-declines-for-decades/8677190

The significance of paying constant attention (i.e being mindful) to what one wants or having a clear purpose in life (reminding us constantly where we are heading). This mindfulness can be contrasted with being robotic or switching the autopilot on to get our routine tasks completed. When we are mindful of what we do, our neural networks strengthen and grow, enabling us to learn and develop wisdom.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2017-07-19/change-your-mindset-to-change-your-life/8719546

Book Review on "Mindsight: Transform Your Brain with the New Science of Kindness by Daniel Siegel"
In “Mindsight: Transform Your Brain with the New Science of Kindness”, the author Daniel Siegel, a Harvard educated clinical Professor of Psychiatry, emphasises the need to integrate cognitive and emotional functions across various part of the brain along with memory types such as implicit and explicit in order to develop healthy minds with a MINDSIGHT or with higher levels of consciousness/wisdom/human development. Without such processes of integration that are well supported by the latest neuroscientific research, individuals tend to develop negative psychological conditions, become sick or would not develop to their full potential. The key neuroscientific concepts behind the above integrative processes are neuroplasticity and epigenetics that allow us to train our minds based on appropriate environmental stimuli. Professor Siegel has given some classic examples (using real counselling cases) of how mindfulness practices can be used to develop healthier minds through the processes of integration mentioned above. He has always used these therapeutic mindfulness practices as more lasting remedies ahead of alternative approaches such as prescribed drugs that usually suppress symptoms while on medication (along with any negative side-effects). The therapeutic practices he used were essentially based on developing critical characteristics of self-awareness and self-regulation. When these skills are practised and developed, individuals become more empathic and compassionate by extending integrative processes from individual to collective lives leading to harmonious and sustainable societies, following the concepts of interpersonal neurobiology.
As an educator, I am fascinated to realise the ways we can apply the integrative human development concepts highlighted by Professor Siegel to generic teaching-learning environments/classrooms to enable individuals to achieve enhanced learning, creativity and wisdom. By emphasising on these mind integration practices, we as educators can focus on the much needed “whole person” or “holistic” development of learners. Linking any new concepts or contents introduced to as many autobiographical memories of the learners and transforming their implicit memories to explicit ones using an appropriate pace following mindfulness concepts would be some critical pedagogical practices we have to engage. Similarly, we should use open-ended questions as well as reflective journaling practices for mindfully retrieving learners’ idiosyncratic and creative ideas for assessing them for their learning as well as in holistic human development. Such assessment would yield more accurate and lasting evaluations of the level “whole person development”, which can be used as a metric for further developments along the same lines, leading to individual productivity, resilience and happiness in general. Interestingly and encouragingly, Professor Siegel has put forth how narrowly focused education systems (focusing on a disintegrated narrower set of skills) existed at the time he was a student have started to improve with a realisation to value broader “whole person” development approaches. The book on "Mindsight", by Professor Siegel gives some highly useful insights and guidance to educational professionals including policy-makers to direct our pedagogical practices and education systems towards more evidence-based and much-needed learner transformation practices and systems. Such changes will help us to develop more harmonious and sustainable societies.
https://www.amazon.com/review/R88Q31N50JNFD/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv

The need to pay the right attention to children (and adults as well) with INTENSITIES such as emotional, intellectual and imaginational as described by the famous psychologist and psychiatrist.
http://sengifted.org/tips-for-parents-of-intense-children/?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3Brj4PVU0WQ3ulHQ%2Fh24Kz5w%3D%3D

The importance of parent-child attunement for the healthy development of the child. This appears to play a vital role in an individual's social intelligence development demonstrated later in the life. The well-known psychiatrist Daniel Siegel refers to this healthy relationship between two individuals as resonance that helps to develop the relevant neural circuits in the frontal lobes.
http://sengifted.org/directors-corner-building-relationships-with-your-child-learning-to-laugh-together/?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BgulTQmOiQ3qRCZXTocLF0A%3D%3D

Why do we need sleep - a minimum of 7-9 hours a day? The well-known professor of Psychiatry, Daniel Siegel explains.
https://www.businessinsider.com.au/smartphone-impact-brain-body-sleep-2015-2?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3Brj4PVU0WQ3ulHQ%2Fh24Kz5w%3D%3D&r=US&IR=T

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-02/governments-focus-on-methamphetamine-misplaced,-ama-says/8767664
Some interesting statistics on alcohol abuse and a comparison with drug abuse! Is alcohol reliance related to the novelty-seeking feature of the human brain? Can the novelty-seeking desires of the brain be satiated with an exposure and encouragement to lifelong/continuous new learning? Should we be able to address these issues with a focus on human development aspects in our education systems at all levels?

It is very encouraging to see Wall Street Journal (WSJ) promoting COMPASSION as a means of positive interpersonal relationships.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/find-compassion-for-difficult-people-1501519713?mod=e2tw

http://www.abc.net.au/news/programs/the-business/2017-08-04/where-the-money-laundering-buck-stops,-the-cba/8776682
Interestingly the same old wisdom - everything is related everything else or simply the connectedness of this universe. Senior management decisions on mere profit increases devoid of holistic views/sustainable development to the use of high tech for automation to turning a blind eye to regulatory body advice/warning to creating money laundering opportunities to creating avenues for funding terrorism to inflicting employee redundancies/layouts to pursue ever-increasing profits despite economic downturns. Where are the solutions for these so entangled problems? Shouldn't our education systems provide a starting point for possible solutions at the grassroots? Shouldn't our education systems take initiatives to promote "whole person" development instead of a single-sided, narrow focus? With a "whole person" development approach, we would be in with a chance to produce leaders with broader visions leading to social sustainability.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-09/walking-for-exercise-is-it-enough-the-conversation/8789758
How walking 30 minutes a day (even in 3 blocks of 10 minutes) for 5 days over a week at a moderate intensity (as opposed to vigorous intensity) can bring significant health/well-being benefits?

http://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2017-08-08/the-most-important-thing-your-doctor-should-do-is-talk-to-you/8770238
Why should empathy/ empathic communication be an essential trait for medical practitioners? Why should it an essential be part of medical education?

http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=205886&ecd=mnl_day_080817
Loneliness Epidemic: shouldn't practices of empathy, compassion training, emotional intelligence awareness and mindfulness practices that make social connections provide solutions to these problems?

http://www.abc.net.au/news/programs/the-business/2017-08-08/the-commonwealths-top-execs-hit-with-a-pay-cut/8787410
Interesting discussions and views on bank money laundering allegations! It is very interesting to wait and see where all these will end.

Less sleep and loss of productivity - can we quantify?. Is sleeping less caused by some unavoidable life matters or is it a choice? Is surviving on less sleep something to brag about? Is there a trend developing over the years about the level of sleep in general?
http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/drive/sleep-deprivation-costing-billions/8786108

Book Review on "Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life" by Jon Kabat-Zinn (One who introduced mindfulness practices to mainstream medicine in the USA).

https://www.amazon.com/review/RHDBS3S3G6UZL/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv
In “Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life”, the author Jon Kabat-Zinn highlights the message that the practices of mindfulness are not restricted to particular times at some locations, but it can be followed in anything one does anywhere. Further, he emphasises the fact that the mindfulness practices are not rigidly associated with a particular group or religion, rather it is a way of being that any individual can benefit immensely. The essence of mindfulness practices is the notion of getting one’s attention voluntarily on what he/she does in the present moment, non-judgementally. In other words, simply it is about not performing a task with the autopilot on, following the notion of automaticity – instead, it is about getting all the brain resources focused on it in a non-judgemental way. When we pay non-judgemental attention to a task or matter, we tend to see it more openly, in an unbiased manner or we become more receptive to the information per se that reaches us.  Such an open reception of information will help us to see the reality as is, instead of through coloured glass, as is the usual case in many situations. Just imagine the strength of the idea of possessing a mind trained with appropriate mindfulness practices with the acquired skills to see or sense everything one does anywhere, anytime clearly and vividly as is, as highlighted by the author, Jon Kabat-Zinn. In fact, Jon was an emeritus Professor of Medicine who himself had been practising mindfulness meditation since the age of twenty-two before introducing mindfulness practices to the mainstream medicine in the USA through programs such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

