Posted in Life sparks, Sparks at work

I am studying at Harvard and you can too.

I was out with my lovely friend Jen last week and we were talking about our lives over a nice bottle of pinot gris. I was talking about how I’m at a bit of a crossroads and not sure what to do next and Jen told me about a course that someone at her work had told the HR peeps about. It’s a free online course that they’re trialling at Harvard University – Unlocking the Immunity to Change.

A lot of time and effort and psychological brain power has gone into the development of this course (and the Immunity to Change process that sits behind it), which seems – in a nutshell – to support the proposition that you can teach an old dog new tricks. So, when people say, “I’m too old to learn X”, or, “I’ve always been like this – too late to change now”, or, “There is no way that I can stop/start doing Y”, it may well be a load of nonsense.

Apparently, this process gives you easy steps to help focus on a self development type of goal – maybe one that you’ve struggled with for a while, but have never been able to achieve. Through the online course (which has a very user-friendly interface and lots of support – I’ve just checked out the introductory info for Week 1), you’ll be guided through the process and invited to participate in activities. There’s no pressure – you don’t have to comment on forums or submit assignments, but the obvious suggestion is that if you’re really interested in achieving your goal, you might as well have a crack at the activities that the experts provide.

Anyways, if you’re interested in this course too, you can sign up for it here and the first week of readings/activities etc starts from Tuesday.

I’m a bit of a geek and have always wanted to study at Harvard, so the online course commitment was an easy decision for this old dog. And whether you are hoping to give up smoking or join the circus or lose weight or run a marathon or fold a fitted sheet, you might like to join me.

New tricks? I say bring them on, Harvard.

Posted in Sparks at work

Buona Pasqua (and The Sticker Economy)

This is the card that my niece Fox made this week in her Italian class (in her first year at high school), presumably to reassure the parents that the girls are at least covering the key festivities in their Italian lessons. The teacher (known as the mysterious “Prof C”) sounds like a truly eccentric Italian lady and it’s great to witness Fox’s Italian vocab and accent improving so quickly.

Prof C also appears to be running her classroom as a sort of alternate State, with its own currency – scratch ‘n’ sniff stickers. I didn’t even know that they made such things anymore, so perhaps the State is like a former Soviet territory, with slightly out-of-date music, fashion and stationery items. Anyhoo, the way the State economy works is thus: if you perform well in a test (8/10), then you are awarded one sticker to add to your workbook; if you perform really well in a test (10/10), then you are awarded two stickers to add to your workbook. At the end of the year, the person with the most stickers will receive a prize (very practically, a sticker book and a pencil case).

The first of four school terms has just finished and as yet it sounds as though there is no black market for scratch ‘n’ sniff stickers after class in the school hallways. But I like to think that by Term 3, some enterprising regazza will have worked out a way to trade stickers, upgrade stickers and possibly even forge stickers to supplement the workbooks of students who haven’t scored so well.

Or perhaps – like so many other economies built on big dreams – Prof C’s State will collapse in a dramatic meltdown by the year’s end. The market will be flooded with stickers, devaluing them and causing the weaker students to dance on the desktops with glee, while the advanced students shred their workbooks (neatly) into the bin of broken promises. Now that’s an education.