Change How You Learn With Genetic Engineering CRISPR

genetic engineering CRISPR studygate

Imagine you were alive back in the 1980s. You were told that computers would soon take over everything. Shopping, dating, the stock market, everything would be connected via a kind of web. You would also own a handheld device orders of magnitudes more powerful than supercomputers.

It would seem absurd. Right?

Instead, science fiction became our reality.

We’re at a similar point today with genetic engineering.

A very short and incomplete history of genetic modification

Humans have been engineering life for thousands of years, but a recent breakthrough will change how we live and alter what we perceive as normal forever.

James Watson and Francis Crick defined the structure of DNA in 1953. This code of life, Deoxyribonucleic Acid defines our very existence. This is a complex molecule that guides the growth, development, function, and reproduction of everything alive.

Information is encoded in the structure of the molecule. Four nucleotides are paired and make up a code that carries instructions. Change the instructions and you change the being carrying those instructions. As soon as DNA was discovered, people tried to tinker with it.

The past 50 years

In the 1960s, scientist bombarded plants with radiation to cause random mutations in the genetic code. The idea was to get a useful plant variation by pure chance. Sometimes it actually worked too.

In the 1970s, scientists inserted DNA snippets into bacteria, plants, and animals to study and modify them for research, medicine, and agriculture. The earliest genetically modified mouse was born in 1974, making this animal a standard tool for research and saving millions of lives.

In the 1980s, we got commercial. During this time, the first patent was given for a microbe engineered to absorb oil. Today we produce many chemicals by means of engineered life, like life-saving clotting agents, growth hormones, and insulin. Before, we had to harvest these products from the organs of animals.

The genetically modified food went on sale in 1994: the Flavr Savr tomato. It was a tomato with a much longer shelf life thanks to an extra gene that suppresses the build-up of a rotting enzyme. The 1990s also had a brief foray into human engineering. To treat maternal infertility, babies were made that carried genetic information from 3 humans. This made them the first humans ever to have 3 genetic parents.

Fast forward to today and you will find super-muscled pigs, fast-growing salmon, featherless chicken, and see-through frogs. On the fun side, we made things glow in the dark. Fluorescent zebrafish are available for as little as ten dollars. All of this is already very impressive, but until recently gene editing was extremely expensive, complicated, and took a long time to do.

The game changer

This has now changed with a revolutionary new technology now entering the stage—CRISPR. Overnight, the costs of engineering have shrunk by 99%! Instead of a year, it takes a few weeks to conduct experiments, and basically everybody with a lab can do it. It’s hard to get across how big a technical revolution CRISPR is. It literally has the potential to change humanity forever.

But why did this sudden revolution happen and how does it work?

The oldest war on earth

Bacteria and viruses have been fighting since the dawn of life. So-called bacteriophages or phages hunt bacteria. In the ocean, phages kill 40 % of bacteria every single day. Phages do this by inserting their own genetic code into the bacteria and taking them over to use them as factories. The bacteria try to resist but fail most the time because their protection tools are too weak.

However, bacteria sometimes survive an attack. Only if they do so can they activate their most effective antivirus system: they save a part of the virus DNA in their own genetic code in a DNA archive called CRISPR. Here it’s stored safely until it’s needed.

CAS9 is the game changer

When the virus attacks again, the bacterium quickly makes an RNA copy from the DNA archive and arms a secret weapon—a protein called CAS9. The protein now scans the bacterium’s insides for signs of the virus invader by comparing every bit of DNA it finds to the sample from the archive. When it finds a 100-percent perfect match, it’s activated and cuts out the virus DNA, making it useless. This protects the bacterium against the attack.

What’s special is that CAS9 is very precise, almost like a DNA surgeon. The revolution began when scientists figured out that the CRISPR system is programmable. You can just give it a copy of DNA you want to modify and put the system into a living cell. If the old techniques of genetic manipulation were like a map, CRISPR is like a GPS system. Aside from being precise, cheap, and easy, CRISPR offers the ability to edit live cells, to switch genes on and off, and target and study particular DNA sequences.

It also works for every type of cell: microorganisms, plants, animals, or humans. But despite the revolution CRISPR is for science, it’s still just a first generation tool. More precise tools are already being created and used as we speak.

The end of disease?

In 2015, scientists use CRISPR to cut the HIV virus out of living cells from patients in the lab, proving that it was possible. Only about a year later, they carried out a larger scale project with rats that had the HIV virus in basically all of their body cells. By simply injecting CRISPR into the rats tails, they were able to remove more than 50 % of the virus from cells all over the body. In a few decades, a CRISPR therapy might cure HIV and other retroviruses. Viruses that hide inside human DNA like Herpes could be eradicated this way.

CRISPR could also defeat one of our worst enemies—cancer. Cancer occurs when cells refuse to die and keep multiplying while concealing themselves from the immune system. CRISPR gives us the means to edit your immune cells and make them better cancer hunters. Getting rid of cancer might eventually mean getting just a couple of injections of a few thousand of your own cells that have been engineered in the lab to heal you for good.

The first clinical trial for a CRISPR cancer treatment on human patients was approved in early 2016 in the US. Not even a month later, Chinese scientists announced that they would treat lung cancer patients with immune cells modified with CRISPR in August 2016. Things are picking up pace quickly.

And then there are genetic diseases

There are thousands of them and they range from mildly annoying to deadly to entailing decades of suffering. With a powerful tool like CRISPR, we may be able to end this. Over 3,000 genetic diseases are caused by a single incorrect letter in your DNA. We are already building a modified version of CAS9 that is made to change just a single letter, fixing the disease in the cell. In a decade or two, we could possibly cure thousands of diseases forever. But all of these medical applications have one thing in common: they are limited to the individual and die with them, except if you use them on reproductive cells or very early embryos.

But CRISPR can and probably will be used for much more: the creation of modified humans—designer babies—and will mean gradual, but irreversible changes to the human gene pool.

Form follows instruction: Designer babies

The means to edit the genome of a human embryo already exists. The technology is still in its early stages, but it has already been attempted twice. In 2015 and 2016, Chinese scientists experimented with human embryos and were partially successful on their second attempt.

They showed the enormous challenges we still face in gene editing embryos, but also that scientists are working on solving them. This is like the computer in the 1970s. There will be better computers.

Regardless of your personal take on genetic engineering, it will affect you. Modified humans could alter the genome of our entire species, because their engineered traits will be passed on to their children and could spread over generations, slowly modifying the whole gene pool of humanity.

The revolution will start slowly

The first designer babies will not be overly designed. It’s most likely that they will be created to eliminate a deadly genetic disease running in a family. As the technology progresses and gets more refined, more and more people may argue that not using genetic modification is unethical, because it condemns children to preventable suffering and death and denies them the cure.

But as soon as the first engineered kid is born, a door is opened that can’t be closed anymore. Early on, vanity traits will mostly be left alone. But as genetic modification becomes more accepted and our knowledge of our genetic code enhances, the temptation will grow. If you make your offspring immune to Alzheimer, why not also give them an enhanced metabolism? Why not throw in perfect eyesight? How about height or muscular structure? Full hair? How about giving your child the gift of extraordinary intelligence? Huge changes are made as a result of the personal decisions of millions of individuals that accumulate.