As an educator, I see a great value for any learner in following mindfulness practices that enable achieving enhanced learning constantly. Neuroscience research has revealed that most of our learning is implicit and it does not necessarily take place in a formal learning environment or classroom. In regard to this revelation, imagine the extent to which a learner can benefit, or can engage in learning per se if he/she can maintain a state of mindfulness constantly by paying voluntary attention non-judgementally in everything encountered and anywhere. In a universe of information that we cannot avoid as the transmission is enabled by various technologies and media cost-effectively, the best way to respond is to be receptive non-judgementally by keeping all our sense open rather than getting overwhelmed by it and closing our receptive sensors. We should also not disregard our internal body signals that help us develop a self-awareness by identifying and reflecting on our feelings, emotions and thoughts and the like in making our all-important decisions and in enhancing our well-being. Researchers have identified that such an awareness that can be developed through mindfulness practices is of prime importance in developing individuals with healthy minds or in achieving higher levels of human development. When we progress to higher levels in human development, we necessarily involve in an integration process of both external information as well as internal body signals that enable a "whole person" development learning path leading to wisdom. Further, we as learners/individuals become better-skilled in essential human functions such as attention regulation (AC), emotional regulation (ER) and cognitive regulation (CR) so that we develop the capacities required to be more effective, empathic, compassionate, resilient and productive social members. These members are better equipped and more capable of identifying and proper addressing of so called wicked problems. 

Finally, the author Jon Kabat-Zinn, who himself has been a practitioner of mindfulness for over forty years, put the readers on a path to developing wisdom. The benefits of mindfulness practices have a radiant effect on many facets of life – in enhancing learning, healthcare, self-awareness, emotional and social intelligence, interpersonal relationships, parenting, decision-making and in short overall well-being and productive human operations.

Is wage stagnation caused by threats from automation, temporary work visas or student workers (who don't have a say on their pay) either alone or in combination? Have employers become more powerful (in comparison to unions) and exploiting the prevailing labour market dynamics to earn higher profits? How will this trend impact on measures such as productivity, overall economic growth and social sustainability?
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-16/structural-problems-are-allowing-employers-to-hide/8814302?section=business

https://www.amazon.com/review/R2TR7PPQALFSFH/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv

In “Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distractions, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long - Know Your Brain, Transform Your Performance”, the author David Rock highlights the important fact that when we develop an understanding of how our brain works, we can significantly improve our daily functioning as human beings in general. Irrespective of the roles we play as employees, managers, leaders, learners or parents, by developing a self-awareness or mindfulness into how our brain functions, we can enhance our performance or productivity by being able to pay better attention, regulate emotions and control cognitive activities optimally. The phenomenon of mindfulness/self-awareness/metacognition is aptly emphasised by representing it as the “director” in the human life of stage drama. A skilful director (one who has developed mindfulness to a higher degree) is able to utilise the limited capacity stage (working memory) with greater efficiency by appropriately getting actors (information such as emotions/feelings, thoughts etc.) onto the stage optimally as and when required.

The significant findings of the human conditions required for insights/creativity/wisdom are illustrated comprehensively with the analogy of stage drama of life. Essentially, a relaxed and happy mind with an appropriate level of arousal is required to get the attention focussed. Under these conditions, we make many parts of our brain (including the right cerebral hemisphere that play a leading role in creativity) to operate in synchrony at higher frequency levels (gamma range), integrating many forms of information and signals such as thoughts, memories, emotions/feelings senses and the like. These pieces of information and signals are represented in the brain, in fact, as neuronal networks that self-organise based on the learning and experience the individual undergo, following the important notions of neuroplasticity and epigenetics. To minimise higher levels of arousal such as anger, fear and sadness so that an optimal brain operation is accommodated, the author, Rock, has demonstrated the use of mental techniques that include emotion labelling, situation reappraisal and managing expectations realistically (a principle that closely relates to the notion of equanimity).

Another key area that is emphasised in the book is the notion that the human brain is a social animal. In fact, researchers have understood that the social world or having healthy social connections is a primary human need like food and shelter. The presence of physical brain structures such as mirror neurones that help human beings to empathise or understand the minds of other human beings validate the premise of human beings essentially as social animals. Further, the author, Rock, has highlighted the SCARF (Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness) model as a guide (ideally for leaders/managers/counsellors/parents etc.) for making human operations or performance optimal or positive in a social world. They are primary features that human brains are implicitly yearning towards for and any threats causing a movement away from them (within an organisation or group) would result in significantly reduced human performance.

“Your Brain at Work” has also provided some useful guidance for successfully implementing a social/individual change/transformation, however small it is, based on the fundamentals of brain science. The brain is an organ that naturally attempts to minimise threats (fear anxiety, anger etc.) while maximising rewards (relaxation, happiness etc.). It has the inherent capacity to change (physically as well), as highlighted in the notion of neuroplasticity, under conducive conditions and environments. Consequently, following the SCARF model, any social/individual change/transformation should not move members away from (or at least minimise such a move to the lowest level) the features of Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. Any action that makes a move away from them would result in ineffectiveness in the change/transformation process. As highlighted by Rock very aptly, the status and relatedness features in the SCARF model can compete with each other in an organisation/team environment (as status is usually a measure that compares individuals and it does not help healthy relationships). Consequently, in an ideal or healthier situation, comparison of an individual should be made to a previous status of him/her instead of against another individual. Further, the motivation for a change should be more appropriately enhanced through intrinsic (or more lasting) rewards than that of a “carrot and stick” or extrinsic type.

Finally, as an educator, I believe that “Your Brain at Work” offers many insights that educators can make use of in teaching-learning environments. They can be used to enhance learning and motivation in individuals to progress towards higher levels of human developments with capacities of mindfulness and wisdom.

Why do governments and independent economists/reviewers always interpret the same data/results/pictures in contrasting ways? Is this what we call "political" viewpoint/decision-making? Who does the general public trust more?
http://www.abc.net.au/news/programs/the-business/2017-09-06/the-shopping-trolley-pushing-up-economic-growth/8879826

"Permanent housing cheaper for governments" - yes they would most likely save from many other long-term expenses such as mental health related issues, hospital bills, justice system related issues, prisons, lost productivity etc. etc. (the list will go on).
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-12/homelessness-conference-melbourne-hears-finland-solution/8891920

"In my current experience and view, the biggest “social issue of the gifted” is the painful misfit between implicit beliefs about giftedness by the non-gifted and the gifted alike and the actual or perceived reality of very many gifted adults."
How can we make individuals believe in their capacities so that they can rely on them towards reaching higher levels of human development?
http://sengifted.org/how-to-charm-gifted-adults-into-admitting-giftedness-their-own-and-somebody-elses/?
lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BBmYl7KrBTwW12pYX%2BlKWPA%3D%3D

"The achievement orientation that has always existed for adults and is now taking over the field of gifted education, makes it difficult for the gifted to understand the qualities of mind that make them different. Such an understanding is essential to honoring the self."
"The first act of honoring the self is the assertion of consciousness: the choice to think, to be aware, to send the searchlight of consciousness outward toward the world and inward toward our own being. To default on this effort is to default on the self at the most basic level. To honor the self is to be willing to think independently, to live by our own mind, and to have the courage of our own perceptions and judgments (Brandon, 1983)."
How we support individuals/learners in enhancing consciousness/mindfulness is the key to their healthy progress towards higher levels human development.
http://sengifted.org/discovering-the-gifted-ex-child/?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BBmYl7KrBTwW12pYX%2BlKWPA%3D%3D

A Book Review on " Mindfulness: a practical guide to FINDING PEACE IN A FRANTIC WORLD by Mark Williams and Danny Penman"
https://www.amazon.com/review/R1I4ZLFBK4O72N/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv

In “Mindfulness: a practical guide to FINDING PEACE IN A FRANTIC WORLD” by Mark Williams(an Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford University and a co-founder of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy - MBCT) and Danny Penman put forth the important message of the role played by inward-looking capacities developed through mindfulness practices towards finding peace within a world of unavoidable chaos. In other words, it is better that we actively look for developing appropriate conditions internally or attempt to develop a self-awareness, instead of waiting (sometimes forever) for solutions to appear magically and externally from a frantic world. Consequently, mindfulness is a practice that empowers individuals to take control of their lives and be content and happy with an enhanced perception of reality so long as the basic needs such as food and shelter are satisfied.

