What Growth Requires

Growth requires hard work. The world is a complex place. We all become creatures of habit in the ways we think and act. To learn is to strip away those deeply ingrained habits of the mind. To do so requires that we push ourselves, that we keep building and rebuilding, questioning, struggling, and seeking.

Ken Bain, What the Best College Students Do

Grappling for Knowledge

According to a 1995 study, a sample of Japanese eighth graders spent 44 percent of their class time inventing, thinking, and actively struggling with underlying concepts. the study’s sample of American students, on the other hand, spend less than one percent of their time in that state.

 “The Japanese want their kids to struggle,” said Jim Stigler, the UCLA professor who oversaw the study and who co-wrote The Teaching Gap with James Hiebert. “Sometimes the (Japanese) teacher will purposely give the wrong answer so the kids can grapple with the theory. American teachers, though, worked like waiters. Whenever there was a struggle, they wanted to move past it, make sure the class kept gliding along. But you don't learn by gliding.”

Daniel Coyle, The Talent Code


Cancer has ushered in new ways of being alive

(At the age of 35) CANCER has kicked down the walls of my life. I cannot be certain I will walk my son to his elementary school someday or subject his love interests to cheerful scrutiny. I struggle to buy books for academic projects I fear I can’t finish for a perfect job I may be unable to keep. I have surrendered my favorite manifestoes about having it all, managing work-life balance and maximizing my potential. I cannot help but remind my best friend that if my husband remarries everyone will need to simmer down on talking about how special I was in front of her. (And then I go on and on about how this is an impossible task given my many delightful qualities. Let’s list them. …) Cancer requires that I stumble around in the debris of dreams I thought I was entitled to and plans I didn’t realize I had made.

But cancer has also ushered in new ways of being alive. Even when I am this distant from Canadian family and friends, everything feels as if it is painted in bright colors. In my vulnerability, I am seeing my world without the Instagrammed filter of breezy certainties and perfectible moments. I can’t help noticing the brittleness of the walls that keep most people fed, sheltered and whole. I find myself returning to the same thoughts again and again: Life is so beautiful. Life is so hard.

Kate Bowler writing in the New York Times

Worth Fighting For

You’ve probably heard the story of the guy who climbs up the steep steps to the Golden Gate to presents himself to St. Peter and St. Peter says, “So, show me your scars!” “Scars?” the guy says, “Uh, I...I don’t have any scars..” “No scars?!” St. Peter asks incredulously.“ Was there nothing worth fighting for?” What is worth fighting for?

As the American rock singer, actor, author and poet, Henry Rollins says, “Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength and move on...”  

Gail Blanke