This is a slippery slope—Modified humans could become the new standard

But as engineering becomes more normal and our knowledge improves, we could solve the single biggest mortality risk factor: aging. Two-thirds of the 150,000 people who died today will die of age-related causes. Currently we think aging is caused by the accumulation of damage to our cells, like DNA breaks and the systems responsible for fixing those wearing off over time. But there are also genes that directly affect aging. A combination of genetic engineering and other therapy could stop or slow down aging, maybe even reverse it.

We know from nature that there are animals immune to aging such as lobster. Maybe we could even borrow a few genes for ourselves. Some scientists even think biological aging could be something that eventually just stops being a thing.

We would still die at some point, but instead of doing so in hospitals at age 90, we might be able to spend a few thousand years with our loved ones. Research into this is in its infancy, and many scientists are rightly skeptical about the end of aging.

Dream big!

The challenges are enormous and maybe it is unachievable, but it is conceivable the people alive today might be the first to profit from effective anti-aging therapy. All we might need is for someone to convince a smart billionaire to make it their next problem to solve. On a bigger scale, we certainly could solve many problems by having a modified population. Engineered humans might be better equipped to cope with high-energy food, eliminating many diseases of civilization like obesity. In possession of a modified immune system, with a library of potential threats, we might become immune to most diseases that haunt us today.

Even further into the future, we could engineer humans to be equipped for extended space travel and to cope with different conditions on another planets, which would be extremely helpful in keeping us alive in our hostile universe.

Nothing wrong with progress, But.. a few grains of salt

Still, a few major challenges await us: some technological, some ethical. Many of you watching will feel uncomfortable and fear that we will create a world in which we will reject non-perfect humans and pre-select features and qualities based on our idea of what’s healthy.

We are already living in a genetically modified world

Tests for dozens of genetic diseases or complications have become standard for pregnant women in much of the world. Often the mere suspicion of a genetic defect can lead to the end of a pregnancy. Take Down syndrome for example, one of the most common genetic defects. In Europe, about 92 % of all pregnancies where it’s detected are terminated.

The decision to terminate pregnancy is incredibly personal, but it’s important to acknowledge the reality that we are pre-selecting humans based on medical conditions. There is also no use in pretending this will change, so we have to act carefully and respectfully as we advance the technology and can make more and more selections.

Powerful and imperfect solutions

But none of this will happen soon. As powerful as CRISPR is—and it is, it’s not infallible yet. Wrong edits still happen as well as unknown errors that can occur anywhere in the DNA and might go unnoticed. The gene edit might achieve the desired result—disabling a disease, but also might accidentally trigger unwanted changes.

We just don’t know enough yet about the complex interplay of our genes to avoid unpredictable consequences. Working on accuracy and monitoring methods is a major concern as the first human trials begin.

And since we’ve discussed a possible positive future, there are darker visions too. Imagine what a state like North Korea could do if they embraced genetic engineering. Could a state cement its rule forever by forcing gene editing on their subjects? What would stop a totalitarian regime from engineering an army of modified super soldiers? It is doable in theory. Scenarios like this one are far, far off into the future, if they ever become possible at all. But the basic proof of concept for genetic engineering like this already exists today.

The technology really is that powerful

While this might be a tempting reason to ban genetic editing and related research, that would certainly be a mistake. Banning human genetic engineering would only lead to the science wandering off to a place with jurisdiction and rules that we are uncomfortable with. Only by participating can we make sure that further research is guided by caution, reason, oversight, and transparency.

Let’s wrap this up: Conclusion

Do you feel uncomfortable now? Genetically speaking, most of us have something wrong with us. In the future that lies ahead, would we have been allowed to exist? The technology is certainly a bit scary, but we have a lot to gain. Genetic engineering might just be a step in the natural evolution of intelligent species in the universe. We might end disease. We could extend our life expectancy by centuries and travel to the stars. There’s no need to think small when it comes to this topic. Whatever your opinion on genetic engineering, the future is approaching no matter what. What has been insane science fiction is about to become our new reality, a reality full of opportunities and challenges.

Original content by Kurzgesagt – In A Nutshell

Study Tips: Human thinking explained

human thinking explained

It isn’t easy to have human thinking explained. For most of us, thinking is at least somewhat unpleasant. We try to avoid it, where possible.

The reality is that we all have blind spots in our thinking due to the fundamental way that our brains work. One way of modeling how the brain operates is as though there are two systems at work.

Drew and Hazelyn

Psychologists call them system one and system two, but maybe it’s useful to think of them as characters. So let’s call system one Hazelyn and system two Drew.

Drew represents your conscious thought, the voice in your head. This is the voice that says, “I am who you think you are.” He’s the one capable of following instructions. Drew can execute a series of steps too. But Drew is lazy. It takes effort to get Drew to do anything, and he is slow. But he’s also the careful one, capable of catching and fixing mistakes.

Now meet system one, Hazelyn. She is incredibly quick, which she needs to be since she’s constantly processing lots of information coming through your senses. Hazelyn picks out the relevant bits and discards the rest, which is most of it. She also works automatically without Drew being consciously aware of it.

The way I like to think of these characters is related to one of your main memory structures. Hazelyn’s automatic responses are made possible by long-term memory. This is the library of experiences you’ve built up over your lifetime.

In contrast, Drew exists entirely within working memory so he’s only capable of holding four or five novel things in mind at a time. This is perhaps one of the best-known findings from psychology. Our capacity to hold and manipulate novel information is incredibly limited like when trying to remember a string of random numbers.

But we are able to overcome these limitations if the information is familiar to us.

How to test Drew

Let me give you four random digits “8102″. Now these would normally take up most of your working memory capacity just to remember. But if you reverse them, 2018, they are now just the present year.

The process of grouping things together according to your prior knowledge is called chunking. You can actually hold four or five chunks in working memory at once. So the larger the chunks the more information you can actively manipulate at one time.

Learning is then the process of building bigger chunks by storing and further connecting information in long-term memory. This is essentially passing off tasks from Drew to Hazelyn. In order for this to happen, Drew first has to engage with the information actively, often multiple times.

For example, when you were first learning to tie your shoelaces, you probably recited a rhyme to help you remember what to do next. You used up all your working memory in the process. But after doing it over and over and over again, it gradually became automatic. Drew doesn’t have to think about it anymore because Hazelyn gets it.

Musicians and sports stars refer to this as muscle memory. Of course, the memory is not the muscles. It’s still in the brain, just controlled by Hazelyn. Slow and deliberate conscious practice repeated often enough leads to automatic processes.

99% of the time what appears to be superhuman ability comes down to the incredible automation skills of Hazelyn and developed through the painstaking deliberate practice of Drew. What’s interesting is that it’s actually possible to see how hard Drew is working just by looking at someone.

Here’s an exercise

I’m going to show you four digits, I want you to read them out loud and then after two seconds, I want you to say each number, but adding one to each digit.

So, as an example, 7 2 9 1 should be… 8 3 0 2. This is called the Add One task and it forces Drew to hold these digits and memory while making manipulations to them.

Now it’s important to say the numbers at the end of two seconds, but this time try to add three. Ready? Here’s another one:

4739

 

 

 

 

What you’re unaware of is that as you’re completing this task, your pupils are dilating. When Drew is hard at work as he is in this task, you have a physical response. This includes increased heart rate, sweat production, and pupil dilation.

