Adele Diamond —
The Science of Attention

What Adele Diamond is learning about the brain challenges basic assumptions in modern education. Her work is scientifically illustrating the educational power of things like play, sports, music, memorization, and reflection. What nourishes the human spirit, the whole person, it turns out, also hones our minds.

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is a professor of developmental cognitive neuroscience at the University of British Columbia.

Pertinent Posts

Children at a Nepalese "bamboo school" discover new joy in the act of flying kites from children in Canada.

Video Interviews with Krista Tippett

In the Room with Adele Diamond

From a hotel room in Vancouver, Krista and Diamond discuss education, cognitive neuroscience, the importance of play, and more.

SoundSeen (our multimedia stories)

Dramatic Play and the Developing Brain

In this narrated slideshow, we visited a fifth- and sixth-grade improvisational storytelling class that draws on Adele Diamond's educational philosophy. She explains three important executive functions as demonstrated by the students and gives you a better picture of their importance.

About the Image

Students at the Nepalese Karuna-Shechen Bamboo School fly kites painted by Canadian students and given by Adele Diamond and her husband.

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51Reflections

Reflections

I am a martial arts teacher. This is my 40th year of practice and my 30th year of teaching the martial arts professionally. I wish this kind of dialog had been a regular part of my training as an up-and-coming black belt instructor. It wasn't, but I am happy to, at this stage of the game, have a place to come receive the kind of information Ms. Diamond discusses.

"Discipline, the ability to exercise discipline...is much more important than a high I.Q."

Yes, wonderful, the practice of the martial arts, especially for young people, may indeed have some merit (said with a smile)! Ms. Diamond, Ms. Tippett, Amercian Public Media, thank you.

I also wrote down:

"Leading a sedentary life is terrible for your brain."

The Covey talking stick reference --(and note, I'm going to encourage my rather large network of martial arts teachers, to bring THAT idea into their schools. The power of listening!)
.
"Learn things by doing."

"...keep experiencing it" (a reminder of the power of repetitive practice).

It's all in the discipline I've spent my life practicing/teaching, and it's wonderful to hear it so beautifully described. I have been reminded that I am, as a teacher of the martial arts, a part of the village, and that the way we practice fits into the story of Ms. Diamond's ideas and study.

My story. My story weaves a garland like smoke about my admittedly small but wonderful life. Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote so beautifully about many things, but wonder was tantamount, and he used a ringing phrase I think about often, and that is "radical amazement". It is possible to have experiences of the ineffable, and SOF, on line, has been a source of so many delights, lighting the way, in myriad ways as there are so many people, who are candles and I see the small letter "i" as a candle. You can visualize this for yourself.

The candle that is within all of us, is soul. When people put themselves on the line, as so many are doing, in helping each other, that's "soul", a word that is hard to define but we do know it when we see it. My own story draws from two different experiences that I can never forget, as memory does have this ability, to draw us backwards and forwards in time, in a way of re-experiencing the moment and I have told these stories many times. I experienced a major coincidence years ago that could not have been random, drawing from two such amazing and disparate parts of my life and said, God, I know you exist. Give me more and I can prove, by way of a life, this truth, on paper. And I also experienced with a good friend, a vision that was real, of the Hebrew letters made of water following the rains, glistening and made of rain water, in the streets outside a synagogue where we had studied Jewish mysticism.

Something amazing has been following my life since that vow and that vision, and vow has turned to Wow, but so far I have been invisible, keeping this Diary which I call a corresponDANCE as no one so far either believes me or has shown interest in reading from parts of this Diary called in toto, and thousands of pages, of daily astonishment of connects via story. I call these letters, and it is, a manuscript, My God of Coincidence. I am not supplying the connects and I can say, with total humility and awe, that I am seeing something deep about words themselves across Babel and it is a new kind of vision and a new kind of dictionary, but I am not, categorically not, the first author. I am being so visibly led. There is no way any one person can experience this much daily astonishment of coincidence via story and not, know. I also deeply know we are all connected in more ways than we ever thought possible, and that this is not my story, but our story. And, as stories are for climbing, and as bells are for rungs, on that ladder, I am saying we are reaching towards the ineffable, and our struggles are not pointless, but about a river that runs through Eden, and it's deeply about this notion of opportunities to heal the world, known in the Jewish tradition as tikkun olam.

I just read on line about Adele Diamond's wonderful work in neuroscience and her beautiful work that is about dance, about the arts, and how we all need them, and how reflection itself is a key to greater health of mind and body. Reflection. Reflection is how a body of water in stillness, reflects the landscape of its surrounds, and it is beautiful to sit by any body of clear water, or any body of clean water and see how life itself, nature, ourselves, are so mirrored. Reflection is about drawing towards us, and into us, and beyond us, that stillness of being and that clarity of being. Reflection is the echoic connect in God is One, as what does reflect deeply in that stillness is this knowledge, of deep metaphoric connects that are about a unity, a unity of vision wherever one truly looks, that does go deep. How deep do we want to or can we go? Echod/echad, the echo of ONE that is the Hebrew word for God. To feel the awe itself, as Heschel wrote, is to go to another place.

God might be playing a game of what's my line, because there are just so many iterations of God these days and I am quite clear, in my own mind, that true Divinity resides in beauty, in the awe, in the wonder, and in the sharing of that wonder, in the wonder of good deeds, the wonder of seeing the beauty inside all souls, and the wonder that is about respect and love for all living breathing things, and also the inanimate. If we treated everything with care, as if all breathed, and hurt, even the inanimate, that deepest sensitivity would bring us all to a great new place.

Thank you SOF, for b RINGING to us all the love and passion of so many deep thinkers and actors in this cosmic drama that is LIFE. I think the message has always had great clarity and it is LOVE. All we need is LOVE. We are not alone. We are, all one.

In a time of Thanksgiving I want to write these words, because we all need to feel it, that special something, and when the birds fly overhead in such perfect V formations, it's for me a deep and loving message, as in their cries, that God is truly, "in the wings".

Happy Thanksgiving!
ruth

I am a high school senior and I was very pleased to hear this story today. I have been enrolled in a program called Flexible Scheduling, or Flex for short, for the past 4 years and it has been a wonderful learning experience. Seminar based, this program puts all 4 grade levels in the class room for a very difficult, but interesting combined study of English and World Studies. While each subject has it's own time to be isolated, it has been more than necessary to integrate the two. Most importantly, it gives us, the students, the voice in the class room. There are 130 students in total and 5 teachers. Generally, the teacher is present during seminar but never distinctly in charge.