One interesting notion the authors highlight in the book is the “habit release” mindfulness practice. In the words (given in the foreword) of Jon Kabat-Zinn (a pioneer in the area of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction – MBSR), it is:
"I particularly like the simple yet radical habit-breaking suggestions, what they call ‘habit releasers,' that they offer, which are meant to reveal and break open some of our most unaware life patterns of thought and behaviour, patterns that unbeknownst to us, tend to imprison us in a smallness that is definitely not the full story of who we are."

By engaging in the mindful practice of “habit release”, we switch-off the “auto-pilot” whenever it is appropriate and shift from a “Doing” mode to “Being” mode. In a frantic world, we get entangled in a “Doing” mode, trying to squeeze in as many “robotic” procedures as possible into our daily routines. We simply work like machines performing routine tasks repetitively with no time spent on reflections to see, or more correctly, to perceive what we are doing in a more detailed and creative way with wisdom/insights while being in a "Being" mode. Most importantly, the key to our health and well-being, reducing symptoms such as stress, anxiety, depression and similar negative psychological conditions is the increase of time in a “Being” mode while minimising the time in a  “Doing” mode.

Another significant mindfulness practice that is highlighted in the book is the development of an approach/acceptance-oriented mental state as opposed to an avoidance-oriented one even in the presence of unavoidable realities of life yielding negative emotions. That is we befriend with such emotions like sadness and frustration with a loving kind/compassionate attitude towards us as well as towards the rest of the world. Clearly, this is not passive acceptance of or resignation to the adverse conditions in a spineless manner. Instead, it is the practice of equanimity through which we get to see and understand the realities of life better, possibly through the secretion of mood-control body chemicals such serotonin at appropriate levels. Through this clear vision and perceptions, we, in fact, get to the point that we can seek real solutions to the problems/conditions that caused the adverse situation. Further, we may get to see that these real solutions may not be present immediately; we may have to persevere for weeks, months or even years at times to find and apply them in a lasting manner.
 
Authors also aptly highlight that mindfulness practices help us to avoid the rigid and inaccurate decision-making following a process of over-generalisation. When we are not appropriately mindful, possibly due to being entangled in a "Doing" mode, we tend to jump to inaccurate decisions or conclusions without having access to an adequate amount of information related to the matter. Consequently, it stops us from perceiving the realities better resulting in negative conditions such as stress, anxiety, sadness and frustration.  Worsening the situation further, we may continue to rigidly believe in what we understood as real without adequate information and without being reflective or open-minded.

As educators, we have many lessons to learn from the practices of mindfulness to enhance student learning. First and foremost, we must make sure to avoid the teaching-learning process get into a “Doing” mode. Instead, we should allow learners enough time to reflect and be mindful during the learning process. Further, during the process of learner assessment, we necessarily need to get them to a "Being" mode, disallowing them from getting into a “Doing” mode in which they produce premeditated, habitual answers devoid of reflection and open-mindedness. Such conceptual changes at fundamental levels would lead to enhanced learning and more valid and lasting learner evaluations.

An interesting study/investigation.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-25/international-students-urged-to-speak-out-about-rogue-employers/8981628?section=business

Interesting discussion on how to manage our health and well-being! Prolong stress and its damage - due to hormones adrenaline and cortisol in our bloodstream for longer.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2017-09-25/escaping-the-cult-of-super-busy-sophie-scott/8980540

Why is sleep deprivation a serious problem? What are the health conditions associated with it? Should employers/decision-makers pay more attention in this area?
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=207119&ecd=mnl_day_092617

"What would we ask for if we had the support of our state and federal governments for gifted education? Well, the things the gifted support organizations like NAGC and SENG and others ask for — teachers who understand gifted children; flexibility in teaching so that kids with gifted traits can achieve and learn every day, no matter what their skill levels (as all kids deserve); schools that are able to work with families to support gifted kids with social and emotional needs; time for students to explore and invent and create; socialization opportunities for gifted children to find peers.."
http://sengifted.org/the-ultimate-plan-to-help-gifted-education-and-improve-education-for-all-kids-in-the-process/?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BM0famIxXTqGjGTcNzq%2BeQA%3D%3D

"In short, we need to have lived for a number of years to collect the experiences necessary for self-education and conscious personality development even to be possible. The process cannot be rushed. Understanding grown-up potential as Dabrowskian personality development rather than as mere self-improvement can give us an entirely new perspective on time and life, on what matters and what doesn’t. It also can prompt us to re-evaluate how best to nurture the life-long, personal potential of our children, rather than focus solely on academic timetables and curricular achievements."
http://sengifted.org/the-self-education-of-gifted-adults/

Psychologist, Dr. James T. Webb (Founder of SENG - (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) speaks.
"Many of our brightest, most creative, most independent-thinking children are being incorrectly diagnosed as having behavioral or mental disorders, such as ADHD or Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Stigmatizing labels can harm their sense of self, and treatment may be unnecessary and even harmful. Some health conditions, such as allergies and asthma, are actually more common among gifted children, but are overlooked or the giftedness component neglected. Though teachers cannot diagnose, research indicates that teachers are important in suggesting referrals. Because few psychologists, physicians, or other health care professionals receive training about gifted children, educators and parents must become informed. Based on recent research and clinical experience, this workshop describes ways to differentiate whether a child suffers from disorders such as ADHD, or whether the child is simply showing gifted behaviors. Additional focus is given to dual diagnoses of gifted children, those who are twice-exceptional (2e)."
https://www.cysalesteam.com/seng/event/misdiagnoses-and-dual-diagnoses-of-gifted-children?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BM1NZUDaJSp6iMR44kl2I8g%3D%3D


Very interesting and pragmatic change-proposals to some important taxes - the introduction of property tax instead of stamp duty and insurance payments! Mainly it can be a change of perspective - paying an ongoing tax vs one-off tax at the time of purchase. Many would like to keep away from an ongoing tax while more positive about one payment. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-09/why-your-council-rates-should-be-three-times-higher/9030330?section=business

How accurately can (typical) exams/tests measure learner ability? Can we score high marks without rote rehearsal? Would rote rehearsed knowledge create lasting memories? Is such knowledge only applicable to getting through the exam? Do we measure implicit learning of learners that the most common form of learning? Are we encouraging "whole person" development of the learners with creativity/wisdom or are we making them robots or "only" routine problem solvers? Are the anxieties and stresses of the learners as well as parents worth in terms of achieving learning/creativity/wisdom etc..
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-11/year-12-exams-are-they-worth-the-stress/9029260


How can we develop the minds of individuals from a very young age to become resilient/mindful and be accepting of the reality as is? Why is it very important in the contemporary world by looking at the developing trends? What can the education systems do about these issues proactively?
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-10/the-worrying-trend-in-the-minds-of-young-australians/9013954


Why we should teach adolescents to SURF IN THE WAVES OF EMOTION (instead of getting drowned). Let us teach them to enjoy the journey rather than narrowing their focus on the destinations such as the GREATEST GPA or SAT SCORES. Let us make them better use of their novelty-seeking and fighting the status quo thrives. Let us guide them to be candles that light the candles on either side instead of making them compete with each other. Let us guide them to make integrated brain operations ( i.e. enhanced consciousness) leading to health and well-being, kindness and compassion throughout the lifetime.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1pf1xTMUng&feature=share&lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BKmAiKUdVQASBim%2BUuV8%2BaQ%3D%3D


What can our education systems do to relieve our young generation from severe anxiety? Should we push them to compete with each other? Can they learn effectively/create lasting memories when they are anxious/competing with each other? Why should we promote health and well-being, relaxation, mindfulness and acceptance of reality as is at an early age?
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/11/magazine/why-are-more-american-teenagers-than-ever-suffering-from-severe-anxiety.html?smid=li-share&lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BKmAiKUdVQASBim%2BUuV8%2BaQ%3D%3D


Is this a trend that demonstrates that we are not giving emphasis on the areas of interpersonal intelligence/social intelligence/emotional intelligence/empathy etc. In learning and development, they appear to be more important than mastering a specific field of study. Researchers have emphasized that human brain is a social organ that facilitates (mirror neurons are an example) social interactions and empathising. What can our education/learning systems do about this - helping individuals to develop these much-needed abilities? It is not just in marriages but in all everyday life interactions. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-16/why-women-are-ditching-men-and-choosing-the-single-life/8993692