When this research was originally carried out, the researchers made a surprising observation. When the participants were not engaged with the tasks and were just chatting with the experimenters, their pupils didn’t really dilate at all. This indicates that the Add One and Add Three tasks are particularly strenuous for system two. Most of our day-to-day life is a stroll for Drew with most tasks are handled automatically by Hazelyn. We spend a lot of our lives lounging around. Our brains also spend most of their time doing the mental equivalent.

And I don’t mean to make that sound like a bad thing! This is how our brains evolved to make the best use of resources. For repetitive tasks, we developed automatic ways of doing things, reserving Drew’s limited capacity for things that really need our attention. In some circumstances, there can be mix-ups of course.

For example, if you spend any amount of time in Australia, one of the first things you will need to relearn is to turn the lights on by flicking the switch down. If you grew up in North America, Drew, “knows” that “down” was “off” in Australia. Oops!

Drew endorses the idea of flipping the switch down to turn off without being consciously aware that the answer came from Hazelyn. He goes forward without checking it. After all, the direction sounds reasonable and Drew is lazy.

So how do you get Drew to do more work?

Researchers have found at least one way. When they gave out a clearly printed test including the “Bat and Ball”question to incoming college students, 85% got at least one wrong. When they printed the test in a hard-to-read font with poor contrast, the error rate dropped to thirty-five percent. The harder to read test resulted in more correct answers. The explanation for this is simple. Since Hazelyn can’t quickly jump to an answer, he hands off the task to Drew who then invests the required mental effort to reason his way to the correct answer.

When something is confusing, Drew works harder. When Drew works harder, you’re more likely to reach the right answer and remember the experience.

This is something the advertising industry can use to its advantage.

Here’s a billboard with no clear meaning:

human thinking explained studygate

There is no logo and no indication of what it is for. This seems to go against all the basic principles of advertising. The viewer should see what the product does, how it’s better than the competition, and observe clear branding. The goal is usually to make the message as easy to understand as possible so Drew doesn’t have to work very hard.

But if you look at a lot of effective advertising today, it’s changed to be more confusing. There really is an “Un” advertisement campaign in Sydney, Australia, and they are everywhere. With “Un” there is no stress, just unstress. No hassle, just unhastle. With “Un” you can undo what you did, you can undrive through the car wash with the window down or unbreak dance in front of your teenage son. And his friends. “Un” makes life relaxing and unreal. “Un” your life. Be happy and live for now. Don’t worry. Unworry.

Can you guess what the ads were for?

They’re actually for insurance.

Now that advertising is everywhere, Hazelyn is skilled at filtering it out. If I see another insurance ad, I never would give it a second thought. But if something doesn’t make sense, my mind refers it to Drew.

This same realization has been happening in education. Lectures which have long been the dominant teaching method are now on the decline.

Like the old form of advertising, they’re too easy to tune out and often, especially in science lectures, too many new pieces of information are presented. That exceeds Drew’s capacity because he doesn’t have big enough chunks to break the material into.

In place of lectures, universities are introducing workshops, peer instruction, and formats where students are forced to answer more questions, and do more work than just listen and take notes.

This will undoubtedly make Drew work harder, which is good because that’s how learning happens, but a lot of students don’t like it because it requires more effort. Just as it’s hard to motivate someone to get off the couch and exercise, it’s hard to get Drew to give his full effort. There’s an appeal to doing things you already know.

That’s why we need Hazelyn to push Drew and do something new.

Original content by Veritasium

How long will you live?

How long will you live? 10,000 years ago, the average human life lasted just over 30 years, and then a hundred years ago that number was up to 50. If you were born in the last few decades in the developed world, then your life expectancy is 80 years. But that is of course assuming that no major breakthroughs happen during your lifetime that can slow the process of aging.

That may be a very bad assumption.

According to Dr. Fiona Ginty, aging is not always recognized as a disease. There are plenty of diseases we do acknowledge like diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. At their core, aging may be responsible for all of them.

And yet aging seems natural because it’s something that we do from birth and for a while it makes us better. Bigger, stronger, faster, more intelligent. But then at some point in your life it reverses and aging makes our bodies decay and degrade.

Why do we have to age?

Scientists are now realizing there is a fundamental cellular mechanism at the heart of aging. Do we age at the macroscopic level because our cells are aging at the microscopic level? To a great extent, yes. There’s only a finite number of times a cell will divide.

The key discovery was made by a biologist named Hayflick. He was studying normal human cells. He found that they can only divide a finite number of times, usually about 50. Beyond that, the cell becomes senescent, which means it’s an aged cell. It can divide no longer. It lives for a little while but it’s the accumulation of these senescent cells in our bodies that leads to aging on the macroscopic scale.

So it’s as though cells have this little timer inside them that tells them when to stop dividing. But how do they know, and what is that timer?

Telomeres

According to Dr. Ginty, “telomeres are like how your shoelaces have a little bit of plastic at the end to stop them from fraying.” So when your telomeres wear out, the chromosomes stop multiplying. When they work, they keep the chromosome together and stop them from sticking to other chromosomes. Dr. Ginty explains that every time a cell divides, it loses about 200 base pairs of telomere due to the mechanics of the action. “There’s only so much space when DNA polymerase does its job of replicating when it’s copying.”

So the telomere getting shorter is like your molecular clock. The cellular clock inside each cell that tells it how many times it has divided. Would you want to have your telomeres measured?

Well, we can at least lengthen our telomeres!

There have been associations made with lifestyle and exercise showing that longer telomeres are associated with a more active lifestyle.

If we could stop the telomeres from shortening, maybe the cells would live forever. There’s another enzyme involved called telomerase, and it keeps rebuilding.

Telomase

Telomase rebuilds the telomere, and there is one animal that doesn’t seem to age—the lobster. It just gets bigger over time. It doesn’t get weaker and its chromosomes don’t change. It has long telomeres that do not shorten, so it only dies when it gets eaten by something else like a human. So how can we be more like a lobster?

how long will you live? studygate

Well, that answer is a little complicated.

Unfortunately, cancer is a perfect example of telomerase being hyperactive. In the end, it becomes an unregulated growth situation. —This is the double-edged sword of telomeres and telomerase. Cancer cells have really long telomeres, and they can divide indefinitely, and that is the problem with cancer. Cancer is dividing cells that won’t stop and they won’t die. So, in a way, cancer is the immortal cell living within us.

So maybe we have telomeres that shorten for a very good reason; otherwise they could become cancerous. One of the theories there is that the cells divide that limited number of times because it stops them from accumulating damage that may be detrimental. Telomeres might stop cells from becoming cancerous.

Over the past hundred years, developments in medicine have increased human lifespan more than we could have imagined, and I can only expect that the next hundred years will bring similarly incredible results. I’m not sure where or how they will take place, but you can bet that your life expectancy today will not be the actual age at which you die.

Original content by Veritasium

Is Our Food Becoming Less Nutritious?

food becoming less nutritious studygate

Is our food becoming less nutritious? Many people claim that the nutrient content in our food has been decreasing over the decades. But is this really true, and should we be worried?

A study published in 2004 looked at 43 different common garden crops. It examines how their nutritional value had changed between 1950 and 1999. What they found was that on average, the protein content of those plants decreased by about 6%, Vitamin C decreased 15%, and vitamin B2 by a whopping 38 percent. They also noticed declines in minerals like iron and calcium. Now, there is some debate around the numbers because. How well could we really have measured those nutrients back in 1950? But there is still concern that the food we’re eating today might be less nutritious than the same vegetables 50 years ago. Several other recent studies also suggest a pattern is emerging.