My brother went through this program as well and it turned out that my sophomore year in Flex had the same curriculum as his freshman year in college. The years are divided into Anthropology, Western Civilization, Globalization, and American studies. We have gone over sources such as A Modest Proposal, The Cranes Are Flying, Allegory of the Cave, Powaqquatsi, Kite Runner, Napolean Chagnon's anthropological studies, Soy Cuba even Woody Allen's film Crimes and Misdemeanors. (Only to name a few.)

I have had proud moments in this program, and not so proud. But I have never been dismissed, simply encouraged to do better. It is indeed a sink or swim program, it isn't for everyone, but it's up to each individual to decide. I have come to better understand and love this program over the years. The basic concept of watch/read, write, and discuss helps me retain the information in a way that I don't in any way dread doing. The saying, 'You get out of flex only what you put into it," has been thrown around many of time, and it is so very true.

You begin with Henrich Zimmer, Carl Jung, and Joseph Campbell - how wonderful! And then, as a bonus, we have Adele and Campbell's wife both being dancers. What a synergy! PBS aired a program last week that showed evidence of ritual 500,000 yrs ago in the caves of South Africa. That adds considerable weight to the theory of archetypes. I think neurology will be the "moon shot" of the 21st century. Enlightenment science explaining mythology and vice versa - it doesn't get much better than that.

Great show!

I was energized by the Learning, Doing, Being show. It was a total different and connected approach to my own work.

I am a recent PhD working as an educational technology consultant. I introduce improvisational performance as a methodological approach to using technology in the classroom. I was a classroom teacher in the South Bronx and prior to that I was a Wall Street computer technology consultant. I'm currently working with schools in New York City, Jersey City and Detroit. I am essentially teaching people to be playful in their approach to collaborative learning and hands on project work using technology. My work is based on Vygotsky's theories and the recent work of Lois Holzman and Fred Newman who introduced me to performance and the innovative youth programs that they helped to create http://www.allstars.org.

I find it extremely exciting that neuroscience has discovered the value of dramatic play or what I call performance, in learning, brain development, and I would argue, the every day living of life. Imagine my delight when I heard about how video was used to show the children who made the kites pictures of children playing with the kites in Tibet and the joy that produced. Just yesterday morning I was Skyped into a classroom in Detroit where a project to create videos on math learning will be produced by students there to be shown in a school in South Africa. There are many people out there like myself who are looking for ways into schools to change the fundamental nature of what goes on there. I am one of those people who Dr. Diamond was calling for to do the research. Thanks to her work, social scientists and researcher/practitioners will have more science to support their work.

I am energizing and motivated by the knowledge that I am working at the cutting edge of the science of education and that there are so many people working across so many different disciplines who are converging developmental, humanistic approaches to education. Many thanks Krista for shining a light on this important work, please do more shows on innovation in education it is desperately needed.

Ms Tippet, and SOFers,

Bravo,

Bravo,

Bravo,

For the Mind and Learning program with Adele Diamond...

The melding of the spiritual with the practical... How hopeful, indeed!

john lestino

Adele's research and insights give affirmation to our decisions as parents almost 20 years ago to enroll our children in a Waldorf school. Many thought our decision unusual, as it required some blind trust amongst other things. Although the Waldorf curriculum per se has its roots in a relatively obscure philosophy, its practice is the essence of today's SOF program with Adele. We have seen the results of Waldorf education in our now adult children and we are so glad we 'trusted our gut' when it came to making this all important educational decision for our children.

I am a dancer and performer and artist. I am also a teacher. My mother is a retired public health nurse who spent time in the schools. My father was a school principal who had been a teacher, an assistant principal and then became a principal. Growing up he shared joy and excitement with us. He and my mother taught us that the most important thing is how you treat people. I took their love of humanity and traveled and studied art forms, mostly dance of other cultures. I have incorporated my love in the art forms and my knowledge that children enjoy learning about these forms into my teaching. I have used the forms, the rhythms, the eye-hand coordination to work with students. I have also used masks and allowed the students to put them on and watched how their actual body dynamic changes as they do. They have a built-in ability to take on the personality, emotion strengthvulnerability of the characters. It is beautiful and exciting. For me, this is the most rewarding part of my day.

Every time I occasionally catch a snatch of SOF I have to stop whatever I'm doing and give it my full attention for the rest of the hour. This week, the themes struck especially close to home as we have struggled with how best to educate our (now) 8-yr-old daughter. Raising her biculturally as a Chinese American is very important to us and, when she was 5, we scored a coveted slot at a fully bilingual public school. The curriculum and schedule were grueling and my ebulliant daughter who loved learning so much at her Montessori School began to shut down and become fearful, even panic-stricken. She dutifully trudged through her mountains of homework but became more & more demoralized. My husband decided we had to pull the plug one night after she collapsed in his arms in despair, saying, "I know what I am, Daddy. I'm a bad girl." And this was only kindergarten!!

Amazingly, we were able to switch her into the most progressive private school in our area, sometimes described as a "carnival masquerading as a school." Her days are filled with dramatic play, dance, music, poetry, literature, mythology, art, etc. The children are encouraged to try new things, to discover for themselves and, above all, to enjoy themselves. Her relationships there are rich, loving and myriad. I cannot tell you how much happier my daughter is at her current school, especially because, unlike many of the other students, knows very well that all schools are not like this.

For myself, I've sometimes wondered if she's "learning" enough, whether there's sufficient rigor in the curriculum and whether it's preparing her adequately for "real life." Your program was a giant inoculation against those doubts, one that I will boost by reading more about Adele Diamond's research and experiences.

I especially loved how you ended the program with the story about the kites. Both my husband and I have lately become more pessimistic about humanity's ability to "wake up" and radically change its ways. We draw upon Judaism and Buddhism as our principal spiritual traditions. How wonderful then to hear a program that speaks to our innermost thoughts and feelings so hopefully and profoundly.

I thank everyone for this amazing program that I will endeavor to listen to intentionally from now on. Hooray for podcasts. Now if I can just figure out how to do the downloads....