How is sleep related to creativity?
How sleep is related to memory consolidation (creating lasting memories), refining memory traces by removing the unwanted ones from what is important, improving attention, creativity, productivity, reaction times etc. the next day, flushing out toxins among cells that are linked to neurodegenerative diseases and minimising hyperactive/impulsive behaviours (especially in children) etc. Further, why kids/children need more hours of sleep - because they get exposed to more new experiences/learning.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-19/sleep-why-we-need-it-and-what-happens-when-we-dont-get-enough/9062534


Book Review on "Change Your Thinking: Positive and Practical Ways to Overcome Stress, Negative Emotions and Self-Defeating Behaviour using CBT" by Sarah Edelman
https://www.amazon.com/review/RQO8WXONITP26/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv
In “Change Your Thinking: Positive and Practical Ways to Overcome Stress, Negative Emotions and Self-Defeating Behaviour using CBT”, the author Dr. Sarah Edelman highlights the message that the practices of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) can be used to enhance our psychological health and well-being. Further, interestingly, she identifies the link (both similarities and differences) between the practices of CBT and mindfulness, which is becoming increasingly popular among Western medical practitioners in the recent past. Both practices essentially use reflective or metacognitive approaches to understanding and perceiving our thoughts. One major difference is that in CBT, we mainly use a problem-solving approach to effect a change in our thinking while in mindfulness practices, we pay voluntary attention to objects/thoughts/emotions etc. in an open, non-judgemental and curious way. In everyday life, we face problems that need and have reasonable solutions within a limited timeframe as well as problems or issues that we do not have immediate resolutions. We may infer that CBT is more suited to the problems of the former type while mindfulness practices with its accepting feature or using equanimity in facing unavoidable realties are more appropriate in the problems/issues of the latter types. In effect, both practices can be very useful in different situations or applications of life.
Dr. Edelman highlights some of the faulty thinking we may hold and that we can challenge using CBT practices. Some examples are black and white thinking (rigid thinking), overgeneralising (making conclusions/decisions without adequate information), just world fallacy (related to perfectionism and strongly believe that everything in this world is just/fair), hindsight vision (repenting on past decisions/actions), tyranny of should (things are expected to happen in a certain way without necessarily having valid reasons), awfulising (expecting worst to happen), mindreading (making assumptions on what other would be thinking) and comparing (oneself to others in an unnecessary way). These faulty thinking patterns can contribute towards developing some common negative psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression, anger, ineffective (non-assertive) communication and low frustration tolerance (lack of resilience) etc. Some common practices of CBT we use to challenge the above types of faulty thinking instances are Socratic questioning (logical disputing or constantly questioning attitude), behavioural disputing (introducing forceful behaviour to challenge our thinking) and goal-focussed thinking (set a goal and focus on that despite challenges). The important lesson we have to learn is that if we develop reflective/metacognitive skills (or a self-awareness) appropriately, we will be in a position to self-identify the above faulty-thinking patterns within us so that we can take appropriate measures keep away from them. It implies that we can and have to play an important role on our own in managing (or appraising/reappraising) our thoughts cognitively as well as behaviourally so as to enhance our happiness, psychological health and overall well-being instead of always awaiting for some external sources or conditions to provide them.
In contrast to CBT, in mindfulness practices, we pay voluntary attention to objects/emotions/thoughts or the reality as is in a non-judgemental, open and curious way. Our focus is not to solve any problem or change our thinking. However, by paying full attention, we get to see and understand the matter at hand more clearly and fully. As a result, we are able to understand any problems/issues with enhanced clarity as well as possible solutions to them, even though this is not our initial intention. Further, sometimes we may have to continue mindfulness practices for longer periods such as years before our perceptions of problems and solutions become clearer to an appropriate level. Consequently, we may not find solutions to problems in an urgent sense using whatever the information available as the main focus and benefit of mindfulness practices is to perceive the reality as is, possibly over time, enhancing clarity alongside.
As an educator, I find that CBT practices would help learners immensely to set up an appropriate psychological environment within (with a proper arousal level/emotional state) to engage in lifelong learning effectively. Use of CBT practices can be thought of as doing the groundwork to develop healthy minds that are capable of getting associated with learning and development more efficiently in everyday life situations (don’t forget that most of our learning is implicit, through life experiences).


How would famous mathematicians/physicists/scientists interpret happiness?
Einstein's words of wisdom on "Happiness"! "A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness,"  It appears that there are some common thinking patterns among natural scientists/mathematicians and social scientists, at least among leading individuals. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-25/einsteins-handwritten-note-on-happiness-fetches-$1.7-million/9083758


Why should we (our education systems) focus on developing interpersonal/social relationships, empathy, compassion more in our societies?
Why should we (our education systems) focus on developing interpersonal/social relationships, empathy, compassion more in our societies? We keep coming back to this topic again and again from different directions. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-25/aged-care-residents-suffering-from-loneliness,-ken-wyatt-says/9085782



How do mindfulness practices impact on cognitive abilities?
Impact of mindfulness practices on cognitive abilities (the link between the historical practice of mindfulness (thousands of years old)  to modern day neuroscience) - the fact that mindfulness practices improve working memory capacity ( similar to having a computer with higher capacity RAM/primary memory) is very interesting. It will allow us to keep more pieces of information in working memory so that we can get involved in a process of INTEGRATION of knowledge to make more diverse/creative connections/meanings using them. As a result, our reading comprehension improves as well. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130326133339.htm?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BdLb%2BRa9cTuSGtE5dOe3vzA%3D%3D

How would mindfulness practices be more specifically useful for individuals with gifted characteristics?
"Teach them MINDFULNESS, or other relaxation techniques. We recognize the intensities in gifted children, and we are often at a loss as to how to respond to them. Keep in mind that our children are in the same situation—feeling their intensities and not knowing how to channel them in constructive and creative ways. By our modeling and practicing mindfulness meditations and teaching them how to self-soothe and relax when they feel they will explode, we help them throughout their lives. These practices will most likely have positive health benefits. Thus, we can allow their creative intensities" http://sengifted.org/28-acts-of-kindness-for-the-gifted/?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BdLb%2BRa9cTuSGtE5dOe3vzA%3D%3D
  
The trouble with giftedness (and associated overexitabilities/sensitivities related vulnerabilities) "In short, highly intelligent individuals are at a significantly greater risk of experiencing psychological and physiological disorders according to the study published in the journal Intelligence, online October 8, 2017." https://www.nicoletetreault.com/single-post/2017/10/10/High-IQ-Hyper-brain-and-hyper-body?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BdLb%2BRa9cTuSGtE5dOe3vzA%3D%3D

"A loving kindness practice is literally better for our health and increases well being. Studies show that a loving kindness practice develops prosocial behavior and by focusing on compassion and cultivating more compassionate behavior." https://www.nicoletetreault.com/single-post/2017/06/29/Kick-start-your-compassionate-brain?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BdLb%2BRa9cTuSGtE5dOe3vzA%3D%3D
"High emotional capacity is a blessing and a curse. Without high emotional intelligence individuals like St. Teresa of Calcutta would have not impacted our world so profoundly. We need these individuals to open our eyes to be more empathetic, caring, and develop creative solutions to better society. Even with all of St. Teresa of Calcutta’s massive progress, she suffered silently with her faith and the vulnerability of the human condition. Gifted individuals with a high emotional intelligence are told they are too sensitive that they just need to get over it, and that they take too ...." https://www.nicoletetreault.com/single-post/2017/07/26/Emotionally-gifted-and-navigating-the-world?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BdLb%2BRa9cTuSGtE5dOe3vzA%3D%3D

"Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress, promote health, and well-being, as well as to increase compassionate behavior toward others. It reduces distress to one's own painful experiences, going along with altered neural responses, by enhancing self-regulatory processes and decreasing emotional reactivity. In order to investigate if mindfulness similarly reduces distress and neural activations associated with empathy for others' socially painful experiences, which might in the following more strongly motivate prosocial behavior, the present study compared trait, and state effects of long-term mindfulness meditation (LTM) practice. To do so we acquired behavioral data and neural activity measures using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during an empathy for social pain task while manipulating the meditation state between two groups of LTM practitioners that were matched with a control group." 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28504364?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BkArhHsXcSzOKYDn5hYys5Q%3D%3D
  