So if we’re witnessing a nutrient collapse, what’s causing it?

One factor that many people point to is depletion of the soils. Given plants to draw their nutrients up from the soil, intense farming practices were thought to be the cause of nutrient depletion. If you look at micronutrients, there are decreasing levels in plants. But, farmers have always (besides the Dust Bowl of the 1930s) put a lot of effort into maintaining their soils. They used fertilizers to ensure that the plants have all the nutrients they need. This makes makes the soil depletion argument less convincing. We’re still getting big plants. They wouldn’t grow that well if they didn’t have the nutrients they need in the soil.

So why else might nutrients be declining?

Another possibility is that it’s selective breeding. If you look at crops like corn today, they’re barely recognizable when you compare them to the wild corn from which these were bred. Since the advent of agriculture, we have been breeding our food crops. The result has been higher yields, resistance to pests, and adaptation to changes in the climate. We’ve been successful. Crops are now bigger and grow faster than ever before. But are they more nutritious? Maybe we’ve accidentally been breeding the nutrition out of our foods in pursuit of other objectives. It’s tough to really assess how big of a factor selective breeding is. We can’t easily compare this produce to the same produce a hundred years ago or a thousand years ago.

So we need something else to be able to determine whether it’s selective breeding causing this decrease or something else. What would be really helpful would be a plant that has never been selectively bred. Where would you find one like that?

Well, this is where weeds come in handy. In North America, there is a wild flower called goldenrod. It’s an important source of protein for bees, but not humans. So it has remained wild and untouched by selective breeding, but how would you know what goldenrod was like 100 or 200 years ago?

Fortunately, the Smithsonian Institute has been keeping hundreds of samples of goldenrod dating all the way back to 1842. Using these samples and samples they collected in 2014, scientists were able to compare modern goldenrod with goldenrod from over a hundred years ago. The results were astounding. They found that there was a 30% decrease in the amount of protein in the goldenrod pollen over that period.

If it’s not selective breeding, what else has contributed to goldenrod becoming less nutritious over the last 150 years or so?

One rather surprising idea was that carbon dioxide could play a vital role. CO2 basically increases the growth of all plants. Over the last couple of centuries, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased a lot. It has gone from about 280 parts per million to over 400 parts per million today. Now, that might not sound like a lot, but if you’re thinking of it as plant food, we’re talking about an increase by almost 50%, and we can see the impact from space. It’s called the greening of the planet.

Scientists have been tracking the impact of CO2 on plants via experiments called FACE, which stands for Free Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment. Their experiments run by injecting more CO2 into the area where plant crops are grown, and they find that wheat, barley, rice and potatoes; they will grow faster if there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere.

But here’s the thing. They don’t necessarily become more nutritious, they simply put on more carbs. In other studies conducted in Japan and China, scientists pumped carbon dioxide into rice crops to simulate the kind of CO2 concentrations expected in 50 years time. On average, protein levels fell by 10 percent, iron by 8 percent, and zinc by 5 percent, But a lower concentration of nutrients doesn’t necessarily correlate with a decline in the plant’s nutrient contents. It’s called the dilution effect.

So what does all this mean for us?

By 2050 scientists estimate that up to a hundred and fifty million people in the developing world may be on the verge of protein deficiency, due to the decreasing levels of protein in their staple foods. So does that mean we should all be taking vitamins and supplements? Well, no. At least, not yet.

The nutrient declines are small enough that you should still be able to get everything you need from a well balanced diet, Including plenty of fruits and veggies. But, the increasing levels of CO2 and the dilution effect may be exacerbating the obesity epidemic. The thinking goes like this: We feel full, or satiated, when we’ve consumed a certain amount of protein. So if the protein levels are going down We may have to eat more food, more carbohydrates, and more fats to achieve the same level of protein. And that may make us fatter. While this is still a contentious theory, what is becoming increasingly clear is that the changing atmosphere, specifically the rising level of CO2, is changing the food we eat.

Content courtesy of Veritasium

The Scientific Benefits of Boredom

scientific benefits of boredom studygate

The scientific benefits of boredom might not be obvious. But they are very real. In a recent study participants were placed in a room for between 6 and 15 minutes. They were given nothing except a button that they knew would shock them if they pressed it. They were asked to entertain themselves with their thoughts, but they could self administer the shock if they so chose. So what happened? Well, 25% of women and 67% of men shocked themselves. This is despite the fact that they had previously told the experimenters that they would pay money to avoid the shock.

Apparently they’d rather experience physical pain than just be bored; to have nothing to keep them occupied but their thoughts.the scientific benefits of boredom studygate

But they are not alone. Around 95% of American adults report participating in some leisure activities over the past 24 hours. But only 17% say they spent any time at all just relaxing and thinking, because that apparently is boring, and being bored is unpleasant.

What is boredom?

Well contrary to popular belief, it’s not when you have absolutely nothing to do. It’s just when none of the options you have available appeal to you.

Boredom is characterized by a lack of concentration, restlessness, but also feeling lethargic. It’s really a state of being underwhelmed. And there are now more ways than ever to avoid boredom. With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, not to mention my smartphone I have waiting in line, sitting in a coffee shop, stopped at a traffic light.

Many people reach for their phones to stave off boredom, and nowhere is sacred. Do you ever just let yourself be bored?

But are we losing anything by avoiding boredom? Well, scientific research says yes, and what we’re losing is important. When you’re bored your mind wanders. That’s only natural. The state of boredom is one where your attention is not focused on anything in particular.

Boredom studies show..

This mind wandering is useful for creativity. Researchers gave study participants the most boring process possible: reading the phone book. Then, they asked participants to be creative; generate as many ideas as they could for what you could do with a plastic cup. Those in the most boring read the phone book condition generated the most creative solutions compared to less bored controls.

A major reason many researchers suspect that we experience boredom is because it gives you an indicator of your current state. If you find yourself feeling bored, you know something about that situation isn’t working for you.

When you’re in class and you’re a bit bored do you ever just pull out your phone and have a look at stuff? Exactly.

So the paradox of boredom is that it makes you feel tired, sluggish and just disinterested. But it may actually spur you to action. It may get you to make changes that would be positive for your life.

In the absence of boredom, one would remain trapped in unfulfilling situations and miss out on many emotionally, cognitively, and socially rewarding experiences. Boredom is both a warning that we’re not doing what we want to be doing, and a push that motivates us to switch goals and projects.

Good things happened to those who are bored

Studies have also shown that boredom may make you more altruistic. Perhaps the acute sense of aimlessness you experience when you’re bored gets out of control, and makes you question what you’re doing with your life as a whole. But the silver lining is that it may trigger you to think about others and what you can do to help them. And that provides an immediate and concrete purpose to a life that might momentarily feel like it’s lacking one.

Studies designed to induce boredom have shown that more bored participants are more likely to donate to charity, or to give blood since they have free time on their hands. You know, just 2 hours or an hour and a half or so of boredom. So apparently the opportunity to do meaningful, even if unpleasant activities have more value if you’re bored than if you’re not.

the scientific benefits of boredom studygate

Similarly, this aimless state seems to cultivate thoughts about what you want to do with your life. To think of your life as a story and consider where you want it to go in the future. This is called autobiographical planning. When given tasks that only use a fraction of mental capacity, study participants frequently thought of the future and their plans for it. In this way being bored is essential for goal-setting. If your brain is always consumed with other stimuli, you’ll rarely ponder the bigger picture and set long-term goals for yourself and consider how to achieve them.