Speaking of Faith is a regularly scheduled activity. The program with Adele Diamond, was especially exciting and powerful because she articulated and affirmed my own Educational Philosophy and gave much hope for the field of education as well as hope for myself; an unemployed teacher. Is there an experiencial forum for people, educators, administrators, board members, politicians(!?)...to learn more about, thus understand, the implications and applications Ms. Diamond spoke of?

Thank you for this show. I am a special education teacher and very much recognize the connection between what I call intentionality and school success. What struck me was the usefulness of play for achievement. With our school system's implementation of No Child Left Behind mandates and the extensive testing I now have to administer, school is not enjoyable. I used to love the freedom I had to provide and assess learning through creative and playful techniques; now there is "accountability" and "rigorous" instruction which creates an environment of stress and manipulation. I look forward to further exploring Dr. Diamond's work.

The program on learning recalled for me the wonderful learning environment of my 1950's neighborhood in the East Falls portion of Philadelphia. We role played extended stories from those 50's TV shows like "I love Lucy" and "Ozzie and Harriet" in the front patios and back yards of our red brick row house street. Westerns and Space shows and even Robin Hood's adventures were played out in a space at the end of the street called "The dump." The dump was a space where the dirt piled-up from the digging of the foundations of our homes formed a ridge of dry land for a Western stage or the edge of a crater in Outer Space. Can children get this kind of learning experience now?

thanks for the interview with Adele Diamond. I am a folklorist and educator and have worked with traditional artists in the schools for many years- I also volunteer with the Neighborhood Writing Alliance (www.jot.org) in Chicago which offers weekly writing workshops for adults from disenfranchised communities around the city. It was so helpful to hear that there seems to be brain science which proves what those of us who work with the arts and education see every day- that the arts promote critical thinking, deep engagement, and authentic learning of subjects across the curriculum and in the case of adults, that participating in the arts creates community, promotes individual empowerment, and helps to address social issues. I've attached a photo from the Neighborhood Writing Alliance's recent performance at the Chicago Humanities Festival of a music/theater piece based on written essays on the topic of "Where I'm From" . Writer James Rushing from the NWA Hall Branch group is pictured.

Your conversation with Adele Diamond was brilliant! I came up with an idea to help my socially stressed 5th grader and the other 'nice' kids in his school.
Since 4th grade our schools have been presenting dozens of 'anti-bullying' programs with little success. With our sons, we have discussed the feelings of both the bullied and the bully. No matter how this subject is discussed, the bottom line is: bullying is a sad act that comes from and causes pain for everyone involved.
So here's the idea that popped into my head while listening to you and Adele this morning, based on how it feels to do something nice for someone else:
Introduce an old idea: "One Random Act of Kindness."

Each child, daily, during school hours, is charged to do one random act of kindness. During the last 5 minutes of the same day, or during the first 5 minutes of the next day, each child must quick-write about that deed on a small scrap of paper. That paper will then be placed in a special place (I envision a cracked wall, a special box, maybe even taped on the ugliest wall in the building - to beautify) without being read. The writing should include what the act was and how it felt to do it.
At some time (perhaps the end of the semester, end of month, moment of individual need of student or teacher) these 'happy papers', 'good moments', 'kindnesses', can be read to remind everyone/anyone of what kindness feels like.

I think the bully presentations are preaching. I think doing a kindness is experiencing. As Adele so eloquently put it: we learn through experience.

Now, please wish me luck in presenting and implementing this in our school!

I cannot express how much I enjoy your show. It feeds body, mind and soul. It is my Sunday morning. Thank you!

Warm regards,
Stephanie Stewart

i was surprised to hear Ms. Diamond speak in the past tense of the wonderful effects of American Contra Dance! is it possible that she, and you, are not aware that contra dance is thriving today? there is a huge, peripatetic contra community, especially in the southeast. all you need do is look on facebook, it's a major contra meetup! Or search for it on YouTube. Or check out the college scene in Asheville: those kids are amazing! I'm spending a week dancing at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC the week after Christmas, and I can't wait! it provides the same benefits today that she described from the past, now to thousands! (I've attached my own video of last New Year's Eve at Brasstown, and there are dozens of related and favorited videos listed on that page)

The techniques described also work very well with older learners (16 years and older) of whom I have taught for +/-30 years.

On Sunday morning at 7 am whether my alarm wakes me or not I listen to SOF. Some times it takes me a little time to full awake.

The program featuring Adele Diamond describes an education that I know as Waldorf Education. The motto of the school where I taught and where my children went was "We learn with Joy" Physical Action comes before the intellectual abstraction. For example, Writing or form making comes before reading. The whole child is educated. Thinking, feeling and willing are nurtered. There is so much more. I looked at the transcript but saw no mention of it. The oldest Waldorf School in America is the Rudolf Steiner School in NYC.

Am happy to furnish you with more info.

Thanks for all you do. It is worth arising at 7 am to listen. I know I can listen on line but there is something about that time that makes me want to listen then.

I am listening to this show right now...
Ms Diamond talked about El Systema in South America.

Are you aware that there is a linkage to that in the US. In Baltimore MD there is a program funded in part I believe by Marin Alsop the Baltimore Symphony conductor, called Orch-Kids which is trying to bring that philosophy to Baltimore's inner city. Dr. Eric Rasmussen is one of the teachers in that program. You should hear him talk about young kids and music and what music literacy means to a 3 year old!

Eric Rasmussen, PhD
Chair, Early Childhood Music
Peabody Preparatory
www.peabody.jhu.edu/earlychildhood
410-234-4792

As a special ed teacher I have been trying to work explicit experiences in executive function skills into my student's work. I am grateful for the ideas and framing this program provided.

Had to add this re your survey below
How often do I practice my faith? Go to church - weekly/ monthly...
Practice my faith - I hope every day. I hope I am living the core of my faith in everything I do.

I have personally experienced the truth that Adele speaks! I am going to be 60 years old next month. I have been a special education tgeacher for 32 years, and love my profession.
I "retired" under some pressure , last December. I was at the top of my district's pay scale. As my duties and paperwork expanded, and my time for collegial contact diminished, and scrutiny of my performance increased, I felt like an ant under a magnifying glass.
During my final years of teaching in that district, I also underwent hip replacement surgery, and the experience of the final years of my mother's battle with Alzeheimer's and her death. I actually wondered if the concerns of my superiors were an indication that I too was on the slippery downward slope of Alzheimer's disease. And this, of course, caused more concern, worry and self-indeced pressure.