  
How do you compare Real men and Good men! What is real masculinity?
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-29/what-makes-a-good-man/9091960

"The fact that slavery can be hidden deep inside multinational supply chains blinds us to its presence and can make us all unwitting enablers."
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-31/slavery-a-bigger-problem-than-ever/9100126

Much predicted effects of automation/digitisation are already here! The trend will extend to other industries as well in no time. We should not complain, instead see this as an opportunity or catalyst to evolve better in the right direction. Our education systems have been producing individuals to cater for the outcomes of the industrial revolution that took place over hundred years ago. We need to seriously think about changing the paradigm from producing individuals to undertake routine work to produce individuals with creativity/wisdom to take care of their lives more mindfully.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-02/nab-full-year-profit-2017/9109898

Job loses to automation/digital disruption are spreading to services sector as well. In light of this, how should our education sector refocus their approaches in learning and development? We may be already lagging behind on this much needed refocus task.
http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/pm/job-losses-to-automation-to-increase-in-services-sector/9113482?section=business

Hats off for ABC for pushing in the right direction - being fair and balanced!
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-02/whats-wrong-with-being-fair-and-balanced/9111234

The relationship between alcohol consumption and cancer seemed to be established from research.
https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=208150

We are getting to the same point again and again from different directions - what changes need to be done (in fact, a paradigm change) to contemporary education systems (at all levels - primary, secondary and tertiary) to face the challenges of evolving artificial intelligence applications. We need to make sure that we tap the creativity/imagination/wisdom/open-mindedness/emotional intelligence/self-awareness/empathy etc. etc. of our learners, instead of using their time and effort to get them ready for completing routine/procedural tasks required by industrialised world, as machines.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-09/urgent-need-to-rethink-schooling-to-fight-ai-era-joblessness/9131992

  
Another one of top 4 banks (in Australia) to join the club of money laundering and counter terrorism breaches! Where are we heading to?
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-15/nab-may-join-cba-in-austracs-sights-over-money-laundering/9154078?section=business

More revelation of high profit yielding banking industry (Australia) issues/malpractices! This time liar loans! As per some investigations, these loans can add up to 1/3 of the home loans. Is this the tip of the iceberg?
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-16/nab-sacks-bankers-writing-dodgy-home-loans/9157984?section=business

  
Wage stagnation in Australia despite a reasonably high jobs growth - some very good/real analysis/reasons! High population growth, mainly through migration High number of temporary visa holders/workers including students Misconceived "trickle-down economics" theory On the first two reasons - The primary focus of migrant workers and temporary visa holders is to find some sort of employment, not about the size of the pay packet. Further, in comparison, their expectations are lower as well (in trying to adjust and survive). These facts are contributing to lower wage growth.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-20/verrender-why-you-wont-be-get-a-bump-in-pay-anytime-soon/9166906
One culprit of wage growth stagnation/or low wage growth in Australia - chronically underpaid migrant workers. Possibly true for other similar economies.
http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/worldtoday/migrant-workers-in-australia-chronically-underpaid,-finds-study/9175626?section=business
A new and apparently widely used business model - Blackmailing. It may appear superficially that it affects only the exploited migrant workers. But if you dive deep, it affects the broader economy of the country. This is another proof of what Leonardo da Vinci famously said "Everything is Connected to Everything Else" "Bringing people into the country, paying them below minimum wage, is not a recipe for economic success."
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-23/blackmail-business-plan-cheaper-wages/9177498
 
Long-Term-Unemployment! Higher than during the GFC in Australia. What are the causes and where are the solutions coming from? What strategic decisions our education systems can take to avoid these situation in future?
http://www.abc.net.au/news/programs/the-business/2017-11-21/stuck-on-the-jobless-treadmill/9177734
  
 
Some useful perspectives when considering selective schools for your children. "Ideally, schools are microcosms of society, where children learn everyday multiculturalism in an organic way," Are selective schools racially skewed? If yes, will it represent the broader Australian society? If not, what would be the developmental impacts on students (such as on creativity, wisdom, resilience, critical thinking etc. )? How do competition, affordability and fairness in relation to education relate to this situation?
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-27/the-mother-who-wont-send-her-kids-to-selective-schools/9179820

How can our education systems change/improve in order to avoid these trends - significantly increasing incidents of mental health issues for children as young as 10?
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-27/schools-at-crisis-point-mental-health-concerns-among-students/9192386

Where are the solutions coming to these negative trends developing? Where is the sustainability of our societies?
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-28/older-people-at-risk-of-homelessness-jumps-50pc-in-nsw/9198420

Very interesting and useful trend analysis - home ownership over a period of over 35 years. It is not surprising that homeownership depends on the income/wealth level. However, this dramatic decrease in homeownership among low-income earners has been the result DESPITE having an ongoing period of over 26 years of recession-free economic growth in Australia. How can this be explained? Does this mean higher/better economic growth relates to increasing inequality/decreasing housing affordability/increasing negative social conditions and lower social sustainability?
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-29/poorer-australians-bear-brunt-of-rising-housing-costs-charts/9202804?section=business

Why a purpose in life or meaningful life matters for our health and well-being (or to be more resilient)!
http://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2017-12-01/meaning-or-happiness-for-an-enriched-life/9214720

A Very interesting and useful phenomenon in a contemporary world - Learning from the Future as it Emerges (instead of from the past): "Learning from the future as it emerges. If you work with leadership teams in organizations and government, more often than not, people face challenges where applying learning from the past is not good enough. In some cases, the knowledge of the past is preventing the very solution people are seeking."
https://www.leadershipandchangemagazine.com/interview-otto-scharmer/?lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_profile_view_base_recent_activity_details_shares%3BlUnIVD35TP%2BkvDRP%2BBStsw%3D%3D#.WiKR7ckubKs.linkedin
  
  
Interestingly, it appears that the value of a house/unit/property is mainly decided by the location rather than the condition of the house/unit. A house built 30-40 years ago will have more or less the same value as that of a relatively new one (however, we cannot disregard that older blocks have larger land sizes, but new houses could have better conditions such as higher energy ratings). Further, house prices in different suburbs of the same state/province can vary vastly purely for reasons such as the availability of popular primary/secondary schools. As a result, it appears, somewhat strangely though, that if one is looking for a more affordable  place to live, he/she will have to go to the extreme extents of relocating.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-05/how-long-does-it-take-to-save-a-home-deposit-in-australia/9225272

An example that illustrates that health and well-being is very important (especially at the work place), if not THE most important requirement. Especially, chronic sleep deprivation can have fatal consequences.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-05/tip-top-drivers-being-worked-to-death-more-families-speak-out/9210146

Interesting and insightful discussion on wage stagnation and executive salary! This comparison is between the AVERAGE salary (around 60k-80k in Australia) and executive salary but NOT between the MINIMUM salary and executive salary. This understanding could make a significant difference in the way this information is interpreted.   "Mr Liveris says Australian corporations’ approach to executive remuneration is outdated, as it’s based on a model created for corporations in the 1980s and 1990s. “It’s barely been reviewed for decades even though the business environment has changed. “In this time of change and innovation, decision makers need to better analyse the contributions being made to their corporation’s performance and examine how they can share the benefits more widely.”"
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-06/ceo-salaries-78-times-average-australian/9216156

A useful summer/holiday advice for parents and kids on READING! "If you don't use it, you lose it," 
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-10/teaching-your-kids-to-keep-reading-books-this-summer/9239744
  
    

Book Reviews Done by Me
On "The Neuroscience of Learning and Development: Enhancing Creativity, Compassion, Critical Thinking, and Peace in Higher Education" edited by Marilee J. Bresciani Ludvik

“the commodity of higher education is not the course-by-course, credit-hour-accumulated degree; rather the commodity of higher education is the human process of learning and development that can be measured through direct evidence gathered in reflective learning portfolios.”