Does a phone get rid of your boredom? Yeah, actually, thinking about it, it does. So every time you’re waiting for something, you have a decision to make, which seems like a tiny one. Pull out your phone for a few seconds or minutes, or just be bored; experience only your thoughts.

But hey, boredom might not be a big deal! Right?

And if you don’t give it much thought the obvious action is to see what’s new on your app of choice. And in making that decision you are alleviating a moment of boredom. But you are also likely making yourself less creative, less altruistic, less likely to assess your current state and less likely to set goals for your future.

In short, you are the real world example of someone shocking themselves to avoid the unpleasantness of boredom. Except in your case, the pain goes much deeper to the very nature of who you are, and who you will become. So think carefully before pressing that button.

Turns out that being bored is apparently something our brains need to do.

Content courtesy of Veritasium

5 Reasons Why Finland Has The Best Education System

Why Finland has the best education studygate

There are many reasons why Finland has the best education system in the world, but here in the United States, we still love to brag about being number one.

Except when it comes to education. To learn about the state of education in the US, click here.

In education, the US regularly ranks around 37th in the world. Frankly, many of us are lucky we can spell USA well enough to chant it in sporting events!

But Finland consistently rates among the best in the world in education. The small Nordic country best known for giving the world Nokia phones, angry birds, and heavy metal music is actually a leader in world education.

Not only does Finland have the highest high school graduation rate in Europe but on International tests, Finnish students regularly rank near the top in reading, math and science.

And the Finns do this without overloading kids with endless hours of homework or turning school into mindless drudgery.

So why does Finland have the best educational system on earth (or maybe Singapore too)?

Here are the 5 reasons that set Finland apart:

Reason number 1: No child gets left behind

Finland provides all families, particularly low-income families, with a huge social safety net. The Finish government sends a baby box of supplies to every family with a newborn child. From then on, childcare is heavily subsidized. This allows most families to send their children to some form of early childhood education.

Finland’s public schools also concentrate on making sure that every student achieves basic proficiency in the subjects that they study. This is one of the reasons why the achievement gap that exists between the rich and poor is so low in Finland.

Reason number 2: They’re way more relaxed

Finnish children don’t even start school until they turn 7. Once they’re in school, they get almost triple the amount of recess time as American students. They’re rarely assigned homework until high school and they almost never take standardized tests. In fact, Finnish students are only required to take one standardized test and that’s not until the end of high school.

Reason number 3: Teachers are actually respected

Becoming a teacher isn’t easy in Finland. There are only 8 universities that offer the Master’s programs required to earn a teaching credential. Furthermore, only one in ten applicants get accepted to the programs, so it’s no surprise that teachers in Finland receive roughly the same level of respect as doctors and lawyers. Thanks to powerful unions, Finnish teachers only spent 4 hours a day in the classroom and take 2 hours a week for professional development. They also don’t have to deal with merit pay.

Reason number 4: Finns believe that less is more

When it comes to education, patience, hands-on learning, and focusing on problem-solving are more important than listening to lectures, mindless test preparations, and memorization of information that students will probably forget as soon as they leave the exam room. Finnish teachers don’t race through lessons to cram as much information as possible into student’s heads so that the students can then spit that information back out on a standardized test. Instead they give a priority to moving slowly and taking as much time as necessary to thoroughly investigate fewer topics but in much greater depth.

Reason number 5: Finns have fewer social problems

Finland may not be a socialist paradise, but it’s pretty close. Almost everyone in Finland is middle class, so income inequality is a big issue. Almost all Finnish kids come to school well fed, rested, and ready to learn. There are no metal detectors and no cops patrolling the school hallways. Finland also has far fewer immigrant students. Only one in forty students in Finnish schools have immigrant parents compared to US public schools where one in five have immigrant parents.

That means there are not nearly as many kids in Finland schools who are trying to learn math, science and history in a completely new language while also trying to learn that new language itself.

What can Americans learn from this?

So should we in the US just admit that the Finns know education better than we do and go ahead and abandon our system and adopt theirs?

That would be quite difficult.

There are plenty of ways to learn from countries like Finland that do things very differently but have a proven track record of achieving better results. Our role is to be more open to what educational innovators are doing around the globe. If we could stop shouting ‘We’re number one” long enough to listen, that will be a great start.

Content courtesy of The Young Turks

Why Singapore Education Is Better And What the United States Can Learn From It

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This article describes the state of education in Singapore. To read about the state of education in the US, click here.

They budget for education in both money and land resources

Every weekday morning across the small island nation of Singapore, children arrive at state schools while the children come from different economic and cultural backgrounds. They are all offered the same quality of instruction with 20% of the national budget devoted to education.

Singapore has developed a well-resourced and world-leading educational system. With the world becoming much smaller and more globally competitive, we will explore what’s going on in the Singapore education system and find what we can replicate in the United States.

Teachers receive highly focused training

What’s remarkable about the places that out-compete America is that they focus on collaborative environments where kids and teachers can thrive. They also focus on building the best professional class of teachers possible.

Teachers are the heart of education so it stands to reason that schools that trains teachers are the heart of the whole education system. In Singapore, the National Institute of Education trains all teachers in the school system. Top performing students are selected for specific subjects and teaching positions. The candidates are then given a rigorous 21st century training to prepare them for a lifelong career in education. The Singapore education system is always open to look at new domains of study. The total ultimate focus is, “how do we prepare a better teacher so they can bring the best education to the students in the classroom?”

Walking around this campus demonstrates how importantly the government views the National Institute of Education. Singapore is a nation where square footage for the land is worth its weight in gold and diamonds, and the government still gives nearly 40 acres devoted to teacher education and development!

Teachers operate in a collaborative environment

Kids in school are happy to learn there, but equally important is what the teachers are doing in every classroom. Teachers can explain what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and the connection between what they’re doing and the learning that kids are accomplishing.

In math classes, there is a really interesting pedagogical method focused on visualization instead of memorization. Students use blocks to see what’s more and what’s less.

You also see as part of this a real focus on language immersion so that kids are understanding what more than means and what less than means. Overall, there is a recognition that post-secondary education is important for all students—not only the top performers!

Real-world education

The state of the art Institute of Technical Education involves businesses in shaping their curriculum and preparing students for employment. Students develop and market products that require some scientific knowledge such as dish soap. Then they pick up other basic skills for entrepreneurship when they go and work for someone else. They learn to appreciate how business or operating will be able to contribute more to the organization.

At the Tampines school, eight-year-old students learn how to us MS Excel. The education system engages with them in such a way that technology is infused as a tool to accomplish tangible objectives. Teachers are constantly working with each other in a collaborative and trusting environment to enhance this effort.

Accountability is replaced with empowerment

Finally, teachers do not talk about test-based accountability. Principals don’t talk about test-based accountability. This is the education standard in Singapore.

Originally posted in AFTHQ.

10 Life Hacks Every College Student Should Know

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Here are 10 life hacks every college student should know. Are you ready? Let’s check it out!