In September I took a part time job at an essential charter school. Here is where Adelle's truths became manifest. The love and respect for each individual is inherent in every encounter, from professional development days to disciplinary issues with students. We are a family! We hike together and pick apples on weekends. We play soccar with our students.I was offered the opportunity, not simply to "monitor students", but to participate with the students in a production of Shakespere's play, Much Ado About Nothing! And we were ENCOURAGED to adapt the play to modern time, and modify our speaches to increase the inherent humor. The result was fabulous!

Last evening, we performed our final performance. This morning, as I listened to Adele's comments, I realized that I felt a good 10 years younger. I no longer feel any impairment in my abilities. In fact, my input has been praised and certainly is valued by ny co-workers. In practicing with these students, I have had a number of opportunities for marvelous discussions and connections on every topic from the 60's music to Robert Burns. We have PLAYED together, danced together, laughed together, held hands and passed the "good feeling" before each performance. I experienced a child-like feeling of excitement, wonder, and anticipation.

I am re-vitalized daily in this environment. I can only hope that school administrators somehow get exposed to Adele's information, and find a way to put it into practice. I believe that this approach can certainly re-vitalize our schools and students everywhere.

I have taught at a Quaker Primary School and now teach college studio art. Adele's practices give structure to the many elements I have seen and used successfully. "Executive Function" sounds like a perfect title for selling these cognitive skills. I plan to study her evidence and ramp up all that I am currently doing and work to sell it school wide, system wide. Thank you for this story!

Adele Diamond's research and work reflects my lifetime learning experience and thus my reflections on how we learn. I am dyslexic, as are my children. I grew up in Evanston, IL in a public school system that was (is) ahead of its time. We had drama, daily gym, all the arts, and a music program that included music appreciation as well as orchestra, band and chorus. My life outside of school was rich with play and cultural experiences. Chicago offered diverse ethnic neighborhoods, museums of every nature, world religions, architecture, the arts, symphony, opera, ballet, circuses, rodeos and beyond. I used to play on the grounds of the Bahia temple. I went to Northwestern University for speech and swimming. I was the subject of a study when I was seven years old (sitting in the middle of tables surrounded by professors from 5 - 7 p.m. on Tuesdays - not fun). I was very active outside of school and was free to roam. I had a fabulous imagination...and yet... with all that said no one recognized that I was dyslexic. My violin teacher thought she had a child prodigy until I had to actually read music and not play by ear. My teachers always recommended summer school thinking that might "fix" me. My sixth grade teacher announced that I would be a straight A+ student if I could get by on imagination alone but, unfortunately, it took work to get good grades. My eighth grade teacher told my mother I was not college material. My fate was sealed. I accepted I was stupid. I still know it today. Those teachers did their work on my self esteem. Then at 16, I had a tutor who taught me morphology. My sophomore year in college my psych professor taught me how to study. My last two years of college I was on the Dean's list. After two years of teaching deaf students, I was awarded a grant that covered my tuition and a living stipend to attend graduate school at Boston University. I taught for 12 more years (K - 12, deaf, hearing impaired, learning "disabled") and then became a stay-at-home mother. In 1996, I tried to re-enter education. I was not current under "Ed Reform". In 1998, my marriage ended. In 1999-2000, I attended Carroll School's (Lincoln, MA) GIFFT program to be trained in the Orton-Gillinham reading approach. At the age off 50, I came to understand my life as an unidentified dyslexic, right-brained, spontaneous, random, abstract learner. I accept myself as a playful child who learns by doing. I returned to work as a public school O-G tutor for 7 years and was literally booted out because I advocated too much for children's rights to learn. My classroom was filled with hands-on toys/materials, and my students did not have to be seated. We made up games and played to learn. (Dr. Stephen Wilkins, psychiatrist/psycholoist once stated, "Kindergarten teacher have it right, it is too bad high school kids aren't allowed to learn that way). As you can surmise, I agree with Adele Diamond's research findings. I have been unemployed since June 2007 with a 5 month break as a long term substitute Title I reading specialist at South Shore Charter Public School in Norwell, MA. It was a utopian experience. The students (K-12) are ethnically and learner diverse. Everyone is honored. All are on first name basis, It is a learning and living community that embraces every aspect of Dr. Diamond's vision of "Learning, Being, Doing". My principal was Ted Hirsch (son of E.D. Hirsch and so much more). Ted graduated from Harvard University in Art. He is dyslexic. He embodies the joy of learning. Prue Goodale is the school's outstanding director. She allows the ebb and flow of daily life in a dynamic learning community. Because it is real, there are problems. Human behavior has not been snuffed out. Yet most problems are resolved as a community. The people of this community are a body that works together to enliven learning, promote curiosity, expand possibilities and allow anyone who can soar to do so. I am fortunate to have heard Krista's interview with Adele Diamond. It brightens my hopes that education can change. Canada has shown wisdom in opening up options based on the scientific research of those who value studying the brain and the whole being. Pestalozzi, Montessori, Vygotsky, Orton, Wernicke, Broca, Shaywitz (to touch on some greats)have given us so much that does not appear to be part of much of USA public education. My hope is for the wisdom of the few to open doors that allow joyful lifetime learning for all. It would be fulfilling to see an end of the assessment driven, regurgitatave state of education that exists in too many classrooms of public education. When muscles are not used they atrophy...let's get up and dance, shout and sing praises to encouraging mindfulness of the wonders of our world and our fortune to be its explorers.

: I LOVE your show. Each week, I learn something new and something to think about, and I get INSPIRATION. This week, I listened to your conversation with Adele Diamond. It confirmed what I suspected: the importance of exercise and group activity, so I applied it immediately to the swimming class I teach for children with a variety of disabilities. Although each child has a different age (development) and special needs, I struggled with the idea of running the class as a "group" worrying that some of the games and songs might not be appropirate for the older kids. Your discussion inspired me to keep trying and get the kids to work as a group as well as get some exercise! This week we had a cohesive group with a lot of laughing a smiles. thanks for your great shows! Sincerely, Diane Skwisz

Dear Krista-
In my first Neuropsychiatry class, we examined value derived through various sensory-motor stimulation within new learning retention and further development of cognitive flexibility addressing individual learning styles.
This "Brick and Mortar" class environment stimulated great debate and inner observations, with all class members.
Many classes later (and conversely) the economy forced me into "Distance Learning" which gives great geographic flexibility though truly deprives my need for Socio-emotional stimulation found far-far less, on line.
I am doing well in my current learning modality though truly miss actually looking at, and speaking with in real-time, members of my class.
Thank you for your good work!