“The Neuroscience of Learning and Development” edited by Marilee J. Bresciani Ludvik highlights the critical perspective of holistic learner development through education, as concisely and impactfully portrayed by the above postulation. These viewpoints were duly affirmed and validated by presenting a wealth of recent neuroscience-based research findings. The phenomenon of “whole-person development" necessarily include enhancement of a number generic learner characteristics or skills such as critical thinking, creativity, attention regulation (AR), emotion regulation (ER), cognitive regulation (CR), self-awareness, metacognitive abilities, flexible-thinking, compassionate attitude, resilience and the like. As implied, developing such generic characteristics in a boundary-spanning manner is of more importance and useful than merely mastering a narrow domain-specific set of skills or knowledge. In short, it is about the overall well-being of the learner at the time as well as into the future that is the most important. In effect, appropriate and well-proven measures or practices are encouraged, both from educational professionals as well as learners, to reduce the anxiety and chronic stress levels of learners that impact negatively on learning, development and overall well-being. There is much overlap in meaning in the phenomena of learning, human development and well-being. Well-being relates to better cognitive functions, flexible thinking, enhanced memory, good sleep and weight balance, good physiological response to immune function, inflammatory processes, heart disease and the like. In other words, the significance of the integrative operation of essentially the cognitive and emotional domains is emphasised. The process of learning/human development is represented as a process of Integrative Inquiry (INIQ) in a deeper sense:

“combine (a) the knowledge gained from research, course learning, and book learning with (b) the wisdom gained from intuition, sensing, and the mindful experiencing of emotions with (c) the ability to embrace the unknown, be curious, and inquire into that we cannot yet see.”

As an insightful comparison, in a contemporary education system, parts (b) and (c) are likely to be the missing or less focused links while some selected parts of (a) are given prime attention. More specifically, evaluating implicit learning undergone while engaging in (a) and (b) would be difficult unless resorting to assessing learning portfolios, journal entries or answers to open-ended questions. After all, the brain is a structurally boundary spanning and highly interconnected organ. It has the dynamic feature of neuroplasticity that enables us to adapt to what we are interested, found useful and paying attention. Such an educational focus contrasts from widely practiced, contemporary systems in which learners are “trained” for a narrow skill set pertaining to a particular domain area, in a segmented manner, as opposed to an integrated manner, as if programming or configuring robots or machines to perform specific, routine tasks, stifling structurally inherent human creativity. If we pay attention only to the problems of our department or the organisation, then we will not be able to see beyond this constrained view in order to understand the real problems in the real world, let alone attempting to find solutions in a creative and compassionate manner. With enhanced AR, ER and CR abilities, we should be able to divert our focus to where it is needed the most.  In “The Neuroscience of Learning and Development”, the authors do justice to the needs of the current world by emphasising on the multidisciplinary perspectives of education. The essential role played by mindfulness and compassionate training practices in the important human development processes involving AR, ER and CR are quite correctly highlighted, irrespective of the area or discipline of study. Compassionate practices decrease the bias and inhuman treatments, resulting in happier and more productive citizens and workforce and better interpersonal relationships. Further, how such human developmental processes play a vital role in leadership training are presented to possibly direct our prospective leaders on the right path to guide our world. What the world needs is that leaders who are comfortable with uncertainty, complexity and unknown nature of problems we are facing as well as we are to face on an ongoing basis into the future. This is the reason why the authors have pinpointed the regulation of attention, emotions and cognition as of prime importance on an individual or grassroots level. Finally, the authors have provided guidance on how to effect a major transformation in the educational forefront as described by effectively and appropriately managing the process of this dramatic change. Yes, it is a complete paradigm change with a focus on the “whole person” development, with the emphasis on inherent human nature, human characteristics and human development. An invaluable feature of the transformed system is that, despite all the positive features, the new system is highly affordable to masses due to the fact that the new measures or practices used, for example, for developing AR, ER and CR, are not complicated to understand or carry out; an urge for a change from top-down is what is needed, and probably what is hard to assimilate.  
  
Hopefully, we would be able to see many in educational leadership/administration/policy-making positions around the world keen and courageous to embrace the described evidence-based, much-needed transformation to direct our individual societies to sustainability. We, along with the authors, need those responsible to suspend judgement of what we know to be true and prolong a state of inquiry with an open mind, even on matters we refused to pay attention before, to identify what is best for us, as a whole, and for our future generations.      

It is wonderful to see an engineer working for a tech giant, Chade-Meng Tan, leading the way for world peace through an initiative of the development of emotional intelligence/personal growth/human development. He rightly emphasises on the simple truth of individual development at grassroots is the key to world peace. It is uncustomary for someone working in the technology space to raise awareness on the need to develop emotional intelligence/human development of fellow workers as the path to higher productivity of individuals as well any organisation. Meng succeeds on this endeavours in no uncertain terms, relying on a wealth of research in the areas of neuroscience, mindfulness practices, empathy and compassion. His aim, or more accurately life purpose, is to spread the message he has developed and proven at GOOGLE to rest of the world – what a compassionate attitude!

As an educator/education professional, I see great value in Meng's approach to learners of all levels on their paths to lifelong learning. The presented self-regulation/self-awareness approaches (attention regulation (AR), emotion regulation (ER) and cognition regulation (CR)), revolving mainly on mindfulness practices, are the essential generic skills, irrespective of the domain or discipline of study, for any learner to be in possession for achieving enhanced learning/wisdom/consciousness. Also, with such practices, learners become resilient to adverse situations, which are unavoidable in many social environments, building empathic and compassionate attitudes. Investing time to develop resiliency through well-proven mind-training practices, despite our busy schedules, is analogously paying an insurance premium to cover for the unexpected or to safeguard us when the reality bites, destroying stereotyped expectations in an uncertain, ever-changing world. Further, developed skills in AR, ER and CR lead to enhanced creativity, critical thinking, interpersonal relationships, intrapersonal intelligence, and as a result, enhanced productivity at the workplace and community engagements.


Meng has successfully communicated an empowering message – “what we think, we become” based on the all-important concept of neuroplasticity; our abilities to learn or the capacities to regulate or cognitive and emotional activities are not fixed by genetics, but can be changed by the environmental factors. We no longer should argue about the "Nature vs. Nurture" debate as deterministically validating research has emerged. As Meng highlighted, the skill of mindfulness can be practised and enhanced to a level that one becomes conscious or aware of every time unit lived in a non-judgemental (relaxed and calm) way. It is the time when individuals learn implicitly/incidentally, the most common form of human learning (make no mistake or doubt – it is not the classroom learning), to create lasting memories that are widely used in a generic sense and situations. Further, mindfulness practices enable learners to develop in a “whole person” manner, integrating many operations of the brain including cognitive and emotional ones along with other neural networks of knowledge. Mindful integration of knowledge networks (in a non-judgemental (open-minded), relaxed and calm manner) is likely to make individuals receptive to all types of information/knowledge received without getting psychologically constrained by domain boundaries (or learn in an interdisciplinary manner), enabling them to see the reality as it is in an integrated and deeper manner. Having such a higher level of consciousness is referred to as possessing a healthy mind or, in Abraham Maslow’s words, a self-actualised mind; Kazimierz Dabrowski referred to it as reaching the highest human development levels - level five.


Meng has shown us the path to inner peace in individuals at grassroots in an evidence-based manner, which in turn should radiate as world peace in due course. The starting point of this journey is developing a self-awareness by "Search Inside Yourself", to understand one's strengths/weaknesses, likes/dislikes, the purpose of life and the like. This commendable work gives much-needed guidance to education policy-makers and other professionals in the same industry to take right decisions in educational reforms for the benefit and sustainability of our future generations. Highly recommended and a must read for every adult!  



In “Mindsight: Transform Your Brain with the New Science of Kindness”, the author Daniel Siegel, a Harvard educated clinical Professor of Psychiatry, emphasises the need to integrate cognitive and emotional functions across various part of the brain along with memory types such as implicit and explicit in order to develop healthy minds with a MINDSIGHT or with higher levels of consciousness/wisdom/human development. Without such processes of integration that are well supported by the latest neuroscientific research, individuals tend to develop negative psychological conditions, become sick or would not develop to their full potential. The key neuroscientific concepts behind the above integrative processes are neuroplasticity and epigenetics that allow us to train our minds based on appropriate environmental stimuli. Professor Siegel has given some classic examples (using real counselling cases) of how mindfulness practices can be used to develop healthier minds through the processes of integration mentioned above. He has always used these therapeutic mindfulness practices as more lasting remedies ahead of alternative approaches such as prescribed drugs that usually suppress symptoms while on medication (along with any negative side-effects). The therapeutic practices he used were essentially based on developing critical characteristics of self-awareness and self-regulation. When these skills are practised and developed, individuals become more empathic and compassionate by extending integrative processes from individual to collective lives leading to harmonious and sustainable societies, following the concepts of interpersonal neurobiology.