Problem 1: You do not have a coffee pot

All you’re gonna need is coffee, a coffee filter, and to boil some water. What we’re gonna do is get a spoon of coffee and we’ll make a tea bag of coffee. Put the ends together, spin, and fasten with a rubber band. Keep twisting until it’s tight. Then we’re gonna dip the coffee bag in the hot water and leave it there for about 5 minutes. Then the coffee will be dissolved in the cup.

life hacks studygate

Problem 2: Annoying to store beer in the refrigerator

Put a black metal paper clip on the metal wire to stack your beer bottles. You will get half of your refrigerator empty for other uses. With this trick you do not have to worry about the unstable beer like when you try and stand them all up straight on the wire shelf. That is too unbalanced. A paper clip is great, nothing will move it!

life hacks studygate

Problem 3: Cannot wake up with the alarm

Put the cell phone inside of a beer glass to increase the sound. And arrive on time to the first class 90% of the time, all the time! The same thing works for music. Don’t have any speakers? All you need is your cell phone to listen to the music inside of your beer glass, which will increase the sound.

life hacks studygate

Problem 4: Dirty hands with Cheetos

Everyone loves Cheetos. In college we eat a lot of junk food like this because we do not have time. It’s hard to get the Cheetos when the bag is lying down. You have to stick your hand in there and it gets the cheese dust on it. However, you can pull the bottom part out (not apart!) and then push the bottom of the bag inside out. Keep pushing until the Cheetos reach the top. Now you do not have to stick your hand into the and it’s easier for them to come out. Hot Cheetos work great for this too!life hacks studygate

Problem 5: Your beer is not cold enough

Do you want to cool a beer as fast as possible? Wet a paper towel in cold water and put the beer in the freezer. Then wrap the paper towel around the beer. The paper towel will freeze cold, and your beer will be cold much faster. BTW, frozen beer explodes. 15 minutes ought to do it with this technique.

life hacks studygate

Problem 6: Your bananas go ripe too fast

Keep the bananas fresh by wrapping the top of them with plastic wrap and keeping them away from other fruits. This will prevent them from getting bad. But once you take a banana, you have to tie it up again. Bananas ripen with ethylene, but wrapping the stems reduces their flow of oxygen to get ethylene.

life hacks studygate

Problem 7: Cook a hot dog without a microwave

Start with a coffee pot. Make sure your coffee pot is clean, then put the hot dogs in the coffee pot. Run a cycle and leave the hot dogs in hot water until you see they’re cooked. The bottom of the coffee maker will finish the job of cooking the hot dogs.

life hacks studygate

Problem 8: Have no laptop bag to take computer

Make a laptop bag with your hoodie. Lay your hoodie on a table chest up and place your laptop horizontally in the chest area with the long parts facing the arms. Make sure your hoodie has the strings on the outside, then bring the bottom part up and fold it over the hoodie itself. Tuck the extra fabric under the hoodie itself. Next, put the hood over the top of the laptop and pull it around the device so that it wraps like an envelope. Flip the laptop over and tie the drawstrings together. Finally, tie the arms here together so that you can carry it on your shoulder. Guys, this might look like a purse. You’ve been warned!

life hacks studygate

Problem 9: Your pens keep wearing out

You will need some G2 pens. You can usually buy 4 of them for $5. Next, purchase the Mont Blanc brand of two ballpoint pen refills, which usually cost $12 to fill up a $200 pen. Get the cheap pen and take out the ink refill. Remove the top of the cheap refill and place it on the top of the Mont Blanc refill. When you put your Mont Blanc refill with the G2 top into the G2 pen, you’ll see that you just got a very expensive pen that cost only 12 dollars.

life hacks studygate

Problem 10: Not enough space in your closet

Use soda pop tabs to organize your closet. All we need to do is put one hook in one hole of the soda pop tab and the other hook in the other hole. This takes up way less space because it lets the shirts hang down instead of all having to fit side by side.

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That’s it for life hacks in college! Thanks to Crazy Russian Hacker for this great original post. Click here for life hacks on how to study as well.

How To Homeschool Your Children Like Finland Does

Homeschool Your Children Like Finland studygate

How To Homeschool Your Children Like Finland Does—By Sir Ken Robinson

When I moved to the United States, I was told various things like, “Americans don’t get irony.” Have you come across this idea? It’s not true. I’ve traveled the whole length and breadth of this country. I have found no evidence that Americans don’t get irony.

I knew that Americans get irony when I came across that legislation, “No Child Left Behind.” Because whoever thought of that title gets irony.

homeschool your children like finland does studygate

No Child Left Behind Leaves Children Behind

It’s leaving millions of children behind. In some parts of the country, 60 percent of kids drop out of high school. In the Native American communities, it’s 80 percent of kids. If we halved that number, one estimate is it would create a net gain to the U.S. economy over 10 years of nearly a trillion dollars. From an economic point of view, this is good math, isn’t it, that we should do this? It actually costs an enormous amount to mop up the damage from the dropout crisis. But the dropout crisis is just the tip of an iceberg.

What the statistics couldn’t count are all the kids who are in school but being disengaged from it, who don’t enjoy it, and who don’t get any real benefit from it. And the reason is not that we’re not spending enough money. America spends more money on education than most other countries. Class sizes are smaller than in many countries. And there are hundreds of initiatives every year to try and improve education.

The trouble is, it’s all going in the wrong direction.

There are three principles on which human life flourishes, and they are contradicted by the culture of education under which most teachers have to labor and most students have to endure.

Principle #1: Human beings are naturally different and diverse

Education under “No Child Left Behind” is based on not diversity but conformity. What schools are encouraged to do is to find out what kids can do across a very narrow spectrum of achievement. One of the effects of “No Child Left Behind” has been to narrow the focus onto the so-called STEM disciplines. They’re very important. I’m not here to argue against science and math. On the contrary, they’re necessary but they’re not sufficient.

A real education has to give equal weight to the arts, the humanities, to physical education.

One estimate in America currently is that something like 10 percent of kids, getting on that way are being diagnosed with various conditions under the broad title of attention deficit disorder. ADHD. If you sit kids down, hour after hour, doing low-grade clerical work, don’t be surprised if they start to fidget, you know?

Kids prosper best with a broad curriculum that celebrates their various talents, not just a small range of them. And by the way, the arts aren’t just important because they improve math scores. They’re important because they speak to parts of children’s being which are otherwise untouched.

Principle #2 Human life flourishes in curiosity

If you can light the spark of curiosity in a child, they will learn without any further assistance most times. Children are natural learners. It’s a real achievement to build that particular ability out, or to stifle it. Curiosity is the engine of achievement.

One of the effects of the current learning culture has been to de-professionalize teachers. There is no system in the world or any school in the country that is better than its teachers. Teachers are the lifeblood of the success of schools. But teaching is a creative profession. Teaching, properly conceived, is not a delivery system. You’re not there just to pass on received information. Great teachers do that, but what great teachers also do is mentor, stimulate, provoke, engage.

In the end, education is about learning. If there’s no learning going on, there’s no education going on. And people can spend an awful lot of time discussing education without ever discussing learning. The whole point of education is to get people to learn.

The Difference Between A Task And An Achievement

You can be engaged in the activity of something, but not really be achieving it, like dieting. It’s a very good example. There he is. He’s dieting. Is he losing any weight? Not really.