Vincent D. Cornish.

Ps. As you can see, the mountains are my favorite "Chapel."

I was about to doze off on a lazy early Sun. evening when my ears perked as Adele Diamond mentioned the Native American talking stick. About twenty years ago when my youngest of 5 children reached the age of 5, I learned a sharing method and then taught it for our local mental health assn. It was called "Magic Circle", and we always used a "talk ticket", usually a plush animal that the speaker would hold. We taught children in a noninvasive way to share their thoughts and feelings on previously planned simple topics, like "my favorite time of day" or "something beautiful to me". After each child had an opportunity to share, we would go round the circle a 2nd time, so each could share something h/she heard.
We would use the 5 Magic Circle rules, which had hand motions. They include: Everyone gets a turn; It's ok to skip your turn; Everyone gets equal time; Everyone gets listened to and There are no put downs.
Magic Circle worked so well with elementary children, and the training of leaders is so beneficial for the adults who take it. We actually adapted it in various ways. One adaptation we called Discovery Circle, and used in nursing homes and places where seniors gathered. In another adaptation, I taught it to high school students, who then went to the local middle or elementary schools to do it with smaller kids.
I believe the skills were life changing to all who were involved. I wanted so badly to do a research project to demonstrate its value, but of course the time and money were not available.
So often we are not allowed to just enjoy listening to each other; I found that both adults and children often learned through Circle to identify and express their feelings - one of our trained adults did circle with deaf children, for whom identifying feelings was particularly difficult.
Looking back, I know my involvement in circle changed my life and that of my family. I often use skills I learned there, especially in small group settings, like chairing 12 step meetings or a bible study I do at our local jail. Somehow the guys who come to bible study know we really do value their thoughts.
My youngest daughter, who was one of the high schools students involved in our circle project with younger children is now the movement and dance specialist for a non profit preschool organization with a number of locations. I know her "magic" skills are still in use.
One other thing I heard A. Diamond say was right at the end of your interview. She mentioned how we give so little credit to many who work with children and disabled, have great skill and common sense that goes unrecognized because they are not necessarily well educated. My daughter sees this in her work with the wonderful child care people at the centers where she teaches kids and teachers, who then repeat what they've learned with the children after she goes on to the next unit.
My son in law, a psychologist also brought this home to me. He works with teens and young adults who are
in foster care because of their severe mental illnesses. He is often the liason between the psychiatrist and his foster moms, who he believes have an amazing capacity to know what their charges need.
Q

When I heard the topic of conversation I knew I was about to be impacted intimately, as a mother, teacher, consultant, community facilitator, religious educator, workshop leader, and writer. I am an adult with ADD who was forced to develop ways of dealing with the world that involved concentrating on application of my abilities. I began teaching when I was 15, because of a talent for sight-reading music. That intuitive way of seeing and working led me through a rather chaotic life of touring and teaching. I developed ways of facilitating creative process and ultimately I founding a non-profit whose mission it is to "provide access to the creative process for all people". I believe we are all born with intuitive ways of knowing and acting. I am not an academic, but I wrote about my experience, and my story was published in the Institute of Noetic Sciences Review. [Issue 50, December, 1999]

The interview with Adele Diamond was exciting and moving. It affirmed my way of knowing and doing and being that were rooted in experiences of childhood with a mother who was a creative spirit and who had a profound respect for each one's intuitive creativity. This resulted in a lifelong pursuit and development of processes that could aid in recovery of intimacy with intuitive ways of knowing for seekers. With this intimacy restored, we can experience healing of what, for many, have been crippling wounds of super-ego and the resulting 'hyper-executive functioning' of our own minds.

I was disturbed by the emphasis on the 'executive function', since I believe children experience much depression and failure as a result of integrating the super-ego. The emphasis on experience was marvelous, but the reasoning behind explanations of why children behave as they do seems much too narrow. Over the last 30 years I have focused away from the hyper-crippling effects of the super-ego. Those who have expressed interest and have spent a few days with me have been sensitive people from every walk of life; creative, young, old, well-educated, under-educated, law-abiding and outside the law. What I heard was a lot of pain experienced through learned reactive behavior that tends to replace the intimacy we once had with intuitive ways of knowing and behaving.

What I learned through this 'research' is the difference between the grief process, as we know it, and the creative process. According to Sophia Cavaletti, (teacher of Maria Montessori) these are opposing and equally important processes. I deal with a 'hyper-functioning executive' in my head every day.

It's amazing how well I can apply what I learn from SOF to my profession (college math instructor). Too many math students think that they just need to "know the answer" or just show up for the test (many may start doing this, then they seem to disappear). It's so much more than just the answer. I listened to Prof. Diamond's podcast twice and read the transcript. I sent the following email out to my students, with this quote from the show:

“... even in college discipline – being able to exercise discipline and keep at it and practice and study and finish your assignments and start your assignments when you need to – is much more important than IQ.”

Instead of ENDING the semester with this quote, I will BEGIN the next one with it. Thank you, again, for another wonderful show.

Being an elementary teacher for the past 35 years, I believe Ms Diamond made some excellent observations and now there is research that backs what many elementary schools profess and practice: learning and play and joy are all necessary to encourage and challenge a child's learning. We can't control what goes on at home, but we can give wonderful opportunities for children to learn.

Much of what is done in elementary school is inquiry based, which means the attempt is made to fully engage a student. Rarely do kids sit for long periods of time listening (being the passenger), they are active (drivers) who are allowed to explore together and alone and reflect and share their thoughts.

My hope is during my lifetime that the secondary schools will embrace the elementary model of learning and start to really question why they do what they do in classrooms. Is it for the kids' benefit to explore and learn or to get some sort of number or grade on a piece of paper that explains what?

The biggest boon and bust in the US has been No Child Left behind. Developed by elected officials and underfunded and poorly thought out, it stresses content knowledge over skills and process. It's easier to get numbers when one is trying to figure how much someone knows rather than how much someone can do. MCLB is the United States' Titantic. As other countries fly past us, we, unfortunately sit and pat ourselves on the back and compare scores. The iceberg is looming ahead...