As an educator, I am fascinated to realise the ways we can apply the integrative human development concepts highlighted by Professor Siegel to generic teaching-learning environments/classrooms to enable individuals to achieve enhanced learning, creativity and wisdom. By emphasising on these mind integration practices, we as educators can focus on the much needed “whole person” or “holistic” development of learners. Linking any new concepts or contents introduced to as many autobiographical memories of the learners and transforming their implicit memories to explicit ones using an appropriate pace following mindfulness concepts would be some critical pedagogical practices we have to engage. Similarly, we should use open-ended questions as well as reflective journaling practices for mindfully retrieving learners’ idiosyncratic and creative ideas for assessing them for their learning as well as in holistic human development. Such assessment would yield more accurate and lasting evaluations of the level “whole person development”, which can be used as a metric for further developments along the same lines, leading to individual productivity, resilience and happiness in general. Interestingly and encouragingly, Professor Siegel has put forth how narrowly focused education systems (focusing on a disintegrated narrower set of skills) existed at the time he was a student have started to improve with a realisation to value broader “whole person” development approaches. The book on "Mindsight", by Professor Siegel gives some highly useful insights and guidance to educational professionals including policy-makers to direct our pedagogical practices and education systems towards more evidence-based and much-needed learner transformation practices and systems. Such changes will help us to develop more harmonious and sustainable societies.


  
In “Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life”, the author Jon Kabat-Zinn highlights the message that the practices of mindfulness are not restricted to particular times at some locations, but it can be followed in anything one does anywhere. Further, he emphasises the fact that the mindfulness practices are not rigidly associated with a particular group or religion, rather it is a way of being that any individual can benefit immensely. The essence of mindfulness practices is the notion of getting one’s attention voluntarily on what he/she does in the present moment, non-judgementally. In other words, simply it is about not performing a task with the autopilot on, following the notion of automaticity – instead, it is about getting all the brain resources focused on it in a non-judgemental way. When we pay non-judgemental attention to a task or matter, we tend to see it more openly, in an unbiased manner or we become more receptive to the information per se that reaches us.  Such an open reception of information will help us to see the reality as is, instead of through coloured glass, as is the usual case in many situations. Just imagine the strength of the idea of possessing a mind trained with appropriate mindfulness practices with the acquired skills to see or sense everything one does anywhere, anytime clearly and vividly as is, as highlighted by the author, Jon Kabat-Zinn. In fact, Jon was an emeritus Professor of Medicine who himself had been practising mindfulness meditation since the age of twenty-two before introducing mindfulness practices to the mainstream medicine in the USA through programs such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).

As an educator, I see a great value for any learner in following mindfulness practices that enable achieving enhanced learning constantly. Neuroscience research has revealed that most of our learning is implicit and it does not necessarily take place in a formal learning environment or classroom. In regard to this revelation, imagine the extent to which a learner can benefit, or can engage in learning per se if he/she can maintain a state of mindfulness constantly by paying voluntary attention non-judgementally in everything encountered and anywhere. In a universe of information that we cannot avoid as the transmission is enabled by various technologies and media cost-effectively, the best way to respond is to be receptive non-judgementally by keeping all our sense open rather than getting overwhelmed by it and closing our receptive sensors. We should also not disregard our internal body signals that help us develop a self-awareness by identifying and reflecting on our feelings, emotions and thoughts and the like in making our all-important decisions and in enhancing our well-being. Researchers have identified that such an awareness that can be developed through mindfulness practices is of prime importance in developing individuals with healthy minds or in achieving higher levels of human development. When we progress to higher levels in human development, we necessarily involve in an integration process of both external information as well as internal body signals that enable a "whole person" development learning path leading to wisdom. Further, we as learners/individuals become better-skilled in essential human functions such as attention regulation (AC), emotional regulation (ER) and cognitive regulation (CR) so that we develop the capacities required to be more effective, empathic, compassionate, resilient and productive social members. These members are better equipped and more capable of identifying and proper addressing of so called wicked problems. 

Finally, the author Jon Kabat-Zinn, who himself has been a practitioner of mindfulness for over forty years, put the readers on a path to developing wisdom. The benefits of mindfulness practices have a radiant effect on many facets of life – in enhancing learning, healthcare, self-awareness, emotional and social intelligence, interpersonal relationships, parenting, decision-making and in short overall well-being and productive human operations.

  
In “Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distractions, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long - Know Your Brain, Transform Your Performance”, the author David Rock highlights the important fact that when we develop an understanding of how our brain works, we can significantly improve our daily functioning as human beings in general. Irrespective of the roles we play as employees, managers, leaders, learners or parents, by developing a self-awareness or mindfulness into how our brain functions, we can enhance our performance or productivity by being able to pay better attention, regulate emotions and control cognitive activities optimally. The phenomenon of mindfulness/self-awareness/metacognition is aptly emphasised by representing it as the “director” in the human life of stage drama. A skilful director (one who has developed mindfulness to a higher degree) is able to utilise the limited capacity stage (working memory) with greater efficiency by appropriately getting actors (information such as emotions/feelings, thoughts etc.) onto the stage optimally as and when required.

The significant findings of the human conditions required for insights/creativity/wisdom are illustrated comprehensively with the analogy of stage drama of life. Essentially, a relaxed and happy mind with an appropriate level of arousal is required to get the attention focussed. Under these conditions, we make many parts of our brain (including the right cerebral hemisphere that play a leading role in creativity) to operate in synchrony at higher frequency levels (gamma range), integrating many forms of information and signals such as thoughts, memories, emotions/feelings senses and the like. These pieces of information and signals are represented in the brain, in fact, as neuronal networks that self-organise based on the learning and experience the individual undergo, following the important notions of neuroplasticity and epigenetics. To minimise higher levels of arousal such as anger, fear and sadness so that an optimal brain operation is accommodated, the author, Rock, has demonstrated the use of mental techniques that include emotion labelling, situation reappraisal and managing expectations realistically (a principle that closely relates to the notion of equanimity).

Another key area that is emphasised in the book is the notion that the human brain is a social animal. In fact, researchers have understood that the social world or having healthy social connections is a primary human need like food and shelter. The presence of physical brain structures such as mirror neurones that help human beings to empathise or understand the minds of other human beings validate the premise of human beings essentially as social animals. Further, the author, Rock, has highlighted the SCARF (Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness) model as a guide (ideally for leaders/managers/counsellors/parents etc.) for making human operations or performance optimal or positive in a social world. They are primary features that human brains are implicitly yearning towards for and any threats causing a movement away from them (within an organisation or group) would result in significantly reduced human performance.

“Your Brain at Work” has also provided some useful guidance for successfully implementing a social/individual change/transformation, however small it is, based on the fundamentals of brain science. The brain is an organ that naturally attempts to minimise threats (fear anxiety, anger etc.) while maximising rewards (relaxation, happiness etc.). It has the inherent capacity to change (physically as well), as highlighted in the notion of neuroplasticity, under conducive conditions and environments. Consequently, following the SCARF model, any social/individual change/transformation should not move members away from (or at least minimise such a move to the lowest level) the features of Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness. Any action that makes a move away from them would result in ineffectiveness in the change/transformation process. As highlighted by Rock very aptly, the status and relatedness features in the SCARF model can compete with each other in an organisation/team environment (as status is usually a measure that compares individuals and it does not help healthy relationships). Consequently, in an ideal or healthier situation, comparison of an individual should be made to a previous status of him/her instead of against another individual. Further, the motivation for a change should be more appropriately enhanced through intrinsic (or more lasting) rewards than that of a “carrot and stick” or extrinsic type.

Finally, as an educator, I believe that “Your Brain at Work” offers many insights that educators can make use of in teaching-learning environments. They can be used to enhance learning and motivation in individuals to progress towards higher levels of human developments with capacities of mindfulness and wisdom.