Teaching is a word like that. You can say, “There’s Deborah, she’s in room 34, she’s teaching.” But if nobody’s learning anything, she may be engaged in the task of teaching but not actually fulfilling it. The role of a teacher is to facilitate learning. That’s it. And part of the problem is, I think, that the dominant culture of education has come to focus on not teaching and learning, but testing.

Now, testing is important. Standardized tests have a place. But they should not be the dominant culture of education. They should be diagnostic. They should help. If I go for a medical examination, I want some standardized tests. I do. I want to know what my cholesterol level is compared to everybody else’s on a standard scale.

But all that testing should support learning. It shouldn’t obstruct it, which of course it often does. So in place of curiosity, what we have is a culture of compliance. Our children and teachers are encouraged to follow routine algorithms rather than to excite that power of imagination and curiosity.

Principle #3: Human Life Is Inherently Creative

It’s why we all have different résumés. We create our lives, and we can recreate them as we go through them. It’s the common currency of being a human being. It’s why human culture is so interesting and diverse and dynamic. I mean, other animals may well have imaginations and creativity, but it’s not so much in evidence, is it, as ours?

We all create our own lives through this restless process of imagining alternatives and possibilities, and one of the roles of education is to awaken and develop these powers of creativity. Instead, what we have is a culture of standardization.

Now, it doesn’t have to be that way. It really doesn’t. Finland regularly comes out on top in math, science and reading. Now, we only know that’s what they do well at, because that’s all that’s being tested. That’s one of the problems of the test. They don’t look for other things that matter just as much.

Homeschool Your Children like Finland studygate

Education In Finland: Three Things They Never Measure

1. Specific Disciplines

They have a very broad approach to education, which includes humanities, physical education, the arts.

2. Standardized Testing

I mean, there’s a bit, but it’s not what gets people up in the morning, what keeps them at their desks.

3. Dropout Rates

The third thing was at a meeting recently with some people from Finland, actual Finnish people, and somebody from the American system was saying to the people in Finland, “What do you do about the drop-out rate in Finland?” And they all looked a bit bemused, and said, “Well, we don’t have one. Why would you drop out? If people are in trouble, we get to them quite quickly and we help and support them.”

Now people always say, “Well, you know, you can’t compare Finland to America.” No. I think there’s a population of around five million in Finland. But you can compare it to a state in America. Many states in America have fewer people in them than that.

But what all the high-performing systems in the world do is currently what is not evident, sadly, across the systems in America as a whole.

Homeschool Children Like In Finland studygate

Here’s What Finland Is Doing To Build Education

Finland individualizes teaching and learning

They recognize that it’s students who are learning and the system has to engage them, their curiosity, their individuality, and their creativity. That’s how you get them to learn.

Finland attributes a very high status to the teaching profession

They recognize that you can’t improve education if you don’t pick great people to teach and keep giving them constant support and professional development. Investing in professional development is not a cost. It’s an investment, and every other country that’s succeeding well knows that, whether it’s Australia, Canada, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong or Shanghai. They know that to be the case.

Finland localizes responsibility at the school level for getting the job done

There’s a big difference here between going into a mode of command and control in education. Central or state governments decide, they know best and they’re going to tell you what to do. The trouble is that education doesn’t go on in the committee rooms of our legislative buildings. It happens in classrooms and schools, and the people who do it are the teachers and the students, and if you remove their discretion, the system stops working. You have to put it back to the people.

Many of the current policies are based on mechanistic conceptions of education. It’s like education is an industrial process that can be improved just by having better data, and somewhere in the back of the mind of some policy makers is this idea that if we fine-tune it well enough, if we just get it right, it will all hum along perfectly into the future. It won’t, and it never did.

The point is that education is not a mechanical system. It’s a human system.

It’s about people, people who either do want to learn or don’t want to learn. Every student who drops out of school has a reason for it which is rooted in their own biography. They may find it boring. They may find it irrelevant. They may find that it’s at odds with the life they’re living outside of school. There are trends, but the stories are always unique.

Homeschool children like Finland studygate

Here’s What Education In The United States Looks Like

I was at a meeting recently in Los Angeles of they’re called alternative education programs. These are programs designed to get kids back into education. They have certain common features. They’re very personalized. They have strong support for the teachers, close links with the community and a broad and diverse curriculum, and often programs which involve students outside school as well as inside school. And they work. What’s interesting to me is, these are called “alternative education.”

And all the evidence from around the world says, if we all did that, there’d be no need for the alternative. So I think we have to embrace a different metaphor. We have to recognize that it’s a human system, and there are conditions under which people thrive, and conditions under which they don’t. We are after all organic creatures, and the culture of the school is absolutely essential. Culture is an organic term, isn’t it?

Death Valley

Not far from where I live is a place called Death Valley. Death Valley is the hottest, driest place in America, and nothing grows there. Nothing grows there because it doesn’t rain. In the winter of 2004, it rained in Death Valley. Seven inches of rain fell over a very short period. And in the spring of 2005, there was a phenomenon. The whole floor of Death Valley was carpeted in flowers for a while. What it proved is this: that Death Valley isn’t dead. It’s dormant. Right beneath the surface are these seeds of possibility waiting for the right conditions to come about, and with organic systems, if the conditions are right, life is inevitable.

It happens all the time. You take an area, a school, a district, you change the conditions, give people a different sense of possibility, a different set of expectations, a broader range of opportunities, you cherish and value the relationships between teachers and learners, you offer people the discretion to be creative and to innovate in what they do, and schools that were once bereft spring to life. Great leaders know that.

The real role of leadership in education and I think it’s true at the national level, the state level, at the school level is not and should not be command and control. The real role of leadership is climate control, creating a climate of possibility. And if you do that, people will rise to it and achieve things that you completely did not anticipate and couldn’t have expected.

Conclusion with a quote from Ben Franklin

There are three sorts of people in the world: Those who are immovable, people who don’t get it, or don’t want to do anything about it; there are people who are movable, people who see the need for change and are prepared to listen to it; and there are people who move, people who make things happen.

And if we can encourage more people, that will be a movement. And if the movement is strong enough, that’s, in the best sense of the word, a revolution. And that’s what we need.

Watch the original video here.

Inspiring Students: DC Teacher Brings Students To His Graduation To Inspire Them

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Inspiring students starts one classroom at a time. Some very special elementary school students got an experience unlike any other this week when their teacher took them to his graduation from Johns Hopkins University

Alejandro Diasgranados teaches at Aiton Elementary in Northeast Washington DC. Diasgranado managed to raise $2,000 for the trip to take them to his graduation. The effort toward inspiring students received national attention when local news WUSA9 picked up the event.

However, the effort toward inspiring students will go well beyond a feel good story that got covered on the news. Diasgranados commented:

It’s not just a field trip. I think it’s an entire experience where they will be able to see their first graduation and see someone walking across the stage that looks like them. So we made caps and gowns so they could experience what it feels like to graduate. When they put on those gowns, it wasn’t just construction paper anymore. It was their hopes and dreams.

Those students took those caps and gowns to Baltimore to see Diasgranados get his Master of Science in Education.

Here was their reaction when he walked across the stage:

The students greeted him with hugs outside with expressions of pure joy, excitement, and love. The beauty of this story is that Diasgranados understands the emotional power of inspiring students to succeed in education. His example shows them degrees are cool, that knowledge is real, and that degrees can help people live better lives.