I thought that interview was rather interesting, especially because I am taking a psychology class right now in college. I was very intrigued and interested in what Diamond was saying. Her thoughts and ideas makes complete sense once you look back on certain things. Many children want to physically play and be involved with experiments, helping out, and being active. We normally scold children that don't do their homework and would rather play, but in her idea we should admire them and intertwine these two subjects together. These physical activities build our mind stronger and strengthen it. When we have more time to enjoy activities, we are happier. When we are happier, we want to succeed more and are more motivated. In order to learn, we need to want it. This idea makes complete sense to me and I get it. I thought it was rather interesting when Diamond was comparing how we aren't as active in school when we don't engage actively, but she compared a classroom seating as the same in church. Than why do so many people participate and feel part of a whole during church? Over all, I was really into this interview. Thank you.

This program reminds me of who I am and encourages me to follow my instincts in teaching. I recently started teaching in South Korea and somewhere along this journey, which is too long to tell here, I lost a bit of my joy of teaching and experiencing life. In the last couple days I've realized that all that is need for me to thrive and succeed as a teacher and in this place, is my action, but I have yet to fully act. I've always been drawn to acting, improv and play as a form of learning. I now look forward to planning lessons this weekend with an added element of joy and play.

I am grateful for this show. It rekindles my spirituality again and again when I am home or far away from home, though, as long as I am present in my life, I believe I am never far from home. Thank you.

Thanks again, for this thought provoking interview.

First, I have meant to tell you for some time now, that you are a remarkable interviewer in my opinion, the best of all I've ever heard- and the truth is, I have listened and watched MANY others, in my 69 years of life!

And this may sound bizarre, but it always seems to me, that you fall in love just a little bit, with every one you interview.

How else could/would someone listen so carefully, while seamlessly scaffolding the discussion, as you do? Then, bit by bit and very gently, you remove the scaffold, leaving a stunning work of art. The art of course, is the sum of the words and ideas that have emerged during the interview and now glow in that space between the two of you and the listeners. (How does she do it, I marvel. But don't tell me! Magic is too precious and in short supply these days......)

It is not only obvious that you are always well prepared, but you are so eager to engage and hear those you interview. I often wonder, "Does she ever get bored-- or decide to throw an interview out, before it is heard by the audience? Does the magic always work?" I have to say, I can't even imagine you throwing out an interview, so receptive and respectful are you, of the thoughts and stories of others. It is a rare and wonderful attribute you possess and I thank you for sharing it with us.

Regarding the program, this particular interview brought back to me, many days of parenting and teaching young children with special needs. Even more, it brought back to me, my own childhood and studying as a graduate student at Erikson Institute in Chicago.

The mention of Vygotsky was probably the trigger for recalling the single best educational experience I have ever had, which were my years at Erikson. Erik Erikson, Piaget and Vygotsky were mainstays of the graduate program at Erikson, which to this day is primarily devoted to intensive study and research of the child between conception and eight years of age.

Erikson is a place where one not only reads ABOUT Piaget, Erikson, Vygotsky and many other researchers, one actually reads all of their research and their books. Most important though, we were encouraged and were given time to discuss our reading with each other. Because only a portion of the students were teachers; there were doctors, nurses, social workers, community workers, child development researchers, fathers, mothers and many were from diverse cultures, countries etc., so a broad range of different points of view were heard and discussed.

It was a dynamic, fertile learning environment. I never worked so hard and learned so much in my life. I simply loved it!

The learning experiences I had at Erikson, were beyond any I had experienced in school, earlier in my life. I attended a lab school which was attached to a small university and where my father was a professor. One would think that I had the best teaching in that school. But I did not.

My education was unremarkable, which is a loss in my mind. As I recall my early school years, a nondescript blur of rules, regulations and boring assignments float to the surface. My only stimulating and exciting recollections revolve around social interactions between the students and occasionally, with a well-liked teacher. Art and science were intriguing to me, but that interest was never noticed or nourished during my school days. I did well, had good grades, without working hard and I was not inspired. School was a bore. There was a lot of sitting involved and passively listening to teachers.

Fortunately, I was an avid reader, as were my parents and I was highly motivated to learn and encouraged to try new things. My home was full of books and my parents were educated and interesting. My father taught psychology, but he was a talented musician, as well. I constantly listened to classical music, took piano and dance lessons, read everything from encyclopedias to Nancy Drew, fairy tales and beyond. Most of my friends also had parents who taught at the university, so informal but enlightening educational moments permeated my home life and entered into my social relationships. My friends and I were "frequent flyers" at the town library!

But I think now about how even I, a child of a middle class, well educated and stable family, could have gained so much more in school. There is no doubt in my mind, that I missed a great deal.

Your interview reminded me that it was at Erikson, that I first comprehended the enormous value of playfulness and joy, as a critical component of learning. I learned that one of the first, most important things a baby learns, is the ability to view the world and share the experience, during "mutual regard" with others. Simply put, the normal baby learns early on, to share discoveries with others. It brings joy to all involved, so it is likely to be repeated and lead to more learning.

Imagination and creativity are powerful parts of hypothesizing and experimenting. It not only helps in questioning and wondering what is possible, but it helps one to overlook temporary incompetence and drives one toward mastery and self-confidence. Incidently, I learned at Erikson that almost all of my "best" professors had been fairytale addicts as children,too. It was a charming discovery, but it was instructive as well. Fairy tales embody the "ancient wisdom" that was discussed in your interview. Many fairy tales stress the importance of being able to think of novel solutions to problems. As discussed in your interview, we have lost our connections with that wisdom.

But there was one person I met at Erikson who stood out as a guest speaker and whose work fascinated me then and continues to fascinate me to this day. That woman is Vivien Gussin Paley, an author of many books about the learning processes and inner lives of children and their interactions with peers and adults. She is a former kindergarten teacher, the winner of a MacArthur Award for her work on the development of new techniques for using storytelling, story-dictation and acting the stories out, in the classroom. She also received the 1998 American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Before Columbus Foundation.

Vivien's books have helped me crawl back inside a child's brain and experience once again, the inner thinking of a young child. From this special perch, I could watch and feel again how children actually think and how they make sense of the challenges they face. I was able to rediscover the way they resolve the same conflicts and fears that have been age-old themes of ancient stories.

Vivien is a compelling writer, creative teacher and she has the enviable gift of metacognition which never seems to fail her. She is highly disciplined in her commitment to accurately transcribe, describe and interpret the thinking and behavior of young children, but her books are never pedantic or boring.