  
In “Mindfulness: a practical guide to FINDING PEACE IN A FRANTIC WORLD” by Mark Williams(an Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology at Oxford University and a co-founder of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy - MBCT) and Danny Penman put forth the important message of the role played by inward-looking capacities developed through mindfulness practices towards finding peace within a world of unavoidable chaos. In other words, it is better that we actively look for developing appropriate conditions internally or attempt to develop a self-awareness, instead of waiting (sometimes forever) for solutions to appear magically and externally from a frantic world. Consequently, mindfulness is a practice that empowers individuals to take control of their lives and be content and happy with an enhanced perception of reality so long as the basic needs such as food and shelter are satisfied.

One interesting notion the authors highlight in the book is the “habit release” mindfulness practice. In the words (given in the foreword) of Jon Kabat-Zinn (a pioneer in the area of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction – MBSR), it is:

"I particularly like the simple yet radical habit-breaking suggestions, what they call ‘habit releasers,' that they offer, which are meant to reveal and break open some of our most unaware life patterns of thought and behaviour, patterns that unbeknownst to us, tend to imprison us in a smallness that is definitely not the full story of who we are."

By engaging in the mindful practice of “habit release”, we switch-off the “auto-pilot” whenever it is appropriate and shift from a “Doing” mode to “Being” mode. In a frantic world, we get entangled in a “Doing” mode, trying to squeeze in as many “robotic” procedures as possible into our daily routines. We simply work like machines performing routine tasks repetitively with no time spent on reflections to see, or more correctly, to perceive what we are doing in a more detailed and creative way with wisdom/insights while being in a "Being" mode. Most importantly, the key to our health and well-being, reducing symptoms such as stress, anxiety, depression and similar negative psychological conditions is the increase of time in a “Being” mode while minimising the time in a  “Doing” mode.

Another significant mindfulness practice that is highlighted in the book is the development of an approach/acceptance-oriented mental state as opposed to an avoidance-oriented one even in the presence of unavoidable realities of life yielding negative emotions. That is we befriend with such emotions like sadness and frustration with a loving kind/compassionate attitude towards us as well as towards the rest of the world. Clearly, this is not passive acceptance of or resignation to the adverse conditions in a spineless manner. Instead, it is the practice of equanimity through which we get to see and understand the realities of life better, possibly through the secretion of mood-control body chemicals such serotonin at appropriate levels. Through this clear vision and perceptions, we, in fact, get to the point that we can seek real solutions to the problems/conditions that caused the adverse situation. Further, we may get to see that these real solutions may not be present immediately; we may have to persevere for weeks, months or even years at times to find and apply them in a lasting manner. 
Authors also aptly highlight that mindfulness practices help us to avoid the rigid and inaccurate decision-making following a process of over-generalisation. When we are not appropriately mindful, possibly due to being entangled in a "Doing" mode, we tend to jump to inaccurate decisions or conclusions without having access to an adequate amount of information related to the matter. Consequently, it stops us from perceiving the realities better resulting in negative conditions such as stress, anxiety, sadness and frustration.  Worsening the situation further, we may continue to rigidly believe in what we understood as real without adequate information and without being reflective or open-minded.

As educators, we have many lessons to learn from the practices of mindfulness to enhance student learning. First and foremost, we must make sure to avoid the teaching-learning process get into a “Doing” mode. Instead, we should allow learners enough time to reflect and be mindful during the learning process. Further, during the process of learner assessment, we necessarily need to get them to a "Being" mode, disallowing them from getting into a “Doing” mode in which they produce premeditated, habitual answers devoid of reflection and open-mindedness. Such conceptual changes at fundamental levels would lead to enhanced learning and more valid and lasting learner evaluations.

In “Change Your Thinking: Positive and Practical Ways to Overcome Stress, Negative Emotions and Self-Defeating Behaviour using CBT”, the author Dr. Sarah  Edelman highlights the message that the practices of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) can be used to enhance our psychological health and well-being. Further, interestingly, she identifies the link (both similarities and differences) between the practices of CBT and mindfulness, which is becoming increasingly popular among Western medical practitioners in the recent past. Both practices essentially use reflective or metacognitive approaches to understanding and perceiving our thoughts. One major difference is that in CBT, we mainly use a problem-solving approach to effect a change in our thinking while in mindfulness practices, we pay voluntary attention to objects/thoughts/emotions etc. in an open, non-judgemental and curious way. In everyday life, we face problems that need and have reasonable solutions within a limited timeframe as well as problems or issues that we do not have immediate resolutions. We may infer that CBT is more suited to the problems of the former type while mindfulness practices with its accepting feature or using equanimity in facing unavoidable realties  are  more appropriate in the problems/issues of the latter types. In effect, both practices can be very useful in different situations or applications of life.

Dr. Edelman highlights some of the faulty thinking we may hold and that we can challenge using CBT practices.  Some examples are black and white thinking (rigid thinking), overgeneralising (making conclusions/decisions without adequate information), just world fallacy (related to perfectionism and strongly believe that everything in this world is just/fair), hindsight vision (repenting on past decisions/actions), tyranny of should (things are expected to happen in a certain way without necessarily having valid reasons), awfulising (expecting worst to happen), mindreading (making assumptions on what other would be thinking) and comparing (oneself to others in an unnecessary way). These faulty thinking patterns can contribute towards developing some common negative psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression, anger, ineffective (non-assertive) communication and low frustration tolerance (lack of resilience) etc.  Some common practices of CBT we use to challenge the above types of faulty thinking instances are Socratic questioning (logical disputing or constantly questioning attitude), behavioural disputing (introducing forceful behaviour to challenge our thinking) and goal-focussed thinking (set a goal and focus on that despite challenges). The important lesson we have to learn is that if we develop reflective/metacognitive skills (or a self-awareness) appropriately, we will be in a position to self-identify the above faulty-thinking patterns within us so that we can take appropriate measures keep away from them. It implies that we can and have to play an important role on our own in managing (or appraising/reappraising) our thoughts cognitively as well as behaviourally so as to enhance our happiness, psychological health and overall well-being instead of always awaiting for some external sources or conditions to provide them.

In contrast to CBT, in mindfulness practices, we pay voluntary attention to objects/emotions/thoughts or the reality as is in a non-judgemental, open and curious way. Our focus is not to solve any problem or change our thinking. However, by paying full attention, we get to see and understand the matter at hand more clearly and fully. As a result, we are able to understand any problems/issues with enhanced clarity as well as possible solutions to them, even though this is not our initial intention. Further, sometimes we may have to continue mindfulness practices for longer periods such as years before our perceptions of problems and solutions become clearer to an appropriate level. Consequently, we may not find solutions to problems in an urgent sense using whatever the information available as the main focus and benefit of mindfulness practices is to perceive the reality as is, possibly over time, enhancing clarity alongside.  
  
As an educator, I find that CBT practices would help learners immensely to set up an appropriate psychological environment within (with a proper arousal level/emotional state) to engage in lifelong learning effectively. Use of CBT practices can be thought of as doing the groundwork to develop healthy minds that are capable of getting associated with learning and development more efficiently in everyday life situations (don’t forget that most of our learning is implicit, through life experiences).       
    

On "Beautiful Failures" by Lucy Clark

The author of “Beautiful Failures”, Lucy Clark has done a commendable job of insightfully presenting the problems associated with contemporary education systems in general. Sadly, many leaders of education, who are in decision- making positions, are not able to see the prevailing systems with this level of breadth and penetration. Hopefully, this book with many references to research revelations will become an eye opener to many educational policy- makers around the world to direct our planet in the right direction with some conscientious efforts. Education, in this book, is viewed broadly through which every human being can become a positive contributor to sustainable social developments, as opposed to narrowly focussing on merely getting employed at the end of a hectic and tiring race. That is, holistic human development into self-actualised individuals should be the goal of education as numerous researchers and philosophers referred to in the book have pointed out, rather than pushing them on a narrow path of one-sided development, devoid of empathy, compassion, wisdom and such multidimensional perspectives. Lucy rightly highlights the negative impacts of highly competitive “one size fits all” environments in which the theory of the survival of the fittest prevails, sacrificing the well-being of all students, including the ones who emerge triumphant through the prevailing system. The key performance indicators, as highlighted, of the existing systems are the rising number of cases of mental illness, suicides, dropouts or disengagements and reliance on drugs and alcohol etc. Thank you, Lucy for raising a voice as a mother, on many concerns shared undoubtedly by numerous other parents around the world. I recommend this book for every educator, at all levels, and parent in order to be insightfully informed of the status quo.