The Mad Men Method

05-11-2015 Damian Hughes 0 comments
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One proven way to improve our working lives is to use the Mad Men Method. This method involves asking yourself a simple question: what are you doing right now that your grandkids will see as ridiculous 50 years from now?

For example, one of the reasons for the success of the television programme Mad Men, which follows the characters of the New York advertising industry in the 1960s is the opportunity to look back to the early sixties and see societal habits that seem, in retrospect, comically short-sighted - habits like sexism, the way they ate, smoked, drank, drove (usually at the same time).
So what are you doing today that will have your grandkids chuckling in 2063?
Here's my answer: Brainology.

I think our grandkids will look back and say, Back in 2013, when leaders wanted their people to learn how to change, they didn't bother teaching them the most important part - how the learning machine actually works. What the heck were those people thinking?

And our grandkids will be absolutely, positively, 100% right.

Right now, teachers, parents, leaders and coaches in our society focus their attention on teaching the material - whether it's algebra, soccer, or music. This is the equivalent of trying to train athletes without informing them that muscles exist. It's like teaching nutrition without mentioning vegetables or vitamins. We feverishly cram our classrooms with whiz-bang technology, but fail to teach the kids how their own internal circuitry is built to operate.

It's all completely understandable, of course. Our parenting and teaching practices evolved in an industrial age, when we presumed potential was innate, brains were fixed (just as we presumed smoking was healthy and three-martini lunches were normal). But that doesn't make it right. In fact, you could argue that teaching a child how their brain works is not just an educational strategy - it's closer to a human right.
Here's a suggestion: start to teach brain education to your staff. Why not devote a chunk of time, especially before asking them to change, to teaching how the brain grows when it learns. To teaching how repetition builds speed and fluency. To helping your people to understand and experience the biological truth that struggle makes you smarter, that the brain grows when challenged.

Even small exposures can have a big impact. Stanford's Carol Dweck did an experiment where she divided 700 low-achieving children into two groups. Both were given an eight-week workshop on study skills, and one group received a 50-minute session that described how the brain grows when it's challenged. (The other group's session learned about generic science.) In a few months, the group that had learned about the brain had improved their grades and study habits to the point that teachers, without knowing, could accurately identify which student had been in which group.
It's not rocket science. In fact, it's easy, because it pays massive dividends. Plus, it gives our grandkids one less thing to laugh at us about.
One proven way to improve our working lives is to use the Mad Men Method. This method involves asking yourself a simple question: what are you doing right now that your grandkids will see as ridiculous 50 years from now?

For example, one of the reasons for the success of the television programme Mad Men, which follows the characters of the New York advertising industry in the 1960s is the opportunity to look back to the early sixties and see societal habits that seem, in retrospect, comically short-sighted - habits like sexism, the way they ate, smoked, drank, drove (usually at the same time).

So what are you doing today that will have your grandkids chuckling in 2063?

Here's my answer: Brainology.

I think our grandkids will look back and say, Back in 2013, when leaders wanted their people to learn how to change, they didn't bother teaching them the most important part - how the learning machine actually works. What the heck were those people thinking?

And our grandkids will be absolutely, positively, 100% right.

Right now, teachers, parents, leaders and coaches in our society focus their attention on teaching the material - whether it's algebra, soccer, or music. This is the equivalent of trying to train athletes without informing them that muscles exist. It's like teaching nutrition without mentioning vegetables or vitamins. We feverishly cram our classrooms with whiz-bang technology, but fail to teach the kids how their own internal circuitry is built to operate.

It's all completely understandable, of course. Our parenting and teaching practices evolved in an industrial age, when we presumed potential was innate, brains were fixed (just as we presumed smoking was healthy and three-martini lunches were normal). But that doesn't make it right. In fact, you could argue that teaching a child how their brain works is not just an educational strategy - it's closer to a human right.

Here's a suggestion: start to teach brain education to your staff. Why not devote a chunk of time, especially before asking them to change, to teaching how the brain grows when it learns. To teaching how repetition builds speed and fluency. To helping your people to understand and experience the biological truth that struggle makes you smarter, that the brain grows when challenged.

Even small exposures can have a big impact. Stanford's Carol Dweck did an experiment where she divided 700 low-achieving children into two groups. Both were given an eight-week workshop on study skills, and one group received a 50-minute session that described how the brain grows when it's challenged. (The other group's session learned about generic science.) In a few months, the group that had learned about the brain had improved their grades and study habits to the point that teachers, without knowing, could accurately identify which student had been in which group.

It's not rocket science. In fact, it's easy, because it pays massive dividends. Plus, it gives our grandkids one less thing to laugh at us about.

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