Why Inspiring Students Matters

By taking his students to the Johns Hopkins graduation, Diasgranados shows that he expects his students to be able to do the same some day. Their job is to let their imaginations free to explore what success looks like and define it for themselves.

And when it comes to inspiring students, there’s no better way to live it than by example!

The Shocking Truth About Mindfulness In Tutoring

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Mindfulness in tutoring makes all the difference to helping a student achieve their goals and feel good about their grades. Everyone likes to promote mindfulness, but the truth is that conscious thinking in education is way more difficult than it seems.

There are so many factors that are beyond our control as tutors. We have the opportunity to connect with a student for just a few moments out of their day.

No matter what a student’s family life is like, the time we do have can go a long way to helping them develop healthy mental processes that contribute to lifelong learning.

And that experience should continue long after we work with them.

Key Steps for Mindfulness

  1. Our reactions determine our mental and physical health. For the student, a positive attitude is equally important to your knowledge of the subject material. You can set an example for your students by giving a consistently positive presentation and showing them you really believe in their ability to succeed.
  2. When you work with students, it is your responsibility to provide them with quality information. If we fail to do this, we bring stress to students. Stress literally makes students sick and factors into 75% of illness and disease.

The point is that we should all pay attention to what our students say. Your job is not only to teach them and provide them with accurate information, but to encourage them to think positively and increase awareness of the negative thoughts they may be thinking. This can be achieved through the art of focus.

However, attitude is impossible to fake. Our true selves eventually come out. Mindful understanding of our true selves is not always easy to detect since we all have subconscious feelings. Dr. Caroline Leaf has developed a 5-step process to help ensure you can project mindfulness in tutoring.

These steps are not 1-minute miracles, and they take time to build out. The reflection can ultimately help define a positive experience for your students that will make them want to come back and work with you again and again.

Five Steps to Positive Thinking

  1. Gather: What thoughts are passing through your conscious mind at the moment? Can you determine the attitude of those thoughts? What feelings are they generating?
  2. Focused Reflection: What thoughts consistently flow through your mind? What would you like to directly change?
  3. Write: Based on steps 1 and 2, take a moment to write a mind map of the thoughts going through your mind. Enhance authenticity by writing it out as creatively as you wish. You can use color, diagram, and illustration to describe the process.
  4. Revisit: Identify the negative thoughts that you wrote down in your mind map. How can they be redesigned in a way that will help you live the kind of life you want?
  5. Active Reach: Choose one thought that you would like to change. Review it in its current state and redefine it in detail. Dwell on that new thought and own it as your current reality.

It’s critical to recognize that you can enable your thoughts to act with mindfulness in tutoring. That positive energy will directly affect the lives of your students.

The shocking truth about tutoring is that competence and a positive attitude go hand in hand!

No matter what, it’s the way that you think that actually determines how far you can take your students. As tutors, we have the great privilege and responsibility to set a positive example and show mindfulness in tutoring.

Calling bold and aspiring tutors: Choose from these 4 strategies for an optimized tutor headline

optimized tutor headline

A lemon is a bold flavor, and your optimized tutor headline should be just as attention-grabbing.

It might seem like an extra step, but of the 80% of students that will read your headline, only 20% will go on to read the rest of your bio.

So it shouldn’t be surprising to read that the first rule for writing good headlines is to respect the headline. This is prime real estate and the first sentence that your potential students will read.

Students will use this content to decide if they want to work with you.

So if you want an optimized tutor headline, here are the principles to follow:

optimized tutor headline

 

With that, you have the core information needed to make your headline shine.

But the devil is in the details of course. If you’d like to refine further, there are four strategies below for writing a headline. You can take the one that works best for you and run with it.

No matter which one you choose, we here at Studygate recommend to be bold and experiment. Try what feels right and ask others for their opinion as you craft these words.

Good feedback makes for a great value proposition, and that’s exactly what you’re going to give in your optimized tutor headline!

Strategy 1: Highlight specifics

optimized tutor headline
A good headline is like a blueprint—specific and measured

The best headlines are the ones that humans love. Here, you can create something that addresses the reader and would make them want to read on.

With that said, it’s time to build a strategy that centers on detail. Many people tutor math, but you can use the Long Tail approach at the end of your headline to make your offering unique.

Former Wired editor Chris Anderson coined this term. He describes the theory of the Long Tail as “increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. There is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. Narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare.”

Here are some examples of the Long Tail approach in headlines:

Not so nice: Tutor who teaches chemistry with excellence

More interesting: I am amazingly good at your HS chemistry, especially stoichiometry. HW help preferred!

Meh: I offer helpful solutions in C++, Python, PHP, and more!

Wow!: One-stop shop for C++, Python, and all your CS problems, delivered in <24 hours!

For example, your headline can clarify:

  1. Who your offering is for
  2. What the outcome will be
  3. Where your students typically start from
  4. How much time is involved
  5. When you are available

These specifics are useful, so make sure a headline could provide some of these elements to your student.

Be authentic

The second strategy involves promising something emotional that you can truly deliver. A few moments spent defining what you want to actually give can help with this.

optimized tutor headline

Here are 5 questions to ask as you prepare your headline:

  1. What are students going to get out of working with you?
  2. How will that make their lives better?
  3. How will you deliver your service?
  4. Can you use numbers to set expectations (how fast you deliver, how fast you respond to messages, years studying)?
  5. Why should your audience keep reading?

Your short answers to these questions will help you craft the content that will go into your headline. Not all of it needs to be used. The goal is to distill your value offering into its most essential elements.

With those elements, you can send a message the helps a student eliminate the stress of confusing homework.

Tell 1 main thing

Have you ever been to Upworthy.com? The articles there tell readers a story. They are not sensationalist with adjectives to grab undeserved attention. Instead, the headlines serve as a spark for conversation starters.

optimized tutor headline
This oddly cute gerbil picture is great. But the plant on its head is what makes it really stand out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A good tutor headline focuses on just one of the following deliverables:

  1. Subject
  2. Delivery
  3. Review
  4. Experience

Here are some examples—

Subject-oriented headline:

Woman who’s mastered the quadratic formula and more. She can help you do the same.

Delivery-oriented headline:

Biology tutor who can deliver homework help within 4 hours Thursday-Tuesday 9AM-9PM PT

Review-oriented headline:

I deliver 5-star chemistry tutoring. Anything less and I will make it right for you!

Experience-oriented headline:

Big data researcher with 7 years industry experience and a master’s degree

Give immediate value

This optimized tutor headline strategy offers specific value through the use of “sell words.” What is a sell word? I define sell words as terms that can be used to deliver ideas that have value to your reader.

Just like bees are drawn to honey, good sell words are the foundation of profile credibility so that students cannot help but see the value you offer them.

optimized tutor headline studygate
When we give students value from day 1, we show them just how much we care

Here are a few sell words to get you started:

  • Tips
  • Reasons
  • Lessons
  • Tricks
  • Ideas
  • Ways
  • Principles
  • Facts
  • Secrets
  • Strategies

As a tutor, take a moment to consider what subjects you already know. How can you demonstrate that on your headline by sharing your knowledge?

This might come out looking like a listicle, but if your bio content can back it up, you will be set to rule over your subject area.

The golden rule of giving immediate value is to show it instead of saying it. By building content with sell words, you give value to your student from the very first point of contact. With this commitment to your student in an optimized tutor headline, they will feel inspired to commit to you.