“How to Find Your Superpower” is among thousands of recent articles, books, and improvement programs about the age-old dream of an updated self. Like others in its genre, the piece offers guidance for achieving “peak performance” through a blend of passion, mastery, and hard work. “The #1 thing you can do is determine your strengths, determine your superpowers,” the authors state in coaching readers to sharpen “a dominant gift an attribute, skill or ability that makes you stronger than the rest: a difference between you and your coworker.”[i] Find that elusive something, and you are sure to succeed. Pitches like this appear everywhere these days. Witness the massive market for fitness, beauty, self-esteem, and cognitive improvement products. These range from dietary supplements and workout regimes to books, videos, and apps. Amazon is loaded with titles like Your Hidden Superpower, Finding Your Superpower, and the kid’s book What’s My Superpower? [ii]
Juvenile appeals notwithstanding, a consistent theme runs through all these books – that it is up to you alone to find, develop, or somehow acquire missing capacities. Rarely is there a mention of structural advantages or disadvantages in the superpower quest. The impulse to exceed one’s limits has a long history in Western thought, with roots in religious doctrine and philosophy. Some even link enhancement to hard-wired survival instincts. Simply put, people have been augmenting themselves for thousands of years, first by using tools, then by working in groups, and later with machines and technology. From the Enlightenment Era onward, this was seen as humanity’s “natural” impulse for continual improvement and progress. Ongoing developments in science and medicine have intensified this drive, along with the heightened sense of crisis in the 21st century. The result has been a growing mania to become stronger, smarter, and better looking than anyone else.
Continue reading “Find Your Superpower”
Professors who want to establish classroom connections with their students receive lots of advice. And some experts have over the years advised the use of “self-disclosure,” telling students stories about themselves, using self-deprecating humor as a way to make students feel comfortable and to view the instructor as an ally. InsideHigher Ed discusses the finer points of this:
“Ignore that advice. That’s the recommendation of a study being published today in Communication Education, a journal of the National Communication Association. The study was based on surveys of 438 undergraduates at a Southeastern university. The students — from across disciplines — were asked about the class they had attended just before taking the survey. And for that class, they were asked both about their instructors and about whether they engaged in certain “uncivil” behaviors, such as packing up books before class was over or texting during lectures. The researchers then compared attitudes the students had about professors and the students behaviors.
“The study notes that professors’ styles only go so far in predicting whether students will be posting status updates on Facebook or actually paying attention, but they do matter.
“Although it is clear that a range of factors outside of instructors’ control contribute to uncivil behavior in the classroom — such as societal shifts toward student entitlement and students’ being raised in homes where manners are not adequately taught — results of this study indicate that there are at least some things instructors can do to minimize uncivil behavior,” the study says. “This model, taking into account only instructor-related factors, explained 20 percent of the variance in self-reported uncivil behaviors among our participants — not a huge proportion, but enough to make a noticeable difference to a frustrated teacher.”
“Based on the surveys, the paper argues that students are least likely to engage in uncivil behavior when they view the instructor as having high levels of “credibility,” meaning that through actions and nonverbal cues, the instructor conveys command of the material and the class, a sense of knowing what should be going on in class, and so forth. When students have that confidence level, they are more likely to pay attention. Continue reading “On teaching style”
Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) today announced research findings showing the usefulness of self-help books for the treatment of mental health conditions like depression.
“Patients offered books, plus sessions guiding them in how to use them, had lower levels of depression a year later than those offered usual GP care,” reports the BBC.
“The effect was seen in addition to the benefits of other treatments such as antidepressants, Scottish researchers report in the journal Plos One. Such an approach may help the NHS tackle demand for therapy, they said.
“More than 200 patients who had been diagnosed with depression by their GP took part in the study, half of whom were also on antidepressant drugs. Some were provided with a self-help guide dealing with different aspects of depression, such as being assertive or overcoming sleep problems.Patients also had three sessions with an adviser who helped them get the most out of the books and plan what changes to make. After four months those who had been prescribed the self-help books had significantly lower levels of depression than those who received usual GP care. Continue reading “Self-help books seem to work for depression”
We’re not sure how many people worry about this, but think for a minute about the future you.
That’s right, you, in maybe 10 years.
Apparently most people are incapable of doing this is any realistic sense. They can look back on their lives and see all of the various changes and
bumps in the road. But looking forward, people only see an eternal now. They see themselves unchanged.
Why does this matter? We at Worlding think it may say something about attitudes toward difference and newness. People who don’t expect to change could very well resist ideas they don’t understand. And let’s not even think about people who live in the past. Certainly the last year’s political confrontation have shown us the close-mindedness of Teapartiers and others who cling to memory at the expense of all else. So, as the New York Times reports:
“When we remember our past selves, they seem quite different. We know how much our personalities and tastes have changed over the years. But when we look ahead, somehow we expect ourselves to stay the same, a team of psychologists said Thursday, describing research they conducted of people’s self-perceptions. Continue reading “A message from your future”