Above all, she truly understands, respects and champions the need for play, in children's lives. She illustrates how language and concepts naturally develop and are never forgotten, if children are gently guided or left to work out their problems within the classroom. One cannot read her books without understanding that play is as crucial to intellectual development as it is to development of social skills and self confidence.

A prolific writer (especially when one considers that she has been a teacher by day) her book titles include:

In Mrs. Tully's Room (a childcare classroom for 2 yr.olds)

Mollie is Three: Growing Up in School

Bad Guys Can't Have Birthdays:Fantasy Play At Four

White Teacher (Kindergarden)

You Can't Say You Can't Play (Kindergarden)

Wally's Stories (Kindergarden)

The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter

The Girl With the Brown Crayon

Kwanzaa and Me:A Teacher's Story

The Kindness of Children

I searched your archives and did not find her name, so I assume you have not interviewed her. I think of her as being a perfect candidate
for one of your interviews, so I decided to suggest that you consider her. I can think of nothing that would be more enjoyable for me, than to hear the two of you discussing the learning and development of young children!

Quite selfishly, I hope you will consider it!

Victory Kadish

It is so exciting to hear that the government of British Columbia is really listening to people who know what they are talking about, instead of just having a political agenda to push. I hope that the US government follows Canada's example of making its children--their whole selves, emotional, spiritual, physical--their number one priority. In the meantime, I send my son to a Waldorf school, where they have been practicing this kind of whole-person, integrated education for many decades.

This programs affirms a whole-body approach to teaching developmental algebra to 4-year college students and excites me to continue exploring how to incorporate concrete expressions of algebraic concepts into our classrooms. We already use the "multiple learning channel" approach of described by practitioners of "Precision Teaching," and the two approaches complement each other.

As a teacher I always emphasized meta cognition in my elementary classes, the students did very well on state assessments, full of confidence in their ability to learn! I loved this episode of Speaking of Faith, thanks to Krista for bringing Adele on.

New psychological studies reveal that Discipline is a better indicator of success than IQ. This explains EVERYTHING about my life that my IQ cannot. I have so much practicing of Discipline to do.

Thank you for this show.

I was so excited when I heard this program, that I had to have my coffee in my bedroom to listen. I instantly went onto the website for Tools of the Mind and couldn't contain myself.

You see, I am a nurse and artist and have been for years very involved in early childhood learning. It began while raising my own toddlers. I wanted to figure out how I could teach them to read in a way that was most natural for them. I studied my children, observing everything that caught their attention and their reaction to it. I wanted them to retain the same excitement in learning to read that they had while discovering the world around them.
From that information, I created learning tools for teaching them to decode words for reading. Within a month my children were decoding the symbols we use for words, along with spelling and pronunciation and began reading independently.

My adopted son is developmentally delayed and I was told he would never learn to read. Unconvinced, I took him out of school, home-schooling him for 2 years, using my materials and techniques. Today, he is an avid reader and excellent speller and was able to attend a private school after the two years, paid for by the city of New York.

Since then, I've used the tools for tutoring children with special needs, with the same exciting results. Only one student took three months to achieve the success. She had a severe memory problem. She went from getting 0 in spelling tests at school, when I took her on as a student, to getting 100% after three months.
This child had been unable to read anything other than the word "A" for three months, to reading sentences and paragraphs. Her initial progress was painfully slow, but eventually progressed, smoothly.

When I heard the program this morning, I recognized that Leg Vygotsky's concept of Tools of the Mind, was at work here. The materials I had created and the format, facilitated the process, working together. I work with mothers in homeless shelters and in various venues showing them how their children can learn, effectively and how they can be instrumental in their child's success.

I also instituted a very early language, literacy and socialization program for infants and toddlers at a homeless shelter, which included story time sessions 3x weekly. The mothers and babies always looked forward to this and you could see the amazing progress in their learning. Babies increased their vocalization, listening and attention skills, as well as eye contact. Toddlers began requesting books and specific stories to have read to them. Mothers became more attentive and involved in their baby's learning.

I am going to try to connect with Tools of the Mind.

Thank you for this program.

I Love You

Oh my gosh! You so hit the nail on the head in my world! I teach 5th/6th grade in an Iowan Catholic school. You pit words to my daily actions. I constantly tell my students they need to figure out how to figure something out when they don't know the answer. It's the process, not always the end result. I measure each students' success individually - not in comparison with others. This requires a HUGE trust factor, but I feel I work hard to build this component, and it works! Thank-you, thank-you thank-you!!! for acknowledging the value of those in the ranks, working to apply these values. I often feel I want to learn more about this topic but don't feel I can leave my students long enough to do so. Therefore, I am completely happy doing what I do and doing it well. Case in point ... in the Catholic school system, teachers do just about everything but drive the buses. I teach Religion, Lang. Arts, Math and then the content component of Art/Guidance. I do not have an art degree or even emphasis but because I have a passion for both teaching and art, I have figured it out on my own. Consequently, I have received the 2010-2011 Outstanding Elementary Art Educator of Iowa Award, given by NAEA. I am so humbled and in awe of the whole idea. I desperately want to go back and gain a better understanding of art but would need to take a leave of absence, and I guess I want to teach for others more than do something for just myself. As a side note, the Dalia Lama visited the University of N. Iowa last spring and I was able to take a class to study His ideas and them apply them to my art classes. I taught them to meditate, calm their minds and create an individual sand mandala...another whole story ... I can't put that experience into words yet. I would lovew to share this work with you if you are interested. Oh, and I LOVE to play : ) Thank-you again! Joni Krejchi

In the 1980's, i joined with friends to form a ritual group which made yearly treks into wilderness, in mountains, desert, and seashores on the West Coast. We took all our children. We did so many "exercises" that brought our children into adulthood. Children did an overnight alone in the wilderness when they were 12-14, and were welcomed back into the community as adults. All adults did a wilderness overnight alone. We told stories around the campfire where everyone, including kids of all ages, added to a story begun by one person. We did two-person searches for special gifts from the wilderness, joining an adult with a child from another family. We specialized in giveaways in circle.
I feel these experiences created very strong and creative kids, who were recognized as members of the family community. But the strongest feeling was that we were in charge of creating amazement in our own lives.

I have been teaching lower elementary for 40 years at the same school. I am so worried with the direction I see education moving in these days. I use music everyday in my classroom and believe it is very important. I also take my children outside every day for extra play. So many schools are cutting recess time and many teachers do not provide music as part of their day. I loved the program tonight and I wish every principal could listen to what Adele had to say. I hope she keeps talking and sharing what she has learned.

When I was in elementary school (small town Texas, '60s) we went to Music class every day. We had art most days. We put on plays and talent shows. We had two to three recesses a day. We had homework. We took one standardized test a year, and we only heard about it the day before. They told us two things. There would probably be some items we would not know, but not to worry. Just answer correctly as many as we could, sort of like a puzzle or game challenge. Also, we could chew gum that day! Guess what? Though not equally well, everyone in our class could read and write well enough to handle the grade level materials. At least, we all knew how to multiply (and the times tables through the 12's) by the end of 3rd grade and how to divide by the end of 4th. We recited poetry and knew who Leif Eriksson was. We liked school. We respected our teachers. I became a teacher.
My, how things change.

There is lots of research supporting Ms. Diamonds ideas about how children learn, some of it pretty old. The problem can be summed up in a statement by a presenter during a teacher workshop I attended a good many years ago. "No one does more research than educators, and no one ignores more research than educators." (And state lawmakers.) So the business "nose to the grindstone" model of education persists.

I recently retired from teaching after 33 years and I believe so strongly in the "natural learning" philosophy. My educational years as a student were a matter of survival. I have asperghers which was unknown in those years and had limited social skills. Every
day was a struggle to get through it and I didn't know what was wrong with me. Somehow I survived it all and became stronger for it. I have so many stories related to my educational years that I have used to help other students who like me struggle with the "system" called school. I would love to see a complete make-over of the system and utilize play, social skills, hands on learning, communing more with nature, etc. This is the only learning that is worthy of being called education.

Terry thourson
Wauconda, Illinois

This programs affirms a whole-body approach to teaching developmental algebra to 4-year college students and excites me to continue exploring how to incorporate concrete expressions of algebraic concepts into our classrooms. We already use the "multiple learning channel" approach of described by practitioners of "Precision Teaching," and the two approaches complement each other.

As a teacher I always emphasized meta cognition in my elementary classes, the students did very well on state assessments, full of confidence in their ability to learn! I loved this episode of Speaking of Faith, thanks to Krista for bringing Adele on.

New psychological studies reveal that Discipline is a better indicator of success than IQ. This explains EVERYTHING about my life that my IQ cannot. I have so much practicing of Discipline to do.

Thank you for this show.

it is very good for it.

This interview got me to my first contra dance and has fed my own passionate pursuit of a degree in anthropology. It's also been a real touchstone in my exploration of play, playfulness and creativity in my life. I went to contra dance for the neuroscience, stayed for the fun and my life and learning have been enhanced by both. Enchanting, fascinating interview, thanks!

I'm listening in Philadelphia at 7am on 8/10/14 on WHYY-Fm. the interview is a thoughtful wonderful discussion that touches me. THe parts so far that are particularly interesting are THe role of play in cognitive development, an Executive function Statement and more. And this statement which is something like, "The child's ability to play with other children tells more about future intellectual development than other criteria." The statement is interesting. Boys may take longer to sit still in class than girls. Well, maybe boys and all active children should not be sitting still but should be outside or inside playing. And, Perhaps, most homework for young children could be a short exercise at home and most of the work could be done during the day at school.
Thank you Krista for this show and many of the others that I enjoy.
-I'm surprised that the letters of the message I'm writing are all upper case letters. I don't like that very much. However, when I copied and pasted to another place the letters paste to upper case and lower case letters. thank you for that.
Take care,
Joyce

I am a mom of two young children (5 & 7) and I am 29 years old. I have homeschooled the oldest since preschool, and my youngest has just followed along the whole time. Much of what Adele talked about in this interview is what a lot of us have found to be some of the top reasons for homeschooling our children. Although I am a Christian, normally thought of as the main group who homeschool their children, the number of unaffiliated people who have started to homeschool in the past few years has completely overshadowed what was once thought of as a religious-only movement, for some of these exact reasons.

So many of the things Mrs. Diamond talks about are the reasons we have chosen to homeschool. It gives our children *time* to be children, time to grow up slowly, to play for huge lengths of time, that just wouldn't be possible if they were in a public school system. We value the outdoors and spend many hours outside moving our bodies on hikes, playing in the sand at the beach, and using all our senses, learning through observation and play. These of course can be experienced by families in all types of schooling, but again, we have much more time to spend doing so.

I was also interested to hear her talk about memorization. In Classical Homeschooling--a group that follows the teachings of Charlotte Mason--memorization is started from the very beginning, including learning "difficult" things like historical events + dates, grammar rules, etc. So many homeschoolers religiously affiliated or not, are finding these things out by reading and listening to research exactly like this, and putting it into practice in their own homes. Peter Gray, a psychologist, also has research out in a similar vein about play.

Thank you for your research, Mrs. DIAMOND, and Krista, Thank you for the interviews such as this, which not only help educators and therefore, students, but that also have meaning and practicality for many other avenues in life.

What a wonderful program. It nourished my soul.

Knowing some students with learning differences, this makes so much common practical sense!

Note to Diamond: Enjoyed your lecture. My PhD described my system of education (birth to high school) incorporating modalities and techniques for creating and maintaining healthy bodies and healthy minds. It makes learning fun, progressing according to one’s abilities and pace, develops specific skills and learning skills in general. Teaches spiritual values aka good citizenry. Has Low stress environment (including foods and smells, etc.). Is Family-friendly. The system is designed to be opt-in from any school, any classroom in the country ( and with translation and some adaptations-- in the world. Can be in addition (after school, home schooling) or in lieu of traditional education. I had hoped to start a prototype in my home and build up to a fully functioning system (14 staff, 68 students, 80 integrated components). I would refine the prototype and then make it available for use by any one or any school who would wish to use it. Recently, I feel that I have “aged-out” and need something (support, etc.) to continue. Do you have any ideas about this or know anyone who would want to work at such an endeavor?

To: best show on radio
Re: attention

Fragments of a whole
Filtered?
Congeal
Shadows behind the campfire
Shards sliced by memory's reflection
Search for a center
In balance
Knowing
Seeing
Attuned

Lost